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Nazir 1:7 states:

הֲרֵינִי נָזִיר כְּמִנְיַן יְמוֹת הַחַמָּה, מוֹנֶה נְזִירוּת כְּמִנְיַן יְמוֹת הַחַמָּה. אָמַר רַבִּי יְהוּדָה, מַעֲשֶׂה הָיָה, כֵּיוָן שֶׁהִשְׁלִים מֵת:

[If one says], “Behold I am a nazirite, as the number of days in a solar year” he must count as many naziriteships as there are days in the solar year. Rabbi Judah said: such a case once occurred, and when the man had completed [his naziriteships], he died.

R' Ovadia MiBartenura explains that R' Yehuda is telling this story to prove R' Yehuda Hanasi wrong about one of his opinions in a previous Mishna, Nazir 1:4.

הֲרֵינִי נָזִיר כִּשְׂעַר רֹאשִׁי, וְכַעֲפַר הָאָרֶץ, וּכְחוֹל הַיָּם, הֲרֵי זֶה נְזִיר עוֹלָם וּמְגַלֵּחַ אַחַת לִשְׁלשִׁים יוֹם. רַבִּי אוֹמֵר, אֵין זֶה מְגַלֵּחַ אַחַת לִשְׁלשִׁים יוֹם. וְאֵיזֶהוּ שֶׁמְּגַלֵּחַ אַחַת לִשְׁלשִׁים יוֹם, הָאוֹמֵר הֲרֵי עָלַי נְזִירוּת כִּשְׂעַר רֹאשִׁי, וְכַעֲפַר הָאָרֶץ, וּכְחוֹל הַיָּם:

[If one says,] “Behold, I am a nazirite as the hairs of my head”, or “As the dust of the earth”, or “As the sands of the sea,” he becomes a life-nazirite, and shaves his head every thirty days. Rabbi (R' Yehuda Hanasi) says: this one does not shave his head every thirty days. The one who shave his head every thirty days is the one who says, “Behold, upon me are naziriteships as the hair on my head”, or “As the dust of the earth”, or “As the sands of the sea.”

R' Yehuda Hanasi is saying that when one says that he will be a nazir forever, it is one long naziriteship, and he will only be allowed to shave once every twelve months. The Tanna Kama says that when one says that he will be a nazir forever, it is an infinite number of consecutive standard naziriteships. Because a standard naziriteship lasts for thirty days, the nazir may shave once a month.

In Nazir 1:7, the Tanna Kama says that one who says he will be a nazir like the days of the year will have consecutive standard naziriteships equal to the number of days in a solar year, or 365, and can shave once a month. R' Yehuda Hanasi would argue that it is one long naziriteship, and therefore he will be a nazir for life, and can shave once a year. R' Yehuda disproves this by telling of a man who had made such a promise, spent 365 months as a nazir, completed his naziriteship, and died.

The Mishna doesn't waste words. The nazir completing his naziriteship is enough to disprove R' Yehuda Hanasi, who would say that the nazir never completes his naziriteship. Why does R' Yehuda need to mention that the nazir died?

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    The Mishna does sometimes include extra details in stories. I've always felt it was to add a flavor of authenticity to the story. The most famous example is Ketubbot 102b מעשה היה ושחטוהו ערב הפסח even though it doesn't really matter that it was on Erev Pesach. – Double AA May 31 at 1:32
  • @DoubleAA sounds like an answer – Isaac Moses May 31 at 1:55
  • @IsaacMoses Somebody might have given a reason. I should answer rejecting an assumption when someone else might really not reject it? – Double AA May 31 at 1:57
  • @DoubleAA Your comment sounds like a valid and valuable resolution of the question. I don't see how it would preclude other resolutions, if they're available, or how they would preclude it even if they were already posted. – Isaac Moses May 31 at 2:20
  • "The Mishna doesn't waste words." is a wrong assumption, for example, the first question, "מאימתי קורין את שמע בערבית?" is unnecessary the Mishnah could start "שמע קורין ...". – Al Berko May 31 at 8:01
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There's a well-documented and less-well-understood effect that people tend to die more during and after holidays. Some sources:

Many of the reasons suggested in those articles would apply equally to a nazir finishing his nezirus. As the Time article says,

Richer foods that typically appear during the holidays, from sweets to meats, as well as the numerous opportunities to partake, may also play a role. Alcohol consumption also increases during the festive holiday season, which can contribute to health problems for some people.

[links, obviously, are added by me]

However, the relevant reason for this question is the one suggested at the end of the article:

And for people who are already ill, there may be what experts call a displacement of death — people who try to postpone death until this time in an effort to experience one more holiday season with family and friends.

Possibly, this mishnah accepted this "displacement of death" theory. If so, that's an additional refutation of R' Yehuda Hanasi's opinion. If the nazir knew in advance that he'd be able to finish his nezirus and therefore pushed himself to stay alive, as opposed to just receiving a psak on the spot, that indicates that the accepted ruling was well known not to be like R' Yehuda Hanasi.

  • I admit this is pure speculation on my part. – Heshy May 31 at 12:05
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The mishnah might have been making a connection to Chanoch, who lived 365 years and then died. As Rashi comments, he was a tzaddik but weak, and Hashem wanted to make sure he died before he became a rasha.

This nazir might have been in the same situation - he became a nazir because he needed the extra discipline in his life. After 365 months of being a nazir, he may not have been able to cope with becoming a normal person again, and so he had to die.

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The Bartenura infers and answers your question.

מונה נזירות כמנין ימות השנה. שס״ה נזירות כמנין ימות החמה:,אמר רבי יהודה מעשה היה כיון שהשלים מת. ר׳ יהודה שמעיה לרבי דאפליג אתנא קמא ואמר שהאומר הריני נזיר כמנין ימות החמה הוי נזיר עולם. והביא מעשה להוכיח שאינו נזיר עולם, דמעשה היה וכיון שהשלים מת, ובנזיר עולם לא שייך השלמה, אלא ודאי מונה נזיריות. וכן הלכה:‏

The fact that this Nazir died (some time) after completing his 365 30-day Nazir cycles, is Rabbi Yehuda's proof.

If he were an eternal Nazir he wouldn't be able to complete his cycles before he dies, since he'd be a Nazir until the moment he dies.

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