Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Someone who vows to be a Nezir Shimshon must follow the rules that the biblical Samson had to follow: no wine, no haircuts but he could become impure. The question, though, is whether there is an actual concept of Nezir Shimshon or whether anyone who becomes one is merely imitating Samson. In other words, when God gave the Torah at Sinai, did he include a category of Nezir Shimshon? Or is someone who vows to become a Nezir Shimshon merely using a shorthand of saying that he follows all of the rules that Samson was commanded to follow?

The Rambam (Mishneh Torah, Hilkhos Nezirus 3:14) rules that once someone vows to be a Nezir Shimshon, he may never undo that vow. It is a permanent status. Rashi (Makos 22a sv. bi-nezir shimshon) seems to imply that only Samson was in that state permanently but not others.

One could suggest that if Samson was merely obligated to accept the pre-existing status that we call Nezir Shimshon, then it seems reasonable that if he was in the status permanently then everyone who is in that same status must also be in it forever. But if becoming a Nezir Shimshon is really just a regular vow with conditions just like Samson's status, then there is no reason why this vow cannot be undone like most other vows.

(All this sets aside the Chavos Yair's question in his responsum no. 16. See R. Hershel Schachter's answer to it in Ginas Egoz, p. 211.)

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