Nedarim - Daf 19

  • ספק בכורות

On Daf 18b, Rebbe Zeira said that Rebbe Elazar was the Tanna who held, ספק נזירות להקל – a safek involving nezirus is treated leniently. Abaye questions if Rebbe Elazar is the Tanna since the next part of that very Mishnah states: ספק בכורות אחד בכורי אדם ואחד בכורי בהמה בין טמאה בין טהורה - a safek of a bechoros, whether a bechor of a person, or bechor of animals, whether nonkosher or kosher, המוציא מחבירו עליו הראיה - the Kohen who is attempting to withdraw property from his friend, must provide proof that it is a bechor. The Ran explains that the case is where the mother gave birth to twins, one male and one female, and it is not known whose head emerged first. And a Baraisa taught regarding this:  ואסורים בגיזה ועבודה- but they are prohibited in shearing and work, out of doubt that they may be a bechor. We see, then, that this Mishnah rules stringently regarding a safek involving someone’s property, although it is lenient when it involves the person himself, in the case of nezirus, and earlier, Rebbe Zeira said that one’s person and property should be treated equally!? [Ran]. The Gemara answers: אמאי קא מדמית קדושה הבאה מאליה לקדושה הבאה בידי אדם – why do you compare kedushah that comes by itself (i.e., bechor) to kedushah that comes through man (i.e., nezirus)? Rebbe Elazar’s reasoning was that a person does not intend to effect a neder in a case of uncertainty, but that would not prevent automatic kedushah from taking effect.

  • הריני נזיר אם יש בכרי הזה מאה כור

It was taught in a Baraisa: If one says: הריני נזיר אם יש בכרי הזה מאה כור – I am hereby a nazir if there are one hundred kor in this pile, and he went and found that it was stolen or lost, and could no longer determine its volume, Rebbe Yehudah says he is not a nazir and Rebbe Shimon says he is. The Gemara says Rebbe Yehudah’s position for ruling leniently in the case of the safek contradicts his statement in our Mishnah, which implies he would rule stringently in a case of סתם תרומה – one who makes an “undefined terumahneder, which is a safek if one meant terumah of grain, which cannot effect a neder, or terumas halishkah, which can effect a neder. Rava answers that the reason Rebbe Yehudah is lenient in the case of the grain pile is, כל שספיקו חמור מודאי לא מעייל נפשיה לספיקא – wherever the safek (i.e., ruling stringently because of safek) is more stringent than its certainty, a person does not bring himself into a ruling of doubt. דאילו גבי נזיר ודאי מגלח ומביא קרבן ונאכל – Because by nazir, although a definite nazir can shave his hair and bring a nazir-korban, and it is eaten, על ספיקו לא מצי מגלח – a safek nazir cannot shave his hair nor bring his korban. Since he may not be a nazir, the korban may be illegitimate and cannot be brought which would preclude his ever shaving his hair, for fear that he may be a nazir who has yet to bring his nazir-korbanos. Rebbe Yehudah agrees that one would not intend to put himself in such an irreconcilable position, and the nezirus is invalid.

  • לא ניתנה נזירות אלא להפלאה

The Gemara challenges Rava’s answer by quoting a Baraisa which states that even a declaration to be a נזיר שמשון, which means he may not cut his hair for life, like Shimshon, in a case of safek is invalid according to Rebbe Yehudah, despite there being no added stringency by the safek status. Rava responded אי תניא תניא – if there is such a Baraisa, then there is (i.e., he concedes that he cannot explain it to conform with our Mishnah). Rav Ashi answers that the Baraisa of נזיר שמשון [Ran] was Rebbe Yehudah quoting the opinion of Rebbe Tarfon, who said in a case where a man said about an approaching person, “I am a nazir if that is Ploni,” and a second person said “I am a nazir if that is not Ploni,” אין אחד מהם נזיר – neither of them is a nazir, regardless of who was correct, שלא ניתנה נזירות אלא להפלאה – because nezirus was only given to take effect when there is clear expression with no uncertainty at the time of the declaration. The Gemara adds that according to Rebbe Tarfon, the nezirus would be ineffective even if the pile of grain was not subsequently lost since the amount was unknown at the time of his declaration.