(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 21

SOTAH 21-25 - These Dafim have been dedicated by Mrs. Estanne Abraham-Fauer in honor of the first Yahrzeit (18 Teves 5761) of her father, Reb Mordechai ben Eliezer Zvi (Weiner). May the merit of supporting and advancing the study of the Talmud be l'Iluy Nishmaso.



(a) We initially reject the suggestion that the merits that protect the Sotah from the water are those of the Mitzvah of Torah-study - on the grounds that she is not commanded to study Torah (and can therefore not expect such a great reward if she does).

(b) We also query the suggestion that it is the merit of the Mitzvos that protect her - because from the Beraisa that we are about to discuss it appears that although Torah has the power to shield even whilst one is not studying it, Mitzvos do not.

(c) Rebbi Menachem b'Rebbi Yossi Darshens the Pasuk "Ki Ner Mitzvah ve'Torah Or". According to his explanation - a 'Ner' is a temporary (man-made) lamp, whereas 'Or' is the light of the sun that is permanent.

(d) This explains why the Pasuk compares Mitzvah - which protects only as long as one is actually performing it, to a Ner, and Torah - which protects even afterwards, to Or.

(a) Rebbi Menachem b'Rebbi Yossi extrapolates from the Pasuk in Mishlei "be'His'halech'cha Tancheh Osach, be'Shochbecha Tishmor Alecha Ve'hekitzosa Hi Sesisecha" that Torah shields forever.
1. "be'His'halech'cha" - refers to this world.
2. "be'Shochbecha" - to the world of the grave.
3. "Ve'hekitzosa" - to the period of Olam ha'Ba (Techi'as ha'Meisim).
(b) In Rebbi Yossi b'Rebbi Menachem's parable, the night-traveler is saved from ...
1. ... thorns and pits - by a lantern.
2. ... wild beasts and armed robbers - by dawn-break. When he arrives at the crossroads - he clarifies his exact location.
(c) The lamp analogizes Mitzvos, daylight, Torah - and the crossroads, death (when a person who did not stray from the path of Torah and Mitzvos during his lifetime is saved from all further trials and tribulations).

(d) The other problem in ascribing the Sotah's merits to Mitzvos (though ascribing them to Torah would be fine if she were commanded, due to the Pasuk in Shir Hashirim Mayim Rabim Lo Yuchlu Lechabos es ha'Ahavah") is - that sins cannot extinguish the merits of Torah, whereas they can extinguish the merits of Mitzvos.

(a) To resolve the initial problem, Rav Yosef maintains that a Mitzvah can protect a person, even at the time when he is not actually performing it (which explains the merits of the Sotah). When Rebbi Menachem b'Rebbi Yossi says that Mitzvos are only able to protect as long as one is actually performing them - he is referring to protection from sin (but this restriction does not apply to protection from punishment).

(b) According to Rav Yosef, asks Rabah - why did Do'eg and Achitofel, two outstanding Talmidei-Chachamim, become such great sinners? Why did their Torah not protect them from sinning?

(c) So Rava explains that even Torah can only protect from both punishment and from sin as long as one is studying it. When he is not ...

1. ... Torah can only save from punishment, but not from sinning. 2. ... Mitzvos have the power to save from punishment whether one is actually performing them ...
3. ... or not. In any event, this explains the merits that shield the Sotah from her due punishment.
(d) Ravina ascribes the Sotah's merits to Torah-study after all. Women may well not be commanded to study Torah - they do however share the reward with their husbands and children for encouraging them and assisting them in their Mitzvah (by taking the latter to school and by waiting for the former to return from respective places of learning).
(a) Rav Chisda explains the crossroads in Rebbi Menachem's parable to mean the day of death of a Talmid-Chacham (as we explained above). According to Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak, it refers to a Talmid-Chacham who develops a fear of Hashem - and according to Mar Zutra, it refers to a Talmid-Chacham who, over and above his Yir'as Shamayim, also merits that his opinion is accepted le'Halachah.

(b) Do'eg and Achitofel 'chased after David' - because of his 'sin' with Bas-Sheva.

(c) They Darshened from the Pasuk "Leimor Elokim Azavo" and from the Pasuk in "ve'Lo Yir'eh Becha Ervas Davar ... " - that due to that 'sin', Hashem had forsaken him.

(d) They would not have done so however, had they known Rebbi Menachem b'Rebbi Yossi's D'rashah - that although a sin can extinguish a Mitzvah, it cannot extinguish Torah (and David was a distinguished Torah-scholar).

(a) The Pasuk in Shir Hashirim (that we quoted earlier) states "Im Yiten Ish es Kol Hon Beiso be'Ahavah, Boz Yavuzu Lo" - meaning that even if someone gives all his money for Torah, the Torah will nevertheless despise him.

(b) This applies to Hillel - who studied Torah in extreme poverty, and his brother Shevna - who became a wealthy businessman. Shevna's ultimate offer to buy half of his brother's Torah was rejected, because one cannot purchase someone else's Torah.

(c) It does not however, apply to Azaryah, Shimon's brother or to Bei Nesi'a, Rebbi Yochanan's patron - since both of these supported the respective Talmid-Chacham at the outset in the form of a partnership (like Yisachar and Zevulun), which has the validity of a legal agreement.




(a) When Rebbi Eliezer says that someone who teaches his daughter Torah, teaches her immorality, he means - that it is *as if* he taught her immorality (not that he actually does so), because the one leads to the other.

(b) Based on the Pasuk in Mishlei "Ani Chochmah Shecheinasi Armah", Rebbi Avahu explains that - by teaching her Torah, he is training her to think cunningly (a fear that is not generally applicable to men, who tend to learn with their brains and not with their hearts, unlike women, who tend to become more emotionally involved in what they learn).

(c) The Chachamim (it is unclear why this title is given to ben Azai) explain this Pasuk like Rebbi Yossi b'Rebbi Chanina, who says 'Ein Divrei Torah Miskaymin Ela be'Mi she'Ma'amid/she'Meisim Atzmo Arum Aleihen'. The meaning of ...

1. ... 'Ein Divrei Torah Miskaymin Ela be'Mi she'Ma'amid Atzmo Arum Aleihen' is - that the words of Torah are only established - with someone who gives up all other occupations to study Torah.
2. ... 'Ein Divrei Torah Miskaymin Ela be'Mi she'Meisim Atzmo Arum Aleihen' is - they can only be established with someone who uses cunning to study Torah (by learning slowly, one bit at a time until he has masterede it, and by learning from everyone).
(d) Rebbi Yochanan learns from the Pasuk "ve'ha'Chochmah me'Ayin Timatzei" - that Torah is only found with someone who makes himself like nothing in order to study.
(a) We amend Rebbi Yehoshua's statement in our Mishnah to read - 'Rotzah Ishah be'Kav ve'Tiflus *Imah*, mi'Tish'ah Kabin u'Perishus', which means - that a woman would prefer to live with more intimacy, even if it means less Parnasah, than infinitely more Parnasah but less intimacy.

(b) He included in his list of people who destroy the world 'a Chasid Shoteh' - someone for example, who sees a woman drowning in a river and decides that it is not correct to look (so he walks straight past, allowing the woman to drown).

(a) He also includes a 'Rasha Arum'. Rebbi Yochanan (or Rebbi Chanina')'s example of a Rasha Arum is someone discusses his case with the Dayan before his disputant arrives (thereby creating a soft spot in the Dayan's heart in advance of the actual hearing). According to Rebbi Avahu, it pertains to someone who gives a Zuz (i.e. a Dinar) to a poor man who has a hundred and ninety-nine Zuz. This is wrong - because of the Mishnah in Pe'ah which rules that a person who owns a hundred and ninety-nine Zuz, may take as much Ma'aser Ani as one gives him (in one go). However once he has two hundred Zuz, he is no longer permitted to take Leket, Shikchah, Pe'ah or Ma'aser Ani.

(b) Rebbi Asi Amar Rebbi Yochanan's example of a Rasha Arum is someone who advises an heir to sell 'Nechasim Mu'atim' - which is forbidden Lechatchilah, because when there is only little property, Chazal ruled that it is the daughters who inherit, so that if anyone has to go begging, it should be the sons (rather than the daughters).

(c) If the heir acted on the above advice - his sale would be valid (which is precisely why the advisor is labeled 'a Rasha Arum').

(a) Abaye gives the example of Rasha Arum of someone who advises his friend to sell the property in the following case: 'Nechasai Lach, ve'Acharecha li'Peloni'. Rebbi holds that According to Raban Shimon ben Gamliel - the second beneficiary is only entitled to what the first one leaves him (irrespective of what he does with it).

(b) Abaye establish the case of Rasha Arum, Rebbi or Raban Shimon ben Gamliel - according to whom his sale is valid Bedieved.

(c) Rav Yosef bar Chama Amar Rav Sheishes explains a Rasha Arum as one who is 'Machri'a Acheirim be'Orchosav' - meaning that he goes around putting on airs, pretending to be a pious man, encouraging others to follow in his footsteps (to prevent people from getting to know about the sins that he perpetrates in secret).

(a) Rebbi Zerika Amar Rav Huna establishes it as someone who adopts the lenient view for himself but rules strictly for others. The last opinion is that of Ula - who describes a Rasha Arum as someone who learned Chumash and Mishnayos, but not Gemara (which in former times, when the were no Sefarim, had to be studied with a Rebbi, which in turn, explains why it is referred to as 'Shimush Talmidei-Chachamim).

(b) The reason that such a person be termed a 'Rasha Arum' is -because the Mishnayos in themselves are only bases for Halachah, and cannot be accepted as Halachah until one fully understands their interpretation (e.g. Who is the author of the Mishnah?, whether there are no words missing ... ). Consequently, it is impossible to rule from Mishnayos alone, and someone who does, is bound to err in many of his rulings.

Next daf


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