Monday, 21 September 2015

Nazir 31: Erroneous Consecration

Perek V begins with a Mishna about erroneous consecration.  We learn that Beit Hillel say that erroneous consecrations are not consecrations, while Beit Shammai as usual are more stringent.  The Mishna notes that if one says that the black bull that will emerge first from my home is consecrated and a white bull emerges first, Beit Hillel say it is not consecrated and Beit Shammai say that it is consecrated.  Same goes for a silver dinar when one vowed regarding a gold dinar and grabbing a barrel of oil when one vowed regarding a barrel of wine.

A classic Talmudic story: If people were walking and one was approaching them, and one of the group said, I am hereby a nazirite if he is so-and-so.  And anotherr said, I am hereby a nazirite if this is not so-and-so.  Another said, I am hereby a nazirite if one of you two is a nazirite, and another said  I am hereby a nazirite if neither of you is a nazirite.  The fifth person said, I am hereby a nazirite if both of you are nazirites and the last person said, I am hereby a nazirite if all of you who spoke before me are nazirites.  Beit Shammai say that they are all nazirites simply because they have each said, I am hereby a nazirite, regardless of whether or not each person's second clause is correct.

The Gemara questions whether or not consecration can be made in error at all.  Could it be that there was an unspoken time attached to the vow.  Perhaps the white bull is actually a substitution once we pass the middle of the day.  And is this an erroneous consecration or an intentional consecration?  The rabbis consider whether Beit Shammai think that erroneous consecration is still consecration.  They deconstruct what Beit Shammai interpreted to pinpoint where they believed the 'error' originated.  The rabbis also walk through bulls' breeds/colours and how this could play into erroneous consecration.  

We end today's daf with a new Mishna: A person who vows nazirut and then breaks his/her vow before asking for a halachic authority to dissolve it might be forced to keep the vow.  In that case, the count of days includes those days where nazirut was not observed.  But if the vow was dissolved and an animal was separated as an offering, it is free to graze among the flock.  Beit Hillel use this to convince Beit Shammai that consecration in error is not considered to be consecration.  

Beit Shammai argue that when the 'tenth' animal that is miscounted - for example, the ninth or the eleventh animal is called the tenth, it is still consecrated as the tenth.  Beit Hillel argues that the counting - the rod - does not matter.

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