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B'midbar chapter 6 explains the laws of one who vows to become a nazir, but I've long been puzzled by why one would do this. (Our most famous nazir was commanded in this; Shimshon didn't make that choice.) What is the benefit? Was this just put here as a way to channel people looking to take on stringencies, or does it serve some other purpose?

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    See also Sefer HaChinuch (§ 374), who portrays the nazirite vow as a tool that the Torah provides for people to occasionally undertake when they feel the need to withdraw from immersion in society and the pleasures of the world and thereby blunt their physical desires and focus on his service of the Almighty. The gemara (Nazir 4b) provides an example of a man whose evil inclination threatened to overpower him when he saw how handsome he was. The man took the extraordinary measure of immediately taking the nazirite vow that would require him to shave of his beautiful hair. – Fred May 19 '13 at 20:05
  • What @fred said. Essentially, your first guess, more or less. If people feel a need for spiritual elevation beyond what they get by performing the other Mitzvoth, this is the Torah-prescribed way. – Seth J May 19 '13 at 20:39
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    All previous commenters: these seem like answers. Might I suggest you post them as such? – msh210 May 19 '13 at 23:51
  • @Fred I was going to just answer, 'because he/she is good looking' based on that Gemara in Nazir – הנער הזה May 28 '14 at 12:52
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The gemara in Nedarim 10a says:

R. Yehudah said: The early hasidim were eager to bring a sin-offering, because the Holy One, blessed be He, never caused them to stumble. What did they do? They arose and made a free-will vow of neziroth to the Omnipresent, so as to be liable to a sin-offering to the Omnipresent.

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Perishus (separation from the world) is a very commendable thing. There's a whole 'gate' (section) in Duties of the Heart which discusses the reasons for this.

As to why the Talmud frowns on the Nazir for forbidding things which are permitted, I read from Rabbi Uziel Milevsky's book on the parsha in Nasso that this refers only to one who has the mistaken belief that the pleasures of the world are "bad". But for one who takes on Perishus to help him in the service of God, this is something commendable.

"When a man turns [excessively] to the physical pleasures, he will not stop nor rest day and night, and all of his aspirations will be to fulfill his desires. And all of his acts are not l'shem shamayim (for G-d), because he will always look first - if he will receive benefit from this - then he will do it. But if not, - he will drop it all" — from end of Gate #1 of Duties of the Heart's Marpe Lenefesh commentary. See Gate #9 for much more.

"The yetzer hara comes primarily through eating and simcha (parties). (ein hay'r ba ela mitoch achila v'simcha)" vilna gaon on Mishlei-7:14 - this is exactly what the nazir is trying to avoid. Imagine a college student, who makes a vow against alcohol, how much of the mad drunken parties he will be saving himself from.

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its simple, the highest level of Kedusha in Judaism for any man or woman is Nazirut, according to R Beyahe, Alshich, Ramak.

i was asked to add the sources that bring the high holiness of level of Nazirut:

the information below was driven out of nazirut.com

מעלת הנזירות רמה ונשגבת עד אין קץ ותכלית. The Level of Nazirite is superior, exalted and transcendent to infinity

כתב הרמ"ק זצק"ל בספרו אור יקר כרך יג פרשת נשא דף רמח: "מאי כי יפלא איש, דילמא איש כי ידור נדר נזיר משאר בני עלמא, כדמסיק לקמן כי ישראל מבחר כל העולם, ושבט לוי מבחר כל ישראל, ונזיר מבחר כולם. להתקדשא כגוונא דלעילא שהם שערות עליונות".

Rabbi Moshe Cordevero writes in his book "Or Yakar" Volume 13 Parashat Naso page 248: "What does it mean 'And A Man Shall "Yaphli" (consecrate)?' When a Man shall give the Neder/Oath of a Nazirite to become a Pharisee from the rest of the Humankind, Since Yisrael are the chosen ones from the rest of the Humankind, and the Tribe of Levi are the chosen ones from all of Yisrael, and the Nazirite is The Chosen One, from within them All. To Sanctify oneself resembling the superior spiritual, as they are the higher Hairs."

כלומר בכלל ישראל הנזיר מובחר מכולם. Which means that a Nazirite from within Yisrael is the Chosen One from them All

כתב רבי בחיי בפירושו על ספר במדבר ו,ג: "איש כי יפליא לנדר נדר נזיר כבר ביארתי לך בסדר אמור כהן גדול דוגמת מי הוא, הנה הנזיר למעלה ממנו כי הוא למעלה מן המידות דבק בעצם הרחמים העליונים, ולפי שהוא מוכתר במעלת הנזירות נקרא נזיר מלשון כתר, וזהו כי נזר אלוהיו על ראשו".

Rabeinu Bhayee on his commentary on the book of Numbers chapter 6 verse 13 wrote: "'Since A Man shall give the "Yaphli" (consecrate) to utter the Neder/Oath of a Nazirite', as I have already elaborated for you in order of Emor, the High Priest who does he resemble? The Nazirite is higher than the High Priest since the Nazirite is higher than the Middot/Measures, conjoined as one to the superior level of Mercy. Since he is coronated in the degree of a Nazirite, he is called a Nazir expressed from the language Keter/Crown, ad it says 'Since the Nezer/Crown of his Lord upon his head".

כלומר מעלת הנזיר למעלה ממעלת כהן גדול. Which means the degree of a Nazirite is Higher than of a Kohen Gadol/High Priest

כתב מהר"מ אלשיך בפירוש פרשת נשא פרק ו: "אמנם הנה רצה הקב"ה ללמד דעת את עמו ישראל עם קדושו בל יאמר נא ישראל, הלא הוא יתברך הבדיל את שבט לוי, ומהם את זרע אהרן, ומתוכם את הכהן הגדול מאחיו כי קדוש יאמר לו. והאם תלוי הקדושה במולידם ולא בבחירה הטובה היא? והלא כמו זר נחשב, על כן בא ה' אלהים וילמדנו כי לא כן הוא, כי הנה ביד כל איש ואיש לפרוש מענייני העולם ולקדש עצמו עד גדר שבטוב בחירתו קדוש יאמר לו וככהן גדול אשר לא ייטמא לאביו וכו' גם הוא יחשב, ועוד לו כי הנה בכהן גדול נאמר: לאביו וכו' כי נזר שמן משחת אלוהיו על ראשו, מיוחס הדבר אל מה שחוץ ממנו הוא השמן, אך בזה לא יתייחס כי אם אל עצמו, כי דבק בו הוא יתברך לאמור עליו: כי נזר אלוהיו על ראשו".

כלומר קדושת הנזיר למעלה מקדושת כהן גדול.

כתב הרמ"ק זצק"ל בפרדס רימונים שער ד פרק ו: "קרקפתא עניינו הגולגולת שבראש החופף על המוח והוא הכתר הכותר החכמה והוא למעלה מן הכל. ואי גרסינן ליה ה"פ, כי יש למטה מהכתר קרקפתא דזעיר אנפין ומנח תפילין שהן ד' פרשיות ד' אורות, קדש חכמה, והיה כי יביאך בינה, שמע חס"ד, והיה אם שמוע גבורה. והם תפילין ברישא דזעיר אנפין. אמנם בריש אריך אנפין לית תפילי מפני שאין אצילות למעלה מאצילותו. ולכן נקרא קרקפתא דלא מנח תפילין".

כלומר הבחינה שנזיר קשור לה היא הגבוהה מכל הבחינות כולן

these could be found at http://nazirut.com/%D7%9E%D7%A2%D7%9C%D7%AA-%D7%94%D7%A0%D7%96%D7%99%D7%A8%D7%95%D7%AA/

if you need translation, I would gladly translate.

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    Could you edit in where they say that? (Citations or, better if you've got them, links to online sources.) Thanks. – Monica Cellio May 1 '18 at 16:07
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    I've added the information that you provided in another answer. Please use the "edit" link under a post to edit it instead of adding a new post. Thanks for the additional information; please do edit in a translation or at least a summary. We want this site to be accessible to everybody and so require the substantial parts of answers to be in English. (Of course Hebrew is also welcome, but we do want the English.) Thanks! – Monica Cellio May 2 '18 at 20:21

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