A nazir may not take haircuts (usually for a 30 day period) and a kohen gadol must take haircuts weekly (Taanis 17a, 3/4 down the page). Can/may a kohen gadol become a nazir? If so, how does that work. If not, what if he does, even if it is not allowed? In any case, where do we learn this?


3 Answers 3


In המתיבתא - 2001 תשס"א אייר there is an article by Rav Matisyohu Blum who asks your question as follows:

יש מקשים. איך יתכן שיהיה כהן גדול נזיר; הלוא מבואר בסנהדרין(כב:) דכהן גדול מסתפר מערב שבת לערב שבת, והרי נזיר אסור להסתפר - רק עליו לגדל פרע ראשו, ואין נזירות פחות משלשים יום, וא״כ איך אפשר שיקבל כהן גדול נזירות על עצמו?

You may ask how is it possible for a Kohen Godol to be a Nozir. The Gemoro in Sanhedrin requires a Kohen Godol to have a haircut every Erev Shabbos and a Nozir is forbidden to have a haircut and there is no period of nezirus less than 30 days.

His conclusion is that it is possible for a Kohen Godol to be a Nozir 'if he is a “Nozir Olom”', (see here) because R' Yose holds that a Nozir Olom may cut his hair every Erev Shabbos just like the requirement for a Kohen Godol {and see the Mishneh Lamelech on the Rambam Hilchos Nezirus 3 (12) whom he uses as authority}.

ולפ״ז שפיר שייך דין נזירות גם לכהן גדול, דהיינו היכא דהוא נזיר עולם, דלדעת ר׳ יוסי מותר לו לגלח מערב שבת לערב שבת, ממש כדין כהן גדול, ועולים שני הדינים - היוב תספורת של כה״ג, ודין גילוח נזיר, בקנה אחד כפתור ופרח. [ומ־ש הרמבים ״מיקל בתער־, עיין במשל״מ הגיל שמביא מהרמב"ם בפיהמ"ש ומרש"י דר"ל דמותר לו לגלח בתער, וכ״כ רשיי, וא״כ שפיר אפשר לצאת חיוב תספורת הכה״ג בתגלהתו של נזיר עולם].

The OP asks what if the Kohen Godol does become a nozir even if it is not allowed? There seems to be no clear answer.

On the one hand:

The command that the Kohen Godol is not allowed to grow his hair is in Vayikro 21 (10)

And the kohen who is elevated above his brothers, upon whose head the anointment oil has been poured or who has been inaugurated to wear the garments he shall not leave his hair unshorn or rend his garments.

And Rashi comments:

he shall not leave his hair unshorn: Heb. לֹא יִפְרָע. He shall not leave his hair unshorn as a gesture of mourning. — [Torath Kohanim 21:27] Now what is considered “leaving one’s hair unshorn?” More than thirty days. — [Sanh. 22b]

From here one might infer that if the hair growth were not as a gesture of mourning, his service might be acceptable.

And on the other hand:

Rambam Hilchos Klei Hamikdosh 5 (6) says

He may never let his hair grow long,15 as [ibid.] states: "He shall not allow [the hair of] his head to grow long." [This applies] even at times when he does not enter the Sanctuary. Instead, he should have his hair cut every Friday. He should not have his hair cut with a razor, rather with scissors.

But Rambam does not say what happens if he does let his hair grow.

Regarding the wealth of the Kohen Godol, although “his priestly brethren should give him according to their financial capacity” so that he becomes rich, Rambam says,

“None of the above is an absolute requirement;3 instead, all of this is merely [the optimum way of fulfilling] the mitzvah. If he was, nonetheless, initiated, his initiation is valid.”

Rambam says further

“A priest does not perform Temple service - nor does a High Priest perform Temple service - until he brings [a meal offering of] a tenth of an ephah from his own possessions and offer it himself, as [Leviticus 6:13] states: "This is the sacrifice of Aaron and his descendants 46 which they will offer to God on the day that he will be anointed." If one performs any of the Temple service before he brings [this meal offering] or if a High Priest serves as a High Priest before he brings [this meal offering], his service is acceptable.”

We could infer that since Rambam does not specifically say “his service is acceptable” regarding growing his hair, then the service of the Kohen Godol would be unacceptable.

I leave an answer to someone who knows more.

  • 1
    Thank you for the information about a permanent nazir. What about the parts of my question that pertain to the stam nazir? (Is it allowed. What happens if a kohen gadol does become a nazir?)
    – Yehuda W
    Nov 1, 2015 at 15:19
  • @YehudaW It seems that the only nezirus permitted to the Kohen Godol is to be a Nozir Olom. Nov 1, 2015 at 15:24
  • 1
    Thank you for the clarification. But, the Q also asks: If not, what if he does, even if it is not allowed?
    – Yehuda W
    Nov 1, 2015 at 15:37
  • @YehudaW I tried without success to answer this part - see the addition to my post. Nov 1, 2015 at 20:34
  • It seems from the Gemara Nazir 59ab that if it remains a lenght of hair of Kedelakuf rosho leyikaro its good, see gemara 59b who seems to say that this is the lenght of hair for 1 week
    – kouty
    Apr 13, 2017 at 16:28

In Talmud Menochos 100a and Nozir 48b, both R' Akiva and R' Yishmael hold that a Nazir who is also a (Cohen) Cohen Gadol, may become impure for the sake of burying an unattended corpse (Mes Mitzvah). They learn this from extra words in pesukim (drashah).

Therefore, the fact exists that there can be a Nazir Cohen Gadol.

The prohibition in Taanis 17 (and see Sanhedrin 22) for a Cohen or Cohen Gadol, to grow "pera" for 30 days (what would be considered excess hair) vs. the Nazir's requirement to grow his hair (pera) for 30 days minimally, can be answered as follows:

Nazir 5a brings an argument about the minimum term of Nazirus. Rav Massna says it is 30 days, while Bar Padda holds it is 29 days. In the Gemara's reconciliation it explains that a Nazir shaves and brings karbanos in the middle of day 30.

Now, the Meiri says that the prohibition of growing long hair is only if the Cohen does so for longer than a full 30 days. So, the Nazir who shaves on day 30, never violates the Cohen prohibition.

(The Meiri also says, that perhaps a Nazir may have accepted Nezirus (two weeks) ago and then be appointed Cohen Gadol.)

The haircut of the Cohen Gadol every week, seems to be D'Rabbanan. If so, the Issur D'oraisa of Nazir overrides the obligation to cut hair.


See Gemara Nazir 59b. It seems that if the lenght of the hairs remains >= the lenght which does grow through a week, he can continue the nezirut, so there is no problem for a KG because the lenght of his hairs needs to be >= this lenght.

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