Sunday, 20 September 2015

Nazir 30: Both Daughters and Sons Can Use Their Deceased Fathers' Funds to Shave

The last Mishna of Perek IV brings issues of gender and inheritance to the question of whether a child can use his/her father's resources for his/her own offering following nazirut.  What can be done with unallocated money that a father set aside for his own nazirut if he dies before using the funds?  Can a child use those funds for his/her own nazirut if s/he vows to use the money only for those offerings? Rabbi Yosei believes that a son must already be a nazirite to use those allocated funds.  Unallocated funds should be presented as communal gift offerings.

The Gemara opens up the question of daughters and sons.  Was Rabbi Yochanan excluding daughters, for daughters do not inherit from their fathers?  Was this particular halacha passed on from Moses at Sinai?  No, says the Gemara, we know that daughters who have no brothers inherit from their fathers.  And so the halacha must not have anything to do with inheritance.  Instead, it teaches us that both sons and daughters are permitted to use their fathers' offerings toward their nazirut; they can "shave by means of their fathers' offerings".

Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Yehuda disagree with Rabbi Yosei.  They believe that a person is permitted to use his/her fathers' funds for his/her own nazirut.

But what if the father has two nazirite sons?  Do the funds get split in half? Does the first born child get a double portion of the share?  And what if the father was a permanent nazirite? And what if the father was an impure nazirite and the son was a pure nazirite?  What if the son were the impure nazirite?  The rabbis leave these questions unresolved.

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