369. Grape Nots: The prohibition against a nazir eating grapes

…fresh grapes… (Numbers 6:3)

Aside from wine, a nazir was not permitted to eat grapes. As we will see in subsequent mitzvos, this includes the seeds and the skins of the grape. It does not, however, include external things like stems and leaves. (So a nazir could eat dolma – stuffed grape leaves.) The berries budding on the vine were permitted to a nazir but unripe grapes were not.

The underlying rationale is the same for grapes as for wine: the nazir abstains from a physical pleasure as part of an effort to get better in touch with his spiritual side.

This mitzvah applies to both men and women in all times and places. It is discussed in the Talmud in the sixth chapter of tractate Nazir, particularly on page 38b. This mitzvah is codified in the Mishneh Torah in the fifth chapter of Hilchos Nezirus and is #203 of the 365 negative mitzvos in the Rambam’s Sefer HaMitzvos. It is not listed in the Sefer HaMitzvos HaKatzar of the Chofetz Chaim.