Nazir 33 - Five answers to one problem
Six people were walking together on the road, and they saw someone coming toward them. The first said, "I am a nazir if this is John." The second one said, "I am nazir if this is not John." The third one said to the first two - "I am a nazir if one of you is now a nazir." The fourth one said, "I am a nazir if one of you two is not nazir." The fifth one said, "I am a nazir if both of you are nazirim." And the sixth said - talking to all five - " I am a nazir that you are all nazirim." What is their status?
1) Beit Shammai say that they are all nazirim. All of them really wanted to become nazirim, and added their qualifications as a by-the-way, but not essential to their vow.
2) Beit Hillel said that only those whose conditions are fulfilled become nazirim. This is the most straightforward logic.
3) Rabbi Tarfon says that nobody is a nazir. A conditional vow does not make a nazir at all, it has to be clear and direct.
If now the person in question suddenly turned back, and they never found out who he was, what is their status then?
4) Rabbi Yehudah says that no one becomes a nazir, because a person never accepts to be a nazir out of doubt.
5) Rabbi Shimon says that he has a real problem: he is a nazir out of doubt, but cannot get out of this, because only a real nazir is allowed to shave his had, so if he is not a nazir, he cannot complete his vow. Therefore, he should do declare: "If I am a real nazir - well and good, but if not, I am now become one out of my free will."
Art: Still Life With Wine, Bottles And A Cigar by Christian Schmidt