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Sotah, 19


QUESTION: The Mishnah teaches that the woman must wave ("Tenufah") the vessel that contains her Minchah offering. If the woman is required to hold the vessel containing her Minchah offering, then there seems to be a simple way for a cunning woman to avoid having the Mei Sotah test her and prove her guilt. She can simply make herself Tamei to a Mes when no one is watching, and then when she holds the vessel which contains the Minchah, she will be Metamei the vessel which will then be Metamei the Minchah. Since the Minchah is Pasul, the Mei Sotah will not be effective to prove her guilt! (HAFLA'AH, cited by the CHASAM SOFER, end of Parshas Naso)


(a) The HAFLA'AH answers that the Korban of the Sotah is one of the only Minchah offerings that is not brought with oil. We know that no food item can become Tamei until it has become "Huchshar" to be Mekabel Tum'ah by touching one of the seven qualifying liquids, which include water and oil. The Korban of the Sotah is thus prepared in a such way that it does not become "Huchshar" so that the woman cannot make it Tamei -- and that is why no oil is poured on it!

(b) The CHASAM SOFER, though, points out that even if she the Minchah *was* "Huchshar" to become Tamei, it would not make a difference if the woman makes the Minchah Tamei. The Tzitz which the Kohen Gadol wears would be Meratzeh for the Tum'ah and thus the Minchah offering would remain valid.


QUESTIONS: There are three different verses in the Torah, in the Parshah of Sotah, that discuss giving the woman to Mei Sotah to drink. The first verse is "v'Hishkah Es ha'Ishah" (Bamidbar 5:24), written before the verse (5:25) that commands the Kohen to bring the woman's Minchah offering (Hakravas ha'Minchah). The second and third verses are "v'Achar Yashkeh" (5:26) and "v'Hishkah Es ha'Mayim" (5:27), written after the verse of Hakravas ha'Minchah.

The Tana'im argue how to interpret these verses. RASHI explains that Rebbi Akiva and Rebbi Shimon both agree that the woman is given the Mei Sotah to drink *after* the Hakravas ha'Minchah. They argue whether we force the woman to drink in a case where the Megilas Sotah was erased before it was supposed to be erased (before the Hakravas ha'Minchah) and the woman refuses to drink the Mei Sotah but does not admit guilt.

Rebbi Shimon learns from the verse, "v'Achar Yashkeh" (5:26) that the woman must drink the Mei Sotah after the Hakravas ha'Minchah, and also that the woman drinks only after the writing on the Megilas Sotah is entirely erased in the water (i.e. no impression remains; it is not "Rishumo Nikar"). The third verse, "v'Hishkah" (5:27), teaches that if she refuses to drink, then we force her to drink. (The first verse, "v'Hishkah" (5:24), which is written before the Hakravas ha'Minchah, teaches that b'Di'eved if she drank the Mei Sotah before the Minchah was brought, the Mei Sotah still accomplishes its purpose.)

Rebbi Akiva, on the other hand, learns that "v'Achar Yashkeh" (5:26) teaches *only* that the writing must be entirely erased. He learns from the third verse, "v'Hishkah" (5:27), that the woman drinks the Mei Sotah only after the Minchah is brought. The first "v'Hishkah" (5:24), which is written before the Hakravas ha'Minchah, teaches that if the Megilah was mistakenly erased before the Hakravas ha'Minchah (when it was not supposed to be erased), we still give the Mei Sotah to the woman to drink.

(a) Rebbi Shimon learns from "v'Achar Yashkeh" both that the woman must drink the Mei Sotah *after* the Minchah is brought, and *after* the Megilas Sotah is entirely erased. Why, then, does Rebbi Akiva need two verses to teach these two Halachos if they can both be learned from one verse? (RASHASH)

(b) The Mishnah earlier (17b) states that a fully erasable ink must be used for writing the Megilas Sotah, because the verse says "u'Machah" (Bamidbar 5:23), teaching that the ink must be completely erased without leaving any impression. It seems that the word "u'Machah" itself teaches that the ink must be entirely erased. Why, then, is the second verse of "v'Achar Yashkeh" required to teach that the ink must be entirely erased? (TOSFOS 19a, DH v'Achar)

(a) The RASHASH explains that Rebbi Shimon and Rebbi Akiva argue whether "v'Achar Yashkeh" means that the Hashka'ah must be done after *everything* mentioned in the previous verses, or after only *one* of the things mentioned in the previous verses. Rebbi Shimon maintains that "v'Achar Yashkeh" means that the Hashka'ah must be done after everything else has been done, and that is why he cites this verse as a source for both Halachos -- the Halachah that the Hashka'ah must be done after the Minchah, and the Halachah that it must be done after the complete Mechikah. Rebbi Akiva, on the other hand, maintains that "v'Achar Yashkeh" refers to only one of the previously mentioned actions, and it is teaching that the Hashka'ah must be done only after the Mechikah. Therefore, Rebbi Akiva needs another verse to teach that the Hashka'ah must also be done after the Minchah is brought. (It is not clear why the Gemara views the Halachah that the writing must not be "Rishumo Nikar" and must be totally erased as a question of *precedence*. It would seem to be a matter of defining the word "u'Machah" -- "erase," rather than a question of whether the drinking is done before or after the erasure. Obviously the drinking must be done after the Megilas Sotah is erased, like the Gemara here points out. Perhaps the answer to this question is that when ink is partially erased in water, as time goes on the remaining impression will also fade completely. However, since it take a long time to fade, it will have faded completely only after she has consumed the water. The verse "v'Achar Yashkeh" teaches that the Megilas Sotah must be entirely erased by the water before she drinks it.)

(b) The TOSFOS SHANTZ explains that the Mishnah learns from "u'Machah" that the ink must be *fit* to be erased in such a way that no impression remains, and ink of "Kankantum" (which is unerasable) may not be used. However, we might have thought that if the ink *is* fit to be erased, perhaps it does not have to be entirely erased in practice. (The Tosfos Shantz might be referring to the principle of "Kol ha'Ra'uy l'Bilah Ein Bilah Me'akeves Bo" and that is why the ink does not have to be entirely erased as long as it is *fit* to be erased. Alternatively, he might mean that since the ink will fade by itself after it is partially erased, as we mentioned above, it will be considered a fulfillment of "u'Machah.") Therefore, another verse is necessary to teach that the ink must actually be erased entirely.

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