Kenneth Cohen

The Nazir and Sin

The Keli Yakar has a different view of the Nazir than most commentators. This refers to the man or woman who take upon themselves certain restrictions. They will not drink wine, cut their hair, or come in contact with the dead.

The usual Nazir period is thirty days, where the prevailing opinion was simply that such individuals were hoping to rise to higher levels of spirituality, by taken on these prohibitionsץ

The Keli Yakar felt that this vow was taken in direct connection with their own human weakness. They had given in to temptation, and regretted the sins committed. They thought that being a Nazir, would help them get back on the right path.
This is particularly true when so much has been written about drinking too much wine. This is implied in the previous case mentioned concerning the “Sotah,” the woman suspected of being unfaithful to her husband. The wine allowed her to be seduced by another man.

Many of the books of Mussar remind us of the raging battle we have with our Yeitzer Hara. The Evil Inclination uses all of its tricks to try to get us off course. It is not easy not to fall prey to its cunning ways.

The Nazir is aware that he needs more tools to win this battle, so he makes the Nazir’s vow.

Despite his good intentions, he must bring a sin offering, when his vow has been completed. In a way, he has insulted Hashem by assuming that there weren’t enough laws to keep him in check. There should not have been a need to take such extreme action.

Regardless of the motive, we must be aware of our own weaknesses. We must take action to be certain that we not fall and we remain strong in our commitment to Hashem.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at