Friday, June 14, 2019

Parshas Naso 5779

Why Did the Sotah Waters Stop?

The Mishnah (Sotah 9:9) writes:
When adulterers multiplied, the ceremony of the bitter waters ceased and it was Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai who discontinued it, as it is said, “I will not punish their daughters for ...” (Hosea 4:14)
(commentators explain in the Talmud - [Sotah 47b] that it was because the husbands were guilty as well)

The Rambam (Sotah 3:13-19) comments that the Sotah ritual only works if the husband never engaged in similar behavior, and therefore the Sanhedrin nullified it when this type of behavior became more common

The Ramban (Numbers 5:20) comments:
And there is no matter among all the laws of the Torah which relies on a miracle except for this one which was a constant wonder and miracle done among the Jewish people when most of them did the will of their G-d ... and therefore this matter stopped once they became involved in sin as it says (Talmud Sotah 47b) ...

Chanah, Shmuel and Sotah

The Talmud (Berachot 31b) writes as follows:
As for the double language in the verse, “if you will look upon [im ra’o tireh],” Rabbi Elazar said: Hannah said before the Holy One, Blessed be He: Master of the Universe, if You will look upon [ra’o] me now, fine, and if not, in any case You will see [tireh].  What was Hannah threatening? She said: I will go and seclude myself with another man before Elkana, my husband. Since I secluded myself, they will force me to drink the sota water to determine whether or not I have committed adultery. I will be found innocent, and since You will not make Your Torah false [pelaster], I will bear children. With regards to a woman who is falsely suspected of adultery and drank the sota water, the Torah says: “And if the woman was not defiled, but was pure, then she shall be acquitted and she shall conceive”(Numbers 5:28).
Ben Yehoyada (ibid) explains:
It is hard to understand who would allow her to commit two prohibitions together - yichud and erasing of G-d's name [during the ritual]? ... rather she said that she is able to do this but since she will not because it is forbidden, it should be counted as a merit for her ...