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Rabbi David Sperling

Adar 10, 5775
I have a question concerning the Nazarite vow. I said " ב דַּבֵּר אֶל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם: אִישׁ אוֹ-אִשָּׁה, כִּי יַפְלִא לִנְדֹּר נֶדֶר נָזִיר--לְהַזִּיר, לַיהוָה. 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them: When either man or woman shall clearly utter a vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to consecrate himself unto the L-RD" I said this 4 years ago on shmini atzaret and have not cut my hair, nor gone near a body (or cemetery) nor touched anything of the grape vine. I live in the United States and would like to know the validity of my vow. Was this wrong or invalid? I humbly stand in your judgement. Shalom Adam Ben Avraham
Shalom, Thank you for your question. Let me start with your last question. It was certainly wrong to try and take upon yourself any oath or vow – and certainly not an oath or vow of a Nazirite. All the codifiers rule that in our day and age, when we lack the Holy Temple, one should not take upon themselves such vows. All the more so when living outside the land of Israel, when there is a major argument as to whether such a vow can apply or not. I have heard of only one case of a person becoming a Nazirite in modern times (since the destruction of the Temple), and that was Rav David Cohen, "The Nazir", of blessed memory. He was an exceptional person, whose absolute holiness knew no bounds – and he is certainly not to be considered as a model for us to follow in his extreme level of practice. So, I can write to you with absolute certainty that any attempts on your part to become a Nazarite are incorrect, and I can only encourage you to find more normative pathways to get closer to holiness and purity. As to your situation now – it very much depends on exactly what you said at the time. If you just read out the verse, it is not technically the language of a vow, and you are not a Nazirite. If however, you said some form of vow or oath, then I strongly suggest you approach a Rabbi who will be able to clarify for you if you need to undergo a release of vows. Let me add that according to the Rambam (Laws of Nazirites, Chapter 2, 22) someone who takes on a Nazirite vow outside the Land of Israel should be forced to immediately ascend to the Holy Land! In order that you do not continue to be in such a precarious situation of perhaps being obligated to get on a plane this very instant, I strongly suggest you approach your Rabbi and clear up your situation – and if needs be, nullify your vow. [Of course, you are also encouraged to come on Aliyah no matter what your Nazir status is!] Blessings.
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