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If we are meant to understand from the Nazir that forbidding things which are really mutar in order to be "extra holy" is really not a positive thing (cf. y.Nedarim 9:1), then of what benefit are humroth (if any)? Or are we simply misunderstanding what a humra actually is as spoken of by Hazal (the same rabbanim who told us the lesson of the Nazir)?

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Is it so bad to be a nazir? hebrewbooks.org/shas.aspx?mesechta=1&daf=63&format=text –  Shmuel Brin Dec 10 '13 at 1:59
mesilat yesharim says it is to be yotze all the opinions, kind of like going the extra mile for the Boss –  ray Dec 10 '13 at 6:20
Are you asking what we get from observing chumros, or what makes chumros more desirable to G-d (if they are), or merely looking for a source for observing chumros? (For example: "אמר רבא קדש עצמך במותר לך" -Yevamos 20a ) Also, regarding your first assumption, don't forget the gemara in Taanis 11a-b, where the Amoraim discuss whether voluntary fasts are good or bad, using kal vachomers from the nazir. –  HodofHod Dec 10 '13 at 19:36
The Talmud in Nedarim 10A also brings opinions that a Nazir is a good thing. See this article for a possible reconciliation: chabad.org/library/article_cdo/AID/2243/ShowFeedback/true –  Menachem Dec 11 '13 at 2:43
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1 Answer

There are different types of Chumrot, as I see it.

1. Fence

Sometimes we (personal or dictated by Chazal) need a fence to keep us away from the actual transgression. This way, if we stumble we hit the fence and don't fall into the pit of sin. This is the fence referred to - and recommended - in the first Mishna in Pirkei Avot.

This is your typical Humra.

An example (dictated by Chazal) would be: not having some people eat meat and others milk at the same table.

An example (personal) would be: not relying on the Eruv in case it's broken.

2. Holiness

There's a concept of being holy והייתם קדושים - which includes refraining from doing things that are permitted, in order to reach a higher level of closeness to Hashem.

The concept of Nazir seems like "an example provided by the Torah" of the second concept. And here we learn a lesson - that it's better to learn how to use "everything" in the service of Hashem rather than outlawing them.

Some things - like meat and wine - are needed only in very small quantities in the service of Hashem. But refraining from them completely - in order not to over-indulge - is not the recommended way, as per the lessons of Nazir.

The better way is to learn how to control yourself; that helps you reach a higher level of closeness to Hashem.

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The Nesivos famously says (Choshen Mishpat 234:3, also see this) that one gets no onesh for violating a derabanan b'shogeig. If one is halachically permitted to rely on an eiruv, say, because of a chazaka, and even if the eiruv turns out to be passul there is no onesh, what is the point of not relying on it? Isn't that similar to the case of nazir making assur for himself what is muttar? –  Malper Dec 11 '13 at 21:15
@Malper, that is not a universally held opinion. –  Yishai Dec 11 '13 at 23:52
There is at least a third category, regarding being choshed to opinions that are not strictly the halacha. Like pretty much everything that is permitted when there is great loss, but not otherwise. –  Yishai Dec 11 '13 at 23:54
@Malper - why would relying on an Eruv be dependent on Chazaka? What kind of Chazaka do strings have "out in the open". And why do you link carrying without an Eiruv to D'Rabanan? Not sure that's universal... –  Danny Schoemann Dec 12 '13 at 13:35
@DannySchoemann I think chezkas kashrus applies to eruvin but AYLO. And carrying in a karmelis is d'rabanan. –  Malper Dec 12 '13 at 14:44
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