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Samson attended his own wedding celebration:

(Judges, 14:10)

וַיֵּ֥רֶד אָבִ֖יהוּ אֶל־הָֽאִשָּׁ֑ה וַיַּ֨עַשׂ שָׁ֤ם שִׁמְשׁוֹן֙ מִשְׁתֶּ֔ה כִּ֛י כֵּ֥ן יַעֲשׂ֖וּ הַבַּחוּרִֽים׃ So his father came down to the woman, and Samson made a feast there, as young men used to do.

The word Mishteh means that wine was present - Rashi on Esther 5:4 writes:

אֶל הַמִּשְׁתֶּה. כָּל סְעוּדָה נִקְרֵאת עַל שֵׁם הַיַּיִן שֶׁהוּא עִיקָר: "To the משתה" – any feast is called after the wine, which is the primary part.

But, per the Rambam, a Nazir, rabbinically, cannot attend a feast with wine. He must instead remain far away. Rambam, Laws of Nazir, 5:10:

מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים שֶׁאָסוּר לְנָזִיר לַעֲמֹד בְּמוֹשַׁב שׁוֹתֵי יַיִן וְיִתְרַחֵק מִמֶּנּוּ הַרְבֵּה שֶׁהֲרֵי מִכְשׁוֹל לְפָנָיו. אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים סָבִיב לַכֶּרֶם לֹא יִקְרַב: According to Rabbinic decree, it is forbidden for a nazirite to abide amidst a gathering of people drinking wine. [Instead,] he should separate himself far from them, because they present a hurdle for him. Our Sages said: "Do not come close [even to] the area around the vineyard."

What strengthens the question is that Samson, while on route to his wedding was scrupulous to avoid entering a vineyard due to the very same rabbinic prohibition - Malbim, Judges 14:10:

ובבואם במשעול הכרמים עקם שמשון את הדרך כענין סחור סחור אמרינן לנזירא לכרמא לא תקרב and when they came to a vineyard pathway, Samson changed his direction a la "Do not come close [even to] the area around the vineyard."

Why then did Samson the Nazir attend his own Philistine-attended wine drinking, wedding banquet?

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    Great question, I'm not sure this answers it but are you aware of Rambam Nazirut 3:13? Samson was not a fully fledged Nazir.
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Dec 27, 2023 at 11:17
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    Yes. Thx. But my sense is that when it comes to wine, a Nazir Shimshon is equally proscribed from the wine prohibitions.
    – GratefulD
    Dec 27, 2023 at 11:42
  • Maybe because it was plishtim, we're not worried that he'll drink from the wine anyway because of יין נסך, therefore no reason to make an extra gezeira
    – Lo ani
    Dec 27, 2023 at 12:16
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    Maybe instead of wine they had other fancy drinks
    – Heshy
    Dec 27, 2023 at 12:17
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    וכן ראוי שנאמר בענין שמשון שעשה דברים אשר לא כדין לפי שימצא תואנה להנקם מפלשתים, כ"ש שלא היה הרוח האלהי אשר בו מיושב ומסודר לעשות תשועות כשאר השופטים ולא היה דעתו שלם אבל האל ית' למשפט שמו וצור להוכיח יסדו, ולזה השפיע בו רוח גבורה וחוזק ...וידמה שבתום לבבו היה חושב שלענין נזירותו לא היה מחויב כי אם בדברים שהזהיר המלאך עליהם, והם איסור כל אשר יצא מגפן היין ושלא יאכל כל טומאה ומורה לא יעלה על ראשו, ושאר הדברים היה נמשך בהם אחרי תאותו ... Per this Abarbanel (Judges 14:1) Samson acted erratically with God's 'permission.' Perhaps, he did not think the rabbinic enactment applied to him.
    – GratefulD
    Dec 27, 2023 at 14:00

2 Answers 2

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I believe that 14:4 can be understood to mean that the entire occasion was a divinely sanctioned/orchestrated ruse that Shimshon was in on:

ואביו ואמו לא ידעו כי מיהוה היא כי תאנה הוא מבקש מפלשתים ובעת ההיא פלשתים משלים בישראל

But his father and his mother knew not that it was of the LORD; for he sought an occasion against the Philistines. Now at that time the Philistines had rule over Israel.

That is why the pasuq states that his parents did not know - the implication being that he did in fact know.

If that is the case, the feast (much like the marriage itself) would have been understood by him to be a necessary component of the plot and therefore permissible.

As for why it was necessary we are told that it was the cultural expectation כי כן יעשו הבחורים ("for so used the young men to do" i.e. the feast was customarily conducted on such occasion). Acting to the contrary could derail the plot.

That said, it is still possible to suggest that though he conducted a feast, he did not actually attend it. R. Yeshayahu Kohen (MiPi ha-Kohen 'al Nebhiim, p. 114) suggests as follows:

פסוק י' ויעש שם שמשון משתה כי כן יעשו הבחורים מדאמר משתה ודאי היה שם יין וכמש"כ רש"י בפירושו לאסתר פרק ה' ד' משתה כל סעודה נקראת ע"ש היין שהוא עיקר וכ"כ עוד במקומות הרבה ולפ"ז צ"ל דאף שעשה להם משתה הוא לא ישב עמהם שהרי נזיר אסור לו להיות במעמד שותי יין וכמ"ש הר"מ פ"ה מנזירות ה"י מדברי ס ופרים שאסור לנזיר לעמוד במושב שותי יין ויתרחק ממנו הרבה שהרי מכשול לפניו כו' וביארו המפרשים דהיינו מה שאמרו בכמה דוכתי סחור סחור אמרין לנזירא לכרמא לא תקרב

“and Samson made there a feast; for so used the young men to do” and when it states “feast”( משתה) it is certain that there was wine present, much as Rashi on Esther 5:4 explains “lit. drinking feast. Every banquet is called (מִשְּׁתֶּה) on account of the wine, which is the principal feature.” And as is written about in many other places. Accordingly one must say that even though he made a drinking feast he did not sit/dwell with them since a nazirite is prohibited from being in the company of those drinking wine, as the Rambam in H. Neziruth 5:10 states: According to Rabbinic decree, it is forbidden for a nazirite to abide amidst a gathering of people drinking wine. [Instead,] he should separate himself far from them, because they present a stumbling block before him, etc. and as the commentators explain in a number of places “go around and around the vineyard and do not approach it”

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  • Thx. I enjoyed your first answer. The MiPi Hacohen is fascinating but does not align with the pshat.
    – GratefulD
    Dec 27, 2023 at 14:07
  • My pleasure, thanks for the question and opportunity to think about it! Dec 27, 2023 at 14:20
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The assumption that the Patriarchs kept the Torah, even rabbinic laws, before the giving of the Torah, or in this case, a Biblical judge kept a rabbinic decree prior the actual rabbinic decree, would be a midrashic approach.

In the phrase סחור סחור אמרינן לנזירא לכרמא לא תקרב, this is not the text of a rabbinic decree. Rather, it is an Aramaic proverb, indicating a specific attitude one should have. It is invoked by Amoraim telling us to avoid situations which may inadvertently lead to sin, for instance, by Ulla in Pesachim 40b about adding vinegar to a mixture before or after, where the fear is of becoming chametz, or again by Ulla in another context in Avodah Zarah 17b. Another one in Avodah Zarah 58b. Also on 59b.

Shimshon himself literally applied this principle, this adage / proverb, to a literal case of a nazir going around a vineyard. So the commentator, Malbim, made reference to it, כענין, in the manner of, meaning influenced by this principle. This doesn't mean that he was necessarily following a rabbinic prohibition, which perhaps hadn't been enacted yet.

It is interesting that Rambam says that this is a "divrei Soferim" / rabbinic prohibition. Kesef Mishnah points to Avodah Zara 59, but that is the dictum applied to other cases.

Meanwhile, marrying a woman who isn't Jewish would also be prohibited, so perhaps Shimshon should have avoided attending his own wedding for that reason. The answer is that presumably, where there was a purpose in propelling events towards their divinely inspired conclusion, he nevertheless acted against halachah.

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    "marrying a woman who isn't Jewish would also be prohibited" I don't recall where but on וירד אביהו אל האשה it is suggested that his father went ahead to convert her... though this of course would be according to the same "midrashic approach" you mention in your intro. The Rambam also makes this claim in H. Issure Biah 13:14. Dec 27, 2023 at 17:49

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