The Nazirite

May 24, 2015

וַיְדַבֵּר יְהֹוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר׃

Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying:

Numbers 6:1

וְשָׂמוּ אֶת־שְׁמִי עַל־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וַאֲנִי אֲבָרֲכֵם׃

Thus they shall link My name with the people of Yisrael, and I will bless them.

Numbers 6:27

An individual, male or female, who wishes to take a vow of a Nazirite is forbidden to consume any grape products, to cut his or her hair, or to become ritually impure by exposure to a dead body, even that of a close relative. If he or she accidentally becomes contaminated, he or she must wait seven days, shave their head, and the following day, bring two bird offerings — a sin offering and an elevation offering. He or she must begin their Nazirite period again from that point.

 

When the abstinence period of the Nazirite ends, he or she must bring several offerings to the Tabernacle: a sheep as an elevation offering, a ewe as a sin offering, and a ram as a peace offering. He or she must also include a basket of unleavened loaves, unleavened wafers, accompanying meal offerings and libations. After the offerings are brought, the Nazirite is permitted to consume grape products again.

 

The Israel Bible asks the fundamental question: if the actions of the Nazirite are laudable (indeed, the text calls the Nazirite “holy” in verse 8), why must he or she bring a sin offering when the abstinence period is done? The answer brought down is that although it is important to set aside time for personal improvement, the goal is not remove one’s self from society entirely. While the abstinence of the Nazirite vows may strengthen the individual’s relationship with God, it is not inherently a positive trait.

 

God then sets out the formula for the priests to bless the people. When they recite the blessing, God will grant the people peace. This blessing is still recited in synagogues today, in Israel daily and around the world on holidays. The blessing has three parts, first, for prosperity and safety, then for God’s grace, and finally for peace. The Israel Bible cites the words of the Sages, who said, “God found no vessel to contain His blessings, other than peace.”

 

Virtual Classroom Discussion

Why do you think these specific acts are forbidden to the Nazirite? What is their significance?

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