(Permission is granted to print and redistribute this material
as long as this header and the footer at the end are included.)


brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld

Ask A Question about the Daf

Previous daf

Sotah, 18


QUESTION: The Gemara asks that in a case where two Megilos Sotah, written for two women who are undergoing the Sotah process, were erased in two different cups of Mei Sotah, and then the water was mixed together and then divided again into two cups, is the water effective as Mei Sotah? The Gemara leaves this question unanswered ("Teiku").

The RAMBAM (Hilchos Sotah 4:11) rules both in this case and in the following "Teiku" of our Gemara that l'Chatchilah one should not use such water, but b'Di'eved if one used it (and neither of the women who drank it died), then each woman is permitted to her husband.

Why is she permitted to her husband? If the Gemara concludes that it is a Safek, then the principle "Safek d'Oraisa l'Chumra" should apply and she should remain prohibited to her husband (mi'Safek)! (MINCHAS CHINUCH #365; KEREN ORAH)


(a) The OR SAME'ACH (Hilchos Isurei Bi'ah 18:10, DH v'Zeh) suggests that when a woman secludes herself with another man, in a normal situation we do not fear that she committed a sin with him, and there is no Safek. She is permitted to her husband because of her Chezkas Heter l'Ba'alah. The only reason we consider the woman in the situation of a Sotah to be prohibited to her husband mi'Safek is because the husband did Kinuy to her, warning her not to seclude herself. The fact that he did Kinuy, together with the fact that she secluded herself with the man after the Kinuy, gives strong reason to believe that she sinned ("Raglayim l'Davar") and thus she is Asur to her husband mi'Safek. (See Insights to Sotah 6b.)

However, when a Sotah drinks from the Mei Sotah, the very fact that she was willing to drink the Mei Sotah and was not afraid of suffering the consequences of her presumed sin cancels out the "Raglayim l'Daver." This applies even in the cases that the Gemara leaves as a "Teiku,"; since the woman cannot possibly know for sure that the Mei Sotah is not valid, the fact that she drank it removes the Raglayim l'Davar. Therefore, after she drinks her status becomes a bona fide Safek and the Chezkas Heter l'Ba'alah can come into play to permit her to her husband.

(b) RAV CHAIM HA'LEVY, with regard to other questions (see Insights to Sotah 6b), points out that the Raglayim l'Davar alone is apparently not enough to prohibit a Sotah to her husband. This is evident from the Gemara that entertains the possibility that even after a woman secludes herself after Kinuy, her husband can "forego" the Kinuy of the past and thereby become once again permitted to her. How can one forego the Raglayim l'Davar that is presented by the Kinuy? Apparently, it is only the "Gezeiras ha'Kasuv" of Kinuy and Setirah, *in addition* to the Raglayim l'Davar, that prohibits the wife.

If so, we might suggest that this Gezeiras ha'Kasuv only applies to the Safek of whether or not the wife was Mezaneh, but not to the Safek l'Halachah of whether or not Mei Sotah that was combined and re-divided is valid. Therefore, if the woman drinks the Mei Sotah of our Gemara here status is judged like all other Sefeikos, and the Chezkas Heter l'Ba'alah permits her to her husband. (M. Kornfeld)

OPINIONS: Rava asks whether the woman may drink the Mei Sotah through the use of a "Siv" or a "Shefoferes." RASHI explains that a "Siv" is a straw. The reason why the Mei Sotah might not be valid if consumed through a straw is because "Ein Derech Shetiyah b'Kach" -- this is not the normal manner of drinking. The Gemara leaves this question unanswered ("Teiku"). (The Rambam does not mention it altogether; see commentators on the Rambam.) Does this Gemara imply that there are practical consequences with regard to drinking with a straw for other Halachic matters?
(a) The MAHARSHAM (4:137) suggests that if, for medical purposes, a sick person needs to drink a forbidden fluid, it is preferable that he drink it through a straw, because our Gemara considers the possibility that drinking in such a manner is not considered "Derech Shetiyah" and Isurei Hana'ah are not Asur mid'Oraisa when consumed in a manner which is not the normal manner.

(b) However, the YOSEF DA'AS suggests that the question of our Gemara might be limited to the Mei Sotah, where the Torah says specifically "v'Hishkah," using the terminology of Hashka'ah, drinking. Drinking the Mei Sotah with a straw might not be considered Derech Hashka'ah. In other matters, though, such as when the Torah prohibits something to be eaten, even if a person drinks the item through a straw it is still considered the normal manner of consumption.

The reason for this is because the act of "Achilah" (which the Torah prohibits for those items) does not refer to the specific act of eating a solid as opposed to drinking a liquid, but rather to the general act of consumption, and even if the food enters one's throat via a straw, it goes down his throat in the normal manner. In the case of Mei Sotah, the Torah describes the way that she must get it into her throat and says that it must be through drinking. If, for example, the waters of the Mei Sotah would be frozen and then the ice cut into pieces and then given to the woman to eat, it would not be considered Hashka'ah, drinking. Similarly, if she consumes the Mei Sotah through a straw and it thus reaches her throat by bypassing her mouth, it might not be considered an act of Hashka'ah. (See also SHEVET HA'LEVI 4:21.)


QUESTION: Rebbi Meir rules in the Mishnah that when the woman accepts the curses ("Alos") she agrees that they will apply to her both if she sinned in the past, and if she will sin in the future. The Beraisa tells us not to err and to think that Rebbi Meir means that if the woman is going to sin in the future, then the Mei Sotah will cause her to die right now when she drinks it. Rather, Rebbi Meir means that if she sins in the future, the Mei Sotah that she drank in the past will come back into force and punish her then, at the time that she sins.

Why does the Beraisa have to say that we should not think that the water will cause her to die right now? If it causes her to die right now because of her future sin, then obviously she will not be sinning in the future and thus it should not cause her to die!

ANSWER: The TOSFOS HA'ROSH explains that according to Rebbi (6a, who holds that when a woman drinks the Mei Sotah, her Zechus is "Toleh" and delays her punishment even if she sinned), the woman does not immediately die but rather she becomes progressively sicker and weaker until she eventually dies the death that the Torah describes (this is referred to as "Misnavnah"). The Beraisa initially thought that, according to Rebbi Meir, if the woman is going to sin in the future, then when she drinks the Mei Sotah now, it will begin its effects upon her by causing her to become sick, "Misnavnah." Later, at the moment that she sins, the Mei Sotah will exercise its full impact on her and cause her to die. The Beraisa therefore teaches that until she sins the water does not affect her at all. (See PORAS YOSEF for another answer.)

Next daf


For further information on
subscriptions, archives and sponsorships,
contact Kollel Iyun Hadaf,