For the week ending 14 November 2015 / 2 Kislev 5776

Sotah 23 - 29

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • Differences in halacha between men and women
  • Which women are excluded from drinking Sotah potion but lose their right to payment of ketubah
  • The warning given to a suspected adulteress by her husband
  • If the husband dies before the Sotah potion is drunk
  • Marrying a woman pregnant with a child from a previous marriage
  • If the suspected adulterer is a minor or impotent
  • Which relations disqualify a woman from eating terumah
  • When is a woman most likely to conceive
  • When the court assumes the husband's role of warning
  • The Sotah potion's impact on the adulterer
  • The various Torah interpretations made by Rabbi Akiva and others on the day that Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah was appointed head of Sanhedrin
  • When the bitter waters will not prove anything
  • The three disqualifications imposed on an adulteress
  • What we learn from Sotah regarding a doubt which arises regarding ritual impurity
  • Classification of different sources of ritual impurity

When Restriction Breeds Obligation

  • Sotah 23a
A long list of differences in halacha between a male kohen and a female one is presented in the mishna.

Why, asks Rabbi Zvi Hirsh Chayos, does the mishna fail to mention that a male kohen has an obligation to be involved in the burial of one of his seven close relations even though it causes ritual impurity while there is no such obligation for his female counterpart?

The answer, he writes, is to be found in the words of Rambam (Laws of Mourning 2:6):

"What has been said that there is a mitzvah for a kohen to be involved with the burial of his close relative applies only to the males because they are forbidden to thus contract ritual impurity through burial of others. Since there is no such restriction on a female kohen there is also no obligation for them regarding their close relatives."

Since the restriction regarding others is so connected with the obligation regarding relatives we can assume that once the mishna pointed out that there is no restriction for a woman, it includes the information that there is no obligation for her regarding relatives.

What the Sages Say

"If the husband has not sinned by living with the wife he suspects of unfaithfulness then the Sotah potion will have its desired effect, but if he is not free of such sin it will not have that effect."

  • Beraita - Sotah 23a

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