The parsha continues to discuss the laws of the Nazarite. A Nazarite, or nazir, is a person who takes it upon himself and vows to refrain from the following for a thirty day period:
1. Drinking wine, or eating anything derived from grapes.
2. Shearing of the hair.
3. Being in contact with the dead.
A person volunteers to become nazir for the following reasons:
1. When a person drinks wine, his mental clarity diminishes; thereby, he may behave immorally and may not make proper judgments. By abstaining from wine, a person will also abstain from being in situations where wine will be present, such as parties, etc., by isolating oneself, one can become more introspective about oneself, gaining insight about one’s deeds and where one can find room to improve.
2. The nazir refrains from shearing his hair, because when a person cuts his hair, he looks refined and handsome. However, when the nazir lets his hair grow for thirty days, he must then shave all his hair; thereafter, he banishes any thoughts of vanity and of beautifying himself. The essence behind this is to steer him away from focusing on his external desires.
3. A nazir may not touch a dead body because during this thirty-day period, he is rewarded additional levels of kedusha, similar to that of the kohen gadol-high priest. Similarly, just as the kohen gadol is forbidden to be in contact with a dead body, even for a close relative, the nazir is also forbidden to be in contact with a dead body because of his high levels of kedusha.
By taking the voluntary vow and becoming a nazir, a person is abstaining from many of the pleasures that Hashem commands us to partake on. Becoming a nazir is not advisable; however, if a person believes that significant self-improvement will be made, from abstaining from the worldly pleasures of wine and looking handsome, he may take the vow of abstinence.
Of course those of us who want to undergo the process of self-reflection and self-improvement don’t have to go so far as to refrain from shaving and drinking, but this should be a call for action for all of us to initiate some kind of change.
The nazirs want to connect to Hashem and improve themselves so badly that they are willingly refraining from certain pleasures. This should shed some light to get us to change our ways, as much as possible. Although we may not be willing to give up our wine or beauty habits, we can look to improve our lives in other ways, such as lending a helping hand around the house more often, saying our brachot- prayers- with a little more concentration, being friendlier to our neighbors, etc. Everyone is working on developing different character traits but the first step is recognizing that personal growth is necessary, and then Hashem will give us the answers and tools we need for how to change.