Talmud Tips

For the week ending 3 October 2015 / 20 Tishri 5776

Nazir 44 - 50

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
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“For these ritual impurities a nazir must cut his hair… and for a half of a lug of blood.”

This halacha that a nazir who is under a roof with a half of a lug of blood must shave and reset his count of nezirut is taught in our mishna. However, a mishna in Masechet Ohelot teaches that it takes only half this amount, a revi’it (quarter) of a lug to render a person under the same roof ritually impure. This additional measure of requiring a half of a lug for a nazir to shave is a special measure that is known as a “halacha l’Moshe m’Sinai.” (Tosefot)

  • Nazir 49b

Rabbi Yossi said in amazement, “People will say that Meir is dead, Yehuda is angry and Yossi is silent. What will happen to the study of Torah?”

A beraita that begins on the previous daf gives the background story for this statement. When Rabbi Meir passed away, Rabbi Yehuda was worried that Rabbi Meir’s students might be too “feisty” since they followed Rabbi Meir’s rulings which often conflicted with those of Rabbi Yehuda. Rabbi Yehuda requested that his students not allow entrance to Rabbi Meir’s students who might pull out “all stops” in order to vindicate their Rabbi and prove Rabbi Yehuda wrong.

Sumchus was a student of Rabbi Meir who managed to enter Rabbi Yehuda’s lecture. He proceeded to challenge Rabbi Yehuda, and Rabbi Yehuda displayed anger at his students for allowing Sumchus entrance. He also refuted every challenge.

When Rabbi Yossi, a student of Rabbi Yehuda saw his teacher’s anger, he made the above pronouncement: “People will say that Meir is dead, Yehuda is angry and Yossi is silent. What will happen to the study of Torah?" Rabbi Yossi did not stop there but went on to side with the challenges posed by Sumchus and explained why they were legitimate.

  • Nazir 50a

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