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Rashi disagrees with Rav Mattana on the interpretation of Bamidbar 6:5. Rav Mattana believes the 30-day duration of Naziriteship (based on the gematria value of Yihye) makes the Nazir "holy". Rashi however believes the "Hair" itself is "holy" not the Nazir.

Rashi on Bamidbar 6:5

קדש יהיה means HOLY SHALL IT (not “he”) BE viz., his hair shall be holy. inasmuch as he must let grow freely the hair of his head (lit., so as to let grow the over-growth, פרע, of the hair of his head) (Sifrei Bamidbar 25; Taanit 4a).

Nazir 5a

Rav Mattana said: The verse states with regard to a nazirite: “He shall be [yihye] holy” (Numbers 6:5), and the numerical value [gimatriyya] of the letters of the word yihye is thirty.

In Bamidbar 6:5, which is Holy for 30-days : [It] Hair or [He] Nazir?

  • Why would the Nazir not be the "holy" object, since Nazir's vow makes the Hair curl?
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  • "In Bamidbar 6:5, which is Holy for 30-days : [It] Hair or [He] Nazir?" You already answered it's a dispute between Rashi (quoting sifrei) and Rav mattana in Nazir. So that's not your question. Your only question then is why does Rashi/sifrei disagree, since you feel the Nazir should he holy? What does this mean: "since Nazir's vow makes the Hair curl" – robev Mar 5 at 6:23
  • @robev - Did the Nazir not make himself קָדֹ֣שׁ Qadosh in order for the hair to grow? – חִידָה Mar 5 at 11:54
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    I don't see that Rashi is saying that the nazir is not holy. He is just giving the proper reading of that particular verse. Both can be holy. – MichoelR Mar 5 at 14:32
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According to the Mizrachi, Rashi's source is a beraisa in Sifri that points out that verse 8 there says:

All the days of his separation he is holy to the Lord.

Since that verse refers to the Nazirites personal holiness, the reference to holiness in verse 5 seems redundant, so the Sifri applies it to his hair, based on context. In other words, the Nazir himself is holy, and the hair is holy, and each one is mentioned in its own verse.

You see the holiness of the hair in that it is burned with the offerings the Nazir brings at the conclusion of his Nezirus.

And the Nazir shall shave the head of his separation at the door of the Tent of Meeting, and shall take the hair of the head of his separation, and put it in the fire which is under the sacrifice of the peace offering.

It is true that other sources in Chazal apply the verse to the Nazir himself, but Rashi in his commentary to Chumash relies very heavily on the Sifri, since it was actually written on the Chumash itself.

In addition, the Rosh in his commentary to Nazir says that Rav Mattana's interpretation is not a real halachic interpretation (which have to be rooted in the 13 methods of Rabbi Yishmael) but an asmachta, or mnemonic for memorization. Maimonides says the same in his commentary to the Mishnah. The rules for these mnemonics are looser than for full halachic interpretations.

And finally, Rav Mattana is only coming to show how long the period of Nezirus must be. That is valid even if he agrees to Rashi that the verse refers to the hair; you still see the time period is thirty days.

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  • "And finally, Rav Mattana is only coming to show how long the period of Nezirus must be. That is valid even if he agrees to Rashi that the verse refers to the hair; you still see the time period is thirty days." I think the OP (in my opinion correctly) understood Rav Mattana's whole derivation to be assuming the subject of the verse to be the Nazir himself, and not his hair. Otherwise the derivation doesn't make sense. – robev Mar 5 at 8:32
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    Sure it does. If the hair must be holy for thirty days, that means that is the period of the nezirus. – N.T. Mar 5 at 10:34

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