ANSWERS TO REVIEW QUESTIONS
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
(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
(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
(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.
(b) In Rebbi Yossi b'Rebbi Menachem's parable, the night-traveler is saved from ...
2. "be'Shochbecha" - to the world of the grave.
3. "Ve'hekitzosa" - to the period of Olam ha'Ba (Techi'as ha'Meisim).
1. ... thorns and pits - by a lantern.
(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).
2. ... wild beasts and armed robbers - by dawn-break. When he arrives at the
crossroads - he clarifies his exact location.
(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
(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
(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 ...
(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
3. ... or not. In any event, this explains the merits that shield the Sotah from her
(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
(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.
(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.
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
(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
(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.