Everything is a Process Nazir 32 and The Importance of Clarity Nazir 33
Our Gemara on Amud Beis quotes a verse in Yirmiyahu (7:4):
אַל־תִּבְטְח֣וּ לָכֶ֔ם אֶל־דִּבְרֵ֥י הַשֶּׁ֖קֶר לֵאמֹ֑ר הֵיכַ֤ל ה׳, היכל ה׳, היכל ה׳ המה
Don’t put your trust in illusions and say, “The Temple of the LORD, the Temple of the LORD, the Temple of the LORD are these [buildings].”
The Triple repetition seems to be understood by our Gemara as alluding to the three Temples. Let us take reflect on the theological significance of the existence of these three entities. One way to look at it is that it’s simply a number. We went through two periods of spiritual achievement and sovereignty, and each time lost it due to national sins. The third Temple is the consolation prize, that one day, all will be restored and a permanent state of national and spiritual supremacy will be maintained. However, the fact that it is prophesied as a specific number, and that many significant processes involve the number three to achieve a completion or rounding out (see Berachos 57b for a list), hints that this is something more specific.
Yismach Moshe (Tetzave) says that the first two Temples were preparations for the ultimate experience of the Third Beis Hamikdash. Even though the destruction of the first two were due to sin, we might surmise even without sin there still would have been a process of reiterating and revising the experience. This is similar to the idea that theoretically, if they had merited, the Jews could have achieved a spiritual level to receive the Torah without the painful experience of bondage in Egypt. Even so, it still might have taken a process, albeit a less traumatic one. (See Shemos Rabbah 30:16 and Eitz Yosef that implies the enslavement was a punishment for Avraham asking, “How will I know?”, Bereishis 15:8.)
Everything is a process. Koheles Rabbah (3:11) tells us:
אֶת הַכֹּל עָשָׂה יָפֶה בְעִתּוֹ, אָמַר רַבִּי תַּנְחוּמָא בְּעוֹנָתוֹ נִבְרָא הָעוֹלָם, לֹא הָיָה רָאוּי לְהִבָּראוֹת קֹדֶם לָכֵן, אֶלָּא לִשְׁעָתוֹ נִבְרָא, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: אֶת הַכֹּל עָשָׂה יָפֶה בְעִתּוֹ. אָמַר רַבִּי אַבָּהוּ מִכָּאן שֶׁהָיָה הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא בּוֹנֶה עוֹלָמוֹת וּמַחֲרִיבָן, בּוֹרֵא עוֹלָמוֹת וּמַחֲרִיבָן, עַד שֶׁבָּרָא אֶת אֵלּוּ וְאָמַר דֵּין הַנְיָין לִי, יָתְהוֹן לָא הַנְיָין לִי.
“He made everything beautiful in its time; the world, too, He has placed in their heart, but so that man will not discover the work that God has performed from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).“He made everything beautiful in its time.” Rabbi Tanḥhuma said: The world was created at its appointed time; it was not fit to have been created earlier, but at its proper time it was created, as it is stated: “He made everything beautiful in its time.” Rabbi Abbahu said: From here [it is derived] that the Holy One blessed be He created worlds and destroyed them, created worlds and destroyed them, until he created this [world], and said: ‘These please Me and those did not please Me.’
We cannot understand how and why God Himself goes through a process, and how theologically an all-powerful being could need to try something a few times until He, so to speak, “gets it right.”. Yet, in whatever symbolic way it is meant, the tradition wants us to appreciate that there is a universal truth and pattern in trial and error. This is a great consolation as one must confront his or her imperfections and failed attempts, as well as to inspire patience for our children’s foibles.
As Daf 33 is tiny in terms of content, we will discuss a teaching at the top of 34a, “אין נזירות אלא להפלאה”, which means that in certain situations, a Nazir cannot make a vow that is contingent on something which will remain unclear.
Naziriteship is imposed upon someone only if the vow is stated with explicitness [hafla’a] and enunciated. The Torah says that a vow must be “clearly” pronounced, as the verse states: “When either man or woman shall clearly utter [yafli] a vow, the vow of a nazirite” (Numbers 6:2). This verse indicates that his vow is valid only if it is explicit.
Rav Tzaddok (Takanas Hashavin 6) explains this law as stemming from a deeper truth about the state of being a Nazir. As we discussed in Psychology of the Daf Nazir 16, the Torah does not state explicitly the number of days to be a Nazir because the institution itself requires a certain subjective assessment. The Nazir is taking an almost extra-legal action, motivated by his own sense of spiritual lacunae. If so, he must determine for himself what is needed for his rectification. Likewise, the halakha that Nazirhood requires specificity and an explicit vow without dependency on undeterminable contingencies represents that his intention must be clear headed and with appropriate consideration.
This is good advice for other undertakings in life. Do not leave it to happenstance or lack of clarity. Seize your destiny and opportunities in a clear headed manner, and refuse others if they seem wrong to you.