Parshas Naso / Shavuos - The Crown of the Nazir / The Crown of Torah
Updated: Jan 19, 2021
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דַּבֵּר֙ אֶל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְאָֽמַרְתָּ֖ אֲלֵהֶ֑ם אִ֣ישׁ אֽוֹ־אִשָּׁ֗ה כִּ֤י יַפְלִא֙ לִנְדֹּר֙ נֶ֣דֶר נָזִ֔יר לְהַזִּ֖יר לַֽיהוָֹֽה:
"Speak to the children of Israel, and you shall say to them: A man or woman who sets himself apart by making a nazirite vow to abstain for the sake of the Lord." (Bamidbar 6:2)
The first twenty one pesukim of the sixth chapter of Bamidbar involve the laws of the Nazir. When a person takes the vow of Nezirus they are no longer allowed to drink wine (there is a Rabbinic decree that they're not even allowed sit near a vineyard), cut their hair (they must be careful not to pluck a single hair), or become Tamei Meis (come into close contact with the dead) even including their own family members. At the end of their period of Nezirus (the vow was taken for a specific period of time and if they did not specify it is assumed that the period lasts for 30 days) they would bring a Korban Chatas in the Beis HaMikdash. Today, with no Beis HaMikdash, the Nazir would have to continue how vow forever.
As we consider the concept of the Nazir let us address two questions.
The word Nazir has two meanings. Rashi (Bamdibar 6:2) explains that in our context it means to separate.
נדר נזיר: אין נזירה בכל מקום אלא פרישה, אף כאן שפרש מן היין:
a nazirite vow: The term נְזִירָה everywhere [in Scripture] means only separation; here too [the nazirite] separates himself from wine. - [Sifrei Naso 1:87]
Indeed we see that this is how it used throughout Tanach:
דַּבֵּ֨ר אֶל־אַֽהֲרֹ֜ן וְאֶל־בָּנָ֗יו וְיִנָּֽזְרוּ֙ מִקָּדְשֵׁ֣י בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְלֹ֥א יְחַלְּל֖וּ אֶת־שֵׁ֣ם קָדְשִׁ֑י אֲשֶׁ֨ר הֵ֧ם מַקְדִּשִׁ֛ים לִ֖י אֲנִ֥י יְהֹוָֽה:
"Speak to Aaron and to his sons, that they shall separate themselves from the holy [sacrifices] of the children of Israel, which they sanctify to Me, so as not to desecrate My Holy Name. I am the Lord." (Vayikra 22:2)
לֵאמֹ֗ר אֶל־הַכֹּֽהֲנִים֙ אֲשֶׁר֙ לְבֵֽית־יְהֹוָ֣ה צְבָא֔וֹת וְאֶל־הַנְּבִיאִ֖ים לֵאמֹ֑ר הַֽאֶבְכֶּה֙ בַּחֹ֣דֶשׁ הַֽחֲמִשִׁ֔י הִנָּזֵ֕ר כַּֽאֲשֶׁ֣ר עָשִׂ֔יתִי זֶ֖ה כַּמֶּ֥ה שָׁנִֽים:
"to say to the Priests of the house of the Lord of Hosts and to the prophets, saying, "Shall I weep in the fifth month, separating myself as I have done these many years?" (Zechariah 7:3)
On the other hand, we also find that the word Nazir means crown. In our Parsha the Torah teaches:
כָּל־יְמֵ֥י הַזִּיר֖וֹ לַֽיהוָֹ֑ה עַל־נֶ֥פֶשׁ מֵ֖ת לֹ֥א יָבֹֽא: לְאָבִ֣יו וּלְאִמּ֗וֹ לְאָחִיו֙ וּלְאַ֣חֹת֔וֹ לֹֽא־יִטַּמָּ֥א לָהֶ֖ם בְּמֹתָ֑ם כִּ֛י נֵ֥זֶר אֱלֹהָ֖יו עַל־רֹאשֽׁוֹ:
"All the days that he abstains for The Lord, he shall not come into contact with the dead. To his father, to his mother, to his brother, or to his sister, he shall not defile himself if they die, for the crown of his God is upon his head." (Bamidbar 6:6,7)
We find this to be true in other places as well.
וַיָּ֥שֶׂם אֶת־הַמִּצְנֶ֖פֶת עַל־רֹאשׁ֑וֹ וַיָּ֨שֶׂם עַל־הַמִּצְנֶ֜פֶת אֶל־מ֣וּל פָּנָ֗יו אֵ֣ת צִ֤יץ הַזָּהָב֙ נֵ֣זֶר הַקֹּ֔דֶשׁ כַּֽאֲשֶׁ֛ר צִוָּ֥ה יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶת־משֶֽׁה:
"And he placed the cap on his [Aaron's] head, and he placed on the cap, towards his face, the golden show plate, the holy crown, as the Lord had commanded Moses." (Vayikra 8:9)
וָאֶעֱמֹ֚ד עָלָיו֙ וַאֲמֹ֣תְתֵ֔הוּ כִּ֣י יָדַ֔עְתִּי כִּ֛י לֹ֥א יִֽחְיֶ֖ה אַחֲרֵ֣י נִפְל֑וֹ וָאֶקַּ֞ח הַנֵּ֣זֶר | אֲשֶׁ֣ר עַל־רֹאשׁ֗וֹ וְאֶצְעָדָה֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר עַל־זְרֹע֔וֹ וָאֲבִיאֵ֥ם אֶל־אֲדֹנִ֖י הֵֽנָּה:
"And I stood over him and put him to death, for I knew that he would not live after his fall, and I took the crown which was on his head and the armlet which was on his arm, and I have brought them here to my lord." (Shmuel II 1:10)
What is the inner connection between these two dual meanings?
Furthermore, it is unclear how the Torah values the person who takes the vow of Nezirus. On the one hand the Torah calls him holy to God:
כֹּ֖ל יְמֵ֣י נִזְר֑וֹ קָד֥שׁ ה֖וּא לַֽיהוָֹֽה:
For the entire duration of his abstinence, he is holy to the Lord. (Bamidbar 6:8)
On the other hand, when his vow of Nezirus comes to an end, he has to bring a Korban Chatas which indicates that he has done something wrong. (Bamidbar 6:13,14)
Even in Chazal (Taanis 11a; Nedarim 10a) we find a machlokes as to how the Torah views the Nazir. Rav Elazar maintains that the Nazir is worthy of praise and has achieved a lofty level of holiness. This is evidenced by the passuk in Amos (2:11):
וָֽאָקִ֚ים מִבְּנֵיכֶם֙ לִנְבִיאִ֔ים וּמִבַּחֽוּרֵיכֶ֖ם לִנְזִרִ֑ים הַאַ֥ף אֵֽין־זֹ֛את בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל נְאֻם־יְהֹוָֽה:
"And I raised up some of your sons as prophets and some of your young men as Nazirites; is this not so, O children of Israel? says the Lord."
The Navi groups together the Navi and the Nazir, both of whom are especially close to God. Why then would the Nazir have to bring a Korban Chatas at the end of his Nezirus? The sin was not becoming a Nazir but the fact that his Nezirus is ending and he is returning to his mundane life.
Rav Eliezer haKappar and Shmuel maintained that the Torah does not look at the Nazir in a positive light. The Nazir brings a Korban Chatas because they have sinned by denying themselves the pleasures of God's world.
In line with this idea the Yerushalmi in Kiddushin (4:12) teaches that when we stand before Hashem in judgement at the end of our lives we will be held accountable if we have failed to enjoy God's world in our lifetime (עתיד אדם ליתן דין וחשבון על כל שראת עינו ולא אכל). The Gemara tells the story of a certain Rav Leizer who would square away small sums of money so that he could purchase a new fruit and be able to make a shehecheyanu and enjoy the pleasures of this world that were created for our benefit.
How are we to understand the underpinnings of this Machlokes?
Fascinatingly, the Rambam seems to follow both opinions.
In Hilchos Deos (3:1) the Rambam writes:
שֶׁמָּא יֹאמַר אָדָם הוֹאִיל וְהַקִּנְאָה וְהַתַּאֲוָה וְהַכָּבוֹד וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶם דֶּרֶךְ רָעָה הֵן וּמוֹצִיאִין אֶת הָאָדָם מִן הָעוֹלָם. אֶפְרשׁ מֵהֶן בְּיוֹתֵר וְאֶתְרַחֵק לַצַּד הָאַחֲרוֹן. עַד שֶׁלֹּא יֹאכַל בָּשָׂר וְלֹא יִשְׁתֶּה יַיִן וְלֹא יִשָּׂא אִשָּׁה וְלֹא יֵשֵׁב בְּדִירָה נָאָה וְלֹא יִלְבַּשׁ מַלְבּוּשׁ נָאֶה אֶלָּא הַשַּׂק וְהַצֶּמֶר הַקָּשֶׁה וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן כְּגוֹן כֹּהֲנֵי הָעוֹבְדֵי כּוֹכָבִים. גַּם זֶה דֶּרֶךְ רָעָה הִיא וְאָסוּר לֵילֵךְ בָּהּ. הַמְהַלֵּךְ בְּדֶרֶךְ זוֹ נִקְרָא חוֹטֵא. שֶׁהֲרֵי הוּא אוֹמֵר בְּנָזִיר(במדבר ו יא)"וְכִפֶּר עָלָיו מֵאֲשֶׁר חָטָא עַל הַנָּפֶשׁ". אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים וּמָה אִם נָזִיר שֶׁלֹּא פֵּרַשׁ אֶלָּא מִן הַיַּיִן צָרִיךְ כַּפָּרָה הַמּוֹנֵעַ עַצְמוֹ מִכָּל דָּבָר וְדָבָר עַל אַחַת כַּמָּה וְכַמָּה. לְפִיכָךְ צִוּוּ חֲכָמִים שֶׁלֹּא יִמְנַע אָדָם עַצְמוֹ אֶלָּא מִדְּבָרִים שֶׁמְּנַעְתּוֹ הַתּוֹרָה בִּלְבַד. וְלֹא יְהֵא אוֹסֵר עַצְמוֹ בִּנְדָרִים וּבִשְׁבוּעוֹת עַל דְּבָרִים הַמֻּתָּרִים. כָּךְ אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים לֹא דַּיֶּךָ מַה שֶּׁאָסְרָה תּוֹרָה אֶלָּא שֶׁאַתָּה אוֹסֵר עָלֶיךָ דְּבָרִים אֲחֵרִים. וּבַכְּלָל הַזֶּה אֵלּוּ שֶׁמִּתְעַנִּין תָּמִיד אֵינָן בְּדֶרֶךְ טוֹבָה. וְאָסְרוּ חֲכָמִים שֶׁיְּהֵא אָדָם מְסַגֵּף עַצְמוֹ בְּתַעֲנִית. וְעַל כָּל הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלּוּ וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן צִוָּה שְׁלֹמֹה וְאָמַר(קהלת ז טז)"אַל תְּהִי צַדִּיק הַרְבֵּה וְאַל תִּתְחַכַּם יוֹתֵר לָמָּה תִּשּׁוֹמֵם"
A person might say, "Since envy, desire, [the pursuit] of honor, and the like, are a wrong path and drive a person from the world, I shall separate from them to a very great degree and move away from them to the opposite extreme." For example, he will not eat meat, nor drink wine, nor live in a pleasant home, nor wear fine clothing, but, rather, [wear] sackcloth and coarse wool and the like - just as the pagan priests do.
This, too, is a bad path and it is forbidden to walk upon it. Whoever follows this path is called a sinner [as implied by Numbers 6:11's] statement concerning a nazarite: "and he [the priest] shall make an atonement for him, for his having sinned regarding [his] soul." Our sages declared: If the nazarite who abstained only from wine requires atonement, how much more so does one who abstains from everything.
Therefore, our Sages directed man to abstain only from those things which the Torah denies him and not to forbid himself permitted things by vows and oaths [of abstention]. Thus, our Sages stated: Are not those things which the Torah has prohibited sufficient for you that you must forbid additional things to yourself?
This general statement also refers to those who fast constantly. They are not following a good path, [for] our Sages have forbidden a man to mortify himself by fasting. Of all the above, and their like, Solomon directed and said: "Do not be overly righteous and do not be overly clever; why make yourself desolate?" (Ecclesiastes 7:16).
Clearly the Rambam is in accordance with Rav Eliezer haKappar and Shmuel that the Nazir is a sinner and yet in Hilchos Nezirus (10:14) the Rambam seems to contradict himself as he paskens like Rav Elazar that the Nazir is a holy man:
אֲבָל הַנּוֹדֵר לַה' דֶּרֶךְ קְדֻשָּׁה הֲרֵי זֶה נָאֶה וּמְשֻׁבָּח וְעַל זֶה נֶאֱמַר(במדבר ו ז) "נֵזֶר אֱלֹהָיו עַל רֹאשׁוֹ" (במדבר ו ח)"קָדשׁ הוּא לַה'". וּשְׁקָלוֹ הַכָּתוּב כְּנָבִיא (שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר) (עמוס ב יא) "וָאָקִים מִבְּנֵיכֶם לִנְבִיאִים וּמִבַּחוּרֵיכֶם לִנְזִרִים":
If, however, a person takes a nazirite vow to God in a holy manner, this is delightful and praiseworthy and concerning this, [Numbers 6:7-8] states: "The diadem of his God is upon his head... He is holy unto God." And Scripture equates him with a prophet, as [Amos 2:11] states: "And from your sons, I will raise [some] as prophets, and from your youths, [some] as nazirites."
How can we understand this contradiction in the Rambam?
The Nazir Rectifies The Sin Of Adam and Chava
In order to answer these questions and gain a fundamental insights into the nature of Nezirus let us journey back to the sin of Adam HaRishon and Chava.
Chazal say (Avodah Zarah 22b, Shabbos 146a) that the Nachash had relations with Chavah. Rashi explains (Shabbos 146a) that this the deeper meaning of the passuk (Bereishis 13:3) which says:
וַיֹּ֨אמֶר יְהֹוָ֧ה אֱלֹהִ֛ים לָֽאִשָּׁ֖ה מַה־זֹּ֣את עָשִׂ֑ית וַתֹּ֨אמֶר֙ הָֽאִשָּׁ֔ה הַנָּחָ֥שׁ הִשִּׁיאַ֖נִי וָֽאֹכֵֽל:
And the Lord God said to the woman, "What is this that you have done?" And the woman said, "The serpent enticed me, and I ate."
The word הִשִּׁיאַ֖נִי, enticed, is related to the word נשואין, marriage. Thus when the snake gave Chava the advice to eat from the Eitz HaDaas, it is a hidden reference to the fact that Chava and the Nachash were intimate with one another.
So one facet of the story of the sin of Adam HaRishon is the sin of adultery. Another facet of the story is the role of wine.
Chazal explain that according to some the Eitz HaDaas was a grapevine (Bereishis Rabbah 15:8, Zohar I 73a, 36a, 267b). The Gemara in Sanhedrin (70a) teaches:
ויחל נח איש האדמה ויטע כרם אמר רב חסדא אמר רב עוקבא ואמרי לה מר עוקבא א"ר זכאי א"ל הקב"ה לנח נח לא היה לך ללמד מאדם הראשון שלא גרם לו אלא יין כמאן דאמר אותו אילן שאכל ממנו אדם הראשון גפן היה דתניא ר"מ אומר אותו אילן שאכל אדם הראשון ממנו גפן היה
The verse states: “And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard.” In explanation of this matter, Rav Ḥisda says that Rav Ukva says, and some say that Mar Ukva says that Rabbi Zakkai says: The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to Noah: Noah, shouldn’t you have learned from Adam the first man, whose banishment from the Garden of Eden was caused only by wine? The Gemara notes: This is in accordance with the opinion of the one who says that the tree from which Adam the first man ate was a grapevine. As it is taught in a baraita: Rabbi Meir says: The tree from which Adam the first man ate was a grapevine,
According to the Zohar (73a) Noach wished to examine the sin that Adam had committed with the intention of avoiding it himself and learning how to rectify it and by extension the world. Noach was unable to fathom the secret (sod = 70 - see immediately below for further explanation) of the grapes so he squeezed them in order to examine them further. However, instead of sanctifying the wine which he made from the grapes, he became drunk on it, thus repeating Adam's sin. (see also Shelah who explains that this is why Noach was naked just as Adam was prior to his sin.) The Zohar further explains that this is the meaning of the drunkenness of Nadav and Avihu who became intoxicated from the same vine as Noach - though at this point it is beyond the scope of this article to explain this fully.
The Gemara in Eiruvin (65a) connects wine with Daas and the number 70:
אמר רבי חייא כל המתיישב ביינו יש בו דעת שבעים זקנים יין ניתן בשבעים אותיות וסוד ניתן בשבעים אותיות נכנס יין יצא סוד
Rabbi Ḥiyya said: Anyone who remains settled of mind after drinking wine, and does not become intoxicated, has an element of the mind-set of seventy Elders. The allusion is: Wine [yayin spelled yod, yod, nun] was given in seventy letters, as the numerological value of the letters comprising the word is seventy, as yod equals ten and nun equals fifty. Similarly, the word secret [sod spelled samekh, vav, dalet] was given in seventy letters, as samekh equals sixty, vav equals six, and dalet equals four. Typically, when wine entered the body, a secret emerged. Whoever does not reveal secrets when he drinks is clearly blessed with a firm mind, like that of seventy Elders.
The fact that Daas and Wine both share the same Gematria (70) is another reference to the idea that the Eitz HaDaas was a grapevine from which Adam drank. (Interestingly, the Gemara cited above which tells us that the Eitz HaDaas was a grapevine is on Daf 70a. The connections between the number 70 and Purim - the Yom Tov where we are obligated to get drunk appropriately - are numerous. Achashveirosh used the vessels of the Bais Hamikdash because he calculated that 70 years had passed and Klal Yisrael had not been redeemed. Haman attempted to eradicate Klal Yisrael in 70 days, a story that takes up 70 pesukim in the Megillah. Esther fasted for 70 hours. Haman was hanged on the 17th day of Nissan (see Rashi on Megillas Esther 4:17) yet, Mordechai waited until the 23rd of Sivan to send the new royal missives throughout the kingdom (Esther 8:9). Why not send the new letters immediately? The Gra explains (Esther 8:9) that Mordechai delayed so that Klal Yisrael would daven for a total of seventy days, corresponding to the seventy years of galus Bavel (that they were now ending). Amalek can be read ayin-malak, which means the "severed eye," or in this case, the "severed ayin -70.)
In light of this Gemara which explains the connection between יין ,דעת and 70 we can now explain the Gemara in Berachos (34b) which explains the ultimate reward for Talmidei Chachamim in Olam Haba:
מַאי ״עַיִן לֹא רָאָתָה״? אָמַר רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בֶּן לֵוִי: זֶה יַיִן הַמְשׁוּמָּר בַּעֲנָבָיו מִשֵּׁשֶׁת יְמֵי בְּרֵאשִׁית. רַבִּי שְׁמוּאֵל בַּר נַחְמָנִי אָמַר: זֶה עֵדֶן, שֶׁלֹּא שָׁלְטָה בּוֹ עֵין כׇּל בְּרִיָּה.
Earlier, Rabbi Yoḥanan said that there is a reward referred to in the verse: “No eye has seen it.” The Gemara asks: What is this reward about which it is said: “No eye has seen it”? Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: That is the wine that has been preserved in its grapes since the six days of creation and which no eye has ever seen. Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani said: That is Eden, which no creature’s eye has ever surveyed.
The two opinions go together. עַיִן לֹא רָאָתָה, the eyes that have never seen it, can also be understood as the עַיִן, seventy, which has never been seen. Rav Yehoshua ben Levi explains that this is the grapes that have been preserved from the six days of creation (יַיִן = seventy). Rav Shmuel bar Nachmani explains that it is a reference to Gan Eden itself. (which contained the Eitz HaDaas - connected to the Daas of the seventy Zekeinim).
The Vilna Gaon (Safra D'Tzniusa, Chapter 2) states outright that Daas is called wine.
Having established that the sin of Adam HaRishon and Chava centered around adultery and inappropriate drunkneness we can now understand the connection between the sin of Adam HaRishon and Nezirus.
Just as Noach and Nadav and Avihu attempted to rectify the sin of Adam HaRishon, so too the Nazir is an attempt to rectify the sin of Adam HaRishon.
The Medrash in Bamidbar Rabbah (10:10) connects the prohibitions of the Nazir cutting his hair, drinking wine and inappropriate sexuality.
כָּל יְמֵי נֶדֶר נִזְרוֹ תַּעַר וגו' (במדבר ו, ה), לָמָּה צִוָּה הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לַנָּזִיר שֶׁלֹא יְגַלַּח רֹאשׁוֹ, לְפִי שֶׁהַגִּלּוּחַ מְתָאֳרוֹ וּמְיַפֵּהוּ, כְּשֵׁם שֶׁאָמְרוּ בְּיוֹסֵף (בראשית מא, יד): וַיְגַלַּח וַיְחַלֵּף שִׂמְלֹתָיו, וְגִדּוּל שֵׂעָר הוּא לְשֵׁם צַעַר וְאֵבֶל, לְכָךְ אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אַחַר שֶׁזֶּה הַנָּזִיר אָסַר עַצְמוֹ מִן הַיַּיִן כְּדֵי לְהַרְחִיק עַצְמוֹ מִן הַזִּמָּה, יְגַדֵּל שַׂעֲרוֹ, שֶׁיִּתְנַבֵּל וְיִצְטָעֵר, כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹא יְהֵא יֵצֶר הָרָע קוֹפֵץ עָלָיו, (במדבר ו, ה):
Why does God command the Nazir not to cut his hair? Because cutting his hair enhances his appearance… while growing hair is a sign of sorrow and mourning. Therefore, God says, "Since this Nazir has prohibited wine for himself in order to keep himself away from licentiousness, let him grow his hair long, so that he will become untidy and will be pained by it; then, his evil inclination will not overcome him."
The Parsha of the Nazir immediately follows the Parsha of the Isha Sotah. The Gemara in Berachos (63a) explains the juxtaposition:
תַּנְיָא, רַבִּי אוֹמֵר: לָמָּה נִסְמְכָה פָּרָשַׁת נָזִיר לְפָרָשַׁת סוֹטָה — לוֹמַר לָךְ שֶׁכָּל הָרוֹאֶה סוֹטָה בְּקִלְקוּלָהּ יַזִּיר עַצְמוֹ מִן הַיַּיִן.
It was taught in a baraita, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi says: Why is the portion of the Nazirite (Numbers ch. 6) juxtaposed with the portion of the sota (Numbers ch. 5)? They are juxtaposed to tell you that anyone who sees a sota in her disgrace, her transgression, should renounce wine, as wine is one of the causes of that transgression.
(A further connection between the isha sotah and the Nazir can be seen from a comparison of the pesukim:
Regarding the isha sotah the passuk (Bamidbar 5:18) tells us:
וְהֶֽעֱמִ֨יד הַכֹּהֵ֥ן אֶֽת־הָֽאִשָּׁה֘ לִפְנֵ֣י יְהוָֹה֒ וּפָרַע֙ אֶת־רֹ֣אשׁ הָֽאִשָּׁ֔ה וְנָתַ֣ן עַל־כַּפֶּ֗יהָ אֵ֚ת מִנְחַ֣ת הַזִּכָּר֔וֹן מִנְחַ֥ת קְנָאֹ֖ת הִ֑וא וּבְיַ֤ד הַכֹּהֵן֙ יִֽהְי֔וּ מֵ֥י הַמָּרִ֖ים הַֽמְאָֽרְרִֽים:
"Then the kohen shall stand the woman up before the Lord and expose the [hair on the] head of the woman; he shall place into her hands the remembrance meal offering, which is a meal offering of jealousies, while the bitter curse bearing waters are in the kohen's hand."
The very same language is used with regard to the Nazir (Bamidbar 6:5):
כָּל־יְמֵי֙ נֶ֣דֶר נִזְר֔וֹ תַּ֖עַר לֹא־יַֽעֲבֹ֣ר עַל־רֹאשׁ֑וֹ עַד־מְלֹ֨את הַיָּמִ֜ם אֲשֶׁר־יַזִּ֤יר לַֽיהוָֹה֙ קָדֹ֣שׁ יִֽהְיֶ֔ה גַּדֵּ֥ל פֶּ֖רַע שְׂעַ֥ר רֹאשֽׁוֹ:
"All the days of his vow of abstinence, no razor shall pass over his head; until the completion of the term that he abstains for the sake of the Lord, it shall be sacred, and he shall allow the growth of the hair of his head to grow wild.")
The Nazir, motivated by his desire to stay away from inappropriate sexuality, abstains from wine and grows his hair long so as to diminish his appearance and gain power over his yezter hora (see also the Seforno and the Alshich who follow this line of thinking). The story of the original sin is mirrored in the life of the Nazir. If Adam and Chava engaged in inappropriate sexual relations and drunkenness, the Nazir completely removes himself from these areas.
(The Baal HaTurim furthers the connection between the isha sotah and the adultery of Chava and the Nachash by pointing out that when the guilty isha sotah drinks from the prescribed Sotah waters she is punished by her legs falling off of her body. Prior to the sin of Adam HaRishon the Nachash walked upright but as a punishment he lost his legs just as the adulteress does.)
Let us now attempt to take this one step deeper.
The Halachos of Nezirus not only mirror the sins of Adam and Chava but recreates the pristine state of Adam HaRishon prior to the sin. Seeing the isha sotah reminds the Nazir of the licentiousness of Chava and the Nachash and moves him to return to a state that of existence where the sin of Adam and Chava had not yet impacted the world.
In Kabalah, hair symbolizes the transmission of divine energy. Each se'ar, hair, is a sha'ar, a gate. It is the bridge between the spiritual world and the physical world. Hair is nourished by the body but hair itself does not contain blood vessels or nerves. Thus it is both within and beyond our physical body (Ohr HaTorah, Emor p. 588-593). A strand of hair is identified with the letter Vav and just as a Vav connects two words, our hair is a bridge connecting the spiritual and the physical.
There are two different types of hair, the "fine" hair on our head and the "coarse" hair on our beard. The hair on our head is identified with the sefira of Keter, crown. This is the dimension of our soul that transcends logic. It is the supra-rational part of our soul. Thus the fine hair on our head is present even when we are young babies. Even before we have mature, developed, conscious thought we are deeply connected to that which is beyond logic. On the other hand, as we mature, we develop the coarse hair of the body, specifically the beard. The beard represents the cognitive structure of the psyche. As the child matures they develop the cognitive skills necessary to understand the finite world. In between these two types of hair we find the peyos which connect the supra rational hair of our head and the rational hair of our beard (see Makkos 20a which explains that the peyos are the hair in front of the ear extending beneath the cheekbone). Through the peyos the infinite energy of Keter is contained within the cognitive structure of our psyche. This explains why the Torah prohibits us from cutting off our peyos (Vayikra 19:27) for in so doing we would be separating the supra rational from the cognitive. Without the peyos, the energy of Keter remains in its infinite state and cannot be filtered down into the rational structure of our psyche. Therefore, in Kabbalah we find the idea not to cut the beard or the peyos so that the infinite energy of Keter can be brought down into our world. Cutting the hair on top of our head is not an issue because the unfiltered Keter experience is beyond reach.
The sin of Adam HaRishon further materialized our world (previously it had been in a quasi material / quasi spiritual state) which gives us the opportunity to reveal Hashem in our lower physical world. The peyos are the conduits through which the infinite is transmitted into the finite. The Nazir attempts to rectify the sin of Adam and Chava by living in a pre-sin state. The Nazir experiences the infinite state of Keter not in its filtered cognitive state but in its original pristine form. Thus the Nazir is told that he may not cut off even one hair. He is experiencing the full range of the supra-rational Keter experience in its unadulterated state. The most primal part of his soul, well before the development of the cognitive structure, is available to the Nazir. This is the experience of the World to Come as the passuk states:
אֶרְאֶ֨נּוּ֙ וְלֹ֣א עַתָּ֔ה אֲשׁוּרֶ֖נּוּ וְלֹ֣א קָר֑וֹב דָּרַ֨ךְ כּוֹכָ֜ב מִיַּֽעֲקֹ֗ב וְקָ֥ם שֵׁ֨בֶט֙ מִיִּשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וּמָחַץ֙ פַּֽאֲתֵ֣י מוֹאָ֔ב וְקַרְקַ֖ר כָּל־בְּנֵי־שֵֽׁת:
"I see it, but not now; I behold it, but not soon. A star has gone forth from Jacob, and a staff will arise from Israel which will crush the princes of Moab and uproot all the sons of Seth." (Bamidbar 24:17)
The words וּמָחַץ֙ פַּֽאֲתֵ֣י מוֹאָ֔ב, crush the princes of Moav, can also be understood as crushing the פַּֽאֲתֵ֣י, peyos, which symbolizes a time when there will no longer be a need to filter the experience of the Keter into our rational mind because we will be able to directly encounter the infinite. This dimension of the World to Come is where the Nazir lives. For a Nazir, cutting his hair would represent being cut off from the infinite spiritual source of creation itself. It would be an expression of falling into the world of post Adam's sin.
Now that we understand that the Nazir returns to the world as it was prior to the sin of Adam and Chava we can gain a greater insight into The Nazir's specific abstention from cutting hair. The Gemara in Berachos (61a) tells us that Hashem braided Chava's hair before giving her to Adam to enhance her beauty. Indeed the Gemara in Baba Basra (58a) teaches: “Every [woman] compared to [the shine] of Sarah Imeinu’s face is like a monkey compared to a man. Sarah, in turn, compared to Chava, is like a monkey compared to a man.” A monkey is just a shadow of a human being. Similarly, Sarah Imeinu, the most beautiful woman who ever lived, was nothing but a shadow of what existed before the cheit of Adam and Chava. When Chava was formed by the hand of Hashem, she was perfect in every way. Once Chava acted inappropriately in her relationship with Adam she was punished middah knegged middah as the Gemara in Eiruvin (100b) teaches that ten curses came upon Chava for eating from the Eitz HaDaas and one of them is that she must cover like one in mourning. Rashi explains that this means it will be embarrassing for her to go out with her hair uncovered. The beauty of the hair of Chava must be covered as a result of her sin. The isha sotah who acts as Chava did has her unbraided as part of the Sotah process (Sotah 8a). She has lost the beauty of the braided hair that Hashem gave Chava. In contrast, the Nazir returns to a state prior to the sin of Chava and therefore we find that Shimshon braided his hair in seven braids (Shoftim 16:19).
Along the same lines of the Nazir living in the dimension that is pre-sin, the Shelah (Torah Ohr, Naso 11) explains that this is why the Nazir is forbidden from becoming Tamei Meis (as opposed to a Kohen who can beocme tamei meis for close relatives). The very notion of death was a result of the sin of Adam HaRishon. The Nazir is returning to a state of being as it was prior to the sin of Adam HaRishon thus he must be totally removed from any contact with death. And of course, the Nazir is forbidden from drinking wine for that is the very source of the sin to begin with.
The Nazir Has A Greater Kedusha Than The Kohen Gadol
Let us continue down this path of connecting the Nazir and Adam HaRishon by understanding the Nazir's comparison to the Kohen Gadol. The Medrash in Bamidbar Rabbah (10:11) teaches:
כָּל יְמֵי הַזִּירוֹ לַה' וגו' (במדבר ו, ו), בֹּא וּרְאֵה שֶׁכָּל מִי שֶׁמְּקַדֵּשׁ אֶת עַצְמוֹ מִלְּמַטָּה מְקַדְּשִׁין אוֹתוֹ מִלְּמַעְלָה, זֶה לְפִי שֶׁמַּזִּיר אֶת עַצְמוֹ מִן הַיַּיִן וְנוֹהֵג צַעַר בְּעַצְמוֹ שֶׁלֹא יְגַלֵּחַ רֹאשׁוֹ כְּדֵי לִשְׁמֹר עַצְמוֹ מִן הָעֲבֵרָה, אוֹמֵר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא הֲרֵי הוּא חָשׁוּב לְפָנַי כְּכֹהֵן גָדוֹל, מַה כֹּהֵן אָסוּר לִטַּמָּא לְכָל הַמֵּתִים, אַף נָזִיר אָסוּר לִטַּמָּא לְכָל הַמֵּתִים, מַה בְּכֹהֵן גָּדוֹל כְּתִיב (ויקרא כא, יב): כִּי נֵזֶר שֶׁמֶן מִשְׁחַת אֱלֹהָיו עָלָיו, אַף בַּנָּזִיר הוּא אוֹמֵר (במדבר ו, ז): כִּי נֵזֶר אֱלֹהָיו עַל רֹאשׁוֹ, מַה בְּכֹהֵן כְּתִיב (דברי הימים א כג, יג): וַיִּבָּדֵל אַהֲרֹן לְהַקְדִּישׁוֹ קֹדֶשׁ קֳדָשִׁים, אַף נָזִיר נִקְרָא קָדוֹשׁ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר ו, ח): כָּל יְמֵי נִזְרוֹ קָדשׁ הוּא לַה'.
Everyone who sanctifies himself with his own earthly efforts will be sanctified from on High. This [nazir] – since he abstains from wine and afflicts himself by not shaving his head, so as to distance himself from sin, therefore God says, "I consider him like a Kohen Gadol. Just as a Kohen Gadol is prohibited from contracting ritual impurity through any dead person (even his close relatives), likewise a nazir is prohibited to contract ritual impurity through any dead person. Just as it is written, concerning the Kohen Gadol (Vayikra 21:12), "for his God's crown of anointing oil is upon him", likewise concerning the nazir it is written, "for his God's crown is upon his head." Just as, concerning the Kohen Gadol, it is written (I Divrei Ha-yamim 23:13), "Aharon was separated to be sanctified as the holy of holies", likewise the nazir is called holy, as it is written (v. 8): "All his nazirite days, he is holy to God." (see also Recanti on Parshas Naso who also makes the connection between the Nazir and the Kohen Gadol albeit from a more Kabbalistic perspective.)
The Medrash compares the Kedusha of the Nazir to the Kedusha of the Kohen Gadol by connecting the pesukim in Divre HaYamim that describe Ahron HaKohen as being sanctified in the Kodesh HaKedoshim and the passuk in our Parsha which describe the Nazir as being Kadosh L'Hashem. There is another striking connection between the Kedusha of the Kohen Gadol and the Kedusha of the Nazir. One of the articles of clothing which the Kohen Gadol wears (on his forehead) is the Tzitz (show plate). The passuk in Shemos (39:30) describes the Tzitz:
וַיַּֽעֲשׂ֛וּ אֶת־צִ֥יץ נֶֽזֶר־הַקֹּ֖דֶשׁ זָהָ֣ב טָה֑וֹר וַיִּכְתְּב֣וּ עָלָ֗יו מִכְתַּב֙ פִּתּוּחֵ֣י חוֹתָ֔ם קֹ֖דֶשׁ לַֽיהֹוָֽה:
"And they made the show plate, the holy crown, of pure gold, and they inscribed upon it an inscription like the engravings of a seal: "Holy to the Lord."
The Tzitz is described as the נֶֽזֶר־הַקֹּ֖דֶשׁ, the holy crown, and is engraved with the words קֹ֖דֶשׁ לַֽיהֹוָֽה, holy to God.
In our Parsha we find similar descriptions of the Nazir:
כָּל־יְמֵ֥י הַזִּיר֖וֹ לַֽיהוָֹ֑ה עַל־נֶ֥פֶשׁ מֵ֖ת לֹ֥א יָבֹֽא: לְאָבִ֣יו וּלְאִמּ֗וֹ לְאָחִיו֙ וּלְאַ֣חֹת֔וֹ לֹֽא־יִטַּמָּ֥א לָהֶ֖ם בְּמֹתָ֑ם כִּ֛י נֵ֥זֶר אֱלֹהָ֖יו עַל־רֹאשֽׁוֹ: כֹּ֖ל יְמֵ֣י נִזְר֑וֹ קָד֥שׁ ה֖וּא לַֽיהוָֹֽה:
"All the days that he abstains for The Lord, he shall not come into contact with the dead. To his father, to his mother, to his brother, or to his sister, he shall not defile himself if they die, for the crown of his God is upon his head. "For the entire duration of his abstinence, he is holy to the Lord." (Bamidbar 6:6-8)
Understanding the connection between the Nazir and the Kohen Gadol helps us understand the Gemara in Yoma (47a) which teaches that Kimchis merited to have seven sons who became Kohen Gadol. When asked what special zechus she had she answered: מימי לא ראו קורות ביתי קלעי שערי, In all my days, the beams of my house never saw the braids of my hair. Since Kimchis covered the braids of her hair she brought a tikkun to the braided hair of Chava (like the Nazir) and thus her sons became Kohanim Gedolim who are compared to the Nazir.
There is however one major difference between the Nazir and the Kohen Gadol.
While the Nazir is not allowed to cut his hair, the Kohen and the Kohen Gadol are obligated to cut their hair. The Rambam in Bias HaMikdash (1:10) paskens:
כְּשֵׁם שֶׁאֵין הַכֹּהֲנִים מֻזְהָרִין עַל הַיַּיִן אֶלָּא בִּשְׁעַת בִּיאָה לַמִּקְדָּשׁ כָּךְ אֵין אֲסוּרִין לְגַדֵּל פֶּרַע אֶלָּא בִּשְׁעַת בִּיאָה לַמִּקְדָּשׁ. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּכֹהֵן הֶדְיוֹט. אֲבָל כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל אָסוּר לְגַדֵּל פֶּרַע וְלִקְרֹעַ בְּגָדָיו לְעוֹלָם. שֶׁהֲרֵי תָּמִיד הוּא בַּמִּקְדָּשׁ. וּלְכָךְ נֶאֱמַר בּוֹ (ויקרא כא י) "אֶת רֹאשׁוֹ לֹא יִפְרָע וּבְגָדָיו לֹא יִפְרֹם"
Just as the priests are not warned against drinking wine except at the time they enter the Temple, so too, they are forbidden to grow their hair long only at the time they enter the Temple. To whom does the above apply? To an ordinary priest. A High Priest, by contrast, is forbidden to let his hair grow long and rend his garments forever, for he should be in the Temple at all times. Therefore with regard to him, [Leviticus 21:10] states: "He should not let [the hair of] his head grow long, nor should he rend his garments."
In fact, the length of hair prohibited to the Kohen is derived from the minimum length that a Nazir must grow his hair (30 days growth). As the Rambam (Bias HaMikdash 1:11) paskens:
כַּמָּה הוּא גִּדּוּל פֶּרַע. שְׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם כְּנָזִיר שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בּוֹ (במדבר ו ה) "גַּדֵּל פֶּרַע שְׂעַר רֹאשׁוֹ" וְאֵין נְזִירוּת פְּחוּתָה מִשְּׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם. לְפִיכָךְ כֹּהֵן הֶדְיוֹט הָעוֹבֵד מְגַלֵּחַ מִשְּׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם לִשְׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם:
What is meant by growing one's hair long? [Leaving it uncut for] 30 days like a Nazirite, concerning whom [Numbers 6:5] states: "He shall let the mane of the hair of his head grow long" and a nazirite vow is not less than 30 days. Therefore an ordinary priest who serves [in the Temple] must cut his hair every 30 days.
Why is the Kohen Gadol so different than the Nazir in this regard?
The Alshich explains that in truth the Nazir has an even greater status than the Kohen Gadol.
Regarding the Kohen Gadol the passuk (Vayikra 21:11) says:
וְעַ֛ל כָּל־נַפְשֹׁ֥ת מֵ֖ת לֹ֣א יָבֹ֑א לְאָבִ֥יו וּלְאִמּ֖וֹ לֹ֥א יִטַּמָּֽא: וּמִן־הַמִּקְדָּשׁ֙ לֹ֣א יֵצֵ֔א וְלֹ֣א יְחַלֵּ֔ל אֵ֖ת מִקְדַּ֣שׁ אֱלֹהָ֑יו כִּ֡י נֵ֠זֶר שֶׁ֣מֶן מִשְׁחַ֧ת אֱלֹהָ֛יו עָלָ֖יו אֲנִ֥י יְהֹוָֽה:
"And he shall not come upon any dead bodies; he shall not defile himself for his father or his mother. He shall not leave the Sanctuary, and he will not desecrate the holy things of his God, for the crown of his God's anointing oil is upon him. I am the Lord."
The Kedusha of the Kohen Gadol comes from the oil he is anointed with and as such he is forbidden from becoming Tamei Meis even to his own parents. Regarding the Nazir's prohibition from becoming Tamei Meis even to his own parents the Torah mentions no such anointment. The passuk (Bamidbar 6:7) simply states:
לְאָבִ֣יו וּלְאִמּ֗וֹ לְאָחִיו֙ וּלְאַ֣חֹת֔וֹ לֹֽא־יִטַּמָּ֥א לָהֶ֖ם בְּמֹתָ֑ם כִּ֛י נֵ֥זֶר אֱלֹהָ֖יו עַל־רֹאשֽׁוֹ:
"To his father, to his mother, to his brother, or to his sister, he shall not defile himself if they die, for the crown of his God is upon his head."
So whereas the Kedusha of the Kohen Gadol comes from the anointing oil, the Kedusha of the Nazir comes from the voluntarily vow of Nezirus he takes upon himself.
The Shelah explains the elevated status of the Nazir as follows. Adam HaRishon, in his pre-sin state, had a body that was capable of becoming fully sanctified. Had he not sinned his body would have been fully illuminated by the light of his soul. Once Adam HaRishon sinned his body became fully materialized and he was expelled from Gan Eden. Aaron HaKohen, as the Kohen Gadol, takes upon himself the role of Adam HaRishon.
The Rabbeinu Bachya quotes the Medrash which actually connects the clothing Adam HaRishon is given by God to the eight garments of the Kohen Gadol:
וע"ד המדרש וילבישם בגדי כהונה גדולה הלבישם כתיב הכא וילבישם וכתיב התם וילבישם כתנות. וידוע כי בגדי כהונה גדולה היו שמונה וכן בכתוב של ויעש ה' אלהים לאדם ולאשתו כתנות עור וילבישם שמונה תיבות הן והבן זה.
From a homiletical point of view, the word וילבישם refers to the priestly garments worn by the High Priest. We have the identical expression in Leviticus 8,13 where Moses is reported as dressing the sons of Aaron in the clothing they wore when performing their priestly functions. It is a well known fact that the High Priest wore eight garments when on duty. When you count the number of words in our verse, Bereishis 3:21 (וַיַּ֩עַשׂ֩ יְהֹוָ֨ה אֱלֹהִ֜ים לְאָדָ֧ם וּלְאִשְׁתּ֛וֹ כָּתְנ֥וֹת ע֖וֹר וַיַּלְבִּשֵֽׁם:) you will find that it contains eight words. You will appreciate the allusion in this. The word וילבישם is the eighth word in that verse.
Returning to the explanation of the Shelah - The Nazir has a more elevated status then that of a Kohen Gadol because the Kohen Gadol replaces Adam HaRishon after he sinned whereas the Nazir lives in a dimension before Adam sinned. Just as Adam HaRishon's body pre-sin was not fully materialized and was capable of receiving the light of the soul, the Nazir's body now reflects that state of Kedusha. This explains why the Nazir does not need any anointing oil to endow him with Kedusha as the Kohen Gadol requires. Because he has separated (Nazir) himself he naturally has the crown (Nazir) of God upon his head.
I would humbly add that because the Kohen Gadol represents Adam HaRishon in his post sin state, the crown of the Kohen Gadol that declares him to be קֹ֖דֶשׁ לַֽיהֹוָֽה is represented by a material crown made of gold, the most precious of our earthly materials. In contrast, the crown of the Nazir is the natural hair that grows upon his head. Just as Adam HaRishon's pre-sin body was naturally capable of radiating Kedusha, so too the Nazir who embodies the pre-sin state of Adam HaRishon naturally wears the crown that declares him to be holy to God. No earthly material is needed.
It is therefore understood that the Kohen Gadol who is connected to the world of Adam HaRishon post sin is mandated to cut his hair. The Kohen Gadol lives within the ordered structure of our current world and his cut hair symbolizes his connection to that structure. In contrast, the Nazir who lives in the dimension of Adam HaRishon pre sin, is able to tap into the dimension of Keter without any filtration. The wild hair of the Nazir symbolizes the disordered world in which he lives.
Yosef HaTzaddik - The First Nazir
With this in mind we are now ready to start examining some of the amazing Nazirites throughout Tanach.
The very first time we encounter the word Nazir in the Torah is when Yaakov is bestowing his berachos upon Yosef (Bereishis 49:26):
בִּרְכֹ֣ת אָבִ֗יךָ גָּֽבְרוּ֙ עַל־בִּרְכֹ֣ת הוֹרַ֔י עַד־תַּֽאֲוַ֖ת גִּבְעֹ֣ת עוֹלָ֑ם תִּֽהְיֶ֨יןָ֙ לְרֹ֣אשׁ יוֹסֵ֔ף וּלְקָדְקֹ֖ד נְזִ֥יר אֶחָֽיו:
"The blessings of your father surpassed the blessings of my parents, the ends of the everlasting hills. May they come to Joseph's head and to the crown (of the head) of the one who was separated from his brothers."
The Gemara in Shabbos (139a) explains:
ואמר רבי מלאי משום רבי יצחק מגדלאה מיום שפירש יוסף מאחיו לא טעם טעם יין דכתיב ולקדקד נזיר אחיו
And Rabbi Mallai said in the name of Rabbi Yitzḥak from Migdal: From the day that Joseph took leave from his brothers, he did not sample a taste of wine, as it is written: “They shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of he who was separated [nezir] from his brothers” (Genesis 49:26). The language of the verse alludes to the fact that Joseph conducted himself like a nazirite and abstained from wine.
The Gemara continues and explains that during the period that Yosef was in Mitzrayim the brothers also abstained from drinking wine (or according to one opinion they drank but did not become drunk). Why did Yosef become a Nazir from the time that he was sold down to Mitzrayim?
In order to understand this we must first examine the connection between Adam HaRishon and Yosef HaTzaddik.
When Yosef reveals himself to the brothers many years later, the Torah (Bereishis 45:3) tells us:
וַיֹּ֨אמֶר יוֹסֵ֤ף אֶל־אֶחָיו֙ אֲנִ֣י יוֹסֵ֔ף הַע֥וֹד אָבִ֖י חָ֑י וְלֹא־יָֽכְל֤וּ אֶחָיו֙ לַֽעֲנ֣וֹת אֹת֔וֹ כִּ֥י נִבְהֲל֖וּ מִפָּנָֽיו:
"And Joseph said to his brothers, "I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?" but his brothers could not answer him because they were startled by his presence."
To say that they were startled by Yosef, the Torah uses the expression "נבהלו מפניו " and not "נבהלו ממנו" as would have expected. The literal translation נבהלו מפניו is "from his face". Rashi (Bereishis 37:3) explains that the shine of Yosef’s face was similar to that of his father Yaakov. So what did Yaakov's face look like? The Gemara in Baba Metzia (84a) teaches:
שופריה דרב כהנא מעין שופריה דרבי אבהו. שופריה דרבי אבהו מעין שופריה דיעקב אבינו. שופריה דיעקב אבינו מעין שופריה דאדם הראשון
The beauty (the shine of his face) of Rav Kahana was similar to the beauty of Rabbi Avahu. The beauty of Rabbi Avahu was similar to the beauty of Yaakov Avinu. The beauty of Yaakov Avinu was similar to the beauty of Adam HaRishon.
The face of a person reveals their inner essence. The fact that Yosef looked like Adam HaRishon teaches us that Yosef (as Yaakov was before him) was designed to rectify the sin of Adam HaRishon.
When we examine Yosef's life we find a fascinating parallel to the sin of Adam HaRishon. Earlier we mentioned that Chava committed adultery with the Nachash. No wonder then that Yosef finds himself positioned to commit adultery with the wife of Potiphar and only stops because he saw the image of his father Yaakov in the window (Sotah 36b). Because Yosef looked like Yaakov and Adam, when Yosef saw the image of Yaakov in the window, he was looking at his own image as well as that of Adam HaRishon. Seeing the three images together Yosef was reminded of his mission to rectify the original sin of Adam HaRishon and was able to abstain.
A further connection between Adam HaRishon and Yosef HaTzaddik can be seen from the Medrash (Bereishis Rabbah 97:6) which states that the Kesones Pasim that Yaakov gave to Yosef were the very same garments that God had made for Adam after he sinned.
Lastly, the Medrash in Bereishis Rabbah (38:9, see also Avodah Zara 5b) that the sin of Adam HaRishon was rooted in his lack of gratitude. This is evidenced by the fact that he blamed his sin on Chava, the gift he had been given by God as the passuk (Bereishis 3:12) says:
וַיֹּ֖אמֶר הָֽאָדָ֑ם הָֽאִשָּׁה֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר נָתַ֣תָּה עִמָּדִ֔י הִ֛וא נָֽתְנָה־לִּ֥י מִן־הָעֵ֖ץ וָֽאֹכֵֽל:
"And the man said, "The woman whom You gave [to be] with me she gave me of the tree; so I ate."
We also find that the Nachash lacked gratitude as he was the most cunning of all of the animals and was given the gift of speech yet he used his wisdom and communication abilities to persuade Chava to sin. This is in line with the Gemara in Baba Kama (16b) which teaches that when one does not bow down at Modim, their spine becomes a snake. In other words, if one is ungrateful to Hashem during the Teffilah of Modim which is designed to express our gratitude to Hashem, then they embody the Middah of the Nachash Hakadmoni who lacked gratitude.
Yosef HaTzaddik, as the one who devotes his life to the rectification of the sin of Adam HaRishon, is also the one who expresses gratitude to Hashem, even for his most difficult moments. The Medrash in Bereishis Rabbah (100:8) tells us that as the Shevatim were returning from burying Yaakov Avinu, Yosef made a stop at the pit where he has been thrown into so many years later so that he could make the bracha, Baruch she’asa li neis bamakom hazeh, Blessed is He who performed a miracle for me at this place.
The Zohar Chadash (138) teaches that Pharaoh took on the form of the Nachash Hakadmoni. Not surprisingly, it is Pharaoh who lacks gratitude to Yosef for saving Mitzrayim and ultimately enslaves Klal Yisrael (Shemos 1:8 and Rashi there). (Interestingly פרע is the same letters as פֶּרַע, the Nazir is instructed to let his hair grow and פָרַע֙, the isha sotah is instructed to let her hair down.)
Now that we have established that Yosef's life is dedicated to rectifying the sin of Adam HaRishon in Mitzrayim it makes sense that Yosef would become a Nazir, returning to the state of Adam HaRishon prior to his sin, which gives him the strength to maintain his gratitude to Hashem and abstain from adultery (the primary features of the Nachash Hakadmoni). No wonder that the Medrash in Bereishis Rabbah (84:7), tells us that Yosef Hatzaddik was mesakein b’sa’aro, fixing his hair. Through his Nezirus Yosef was bringing a tikkun to the braided hair of Chava.
The Nezirus of Avshalom
In order to understand our next Nazir, Avshalom, we must first understand Avshalom's father, Dovid HaMelech.
The Zohar (Vayishlach) explains that the soul of Dovid HaMelech had been created but had not been apportioned any life in this world. The passuk in Tehillim (21:5) which says, חַיִּ֚ים | שָׁאַ֣ל מִ֖מְּךָ נָתַ֣תָּה לּ֑וֹ אֹ֥רֶךְ יָ֜מִ֗ים עוֹלָ֥ם וָעֶֽד, He asked You for life; You gave it to him, length of days forever and ever, is a reference to the Teffilah of Dovid HaMelech's soul who is asking Hashem for life. The Zohar brings multiple options as to who donated years of their life so that the soul of Dovid HaMelech's soul could be born. One option is that Adam HaRishon, who was meant until the age of 1000, died at the age of 930 and donated seventy years to the soul of Dovid HaMelech (the Arizal in Shaar Hagilgulim says that Dovid was the first reincarnation of Adam HaRishon). Another option is that Yaakov and Yosef jointly donated the seventy years of their lives.
In other words, the soul of Dovid HaMelech is endowed with the life force of Adam HaRishon or Yaakov and Yosef. We have already established that Adam, Yaakov and Yosef all had the same countenance which indicates that there is a common mission. Dovid HaMelech who is also identified with Adam, Yaakov and Yosef is also brought into this world to rectify the sin of Adam HaRishon. This is further evidenced by the fact that Dovid HaMelech lived for seventy years and as we pointed out earlier Daas is identified with the number seventy. Thus, the seventy years of Dovid HaMelech's life were meant to rectify the sin of the Eitz HaDaas.
Fascinatingly, the prime sin in the life of Dovid HaMelech was the sin of adultery he committed with Batsheva (see the opinion of the Mahariy brought in the Malbim Shmuel II 11:3 who maintains that Dovid HaMelech transgressed the prohibition of Eishes Ish. Others disagree maintaining that Batsheva had been given a Get from Uriah.). As we pointed out above, Chava and the Nachash also committed adultery. As the gilgul of Adam HaRishon it makes sense that this is exactly the area where Dovid HaMelech would struggle. Indeed the Arizal explains that because Dovid HaMelech was the first gilgul of Adam HaRishon, the test he faced was particularly challenging (souls that have been reincarnated previously have an easier time breaking through the Kelippa).
To further connect Batsheva and Chava let us look at the Gemara in Sanhedrin (107a) which teaches:
ויתהלך על גג בית המלך וירא אשה רוחצת מעל הגג והאשה טובת מראה מאד בת שבע הוה קא חייפא רישא תותי חלתא אתא שטן אידמי ליה כציפרתא פתק ביה גירא פתקה לחלתא איגליה וחזייה מיד (שמואל ב יא, ג) וישלח דוד וידרוש לאשה...
“And he walked upon the roof of the king’s house; from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very fair to look upon” (II Samuel 11:2). Bathsheba was shampooing her head behind a beehive, which concealed her from sight. Satan came and appeared to David as a bird. David shot an arrow at the bird, the arrow severed the beehive, Bathsheba was exposed, and David saw her. Immediately, it is written: “And David sent and inquired after the woman.
Batsheva who behaved modestly in covering her hair at all times (just as we said Kimchis did) rectifies the sin of Chava and yet it is precisely in the moment where her hair is exposed that Dovid HaMelech immediately develops a desire for her.
A final connection between Dovid HaMelech and Adam HaRishon can be seen in the way that Dovid HaMelech relates to the concept of death. Just as the Nazir cannot become tamei meis even to his closest relatives because he lives in the pre sin dimension before death came into the world so too Dovid HaMelech lives in the pre sin dimension and avoids the notion of death. The Gemara in Berachos (57b) tells us that sleep is a sixtieth of death. Regarding Dovid HaMelech, Chazal (Berachos 3b) suggest the possibility that Dovid did not sleep at all. In Tehillim (132:4) Dovid HaMelech writes about himself "I will not allow my eyes to sleep, my eyelids to slumber till I will find a place for the Lord of Yakov a dwelling place for the G-d of Yisroel.”
Not only do we find that Dovid HaMelech avoids sleep because it is a sixtieth of death but he even attempts to avoid death itself. The Gemara in Shabbos (30a,b) teaches that when Dovid HaMelech discovered that he was destined to die on Shabbos, he took extreme measures to avoid death.
כׇּל יוֹמָא דְשַׁבְּתָא הֲוָה יָתֵיב וְגָרֵיס כּוּלֵּי יוֹמָא. הַהוּא יוֹמָא דְּבָעֵי לְמֵינַח נַפְשֵׁיהּ, קָם מַלְאַךְ הַמָּוֶת קַמֵּיהּ וְלָא יְכִיל לֵיהּ, דְּלָא הֲוָה פָּסֵק פּוּמֵּיהּ מִגִּירְסָא. אֲמַר: מַאי אַעֲבֵיד לֵיהּ? הֲוָה לֵיהּ בּוּסְתָּנָא אֲחוֹרֵי בֵּיתֵיהּ, אֲתָא מַלְאַךְ הַמָּוֶת סָלֵיק וּבָחֵישׁ בְּאִילָנֵי. נְפַק לְמִיחְזֵי. הֲוָה סָלֵיק בְּדַרְגָּא, אִיפְּחִית דַּרְגָּא מִתּוּתֵיהּ, אִישְׁתִּיק וְנָח נַפְשֵׁיהּ.
Every Shabbat he would sit and learn all day long to protect himself from the Angel of Death. On that day on which the Angel of Death was supposed to put his soul to rest, the day on which David was supposed to die, the Angel of Death stood before him and was unable to overcome him because his mouth did not pause from study. The Angel of Death said: What shall I do to him? David had a garden [bustana] behind his house; the Angel of Death came, climbed, and shook the trees. David went out to see. As he climbed the stair, the stair broke beneath him. He was startled and was silent, interrupted his studies for a moment, and died.
Through his complete attachment to Torah, Dovid HaMelech is able to vanquish the Malach HaMaves and remain unaffected by the sin of Adam HaRishon. Perhaps we can suggest that the shaking of the tree is a reference to the sin of the Eitz HaDaas. The Malach HaMaves is only given license to kill because Adam and Chava shook the tree so to speak. In this way the Malach HaMaves is able to return Dovid HaMelech to our post sin existence and successfully takes his life.
With this in mind let us now begin to examine the story of Avshalom and Dovid HaMelech.
The Gemara in Sanhedrin (21a) tells us that Avshalom and his sister Tamar were the children of a marriage between Dovid HaMelech and a Yefas Toar (a non-Jewish woman captured in battle with whom the Torah allows the soldier to have a sexual encounter and may ultimately marry if she converts). Earlier we mentioned that Yosef HaTzaddik's Kesones Pasim was the same garment that Hashem gave to Adam. Interestingly, in only one other place in Tanach do we find a reference to a Kesones Passim.
וְעָלֶ֙יהָ֙ כְּתֹ֣נֶת פַּסִּ֔ים כִּי֩ כֵ֨ן תִּלְבַּ֧שְׁן בְנוֹת־הַמֶּ֛לֶךְ הַבְּתוּלֹ֖ת מְעִילִ֑ים וַיֹּצֵ֨א אוֹתָ֚הּ מְשָֽׁרְתוֹ֙ הַח֔וּץ וְנָעַ֥ל הַדֶּ֖לֶת אַחֲרֶֽיהָ: וַתִּקַּ֨ח תָּמָ֥ר אֵ֙פֶר֙ עַל־רֹאשָׁ֔הּ וּכְתֹ֧נֶת הַפַּסִּ֛ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר עָלֶ֖יהָ קָרָ֑עָה וַתָּ֚שֶׂם יָדָהּ֙ עַל־רֹאשָׁ֔הּ וַתֵּ֥לֶךְ הָל֖וֹךְ וְזָעָֽקָה:
"Now she had on a striped tunic, for in this manner the king's virgin daughters dressed, in robes. And his servant brought her outside, and locked the door after her. And Tamar put ashes on her head, and rent her garment of many colors that was on her; and she laid her hand on her head, and went her way, crying aloud as she went." (Shmuel II 13:18,19)
In order to understand the significance of Tamar's Kesones Pasim let us take a step back and get some context. Tamar had a half brother Amnon, the oldest of Dovid HaMelech's sons, (according to most Dovid HaMelech was their common parent though Tosafos in Sanhedrin 21a disagrees and maintains that they were not related at all) who fell deeply in love with Tamar. In an act of trickery Amnon had Tamar brought to his home where he professed his desire for her. When Tamar refused his overtures Amnon raped Tamar. It is in this context that we find Tamar renting her Kesones Pasim. Avshalom learns of Amnon's terrible misdeed and is enraged. While Dovid HaMelech was angered by the actions of Amnon, he could not bring himself to punish Amnon. Avshalom's felt that he had no recourse but to take revenge. Avshalom invites all of his brother's, including Amnon, to a sheep shearing festival where they will all take part in a festive seuda. Amnon instructs his servants:
וַיְצַו֩ אַבְשָׁל֨וֹם אֶת־נְעָרָ֜יו לֵאמֹ֗ר רְא֣וּ נָ֠א כְּט֨וֹב לֵב־אַמְנ֚וֹן בַּיַּ֙יִן֙ וְאָמַרְתִּ֣י אֲלֵיכֶ֔ם הַכּ֧וּ אֶת־אַמְנ֛וֹן וַהֲמִתֶּ֥ם אֹת֖וֹ אַל־תִּירָ֑אוּ הֲל֗וֹא כִּ֚י אָֽנֹכִי֙ צִוִּ֣יתִי אֶתְכֶ֔ם חִזְק֖וּ וִהְי֥וּ לִבְנֵי־חָֽיִל:
"And Absalom commanded his youths saying, "Please take note, when Amnon's heart is merry with wine, and when I say to you, 'Smite Amnon,' then kill him, fear not; have I not commanded you to be courageous and valiant?" (Shmuel II 13:28)
When Amnon became inebriated, Avshalom's servants murdered Amnon and fled. Avshalom fled to his mother's family in Geshur, where he dwelt for three years. Ultimately Avshalom was permitted to return to Jerusalem but Dovid HaMelech refused to see him for two more years, refusing to forgive him for Amnon's murder. Filled with a terrible hatred for his father, Avshalom plots to usurp the throne (as the now oldest son) and ultimately declares himself King, successfully unseating Dovid HaMelech.
Knowing that Dovid HaMelech's life is designed to rectify the sin of Adam HaRishon gives us a critical insight into understanding the inner nature of this story. On the surface Tamar wears a Kesones Pasim because it was the royal garment that signified virginity. On a deeper level, the connection to the Kesones Pasim of Yosef HaTzaddik tells us that Tamar is linked to Adam HaRishon just as Yosef was. And just as Yosef found himself facing the test of sexual licentiousness, so too does Tamar find herself in a sexually compromised position. Avshalom expects that Dovid, as the gilgul of Adam, will appropriately punish Amnon for his misdeeds. Only in this way will the sin of Adam HaRishon be rectified. When Dovid HaMelech fails to act, Avshalom believes that is his now responsibility to rectify the sin of Adam HaRishon. No wonder that Avshalom instructs his servants to wait until Amnon became inebriated before they killed him. On a surface level it would seem that Avshalom was waiting until Amnon was defenseless but seen through the prism of the sin of Adam HaRishon we can suggest that Amnon's drunken state mirrors that of Adam HaRishon at the time of the sin. Ultimately Avshalom comes to the conclusion that Dovid HaMelech is no longer worthy of the Malchus and declares himself King. Avshalom believes it is now up to him to rectify the sin of Adam HaRishon. No wonder that the Gemara in Nazir (4b) tells us that Avshalom was a Nazir!
But in truth Avshalom's Nezirus was not a holy act of humility but one of arrogance. The Gemara in Sotah (10b) explains:
אבשלום נתגאה בשערו וכו' ת"ר אבשלום בשערו מרד שנאמר (שמואל ב יד, כה) וכאבשלום לא היה איש יפה וגו' ובגלחו את ראשו (וגו') והיה מקץ ימים לימים אשר יגלח כי כבד עליו וגלחו ושקל את שער ראשו מאתים שקלים באבן המלך תנא אבן שאנשי טבריא ואנשי ציפורי שוקלים בה לפיכך נתלה בשערו שנאמר (שמואל ב יח, ט) ויקרא אבשלום לפני עבדי דוד ואבשלום רוכב על הפרד ויבא הפרד תחת שובך האלה הגדולה ויאחז ראשו באלה ויותן בין השמים ובין הארץ והפרד אשר תחתיו עבר [שקל ספסירא בעא למיפסקיה] תנא דבי רבי ישמעאל באותה שעה נבקע שאול מתחתיו
The mishna teaches: Absalom was excessively proud of his hair, and therefore he was hung by his hair. The Sages taught (Tosefta 3:16): Absalom rebelled and sinned due to his hair, as it is stated: “Now in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty; from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him. And when he shaved his head, as it was at every year’s end that he shaved it; because the hair was heavy on him, therefore he shaved it, and he weighed the hair of his head at two hundred shekels, by the king’s stone” (II Samuel 14:25–26). What is the king’s stone? The Sages taught: A stone with which the people of Tiberias and the people of Tzippori weigh items. And since he was proud of his hair, therefore, he was hung by his hair, as it is stated in the verse describing the battle between the forces of David and Absalom: “And Absalom chanced to meet the servants of David. And Absalom was riding upon his mule, and the mule went under the thick boughs of a great terebinth, and his head caught hold of the terebinth, and he was taken up between the heaven and the earth; and the mule that was under him went on” (II Samuel 18:9). After he was spotted by the opposing troops, Absalom took a sword [safseira] and wanted to cut his hair to save himself. The school of Rabbi Yishmael taught: At that moment, the gates of the netherworld opened beneath him and he was afraid to fall into it, so he did not cut his hair, and he was killed by the opposing troops. It is true that Avshalom was exceedingly beautiful just as Chava was. Had his Nezirus been an act of humility it would have been a tikkun for the sin of Adam and Chava but he fell prey to the trap of his own beauty. This is why the Gemara tells us that he weighed himself באבן המלך. He felt that he outweighed Dovid HaMelech and this is what led him to usurp the throne from Dovid. Appropriately it is Avshalom's hair that causes his demise as he hangs suspended above Gehenom and is ultimately killed by Yoav.
The Gemara continues and tells us about Dovid HaMelech's reaction upon hearing of the death of Dovid HaMelech:
וירגז המלך ויעל על עליית השער ויבך וכה אמר בלכתו בני אבשלום בני בני [אבשלום] מי יתן מותי אני תחתיך אבשלום בני בני והמלך לאט את פניו ויזעק המלך קול גדול בני אבשלום אבשלום בני בני הני תמניא בני למה שבעה דאסקיה משבעה מדורי גיהנם ואידך איכא דאמרי דקריב רישיה לגבי גופיה ואיכא דאמרי דאייתיה לעלמא דאתי
“And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept; and as he went about he said: O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died in your place, O Absalom, my son, my son” (II Samuel 19:1), and a few verses later it adds: “And the king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice: O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son” (II Samuel 19:5). The Gemara asks: Why are there these eight mentions of “my son” by David, i.e., to what do they correspond? The Gemara answers: Seven times he said “my son,” by which he raised him up from the seven chambers of Gehenna. And as for the other, eighth, time, some say that David brought the head of Absalom close to Absalom’s body, and some say that with this eighth mention David brought Absalom to the World-to-Come.
Dovid cries out "my son" eight times; seven times to raise Avshalom from the sevel levels of Gehenom and once to reattach his head to his body or to bring him to Olam Haba. How does Dovid calling Avshalom my son achieve this effect? Perhaps we can suggest that the eight times Dovid called Avshalom his son reconnects Avshalom to Dovid who, as we said, is designed to rectify the sin of Adam HaRishon. Just as the Rabbeinu Bachya (quoted earlier) connected Adam's clothing to the eight priestly garments of the Kohen Gadol, the eight times Dovid calls Avshalom his son attaches Avshalom to the authentic concept of a Nazir and thus removes him from Gehenom and restores Avshalom in full.
Indeed we find that Avshalom is ultimately rectified by a different Nazir. The Gemara in Nedarim (9b) relates a fascinating story:
דתניא אמר (רבי) שמעון הצדיק מימי לא אכלתי אשם נזיר טמא אלא אחד פעם אחת בא אדם אחד נזיר מן הדרום וראיתיו שהוא יפה עינים וטוב רואי וקווצותיו סדורות לו תלתלים אמרתי לו בני מה ראית להשחית את שערך זה הנאה אמר לי רועה הייתי לאבא בעירי הלכתי למלאות מים מן המעיין ונסתכלתי בבבואה שלי ופחז עלי יצרי ובקש לטורדני מן העולם אמרתי לו רשע למה אתה מתגאה בעולם שאינו שלך במי שהוא עתיד להיות רימה ותולעה העבודה שאגלחך לשמים מיד עמדתי ונשקתיו על ראשו. אמרתי לו בני כמוך ירבו גוזרי נזירות בישראל עליך הכתוב אומר איש כי יפליא לנדור נדר נזיר להזיר לה'
As it is taught in a baraita that Rabbi Shimon HaTzaddik said: In all my days as a priest, I never ate the guilt-offering of a ritually impure nazirite except for one occasion. One time, a particular man who was a nazirite came from the South and I saw that he had beautiful eyes and was good looking, and the fringes of his hair were arranged in curls. I said to him: My son, what did you see that made you decide to destroy this beautiful hair of yours by becoming a nazirite? A nazirite must shave off his hair at the completion of his term. If he becomes impure before the completion of his term, he shaves off his hair and starts his term of naziriteship again. He said to me: I was a shepherd for my father in my city, and I went to draw water from the spring, and I looked at my reflection [babavua] in the water and my evil inclination quickly overcame me and sought to expel me from the world. I said to myself: Wicked one! Why do you pride yourself in a world that is not yours? Why are you proud of someone who will eventually be food in the grave for worms and maggots, i.e., your body? I swear by the Temple service that I shall shave you for the sake of Heaven. Shimon HaTzaddik continues the narrative: I immediately arose and kissed him on his head. I said to him: My son, may there be more who take vows of naziriteship like you among the Jewish people. About you the verse states: “When either a man or a woman shall clearly utter a vow, the vow of a nazirite, to consecrate himself to the Lord” (Numbers 6:2). This is an example of voluntary acceptance of naziriteship, i.e., becoming a nazirite with entirely pure intentions rather than as a rash statement, e.g., while in a fit of anger.
The Ramah MiPano (Sefer Gilgulei Neshamos - Aleph:20) explains that this Nazir from the south is the Nazir that brings about the rectification for Avshalom and in his hair there is a rectification for the hair of Adam HaRishon:
אבשלום בא באדם נזיר הנזכר בנדרים פרק קמא [ט' ב'], תניא אמר (רבי) שמעון הצדיק מימי לא אכלתי אשם נזיר [טמא] אלא (פעם) אחד, [פעם אחת] בא אדם אחד [נזיר] מן הדרום (ונזיר היה), וראיתיו [שהוא] יפה עינים וטוב רואי כו', הוא תיקונו של אבשלום, שם היה שערו סבה כי נתגאה בשערו, והיה נזיר כדאיתא בנזיר, והבחור הלזה היה נזיר לגלחם לשמים, וכאן בשערות היה תיקונו בסוד שערות אדם הראשון:
With this in mind we can understand why the Gemara goes out of its way to tell us that this Nazir was a shepherd for his father. The Gemara could have simply told us that he was a shepherd! What is the difference if he was a shepherd for his father? Dovid HaMelech in his youth was a shepherd. As the tikkun for Avshalom, this Nazir from the south is the shepherd for his father. In this way Avshalom and Dovid are reunited. And in the merit of the reunion of Dovid and Avshalom, this time around, when the young man saw his beauty, he understood its dangers. He saw that just as Avshalom was taken out of the world because of his arrogance he too could be removed from the world and so he took the appropriate measures to ensure he would behave appropriately. Rather then act with gaiva as Avshalom did, he humbles himself by reminding himself about the temporal nature of the body. In this way his Nezirus brings a tikkun not only for Avshalom but for Adam as well.
(The Arizal in Likutei Torah on Shoftim teaches that Shimshon too was a giglul of Adam HaRishon. With all of the above in mind we can once again see that the concept of Nezirus is meant to rectify the sin of Adam HaRishon.)
Returning to our original questions we can now understand the connection between the dual meaning of the word Nazir (separation and crown) as well as the contradiction in the Rambam. The Nazir has set himself apart from the physical world and the normal manner in which we are meant to engage in this world. For this reason, the Rambam in Hilchos Deos adopts the position that is critical of the Nazir. In Hilchos Deos the Rambam is speaking to the ordinary man who seeks to serve God. Yahadus shuns the ascetic lifestyle. Our world is a gift from God and a failure to enjoy its fruits is a failure to appreciate the Godliness that inheres within. Fearfully running away from the moral dangers of the physical world also means eschewing our Godly mission to reveal Hashem in this world.
However, there are certain individuals that by virtue of being set apart become worthy of being crowned. The Nazir does not seek to escape our world, in fact it is quite the opposite. When the Nazir confronts the dangers of our world in the form of the isha sotah they understand that they are being presented with an opportunity to rectify the sin of Adam and Chava. Why else would they have been positioned to see such a terrible event? The Nazir is not running away from beauty but engaging their beauty with humility. Their Nezirus ensures that they will utilize this world in the way that Hashem intended and therefore their separation crowns them as holy to God. This explains why even after the Nazir completes their Nezirus the Torah continues to refer to them as a Nazir as the passuk states:
וְהֵנִיף֩ אוֹתָ֨ם הַכֹּהֵ֥ן | תְּנוּפָה֘ לִפְנֵ֣י יְהוָֹה֒ קֹ֤דֶשׁ הוּא֙ לַכֹּהֵ֔ן עַ֚ל חֲזֵ֣ה הַתְּנוּפָ֔ה וְעַ֖ל שׁ֣וֹק הַתְּרוּמָ֑ה וְאַחַ֛ר יִשְׁתֶּ֥ה הַנָּזִ֖יר יָֽיִן:
The kohen shall wave them as a waving before the Lord; it is consecrated to the kohen, along with the breast of the waving and the thigh of the uplifting. After this, the nazirite may drink wine. (Bamidbar 6:20)
In Hilchos Nezirus the Rambam is speaking not to the average person who is fearful of moral ruin but to the elevated person who sees the immoral isha sotah as a call to action. The true Nazir sees an opportunity to bring the consciousness of the pre sin world into our existence. Such a Nazir is to be lauded as holy to God.
The Connection Between Shavuos And Nezirus
Parshas Naso is almost always read immediately after Shavuos. If Shavuos is the wedding of Klal Yisrael and Hashem then Naso is our Shabbos Sheva Brachos. What is the connection between the message of the Nazir and Shavuos?
The Zohar (8a) mentions that there is a Minhag to stay up all night on Shavuos learning Torah. Just as Dovid HaMelech lived in the pre sin dimension and avoided sleeping (one sixtieth of death) and learns Torah to defeat the Malach HaMaves, so too on Shavuos we act like the Nazir and live in the dimension before death is brought to the world by staying awake all night and learning Torah. In fact, the Gemara in Shabbos (146a) teaches that with the giving of the Torah the spiritual contamination of the Nachash is eradicated. The Medrash in Shemos Rabbah (41:7) teaches that with the giving of the Torah we were freed from the constraints of the Malach HaMaves. We can now clearly see that the Torah we learn on Shavuos has the capacity to bring a tikkun to the sin of Adam and Chava just as the Nazir does with his vow of Nezirus. And just as the Nazir has נֵ֥זֶר אֱלֹהָ֖יו עַל־רֹאשֽׁוֹ, the crown of God upon his head so too did Klal Yisrael merit to receive the Keter Torah on Shavuos as the Gemara in Shabbos (88a) teaches:
דָּרַשׁ רַבִּי סִימַאי: בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁהִקְדִּימוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל ״נַעֲשֶׂה״ לְ״נִשְׁמָע״ בָּאוּ שִׁשִּׁים רִיבּוֹא שֶׁל מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁרֵת, לְכׇל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל קָשְׁרוּ לוֹ שְׁנֵי כְתָרִים, אֶחָד כְּנֶגֶד ״נַעֲשֶׂה״ וְאֶחָד כְּנֶגֶד ״נִשְׁמָע״. וְכֵיוָן שֶׁחָטְאוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל, יָרְדוּ מֵאָה וְעֶשְׂרִים רִיבּוֹא מַלְאֲכֵי חַבָּלָה וּפֵירְקוּם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״וַיִּתְנַצְּלוּ בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת עֶדְיָם מֵהַר חוֹרֵב״. אָמַר רַבִּי חָמָא בְּרַבִּי חֲנִינָא: בְּחוֹרֵב טָעֲנוּ, בְּחוֹרֵב פֵּרְקוּ. בְּחוֹרֵב טָעֲנוּ — כְּדַאֲמַרַן, בְּחוֹרֵב פֵּרְקוּ — דִּכְתִיב: ״וַיִּתְנַצְּלוּ בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְגוֹ׳״. אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן: וְכוּלָּן זָכָה מֹשֶׁה וּנְטָלָן. דִּסְמִיךְ לֵיהּ: ״וּמֹשֶׁה יִקַּח אֶת הָאֹהֶל״. אָמַר רֵישׁ לָקִישׁ: עָתִיד הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְהַחֲזִירָן לָנוּ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״וּפְדוּיֵי ה׳ יְשֻׁבוּן וּבָאוּ צִיּוֹן בְּרִנָּה וְשִׂמְחַת עוֹלָם עַל רֹאשָׁם״ — שִׂמְחָה שֶׁמֵּעוֹלָם עַל רֹאשָׁם.
Rabbi Simai taught: When Israel accorded precedence to the declaration “We will do” over the declaration “We will hear,” 600,000 ministering angels came and tied two crowns to each and every member of the Jewish people, one corresponding to “We will do” and one corresponding to “We will hear.” And when the people sinned with the Golden Calf, 1,200,000 angels of destruction descended and removed them from the people, as it is stated in the wake of the sin of the Golden Calf: “And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments from Mount Horeb onward” (Exodus 33:6). Rabbi Ḥama, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, said: At Horeb they put on their ornaments, and at Horeb they removed them. The source for this is: At Horeb they put them on, as we have said; at Horeb they removed them, as it is written: “And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments from Mount Horeb.” Rabbi Yoḥanan said: And Moses merited all of these crowns and took them. What is the source for this? Because juxtaposed to this verse, it is stated: “And Moses would take the tent [ohel]” (Exodus 33:7). The word ohel is interpreted homiletically as an allusion to an aura or illumination [hila]. Reish Lakish said: In the future, the Holy One, Blessed be He, will return them to us, as it is stated: “And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads” (Isaiah 35:10). The joy that they once had will once again be upon their heads.
At Matan Torah we received the Keter Torah but we lost them with the sin of the golden calf. In Yemos HaMashiach we will merit to once again receive the crowns of Torah. In the zechus of remaining awake and learning Torah on Shavuos night may we merit to be worthy of the Keter Torah speedily in our days.