The Comfort Zone: Sotah 44

Part of the purpose of the harsh treatment of the Sotah is convincing the suspected adulteress to admit her infidelity. By doing so she is given a divorce and can move on with her life as no further punishment is given. We assure her that if she is innocent she has nothing to fear, but repeatedly warn her of the dire consequences i.e death, if she refuses to admit her guilt.  

Language Barriers: Sotah 33

One of most bitter and divisive (Jewish) fights of the 19th century was that regarding the use of the vernacular in the synagogue - whether in prayer or even in speech. To say the opposition to such was vehement would be an understatement. Add in the fact that the notion of a rabbinic sermon in the vernacular was copied from the Protestant service and we one can begin to understand the bans and calls for excommunication. 

The Religious Hypocrite: Sotah 22

“He [Rabbi Yehoshua] used to say: a pious fool, a cunning evildoer, an ascetic woman and the wounds of the ascetics destroy the world” (Sotah 20a). Our sages understood that as humans we make mistakes, sin and are riddled with inconsistencies. It is for this reason teshuva, repentance, was created - even prior to the physical world itself, allowing us to grow from our mistakes. As our Sages note in a somewhat different context “G-d creates the cure before the sickness” (Megillah 13b).   

The Bare Torah: Sotah 21

In our last post we discussed the view of Rabbi Eliezer that one who teaches his daughter Torah is as if he has taught her tiflut, frivolity. To support this assertion the Gemara quotes the proof text "I wisdom, I dwell with arma" (Mishlei 8:12). Since Ben Azzai disagrees obligating a father to teach his daughter Torah the Gemara wants to know how he interprets the verse from Mishlei. Rather than interpreting the verse as referring to those who misuse the Torah he understands it to be referring to the methodology by which we must learn Torah in the first place.


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