Samson – Contact with Dead

December 25, 2015 | by Rabbi Dovid Rosenfeld

I’m trying to understand something. Shimshon (Samson) was a nazir (Nazarite), which is why he didn’t cut his hair or drink wine. But isn’t one of the restrictions of a Nazarite not to come in contact with the dead (Numbers 6:6-7)? How was he able to fight wars and kill Philistines, as well as slay a lion and take the jawbone of a donkey?

The Aish Rabbi Replies

It's a very good question. The Talmud explains that Samson was a unique type of Nazarite. Since he didn't make the vow himself but it was decreed upon him from heaven before his birth, he was only a Nazarite for those things the angel specified to his parents – namely cutting his hair and consuming products of the vine (Judges 13:4-5). Samson was thus permitted to come in contact with dead bodies. (In fact, the Talmud likewise states anyone who accepts upon himself to be “a Nazarite as Samson” likewise becomes this unique type of Nazarite.)

(Sources: Mishna Nazir 1:2, Talmud Nazir 4, and Maimonides Laws of Nezirut 3:13.)

(In terms of coming in contact with dead animals, that is not an issue for any type of Nazarite. The Torah only forbids his coming in contact with “a dead soul” – but not a dead animal (which doesn’t possess a true soul) (Talmud Nazir 48a).)




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