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Steinsaltz

§ The Gemara comments: This works out well with regard to that which the school of Rabbi Yishmael taught, that all garments mentioned in the Torah are composed of linen or wool. However, according to the opinion of the Rabbis, who do not accept this opinion, from where do they derive the principle that a positive mitzva overrides a prohibition? As stated previously, the conclusion that the positive mitzva to place fringes on a garment overrides the prohibition against mixing linen and wool is derived from a free expression in a biblical verse; however, the expression is free for interpretation only in the opinion of the tanna from the school of Rabbi Yishmael.

The Gemara responds: They derive it from the verse mentioned with regard to the halakhot of the purification of a leper from his leprosy [tzara’at]: “And it shall be on the seventh day, that he shall shave all his hair off his head and his beard and his eyebrows, even all his hair he shall shave off” (Leviticus 14:9). As it is taught in a baraita: Since it states “all his hair,” what is the meaning when the verse states “his head”? The baraita explains that as it is stated: “You shall not round the corners of your heads” (Leviticus 19:27), i.e., it is prohibited to shave the corners of the head, I would derive that even a leper is included in this prohibition.

Therefore, the verse states explicitly: “His head,” to teach that the mitzva that a leper must shave overrides the prohibition against rounding the corners of one’s head by shaving. The Gemara adds: And this tanna holds that the shaving of the entire head is considered rounding. Some Sages maintain that one violates the prohibition against rounding the corners of his head only when he leaves some hair intact and removes the corners alone. Conversely, this tanna holds that even when one removes all of the hair on the head, as a leper does when he performs his ritual shaving, as this act includes the corners, he thereby transgresses the prohibition against rounding the corners. This demonstrates that a positive mitzva overrides a prohibition.

The Gemara raises an objection against that claim. This proof can be refuted: What about the fact that the prohibition against rounding is specific in that this prohibition is not equally applicable for all, as it does not apply to women, and therefore other cases cannot be derived from it? One cannot learn from this halakha that a positive mitzva that applies only to some people overrides even a prohibition that applies equally to all people.

Rather, the Gemara provides an alternative suggestion: The principle that a positive mitzva overrides a prohibition is derived from the superfluous phrase: “His beard” (Leviticus 14:9). As it is taught in a different baraita: What is the meaning when the verse states: “His beard”? After all, a beard is already included in the phrase: “All his hair.” The baraita answers: As it is stated with regard to priests: “Neither shall they shave off the corners of their beard” (Leviticus 21:5), I would derive that even a leper who is a priest is included in this prohibition against shaving his beard. Therefore, the verse states “his beard” in the case of a leper.

However, the shaving of one’s beard is also a prohibition that is not equally applicable for all, as it does not apply to women. Therefore, it is necessary to develop this argument further. And if this derivation from the term “his beard” is not referring to the matter of a prohibition that is not equally applicable for all, as the principle that a positive mitzva overrides a prohibition that does not apply equally for all has already been derived from the phrase “his head,” then the repetition of this specific scenario must serve to expand upon the teaching. Consequently, refer it to the matter of a prohibition that is equally applicable for all, i.e., that a positive mitzva that is not equally applicable for all overrides even prohibitions that apply equally to all people.

The Gemara rejects this proof: Still, it is necessary for the verse to state: “His beard.” This phrase is not in fact superfluous at all, as it has a novelty: It could enter your mind to say that priests are different; since the verse includes for them additional mitzvot it is appropriate to be more stringent with them, and therefore one might think that a positive mitzva should not even override a prohibition that is not equally applicable for all. Consequently, the verse states: “His beard,” and it thereby teaches us that even with regard to priests a positive mitzva overrides a prohibition that is not equally applicable for all. This means that the principle that a positive mitzva overrides even a prohibition that is equally applicable for all cannot be derived from here.

§ Rather, the Gemara rejects this line of reasoning in favor of an alternative answer. The principle that a positive mitzva overrides a prohibition is derived from a different interpretation of the phrase “his head,” cited by this tanna. As it is taught in a baraita with regard to the verse: “He shall shave all his hair off his head” (Leviticus 14:9); what is the meaning when the verse states: “His head”? The baraita explains: As it is stated with regard to a nazirite: “No razor shall come upon his head” (Numbers 6:5), I would derive that even a leper who is a nazirite is prohibited from shaving his head upon purification. Therefore, the verse states: “His head.” This teaches that the positive mitzva for a leper to shave overrides the prohibition of a nazirite.

The Gemara responds that this proof can be refuted as well: What about the fact that the prohibition of a nazirite is not especially severe, as a leprous nazirite can request to have his nazirite vow dissolved by a Sage? Since he can nullify the prohibition against shaving, this prohibition is evidently not very severe, and therefore one cannot prove anything with regard to all of the prohibitions of the Torah from this case. The Gemara adds: As, if you do not say this, that the prohibitions of a nazirite are not as severe as other prohibitions, that halakhic ruling that we maintain that a positive mitzva does not override both a prohibition and a positive mitzva would be negated.

The Gemara explains the previous claim: Let us derive the opposite of this principle from the case of a nazirite, as in this case the positive mitzva for a leper to shave apparently overrides both the positive mitzva for a nazirite to grow hair and the prohibition against shaving. Rather, what is the reason that we do not derive this principle from the case of a nazirite? The reason is that there is room to refute this proof in the aforementioned manner: One cannot learn from a nazirite, as a leprous nazirite can request to have his nazirite vow dissolved. So too, there is room to refute the proof from the halakha of a nazirite that a positive mitzva overrides a prohibition, as he can request to have his vow dissolved.

§ If so, no proof can be brought from the case of a nazirite. Rather, the Gemara offers a different explanation: Actually,

Talmud - Bavli - The William Davidson digital edition of the Koren No=C3=A9 Talmud
with commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz Even-Israel (CC-BY-NC 4.0)
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