I made the mistake of educating my children properly.
On Shavous, after the meal, there was one piece of cheesecake left, and several of us ready to kill over it. I explained to the family that the Gemara was clear on this: the father always gets the last piece of dessert, therefore, halacha clearly demands that I get the piece.
My oldest daughter turned to me and said, "You always taught us that if we ever hear something that sounds like nonsense, that we should demand to see the source, so, where's YOUR source?"
She's good. Really good.
Needless to say, I lost the piece.
"Speak to the Israelites and say to them: If any men or women explicitly utter a nazirite’s vow, to set themselves apart for Hashem" (Bamidbar 6: 2).
As a small refresher. When a person takes upon himself a Nazir's vow, he is officially forbidden from drinking any wine/grape juice, cutting their hair, and from becoming impure from the dead. Obviously, why those specific things and not others is a whole discussion unto itself.
Many commentators translate the word "Nazir" as "crown." And as we all know, it is the crown which separates a king from the rest of the nation. The King is the king, he acts differently, he speaks differently, he IS different from the rest of the nation. One needs to look no further than Queen Elizabeth and how she handles herself in private and public. She IS royalty. She represents British Royalty and everybody knows it. How she walks, how she talks, how she eats, how she behaves. She is different from the rest. Nobody can deny that she acts in a dignified way that demands respect. Her children and grandchildren on the other hand, well…
So too this Nazir … there is something different about him that sets him apart from others around him.
Rav Shimshon Pincus explains that if a person wants to jump 100 meters in the air, it would seem logical that he need only to jump a half a meter, two hundred times. Yet, as we are all aware (with the exception of certain 10-month-olds whom I won't name), there is something called "gravity." So, no matter how many times we jump in the air, we will always remain firmly on the ground.
On the other hand, we have rockets that can travel to the moon and planets. And for the most part, their travels are rather effortless. Why is that? Because, although at first they need to use an extreme amount of energy and precision to break out of the gravitational pull of the earth, once that is done, they can simply use a few bursts of thrusters to adjust their course, and glide their way to their target.
Spiritually speaking, a Nazir is no different. We all have natural desires that Hashem gave us to use for the good. And a person who uses them properly will earn himself great reward. However, sometimes a person wants to push himself further, beyond his natural barriers. So, he minimizes his usage over these material desires to focus solely on the spiritual. The Rambam himself writes (Hilchos Talmud Torah 3: 13), "Therefore, whosoever desires to attain the crown of the Torah should take care of all of his nights, not to spend even one of them in sleeping, eating, drinking, conversation, or in like matters, but in study of the Torah and in matters of wisdom."
If one wants to acquire such a lofty object, he must push himself beyond his natural desires and focus solely on the spiritual.
Perhaps this is why being a Nazir is something we cannot do today. Perhaps because it's too much for 99.9 percent of us. We should be so lucky to be able to use our natural desires for good! But to forsake them totally or even mostly? Most of us cannot do such a thing and would be told not to even contemplate such thoughts.
However, even though being a Nazir is not applicable, there are still lessons to be learned from it. If a person wants something big, he needs to push himself accordingly. Yes, perhaps giving up sleep is not possible nor even recommended to do, but if a person wants to grow in his learning, perhaps pushing himself to learn 5 minutes every night is something he can do. Of course, many will say, what's so hard about it? Well, let's see them try it for 6 months.
It reminds me of the "Brevda Diet" that Rav Shlomo Brevda used to recommend. He said it was so difficult, that once even a big Rosh Yeshiva said to him that he tried it without success. What was the diet? Take whatever you want and how much you want to eat. But only take once. Don't go back for seconds.
That's how he recommended a person goes around to try to gain control over his desires. It's safe, it won't harm you physically or spiritually, but… it's really not easy to do. But, if some person CAN do it… well, he has mastered something that most cannot do.
(I didn't even bother to try it)
With that thought, I wish you a wonderful Shabbos!