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Sotah, 8

SOTAH 8 (3 Teves) - Dedicated by Sid and Sylvia Mosenkis of Queens, N.Y., in memory of Sylvia's father, Shlomo ben Mordechai Aryeh, who passed away 3 Teves 5751/1990.


QUESTION: The Mishnah (7a) states that the Sotah must drink the Mei Sotah while standing at Sha'ar Nikanor, on the eastern side of the Azarah. The Gemara says that the source for this is the verse in the Torah that says that the Kohen stands her up "Lifnei Hashem" (Bamidbar 5:16). RASHI (here and on the verse) explains that it must be done at Sha'ar Nikanor because that is the gate through which people enter and exit the Azarah.

However, Rashi elsewhere (7a, DH Shema, and 7b, DH Mena Hani Mili) says that the Hashka'as Sotah must be done in *Yerushalayim*. Apparently, Rashi seems to maintain that "Lifnei Hashem" means *anywhere* in Yerushalayim. What, then, is the source that the Hashka'as Sotah must be done at Sha'ar Nikanor?

The other two things that must be done at Sha'ar Nikanor are easier to understand. The Kohen is Metaher the Yoledes there, and the Kohen is Metaher the Metzora there (by putting Dam on his thumbs). The Metzora must stand there because he needs to extend his thumbs into the Azarah in order for the Kohen to do Haza'ah on him. Since the Haza'ah must be done in the Azarah, the Metzora must stand right next to it, at the gate, and he cannot stand at any other place in Yerushalayim. Similarly, the Yoledes needs to stand there because she needs to be as close as possible to her Korban when it is offered, due to the requirement for the owner of a Korban to be standing over it. The Sotah, though, should be able to be in any part of Yerushalayim in order to drink the Mei Sotah (since she is not bringing a Korban at the time she is drinking). Why must she specifically stand at the Sha'ar Nikanor?

In addition, what is Rashi's source for saying that she is given the Mei Sotah at Sha'ar Nikanor because it is the place where everyone enters and exits the Azarah? What does that have to do with "Lifnei Hashem," which Rashi interprets to mean Yerushalayim? Moreover, why does Rashi interpret "Lifnei Hashem" here to mean Yerushalayim, and not specifically the Azarah, or the area opposite the Heichal (like the Gemara suggests later on 14b regarding the place of bringing the Minchah offering)?


(a) The Gemara (9a) says that the reason the Torah wants the Sotah to stand at Sha'ar Nikanor is in order to disgrace her as much as possible. Sha'ar Nikanor is a place where everyone passes and will see her. Since she sinned in private, the Torah punishes her by publicizing her disgraceful act. Since she sinned by attracting a man to the gate of her house, she is punished by being embarrassed at the gate of the Azarah, "Midah k'Neged Midah." The reason she stands at Sha'ar Nikanor is not because of the verse "Lifnei Hashem," because "Lifnei Hashem" refers to all of Yerushalayim, like Rashi says.

Rashi here, when he says that Sha'ar Nikanor is the place where everyone passes, is explaining why we give her the Mei Sotah to drink at Sha'ar Nikanor as opposed to anywhere else in Yerushalayim. He is answering that this is the best place in Yerushalayim to give her the Mei Sotah to drink, but any place in Yerushalayim is valid. (This answers the question of the Torah Temimah in Parshas Naso, 5:94.)

The reason for the various definitions of "Lifnei Hashem" in the various contexts in which the phrase occurs is explained by the MALBIM (Parshas Tzav, #26, cited by the MINCHAS YAKOV here). The Malbim explains that in each Parshah, the words "Lifnei Hashem" are interpreted according to the context in which they appear. Rashi himself (in Vayikra 14:11) alludes to this when he says that a Metzora stands "Lifnei Hashem" -- at Sha'ar Nikanor -- because the Torah does not want him to stand in the Azarah since he is still Tamei. "Lifnei Hashem" is always interpreted as the closest to the Kodesh ha'Kodashim at which it is possible for that person to stand. In our case, the Gemara assumes that "Lifnei Hashem" cannot mean *inside* the Azarah, since the Sotah might die from drinking the Mei Sotah, and a Mes is not permitted in the Azarah. (See Sotah 20b, where the Gemara says that even though a Mes is not permitted, mid'Rabanan, even in the Ezras Nashim, like Tosfos says in Pesachim 92a, nevertheless the Rabanan did not prohibit the Sotah from going into that area because she is not dead yet and it is only a Safek that she will die.) Alternatively, Rashi is following his own view in Kidushin (52a), where he writes that a woman is not supposed to be in the Azarah -- especially with her hair uncovered and her clothes ripped (see OR SAME'ACH, Hilchos Bi'as Mikdash 1:17). Therefore "Lifnei Hashem" cannot mean any place closer to the Mikdash than the Ezras Nashim, so we assume that it means all of Yerushalayim, and we bring her to Sha'ar Nikanor for the reason that Rashi here mentions -- to publicize her disgrace.

QUESTION: The Gemara introduces the principle of "Ein Osin Mitzvos Chavilos Chavilos" -- we must avoid doing Mitzvos in "bundles" (because doing so makes it look like the Mitzvos are a burden to us), and therefore we do not prepare a number of Mitzvos to perform and then perform them consecutively, one immediately after the other. For this reason, we do not have two women, each one of whom is a Sotah, prepare to drink the Mei Sotah one after the other. Similarly, we do not prepare two Avadim for Retzi'ah, two Metzora'im to do their Taharah together, or two Eglos Arufos to be beheaded together.

RASHI and TOSFOS explain that it is prohibited only for *one* person to perform both Mitzvos consecutively. It is permitted, though, for two different people to perform both Mitzvos simultaneously. TOSFOS (DH Ein Mashkin) asks that slaughtering a Korban is also a Mitzvah, and thus according to this rule it should be prohibited to have two Korbanos in the Azarah and to slaughter them consecutively! One should be permitted to bring in the second Korban only after the first one is slaughtered. We find, however, no such prohibition (on the contrary -- on Erev Pesach everyone brings their Korbanos together to the Azarah).

ANSWERS: TOSFOS does not answer this question. The other Rishonim, though, suggest approaches to the principle of "Ein Osin Mitzvos Chavilos Chavilos" which might answer Tosfos' question.

(a) The TASHBATS (2:42) writes that the principle of "Ein Osin Mitzvos Chavilos" applies only to a Mitzvah incumbent upon *Beis Din* to perform, such as the Retzi'ah of an Eved, the Hashka'ah of a Sotah, and Arifas Eglah. The Taharah of a Metzora is also incumbent upon Beis Din, in that it is Beis Din's obligation to be Metaher the Metzora if the Metzora does not want to become Tahor.

In contrast, when the Mitzvah is not the Beis Din's Mitzvah, but it is incumbent upon the person, then two people who have the same Mitzvah are allowed to appoint one person to perform both Mitzvos for them. The person they appoint may do the Mitzvos one after the other. For this reason, it should be permitted for two people to appoint the same Mohel to perform consecutive Milos for both of their sons. Similarly, if two people are bringing Korbanos to the Kohen at the same time, the Kohen should be permitted to offer the Korbanos, since he is just doing it for the people who are bringing the Korbanos to him (and offering the Korbanos is not an obligation of Beis Din or of the Kohanim). The YOSEF DA'AS points out that this might be why Rashi in our Sugya explains that the Retzi'ah of two Avadim cannot be done together when both Avadim belong to the same master. Tosfos asks that even when they belong to different masters it should be prohibited to do the Retzi'ah for both of them together, just like when two Metzora'im bring their Korbanos.

The answer might be that Rashi holds that the Mitzvah of Retzi'as Eved is not incumbent upon Beis Din but upon the master of the Eved. Therefore, if two masters bring their Avadim to Beis Din at the same time it should be permitted for Beis Din to do the Retzi'ah together since they are just the appointees of the masters. The only problem is when *one* master brings his two Avadim together to do Retzi'ah.

(b) The MAGEN AVRAHAM (OC 147:11, as cited by the GILYON HA'SHAS) suggests that the principle of "Ein Osin Mitzvos Chavilos" applies only to Mitzvos which are *obligatory*. Mitzvos which are voluntary -- which do not have to be done -- may be done together; one is not considered to be making such Mitzvos "Chavilos" when he does two of them together (the very fact that one accepted upon himself to do the Mitzvah when he was not obligated to shows that it is *not* a burden to him). The Magen Avraham therefore concludes that it would be permitted for a Kohen to prepare two voluntary Korbanos, but not two obligatory sacrifices, at the same time. (This approach does not seem to explain why multiple Korbanos Pesach may be prepared at the same time.)

(c) The OR SAME'ACH (Hilchos Tum'as Tzora'as 11:6) suggests that any Mitzvah that can be done by a Shali'ach can also be done in "Chavilos." Just like a person has the option to remove the Mitzvah from himself by appointing someone else to do it, he has the option to remove the obligation from himself by doing many Mitzvos together (that is, there is nothing wrong with making it look like he is trying to remove the Mitzvah from himself as quickly as he can by doing it in "Chavilos," since he could remove the obligation from himself by sending a Shali'ach to do the Mitzvah for him). Consequently, since the Mitzvah of Korban Pesach and the other Korbanos is for the owner to slaughter it (see Rashi, Pesachim 7b), which can be done by a Shali'ach, according to the Or Same'ach there would be nothing wrong for a person to bring a number of Korbanos together at one time, or even for a Kohen to slaughter two of his own Korbanos one after the other.

(d) It is possible that the principle of "Ein Osin Mitzvos Chavilos" applies only to Mitzvos that are relatively rare, such as Sotah, Retzi'ah, Taharas ha'Metzora, and Eglah Arufah. Mitzvos that are commonplace *may* be done together; it does not look like one is trying to unburden himself of the Mitzvos by performing them consecutively, since it is expected for these Mitzvos to occur frequently and concommitantly.

We might note that Tosfos does not ask why it is permitted to slaughter two animals of *Chulin* consecutively in order to eat them. He only asks why it is permitted to slaughter two animals of *Kodshim* in order to bring them as Korbanos. Why does he not ask about the Mitzvah of Shechitah for animals that are Chulin? The answer to this can be found in the beginning of the comments of Tosfos, where Tosfos explains that the Isur of giving the Mei Sotah to two women to drink at once only prohibits bringing them both into the area of the Azarah at the same time.

Tosfos means that the Isur to make Mitzvos "Chavilos" applies only when the Mitzvos must be performed in a certain place, and before performing the first Mitzvah, the two objects of the Mitzvah are prepared by being brought to that place in order to be performed there. The same applies to Taharas ha'Metzora -- preparation for the Mitzvah must be done first, by bringing to Sha'ar Nikanor to stand there. Similarly, preparation for the Retzi'ah of an Eved is done by bringing the Eved to Beis Din. In order to perform the Mitzvah of Eglah Arufah, the Eglah must be brought first to a Nachal.

In contrast, the Shechitah of animals that are Chulin may be performed anywhere. The animals do not need to be brought to any specific place in order to fulfill the Mitzvah. Bringing the animal to the slaughterhouse is not considered a part of the preparation for the Mitzvah, since the animal does not have to be there to be slaughtered. There is no act that is done to the animal to prepare it for the Mitzvah.

According to this approach, it seems clear that there should be no problem with bringing two babies to a single Mohel to perform both Milos consecutively, since bringing the baby to the synagogue the place where the Mohel will perform the Milah is not considered a necessary preparation for the Mitzvah; the Mohel could do the Milah wherever the baby is located. The MAGEN AVRAHAM, however, writes that the principle of "Ein Osin Mitzvos Chavilos" applies to two Milos as well. Consequently, it is the common practice to make a signficant pause between the two Brisim of twin boys.

(The rule of "Ein Osin Mitzvos Chavilos" of our Gemara is not the same as the rule of "Ein Osin Mitzvos Chavilos" mentioned in the Gemara in Pesachim 102b, which says that one should not recite two Berachos (such as Kidush and Birkas ha'Mazon) on one cup of wine. There in Pesachim, it is a more severe form of "Chavilos," because one is actually doing two Mitzvos with one object, rather than doing two Mitzvos with two different objects consecutively.)


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