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A Nazirite or Nazarite (from Hebrew nazir) refers to a Jew who took an ascetic vow described in Numbers 6:1-21. The term "nazirite" comes from the Hebrew word nazir meaning "consecrated" or "separated". This vow required the man or woman to:

  • abstain from wine, wine vinegar, grapes, raisins, and according to some - alcohol and vinegar from alcohol.

  • refrain from cutting the hair on one's head,

  • avoid corpses and graves, even those of family members, and any structure which contains such.

After following these requirements for a designated period of time (which would be specified in the individual's vow, and not to be less than 30 days), the Nazirite would immerse in a Mikvah and make three offerings, a lamb as a "burnt offering" (olah), a ewe as a "sin offering" (hatat), and a ram as a "peace offering" (shelamim), in addition to a basket of unleavened bread, grain offerings and drink offerings, which accompanied the peace offering.

The Nazirite is described as being "holy unto the Lord" (Numbers 6:8), yet at the same time must bring a sin offering. This contradiction has led to divergent approaches to the nazirite in the Talmud, and later authorities.

The Jewish Law (Halakha) has a rich tradition on the laws of the nazirite. From the perspective of Orthodox Judaism these laws are not an historical curiosity but can be practised even today. However, since there is now no Temple in Jerusalem to complete the vow, and any vow would be permanent, modern rabbinical authorities strongly discourage the practice.