1) THE CASE OF A NAZIR WHO MAY SHAVE ON CHOL HA'MO'ED
QUESTION: The Mishnah lists the circumstances under which one is permitted to shave on Chol ha'Mo'ed. In each case which the Mishnah describes, since the person was unable to shave before the festival he is permitted to shave on Chol ha'Mo'ed, such as one who returns from abroad on Chol ha'Mo'ed, one who is freed from captivity, or one who is released from prison. The Mishnah adds that "a Nazir or Metzora who arises from his Tum'ah to his Taharah" may shave as well.
RASHI explains that the words "ha'Oleh m'Tum'aso l'Taharaso" ("who arises from his Tum'ah to his Taharah") refer to both a Nazir and a Metzora. The Torah instructs a Nazir who became Tamei to count seven days of Taharah, and then to shave his hair, offer his Korbanos, and begin his Nezirus anew. The Mishnah says that if the Nazir's count of seven days ends on Chol ha'Mo'ed, he may shave on that day and he does not need to wait until after the festival. The same applies to a Metzora: if the Metzora's Taharah-process concludes on Chol ha'Mo'ed, he may shave on that day. Since the Nazir and Metzora were unable to shave before the festival, they are permitted to shave on Chol ha'Mo'ed.
Why does Rashi explain that the Mishnah's case of a Nazir is that of a Nazir Tamei who becomes Tahor on Chol ha'Mo'ed? The words of the Mishnah imply that it is only the Metzora whose Tum'ah ends on Chol ha'Mo'ed. The Mishnah mentions "a Nazir or Metzora who arises from his Tum'ah to his Taharah" in the singular form, implying that it is only the Metzora (and not the Nazir) who was Tamei until Chol ha'Mo'ed. Rashi should have explained, as the other Rishonim do (such as Rashi on the Rif and Rashi Kesav Yad), that the Mishnah's case of a Nazir is an ordinary case in which a Nazir's thirty days of Nezirus concludes on Chol ha'Mo'ed. The Nazir should be permitted to shave since he was unable to do so before the festival because of his Nezirus.
Why does Rashi explain that the Mishnah refers specifically to a Nazir who becomes Tahor from his Tum'ah on Chol ha'Mo'ed? (Rashi reiterates his explanation later on 17b.)
(a) The MISHNEH L'MELECH (Hilchos Yom Tov 7:19) points out that the Gemara later (17b) concludes that even if the Nazir or Metzora had the opportunity to shave before the festival (such as when his Nezirus or Tzara'as ended before the festival), nevertheless he may shave on Chol ha'Mo'ed if he did not do so before the festival. Since he may not bring his Korbanos until he cuts his hair, he is permitted to cut his hair in order that he not delay his Korbanos. (When Rashi on the Mishnah says that the Nazir and Metzora did not have the opportunity to shave before the festival, he is explaining the Mishnah according to the Gemara's initial assumption there.)
The Mishneh l'Melech writes that although the Torah explicitly states that a Metzora must shave before he brings his Korbanos (Vayikra 14:9) and that a Nazir Tamei must shave before he brings his Korbanos (Bamidbar 6:9), no verse in the Torah says that a Nazir Tahor who completes his Nezirus is required to shave before he brings his Korbanos. Since the Gemara says that the Nazir may not bring his Korbanos before he shaves, it must be referring to a Nazir Tamei (since a Nazir Tahor may bring his Korbanos before he shaves). Rashi writes that the Mishnah refers to a Nazir Tamei who became Tahor on Chol ha'Mo'ed in order to explain the reasoning of the Gemara's conclusion (on 17b) that the Nazir may shave during the festival even if his Nezirus ended before the beginning of the festival since he is unable to bring his Korbanos until he shaves.
The other Rishonim understand that the Gemara refers to a Nazir Tahor. Although a Nazir Tahor may bring his Korbanos before he shaves, nevertheless it is a Mitzvah for him to shave his hair and throw it into the fire which cooks his portion of the Korban Shelamim. Since a Nazir normally does not bring his Korban until he is able to shave (and throw the hair of Nezirus into the fire under the pot of the Shelamim), the Rabanan permitted him to shave on Chol ha'Mo'ed lest he delay bringing his Korban until after the Yom Tov (TOSFOS 17b, DH she'Lo).
(b) Perhaps Rashi is bothered by a simple question. The reason why the Mishnah permits certain individuals to shave is because they were unable to shave before the festival due to circumstances beyond their control. When a person accepts upon himself to become a Nazir for thirty days, he knows exactly when it will end. When his Nezirus ends on Chol ha'Mo'ed, he should not be permitted to shave on Chol ha'Mo'ed because he knowingly brought that situation upon himself. He should not be allowed to shave until after the festival.
Because of this question, Rashi intentionally avoids explaining that the Mishnah refers to a Nazir who completes his Nezirus during Chol ha'Mo'ed. The Mishnah must be referring to a case in which the need to shave on Chol ha'Mo'ed was beyond the person's control. Such a case exists when a person accepts Nezirus upon himself less than thirty days before Chol ha'Mo'ed and assumes that his Nezirus will end after the festival passes, or when he accepts Nezirus more than thirty days before Chol ha'Mo'ed and assumes that his Nezirus will end before the festival arrives. A few days before the festival he became Tamei, and the seventh day of his Taharah-count occurred on Chol ha'Mo'ed. Becoming Tamei was unexpected and beyond his control, and therefore he is permitted to shave on Chol ha'Mo'ed.
This explains why Rashi understands that the Mishnah must be referring to a Nazir Tamei and not to an ordinary Nazir whose Nezirus ended on Chol ha'Mo'ed. (Similarly, Rashi would agree that if a person's Nezirus was extended because he became Tamei and was required to observe a second period of Nezirus, and his second period of Nezirus ends during Chol ha'Mo'ed, the Nazir may shave since he did not anticipate having to observe a second Nezirus.)
How do the other Rishonim, who explain that the Mishnah refers to an ordinary Nazir whose thirty-day Nezirus ends on Chol ha'Mo'ed, answer this question? Why should the Nazir be permitted to shave on Chol ha'Mo'ed if he knew that his Nezirus would end on that day?
Perhaps they understand that a person does not think about the future when he accepts Nezirus upon himself. A person who becomes a Nazir does so spontaneously, out of a sudden flash of inspiration (as described in Nedarim 9b). He does not spend time calculating the day on which his Nezirus will end because he does not want his inspiration to pass if he delays. Accordingly, his acceptance of Nezirus thirty days before Chol ha'Mo'ed is considered beyond his control and he is permitted to shave on Chol ha'Mo'ed.
Alternatively, perhaps the reason why a Nazir and Metzora are permitted to shave on Chol ha'Mo'ed is unrelated to the fact that uncontrollable circumstances prevented him from shaving before the festival. Rather, perhaps he may shave because he is obligated by a Mitzvah d'Oraisa to shave and bring his Korbanos, and the Rabanan did not want to delay his fulfillment of that Mitzvah d'Oraisa. For this reason, the Gemara (17b) says that even if the Nazir or Metzora could have shaved before the festival but did not, he is still permitted to shave on Chol ha'Mo'ed so that he not delay offering the requisite Korbanos. This seems to be the view of the RAMBAM (Perush ha'Mishnayos; Hilchos Yom Tov 7:19).
Accordingly, it is logical that a Nazir Tahor who completes his thirty days of Nezirus on Chol ha'Mo'ed is permitted to shave. Even though he knew at the time he became a Nazir that his Nezirus would end on Chol ha'Mo'ed, the Mitzvah d'Oraisa for him to shave overrides the prohibition d'Rabanan against shaving on Chol ha'Mo'ed.
(Perhaps Rashi agrees that according to the Gemara's conclusion on 17b, even a Nazir Tahor may shave when his Nezirus ends on Chol ha'Mo'ed, since the allowance to shave is due to the Mitzvah d'Oraisa to offer Korbanos as soon as possible, and is not due to the fact that he did not shave before the festival as a result of circumstances beyond his control. Alternatively, according to the Gemara's conclusion on 17b, the Mishnah (which compares a Nazir to a Metzora and permits both to shave even if they had time to shave before the festival) must be discussing exclusively a Nazir Tahor for another reason -- the reason proposed by the Mishneh l'Melech (in answer (a) above).) (M. KORNFELD)