ANSWERS TO REVIEW QUESTIONS
prepared by Rabbi Eliezer Chrysler
Kollel Iyun Hadaf, Jerusalem
Previous daf Sotah 20
(a) We ask, whether according to Rebbi Akiva, a Sotah is permitted to drink, if she
condescends to do so after having calmly refused previously. She might not be
permitted to drink - because once she has admitted her guilt, she is not able to
(b) The She'eilah remains unresolved.
(c) Shmuel's father rules that the Kohen had to add something bitter to the water -
because the Torah refers to the water as "Mei ha'Marim" (even before the Megilah has
been placed into it).
(a) In the event that the Sotah refuses to drink before the Name of Hashem has been
1. ... her Megilah - is placed into Genizah at the side of the Azarah (see Tosfos).
(b) It cannot be taken outside the Azarah - because it was sanctified in a K'li
Sha'res (and Menachos were Kodshei Kodshim).
2. ... her Minchah - is burned in the Beis ha'Deshen (which was located in the
Azarah, for the purpose of burning Pesulei Kodshei Kodshim).
(c) The Kohanim are not permitted to use it for another Sotah who appears on the
scene - because, as we learned earlier, the Megilas Sotah had to be written for one
(a) If, after the Megilah had already been erased, ...
1. ... she admitted that she was guilty - they would follow the same procedure as we
(b) If she was guilty, her face would turn yellow, her eyes would bulge - and the
sinews in her jaws would protrude (conveying the impression that she was full of
2. ... (shaking at the knees) she refused to drink - the Kohen would force her to
drink, as we learned earlier.
(c) They would then announce 'Take her out, so as not to render the Azarah Tamei'!
(a) We already learned that sometimes various merits would shield her and save her
from dying on the spot. Those merits could protect her - for one, two or even three
(b) ben Azai extrapolates from here that a man should teach his daughter Torah - so
that should the Sotah survive the Mei Sotah, her daughter will know that this does
not necessarily point to her mother's innocence, and that should the Sotah herself be
guilty, she will not think that because she survived momentarily, she will get away
with what she did (because, once her merits run out, her punishment will catch up
(c) Rebbi Eliezer disagrees. According to him, anyone who teaches his daughter Torah,
teaches her immorality (see Tosfos 21b DH 'ben Azai).
(d) Rebbi Yehoshua's opinion in this matter will be discussed later. He says that
a Chasid Shoteh, a Rasha Arum, an Ishah Perushah and Makos Perushin - 'destroy the
world' (These too, will be discussed later).
(a) Rebbi Meir was a Sofer.
(b) Rav Yehudah Amar Rav informs us that as long as Rebbi Meir studied under Rebbi
Akiva, he never queried him - about the fact that he tended to place Kankantum into
(a) When Rebbi Yishmael told Rebbi Meir that as a Sofer, he would destroy the world
if he ...
1. ... omitted one letter - he was referring to the Pasuk in Yirmiyah "va'Hashem
Elokim Emes" (which would be blasphemous if he were to omit the 'Alef' of "Emes".
(b) Rebbi Meir retorted that he tended to add Kankantum to his ink - meaning that,
not only was he careful not to add or subtract letters, but he even took care to
ensure that a fly would not drag away the edge of the Daled, to turn it into a Reish,
by adding Kankantum to the ink. He mentioned specifically the example of a 'Daled'
becoming a 'Reish' because of the consequences of [Chas ve'Shalom] turning the word
"Hashem *Echad*" into "Acher").
2. ... added one letter - he was referring to the Pasuk in Bereishis "Bereishis Bara
Elokim" (which would be equally blasphemous if he added a 'Vav' to "Bara", to read
"Bereishis Bar'u Elokim" [implying that there is more than one G-d, Kevayachol]).
(c) Rebbi Yishmael queried this on the basis of the Pasuk "u'Machah" (by Sotah),
implying that Parshas Sotah must be erasable (as we learned in the previous Perek).
(d) Elsewhere, Rebbi Meir tells us exactly the same story but switches the names. The
reason that he informs us here that ...
1. ... he first studied under Rebbi Akiva and then Rebbi Yishmael, and there, that he
studied first under Rebbi Yishmael and then under Rebbi Akiva is - because in fact,
both are correct. He first began studying under Rebbi Akiva, but when he realized
that he was unable to grasp his reasoning (as Rebbi Akiva would often declare what
seemed to be Tamei, Tahor and vice-versa), he went to study under Rebbi Yishmael,
until his mind had developed sufficiently to go back to study under Rebbi Akiva.
2. ... Rebbi Akiva did not query his adding Kankantum to the ink but that Rebbi
Yishmael did, and there, the reverse - is unclear. The contradiction remains
(a) Rebbi Yehudah quoting Rebbi Meir, permits a Sofer to add Kankantum to the ink,
irrespective of what he is writing, with the sole exception of Pashas Sotah; Rebbi
Ya'akov quotes him as saying that the only exception is 'Parshas Sotah shel Mikdash'.
They are arguing over - whether Parshas Sotah in a Seifer-Torah may be written with
ink that contains Kankantum; according to Rebbi Yehudah, Rebbi Akiva forbids it,
according to Rebbi Ya'akov, he permits it.
(b) Rebbi Yirmiyah explains their Machlokes to be - whether it is permitted to use
Parshas Sotah from a Seifer-Torah for a Sotah (Rebbi Yehudah) or not (Rebbi
(a) We learned earlier that if a Megilas Sotah is written for one woman, it cannot be
used for another one. This conforms with the opinion of the Tana Kama of a Beraisa -
according to Rav Achi bar Yashiyah it is.
(b) Rav Papa rejects the suggestion that Rebbi Ya'akov conforms with the opinion of
the Tana Kama, and Rebbi Yehudah, with Rav Achi bar Yashiyah - on the grounds that
the Tana Kama is strict there only because a Megilah that was written for one woman
is not eligible to be used for another (for whom it was not written); but he may well
agree with Rebbi Yehudah, who validates Parshas Sotah in a Seifer-Torah, since it was
written for everybody.
(c) Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak too, rejects the proof. In his opinion, it is Rebbi Achi
bar Yashiyah who may well agree with Rebbi Ya'akov that a Megilah that is written for
one Sotah is eligible to be used for another one - because at least it was written
for a Sotah's curse, which Parshas Sotah in a Seifer-Torah was not.
(d) We learn from the Pasuk in Ki-Seitzei "ve'Kasav *Lah*" that a Get must be written
for the sake of the one particular woman, and may not be used for any other one (even
if all the details tally). Rebbi Achi bar Yashiyah learns from the Pasuk "ve'Asah
Lah" (from which the Tana Kama extrapolates that the Megilas Sotah, like a Get, must
be written for that particular Sotah) - that the Megilah must be *erased* for that
(a) We learn from the Pasuk (written in connection with the Minchas Sotah) "Mazkeres
Avon" - that the Minchah acts as the catalyst that sparks off the Sotah's curse.
(b) This leads us to believe that the author of our Mishnah, which states that, as
soon as she has drunk the water, the curse takes effect, must be Rebbi Shimon -
because he holds that the Sotah brings her Minchah before drinking the water (whereas
according to the Rabbanan, in whose opinion, she drinks first, nothing ought to
happen until she brings her Minchah.
(c) Rav Chisda reconciles this with the Seifa, which speaks about merits delaying the
Sotah's punishment, with which Rebbi Shimon disagrees on principle - by establishing
the Mishnah (not like Rebbi Shimon, but) like Rebbi Akiva, who agrees with him with
regard to the order of events, but holds like the Rabbanan in the issue of merits.
(a) The ceremony with the Sotah took place - in the area between and including the
Sha'ar Nikanor and the Ezras Nashim, which was part of the Har ha'Bayis (which in
turn, belonged to Machaneh Leviyah).
(b) We learn from the Pasuk "Va'yikach Moshe es Atzmos Yosef Imo" - that not only a
Tamei Meis is permitted in Machaneh Leviyah (the camp surrounding the Mishkan, where
the Levi'im camped), but a Meis is permitted too.
(c) It was necessary to announce 'Take her out ... ', despite the fact that Tum'as
Meis did not effect the Machaneh Leviyah anyway - because it was not Tum'as Meis that
Chazal were worried about, but that, due to her fear, she might become a Nidah.
(a) Rav learns from the Pasuk "Va'tischalchal ha'Malkah Me'od" - that due to the fear
that gripped Esther when she heard that Mordechai was wearing sack-cloth and ashes,
she broke out a Nidah.
(b) We reconcile this with the Mishnah in Nidah 'Cherdah Mesalekes ha'Damim' - by
establishing the latter by a constant fear, and the former by a sudden one (to which
category the case in our Sugya belongs).
(c) The Tana'im in a Beraisa argue over how long the merits of a Sotah will tide her
over. Aba Yossi ben Chanan learns from the Pasuk "Ve'niksah Ve'nizre'ah Zara" that a
Sotah's merits can help her survive for three months. Rebbi Eliezer ben Yitzchak from
K'far Darom learns from the same Pasuk in conjunction with the Pasuk in Tehilim "Zera
Ya'avdenu *Yesupar*" - that she has nine months, the period that it takes for a baby
to be born (not just formed) and to become 'a speaker'.
(a) The final opinion on the Beraisa is that of Rebbi Yishmael, the most lenient of
them all. According to him - a Sotah's merits might tide her over for as long as
In view of the three opinions expressed in the previous Beraisa - the author of our
Mishnah, which extends the Sotah's merits to as much as three years would have to be
Rebbi Yishmael, who extrapolates from the Pasuk in Amos "Koh Amar Hashem, Al
Sheloshah Pish'ei Edom" that Hashem sometimes gives a person as many as three chances
(which he compares to three years [even though there, the Navi is talking about
(b) He support this from Nevuchadnetzar - who was destined to become an animal for
seven years, but who was given twelve months grace before the decree began, on
account of the Tzedakah that he gave to the Jewish people.
(c) Daniel advised him to do this - not out of concern for Nevuchadnetzar's
well-being, but because he saw that there were many poor Jews who were forced to go
(d) Rebbi Yishmael classifies his proof from Nevuchadnetzar as only a support rather
than a real proof - because Hashem generally deals with Nochrim differently; He tends
to punish Jews immediately in order to give them a clean slate for Olam ha'Ba,
whereas he delays the punishments of Nochrim until their measure is full (allowing
them the benefits of this world in the interim) in order to drive them out of Olam