The Torah introduces the individual who becomes a Nazir with the words אדם כי יפליא לנדור נדר The Ibn Ezra writes two interpretations on the word יפליא. One is that in order to become a Nazir one has to pronounce his vow and not think about it in his heart. The second interpretation is wonder. It is an incredible wonder that one would take on such a vow to refrain from wine and its products. After all, wine was the national drink during Torah Times and for one to abstain and go against the conformity of the present culture is nothing less than a miracle. There are big decisions in life and smaller ones. Then there are the life altering decisions. The impact of such a decision on a person who makes this choice of Nazir in order to advance his spirituality is life changing. With this commitment of becoming a Nazir he immediately acquires the dinim of a Kohen Gadol who cannot defile himself even to his seven relatives. The Nazir is called a king as his title suggests naizer – a crown. This experience of only thirty days has elevated him to the point where he will never be the same as the passuk says ואחר ישתה הנזיר יין (Bamidbar 6,20). Why is he still called Nazir after he finishes his term of Neziros and brought the necessary korbonos? The Torah is addressing his life change and while giving him permission to drink wine once again, at the same time he must partake from wine with the character and manner that still manifests his elevated state of a Nazir.
In the September issue of Mishpacha Magazine 2013 someone writes about peer pressure and smoking and how his one personal decision was life changing. I somehow got into a conversation with guys about smoking, and they started to try to convince me to take a cigarette, take a single puff and throw it away. A small crowd gathered and tried to convince me to smoke.
Suddenly I felt something in my pocket. I reached into it and pulled out a $50 bill. I held it up confused when the guy who had put it in my pocket said to me “I will give you $50 to take one puff only one puff and the money is yours.”
I must admit I didn’t know how to react. I considered the idea fifty dollars for one puff started to make me interested. Other boys gathered around to see what would happen. Another bachur this one much older said as he pulled out another $50 bill “Here is another fifty dollars. That’s $100 to take a cigarette and smoke only one puff”.
I now had two fifty dollar bills in my hand and at least a dozen guys around me chanting “Smoke it smoke it”.
I wondered to myself why would two bachurim offer me so much money to take one puff? What would they gain out of it? Also why would so many normal bachurim chant smoke it smoke it? Then it hit me. They felt bad that they smoked. They knew it was wrong. If they could get one guy who was so anti smoking to smoke, then they would somehow feel justified, vindicated and receive a self stamped approval to smoke.
I would not lend a hand. I took the 50 dollar bills threw them in the air and said No way and walked away with my head held high. I must admit it wasn’t an easy decision but I was proud. I thank Hashem that I stayed strong.
In the years since, many situations arose when I felt peer pressure to smoke and I always thought to myself “If I didn’t smoke a cigarette for $100, why should I smoke for free?”
While the Yom Tov of Shavuos is still fresh in our minds let us examine the difficult ordeal that Rus had to undergo for her mother in law Naomi. She requested from Rus to go to the silo of Boaz in the middle of the night after she bathes, dons her finest clothing and perfumes herself, lie down next to him while he is sleeping and remove his shoes.
Just imagine a new giyorus who wholeheartedly takes on the Torah and the middah of tzenius, and is then requested to turn around and do the unthinkable. If someone detected her going into the silo she could have lost all respect and been shamed and ridiculed. Boaz himself, the Gadol Hador, could have cursed her because of her participation in such a heinous act. After all this was the fear of Yaakov Avinu when Rivka his mother asked him to dress up like Esav to receive his berachos when he said אולי ימושני אבי והייתי בעיניו כמתעתע והבאתי עלי קללה ולא ברכה (Bereishis 27,12). In fact the Medrash tells us that Dovid Hamelech said that if Boaz would have reacted by cursing my great grandmother then I would not have been alive today (Rus Rabba 6,1). Yet she followed everything that her mother in law asked from her. Her test was a denial of whom she was and what she stood for. Instead she made the choice to be mosair nefesh and sacrifice herself for somebody else.
It was truly a life altering experience to the point that her countenance totally changed. This is evident upon her return to Naomi the next morning whereupon she asks her daughter in law מי את בתי Who are you my daughter? Is it possible that Naomi during this short period forgot how Rus looked? In order to elucidate the matter we will bring a story brought in the gemarah (Sanhedrin 31b Rashi) about Rav Nasson Tzuztisah. Mar Ukvah was a Baal Teshuvah who one time desired a married woman to the point he got sick over her. It happened that she had to borrow a large sum of money from him and for the favor she acquiesced to have relations with him. When the time came, Mar Ukvah superhumanly conquered his desire and was rewarded with a light that shown on his head similar to that of Moshe Rabbeinu when he descended from Har Sinai. That is the reason why he was given the name Nassan Detzutzisa which means sparks of light.
Because Mar Ukvah made an incredible decision to control his passion for this desirable woman, this bechirah was life changing for him to the point that his physical appearance was not the same anymore, but rather super spiritual. So too, the bechirah of Rus to follow the words of Naomi even though it could have meant sacrificing everything that she converted and strove for, created a heavenly glow emanating from her countenance to the degree that Naomi remarked who are you? There is an aura surrounding you that is clearly indicative of the lofty madraigos you have just attained.
We should never fear to make major decisions even though it might be different from most of the Orthodox Community if the intentions are pure and leshaim shamayim. Or even if one conquers an almost impossible yetzer harah it is an incredible feat. These are very challenging choices but it can be life changing for you and your family. We have the Nazir, the proud smoker, Rus the grandmother of Dovid, and Mar Ukvah to testify that this is the true impact on their lives for those major decisions that one makes. Wouldn’t it be so rewarding to hear someone comment after you made such a decision “Hey there is something different about your face. I can’t put my finger on it but I know it is not the same as before. Oh I know, you just took a haircut”.