1) THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A DOUBTFUL NEDER AND A DOUBTFUL NEZIRUS
QUESTION: The Mishnah (18b) states, "Stam Nedarim l'Hachmir": when a person makes a statement of a Neder and there is a doubt about whether he intended to create an Isur or not, his statement is treated stringently and the Neder takes effect. The Gemara questions this principle from the Mishnah in Taharos (4:12) which states, "Safek Nezirus l'Hakel": when a person makes a statement of Nezirus and there is a doubt about whether he intended to accept Nezirus or not, his statement is treated leniently and the Nezirus does not take effect. Why is Nezirus different from Nedarim?
Rava answers that when the Mishnah in Taharos says "Safek Nezirus l'Hakel," it is expressing the view of Rebbi Yehudah who is lenient in the case of a Safek Nezirus, as a Beraisa mentions. Rava explains that since the laws of a Safek Nezirus, if they would take effect, would be more severe than the laws of a Vadai (definite) Nezirus, it is assumed that a person has no intention to become a Safek Nazir according to Rebbi Yehudah. In contrast, a person does have intention to obligate himself to observe a Safek Neder, since the laws of a Safek Neder are not more stringent than the laws of a Vadai Neder. (According to Rava, the principle of "Stam Nedarim l'Hachmir" means that the Neder which must be observed is a Safek Neder and not a Vadai Neder. Consequently, one who violates such a Neder would not be liable for Malkus.)
Rava explains that this is the reason why Rebbi Yehudah in the Mishnah (18b) rules stringently in the case of Stam Nedarim (when one says "this object is Terumah" and it is not clear whether he means that it is Terumas ha'Lishkah (a Davar ha'Nadur) or Terumas ha'Goren (a Davar ha'Asur)), while he rules leniently in the case of a Nazir who made his Nezirus contingent upon the presence of a certain amount of grain in a certain pile.
Rav Huna questions Rava's explanation from a ruling of Rebbi Yehudah in another Beraisa. Rebbi Yehudah rules that when a person proclaims himself a "Nazir Shimshon" on condition that there is a certain amount of grain in a certain pile, and the pile is found to be lacking, he is not a Nazir out of doubt. However, a Safek "Nazir Shimshon" is not any more severe than a Vadai "Nazir Shimshon" (as a Vadai "Nazir Shimshon" has none of the leniencies of an ordinary Nazir). Why, then, in this case does Rebbi Yehudah rule leniently? Rava has no answer for this question. (See RAN.)
The Gemara then quotes Rav Ashi who says that when Rebbi Yehudah in the Beraisa rules leniently in the case of a person who makes a conditional declaration of a "Nazir Shimshon," he is expressing the view of Rebbi Tarfon, his Rebbi. Rebbi Tarfon maintains that Nezirus must be made with "Hafla'ah," with certainty and clarity and with no ambiguity, as derived from the verse, "Ki Yafli" (Bamidbar 6:2), and thus a declaration of a conditional Nezirus does not take effect.
How does Rav Ashi's clarification answer the question? Although he gives a logical reason for why Rebbi Yehudah is lenient in the case of a conditional "Nazir Shimshon," his answer does not explain Rebbi Yehudah's opinion in the Mishnah (18b) of "Stam Nedarim l'Hachmir." If Rebbi Yehudah maintains that Nezirus cannot take effect when there is a doubt because of the requirement for "Hafla'ah" as derived from the verse of "Ki Yafli," then the same law should apply to Nedarim because the verse says "Ki Yafli" with regard to Nedarim as well (see 3a)!
Perhaps when the Mishnah here says that a Safek Neder takes effect it means that the Neder is considered to have clarity and fulfill the requirement of "Hafla'ah." That is, perhaps Rav Ashi maintains that "Stam Nedarim l'Hachmir" means that the Neder takes effect not out of doubt, but as a Vadai Neder, because it is assumed that the person did intend to make a Neder and had no uncertainty about it (and he did not make the Neder conditional on anything). However, this answer does not suffice, because if this is the reason for why "Stam Nedarim l'Hachmir," then the question from the Mishnah in Taharos (which says that "Safek Nezirus l'Hakel") remains. Since a case of "Stam Nezirus" does not involve a lack of "Hafla'ah" (just as the Nedarim mentioned in the Mishnah here do not involve a lack of "Hafla'ah"), why should they be "l'Hakel"?
(a) The SHITAH MEKUBETZES in the name of RABEINU PERETZ implies that Rav Ashi does not address the question of who wrote the Mishnah of "Safek Nezirus l'Hakel." Rather, he answers only why Rebbi Yehudah rules stringently in the Mishnah here with regard to a Safek Neder, while he rules leniently in the case of a person who attempts to become a "Nazir Shimshon" by making his Nezirus contingent on the amount of grain in the pile. Rav Ashi answers that when the person makes his Nezirus dependent on the pile, it is lacking "Hafla'ah" and therefore Rebbi Yehudah is lenient, while in the case of a Safek Neder there is no lack of "Hafla'ah" and therefore he is Machmir.
Who, then, is the Tana of the Mishnah in Taharos who maintains "Safek Nezirus l'Hakel"? The answer is that the Gemara here relies on Rava's previous answer -- that the Tana of the Mishnah here maintains that a person will intentionally accept upon himself a Safek Neder because a Safek Neder is not more severe than a Vadai Neder, but a person will not intentionally make himself a Safek Nazir because the laws of a Safek Nazir are more stringent than those of a Vadai Nazir.
(b) TOSFOS (in the margin, and as cited by the SHITAH MEKUBETZES) also explains that Rav Ashi addresses only the contradiction in Rebbi Yehudah's own statements. To answer the contradiction between the Mishnah here ("Stam Nedarim l'Hachmir") and the Mishnah in Taharos ("Safek Nezirus l'Hakel"), it is necessary to rely on the previous answer of Rava -- that since a Safek Nezirus is more stringent than a Vadai Nezirus, a person does not intend to make himself a Safek Nazir.
However, Tosfos explains that Rav Ashi refers only to the statement of Rebbi Yehudah in the Beraisa which discusses "Nazir Shimshon." Rebbi Yehudah there expresses the opinion of Rebbi Tarfon. In contrast, in the first Beraisa -- which discusses a person who conditionally accepts upon himself a normal Nezirus -- Rebbi Yehudah does not expressing the opinion of Rebbi Tarfon. Rather, Rebbi Yehudah rules leniently in that case for a different reason and not because of the lack of "Hafla'ah." In that case, the Nezirus does not take effect because a Safek Nezirus is more stringent than a Vadai Nezirus. Accordingly, Rebbi Yehudah is the Tana of the Mishnah in Taharos who rules that "Safek Nezirus l'Hakel" even though it is Rebbi Yehudah who says in the Mishnah here that "Stam Nedarim l'Hachmir."
This also appears to be the opinion of the RAN (19b, DH Ein and DH Ela). The Ran writes that when the Beraisa quotes Rebbi Yehudah who expresses Rebbi Tarfon's view in a case in which the grain from the pile was discovered to be lost or stolen, the Beraisa understands that there was no reason for Rebbi Yehudah to state this Halachah (that the Nezirus does not take effect) in a case in which the grain was not lost or stolen. This is because the only possible reason he could be lenient in such a case would be the lack of "Hafla'ah," and not the fact that Safek Nezirus is more stringent than Vadai Nezirus. Rebbi Yehudah is discussing a case of a "Nazir Shimshon," in which a Safek Nezirus is not more stringent than a Vadai Nezirus. Since he is discussing a case of a "Nazir Shimshon," it is obvious that his reasoning is the lack of "Hafla'ah" (and not the fact that in this specific case the grain was discovered to be stolen).
(c) The SHITAH MEKUBETZES cites "Miktzas Mefarshim" who explain that according to Rebbi Tarfon, every Safek Nezirus and Stam Neder lacks "Hafla'ah," and therefore they do not take effect. Rebbi Tarfon is the Tana of the Mishnah in Taharos who disagrees with the Tana of the Mishnah here. The Tana of the Mishnah here, who rules "Stam Nedarim l'Hachmir," also rules that "Stam Nezirus l'Hachmir"; this Tana argues with Rebbi Tarfon and maintains that "Hafla'ah" is not necessary.
Rebbi Yehudah in the Mishnah here expresses his own opinion and not that of Rebbi Tarfon, while Rebbi Yehudah in the Beraisa expresses the view of Rebbi Tarfon (but he personally disagrees with that view).
According to this explanation, why does the Mishnah here discuss only Stam Nedarim and not Stam Nezirus, and why does the Mishnah in Taharos discuss only Safek Nezirus and not Safek Nedarim? Perhaps each Tana in these Mishnayos merely relates the words he heard from his Rebbi, as the Ran writes (beginning of 20a).