Nazir 59 - Two nazirs, complicated further

Continuing the story of two nazirs , one of who became ritually impure, and who had to bring sacrifices together, making conditional statements about whose sacrifice it was, let us suppose that one of them dies. Now the surviving one does not have a friend with whom to make those conditions. What is he to do?

He must find someone "in the street" who is willing to help out. This volunteer has to put himself in a condition of doubt by saying, "I adopt to be a nazir, but conditionally. If the survivor was impure, then I am a nazir right away." After thirty days they bring the same two sets of sacrifice, one required for a pure nazir and one for an impure one, and declare that if the survivors was impure, then the impure sacrifices are his, and the other ones are for the volunteer. But if the survivor was pure, then the pure sacrifices are his, and the impure ones are offered as sacrifices in doubt (since such category exists). Then the volunteer continues, "If the surviving nazir was pure, then my term of being a nazir starts after thirty days." Then they keep offering more sacrifices and making more conditions.

This was the opinion of Rabbi Yehoshua. But Ben Zome asked, "Who will go out to this extent in order to extricate his friend out of his doubts?" Rather, the survivor should bring the minimal sacrifice that would allow him to conclude his being a nazir, even though they involve bird sacrifices, which is not standard - but it allows him to achieve his purpose. Even though Rabbi Yehoshua argued that this is not the preferred way, the Sages agrees to Ben Zoma as being more practical.

A question to Rabbi Yehoshua: "What is really wrong with Ben Zoma's solution?" - Actually, nothing; Rabbi Yehoshua just wanted to sharpen the minds of his students with a more complicated one.

Art: David Street in Jerusalem by Gustave Bauernfeind