372. Skins and Fails: The prohibition against a nazir eating grape skins

…to the skins he shall not eat. (Numbers 6:4)

The final grape-related prohibition is that the nazir was not permitted to eat the skins of the grapes.

We already discussed how the nazir voluntarily abstains from certain physical pleasures as part of his religious regimen. The real things to avoid are wine and grapes. All of the grape products prohibited by the Torah serve as a fence around the prohibitions of wine and grapes. In order to keep the nazir from metaphorically falling off his wagon, the Torah institutes a spiritual “twelve-step program.” Since having wine and grapes temporarily prohibited would naturally increase one’s desires for these things, the Torah provides stronger safeguards. If the nazir doesn’t go anywhere near grape products, he certainly won’t have any problems with actual wine or grapes.

This mitzvah applies to both men and women in all times and places. It is discussed in the Talmud in tractate Nazir on pages 34a-35a. It is codified in the Mishneh Torah in the fifth chapter of Hilchos Nezirus and is #206 of the 365 negative mitzvos in the Rambam’s Sefer HaMitzvos. This mitzvah is not listed in the Sefer HaMitzvos HaKatzar of the Chofetz Chaim.