The Potential Rewards of Sin (Sotah 7b)

November 08, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
  Our Sages were great realists. They understood the complexities of the human condition and how even otherwise great people can make terrible, even tragic mistakes, both intentional and not. They of course picked this up from the Torah itself where the greats of our tradition are portrayed in all their greatness - and their weaknesses. It is often specifically these weaknesses that can help us most, serving as our role...
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Home Alone? (Sotah 7)

November 05, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The Mishna is almost exclusively a legal code and like all codes displays little 'emotion' even when it describes emotionally wrenching moments. It calmly lays out the legal principle for the case at hand and it is the rare Mishna that tells stories, spells out moral lessons or even asks questions. It is case based with the occasional formulation of a legal principle that forms the bread and butter of the Mishna[1].   "How...
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Adultery and Washing One's Hands (Sotah 4)

November 03, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Jewish law and thought covers all aspects of life and that means nothing is beyond the purview of Talmudic and rabbinic discussion. With the primary theme of masechet Sotah being that of marital infidelity we should not be surprised to find  rabbinic discussion focusing on exactly at what point is one considered to have engaged in an illicit sexual act.   In order to declare a woman as a Sotah she must be caught alone with a man she...
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You Get What You Deserve (Sotah 2)

October 29, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
  The opening lines of a book are meant to set the tone of the book - providing background, introducing its major characters and themes. Masechet Sotah does not disappoint. On the opening page we discuss the themes of marriage, sexual infidelity, character assessment and theology.   "One who warns his wife [against being alone with another man] must do so in front of two witnesses" (Sotah 2a). The Mishna begins with the...
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An Introduction to Masechet Sotah

October 27, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
    Seder Nasim is the shortest of the six orders of the Mishna comprising only seven of the sixty-three masechtot and “only” 578 of the over 4,200 Mishnayot in in the Talmud Bavli. And two of the seven masechtot, Nedarim and Nazir, have little to do with women, ostensibly the theme of the seder. Masechet Nedarim dealing with laws of promises and vows is included because the previous masechet, Ketubot...
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