Resh Lakish raised an objection against R. Johanan [from the following]: If a dove of an indeterminate pair2 should fly away into the air, or amongst those sin-offerings that have to be killed,3 or if one of the pair should perish, a partner is to be taken for the other one.4 [This implies that] with a determinate pair there is no remedy;5 though all other pairs [in the world] would be valid.6 Now why should this be so? Should we not say of each one, perhaps this is one [that flew away]?7 He replied: I spoke of a woman who is stationary and you raise objections from prohibited things that are mobile!8 Should you argue further that here too the woman may be mobile, for it is possible that he may have met her in the street and betrothed her, [the cases are still different] for the woman returns to her customary place, but can the same be said of the bird-pair?
Raba said: R. Johanan would admit that a woman who has [among her unmarried relatives] neither daughter, daughter's daughter, nor son's daughter; neither mother nor maternal grandmother, nor sister, although she may have a sister who was divorced after [the representative was sent] — such a woman would be permitted to him,9 because at the time that he gave his instructions, [the sister] was still married, and when a person appoints a deputy, it is [to perform] something that is possible at the time,10 but for something that is not possible at the time he does not appoint a deputy.11
We have Iearnt: [SHOULD A MAN SAY:] '11 DECLARE MYSELF A NAZIRITE, AND I UNDERTAKE TO POLL A NAZIRITE,' AND SHOULD HIS COMPANION, HEARING THIS, SAY: 'I TOO, AND I UNDERTAKE TO POLL A NAZIRITE, THEN, IF THEY ARE CLEVER, THEY WILL POLL EACH OTHER; OTHERWISE THEY MUST POLL OTHER NAZIRITES. Now this [suggestion]12 is all very well as regards the latter, since the former had become [a nazirite] first,13 but as to the former, was the latter a nazirite [when he made his vow]?14
Nazir 12bIt follows therefore that he must have meant: 'If I should find one who is a nazirite, I shall poll him'; and so here too, perhaps he means: 'If you find one who is divorced, [you can] betroth her on my behalf'? — We may put [our maxim] thus. A person can appoint a deputy only for a commission that he himself can execute at the moment, but he cannot appoint him for a commission that he himself cannot execute at the moment [but can only do later].
But is that so? Come and hear: If a man says to his agent,1 'You are to declare void any vows that my wife makes from the present moment until the time I return from such-and-such a place,' and he does so, it might be imagined that they become void, but Scripture says: Her husband may let it stand, or her husband may make it void.2 This is the opinion of R. Josiah. R. Jonathan said: In all circumstances do we find that a man's representative is equivalent to himself.3 Now, [R. Josiah's] reason derives from the statement of the Divine Law, Her husband may let it stand, or her husband may make it void, and but for this, the agent would be able to declare them void, whereas where [the husband] himself is concerned, it has been taught: Should a man say to his wife, 'All the vows that you may make from the present moment until I return from such-and-such a place are to stand,' this is of no effect. [Should he say,] 'They are to be void,' R. Eliezer declares them void, but the Sages say that they are not void.4 Now assuming that R. Josiah agrees with the Rabbis that he himself could not make them void, [we nevertheless find that] had not the Divine Law said, Her husband may let it stand or her husband may make it void, the agent could have declared them void?5 — It is possible that he agrees with R. Eliezer that [the husband] can make them void [in advance]. If that is so, why does he trouble to appoint a deputy? Why does he not declare them void himself? — He fears that [at the moment of departure]6 he might forget, or be angry, or be too busy.
MISHNAH. [SHOULD A MAN SAY,] 'I UNDERTAKE THE POLLING OF HALF A NAZIRITE,'7 AND HIS COMPANION, HEARING THIS, SAY 'I, TOO; I UNDERTAKE THE POLLING OF HALF A NAZIRITE,' THEN, ACCORDING TO R. MEIR, EACH MUST POLL A NAZIRITE COMPLETELY, BUT THE SAGES SAY: EACH POLLS HALF A NAZIRITE.
GEMARA. Raba said: All agree that if he Says, 'I undertake half the sacrifices7 of a nazirite,' he is obliged to bring only half the sacrifices;8 if he says 'I undertake the sacrifices of half a nazirite,' he must bring a complete set of sacrifices, since partial naziriteship is impossible.9 Where they differ is when the phraseology of the Mishnah [is used].10 R. Meir considers that as soon as he says 'I undertake [to poll]' he becomes liable to the complete sacrifice of naziriteship, and when he [afterwards] specifies half a naziriteship, it is no longer within his power [to limit his obligation].11 The Rabbis, on the other hand, look upon it as a vow accompanied by its own modification.12
MISHNAH. [SHOULD A MAN SAY,] '11 UNDERTAKE TO BECOME A NAZIRITE WHEN I SHALL HAVE A SON,' AND A SON BE BORN TO HIM, HE BECOMES A NAZIRITE. IF THE CHILD BORN BE A DAUGHTER, OR SEXLESS, OR AN HERMAPHRODITE, HE DOES NOT BECOME A NAZIRITE. SHOULD HE SAY, WHEN I SHALL HAVE A CHILD,' THEN EVEN IF IT BE A DAUGHTER, OR SEXLESS, OR AN HERMAPHRODITE, HE BECOMES A NAZIRITE.
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