(Permission is granted to print and redistribute this material
as long as this header and the footer at the end are included.)


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 retract.

(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 erased ...
1. ... her Megilah - is placed into Genizah at the side of the Azarah (see Tosfos).
2. ... her Minchah - is burned in the Beis ha'Deshen (which was located in the Azarah, for the purpose of burning Pesulei Kodshei Kodshim).
(b) It cannot be taken outside the Azarah - because it was sanctified in a K'li Sha'res (and Menachos were 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 specific Sotah.

(a) If, after the Megilah had already been erased, ...
1. ... she admitted that she was guilty - they would follow the same procedure as we just described.
2. ... (shaking at the knees) she refused to drink - the Kohen would force her to drink, as we learned earlier.
(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 sinews).

(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 years.

(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 with her).

(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 his ink.

(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".
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]).
(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").

(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 unresolved.



(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 Ya'akov).

(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 particular Sotah).

(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 twelve months.

(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 begging.

(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 ha'Ba.

13) 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 Nochrim]).

Next daf


For further information on
subscriptions, archives and sponsorships,
contact Kollel Iyun Hadaf,