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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

To Be or Not to Be


Hello Everyone,


For those of you who are new readers, this post is a Daf Yomi post and not a post on the weekly parsha. I am student of Daf Yomi (a page of Talmud a day) and we are in year three of the cycle of seven years. I learn highlights of the daf by listening to podcasts, so my knowledge is not broad and not deep. It merely scratches the surface.


I have been writing poems for the of each of the talmudic tractates (Masechtot) of the past three years. This is the fourteenth Masechet. You can find my other poems listed on this site under the heading Daf Yomi.


When you think of Masechet Nazir, you might conjure images of Samson, the best known Nazir. For those of you who aren’t familiar with what a Nazir is, a Nazir or N'zira gives up wine and grape products, contact with the dead and most importantly, he or she is forbidden to cut their hair during their period of N’zirut, which is a the very minimum, thirty days. At the completion of their period of N’zirut, participants are commanded to shave their hair and make a sacrifice, including burning the hair which they had cut. Of course, as it is in Daf Yomi, nothing is simple and there were a myriad of complicating circumstances to N’zirut, with the rabbis reaching far and wide for exceptions and conditions that would negate N’zirut or extend it.


There were many side topics to study including lots of blood and guts and creepy crawly things, but when thinking about the big lessons of Nazir, I am left wondering what prompted someone to become a Nazir? Was it a desire to cleave to God, an ancient way to improve oneself, and as I recall hearing, perhaps a way to cut back on bad habits.


It is interesting to imagine an ancient street with people walking around in various garbs and getting a glimpse of a few N'zirim and N'zirot walking down a street. Some are bald, some are bushy and some in between. How different did they appear to others? How did others react to them? Did they feel part of an exclusive club or were they monastic; carefully keeping their distance from others?


As I learned, the rabbis were mixed as to whether becoming a Nazir is a positive thing to do or problematic. Accepting N'zirut was voluntary but it was not encouraged. Once becoming a Nazir, though, it could take longer than expected to finish a term of N'zirut.

For some N’zirim their period of abstaining might go without a hitch, but for some, a period of N’zirut might be extended for months or longer !


This Caveat Emptor poem is about just that.


The next Masechet is Sotah. I am not sure I am excited about learning about the Sotah, but I am committed to continuing. Feel free to jump in now!

Shabbat Shalom,


Leann



 

TO BE A NAZIR


Wait!


Before you sign on the dotted line ......................................................


Make sure you read


Between

the lines

and

the

fine

print.


Before you open your mouth


W I D E


and



D E C L A R E!


out loud

to the world.

T H I N K,

because

what you do


as


WHIM


or


FOLLY


or perceived obligation

or

perhaps

to lift you


HIGHER

or

bring you


CLOSER.


It may

not

be

as


SIMPLE


as it seems.


Being a Nazir is so much more than hair.


SO

Beware of jumping in

before you are ready;

without understanding

the entire package.


ASK


yourself,


is this the only way you can

achieve?


Because it is in your hands.

(and your hair).



CAUTION


Before you utter a word

That might


(you never know )

commit you

to something

you never intended

or really understood.


KNOW

before you speak.


You long to join the club.

To walk tall.


To be different from the rest.


A cut above?


SO


REFRAIN


because once you are in

there are

deadlines to meet,

unexpected challenges,

pitfalls,


LIMITATIONS


Things you may have never

even

dreamed about

which stand between


YOU

and

a higher

spiritual

LEVEL.


You may

be on the inside

much longer

than you ever

intended

or

imagined


and perhaps N'zirut is not what it seemed

from the outside.

You ask yourself why?


Be careful what you wish for.


AFTER ALL,


A VOW IS A VOW


Perhaps

there are other ways

to honor,

to


CLEAVE


to


SERVE.


So, run your hands

through

your


HAIR


Fluff it,

Rumple it.

Feel the wind

run through it.


Take a deep breath


before the change you make

changes you.






 

A thought to finish Masechet Nazir. The last page of Nazir speaks about which is better, to say a blessing or say amen to someone else's blessing?


The Gemara asks: Is this to say that one who recites a blessing is preferable to one who answers amen? But isn’t it taught in a baraita that Rabbi Yosei says: The one who answers amen is greater than the one who recites the blessing? And Rabbi Nehorai said to him: By Heavens, it is so.

Nazir 66B (From Sefaria)



Which is more important?

To be the Nazir

or to be the person who witnesses

the Nazir?

Who supports?

Who affirms?


Are we the Nazir's Amen?


——————————————————








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