March 29, 2023

Nazir 17

The halachic question addressed in today’s daf (Nazir 17a) relates to שְׁהִיָּיה – ‘remaining’ (or, as some translate, ‘lingering’). This is because one of the prohibitions that apply to a Nazir is that they may not be in contact with the dead and thus may not enter a cemetery. Given this, if a Nazir does enter a cemetery, and they then remain/linger there for some time, is their remaining/lingering in a cemetery considered to be an additional transgression above and beyond their entry into the cemetery?
While this question, and the circumstances of the individual making the Nazir, are subject to some debate amongst our commentaries (see for example Rambam Hilchot Nezirut 6:9), what is abundantly clear from this discussion is that once a person finds or places themselves in an inappropriate situation, then remaining/lingering in that situation is unwise even if the particular circumstances of their remaining/lingering don’t render it to be strictly forbidden.
Clearly there are many lessons we can learn from this principle, but I would specifically like to highlight just two of them.
Firstly, just because something is not strictly forbidden, it doesn’t necessarily make it a good idea. As Rabbi Asher Weiss explains (Minchat Asher, Shemot Siman 38 section 2), even if something is somehow halachically justifiable, it may nevertheless directly conflict with רצון התורה – ‘the will of the Torah’.
And secondly, we should be cognizant of the situations where we find or place ourselves, and if these situations are inappropriate, unhealthy or put ourselves at risk, we should do what we can, as fast as we can, to change the situation or to remove ourselves from the situation, because שְׁהִיָּיה without a plan is almost always unwise.
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