October 31, 2022

Nedarim 4

Today’s daf (Nedarim 4a) begins by discussing the halachic implications of someone who vows to become a Nazir while standing in a cemetery.

Significantly, a Nazir is prohibited to go to a cemetery. Nevertheless, while we are taught that, in such a situation, though the vow takes effect, the actual period of Nezirut does not begin until the individual leaves the cemetery and ritually purifies themselves.

However, we are then taught that if such an individual delays their departure from the cemetery, then they are punished as this is a failing to fulfil their vow. Overall, while various scenarios are discussed by the Gemara (see Nazir 17a) to suggest how such a situation could have arisen, what is clear is that vowing to become a Nazir while in a cemetery is a less-than-ideal thing to do.

Admittedly, the Torah seems to have what we may describe as ‘mixed feelings’ towards those who vow to become a Nazir. Yet, while not wishing to focus specifically on the choice to become a Nazir, I would like to highlight what I believe to be a major lesson that we can draw from our Gemara – that there while there may be moments when we want to make a particular life change, and notwithstanding the fact that such a change may well be good for us, it may not be the right place or time for us to make that change.

While we may know of this problem, I’ve personally seen this played out with some of my #VirtualRabbi clients who wish to make certain changes in their life but whose sole mistake has not been the change per se, but the timing of the making that change.
In conclusion, sometimes our location and timing to make meaningful life-changes are as incongruent as the decision for someone to become a Nazir while standing in a cemetery. So if you are thinking about making a change, and once you’ve reached the conclusion to do so, make sure you consider the timing and circumstances of that change – because it will make all the difference!

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