POINT BY POINT SUMMARY
Prepared by Rabbi P. Feldman
of Kollel Iyun Hadaf, Yerushalayim
Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld
Ask A Question on the daf
Previous daf Sotah 20
1) REFUSING TO DRINK
(a) Question: R. Akiva contradicts himself (in the 1st
Beraisa, he learned from the 1st "He gives her to drink"
that she cannot refuse, even that is before the Kometz is
offered; in the latter Beraisa, he says that she can
refuse, if the Kometz was not yet offered!
2) WHAT MAY BE USED IN INK
(b) Answer: The Tana'im of the 2 Beraisos argue on what R.
(c) Question: If she calmly refused to drink, and later she
wants to drink - may she drink?
1. Do we say, she already established her guilt, she
may no longer drink?
(d) (Shmuel's father): Something bitter must be put in the
water, for the Torah calls them bitter, even before the
scroll is erased into it!
2. Or, do we say, since she now wants to drink, this
shows that her initial refusal was due to fear?
i. This question is unresolved.
(e) (Mishnah): Before the scroll is erased, if she refuses to
drink, the scroll is buried and the Minchah is spread on
the ash-heap (where disqualified offerings are burned);
1. The scroll cannot be used for a different Sotah.
(f) After the scroll is erased, if she admits that she is
guilty, the water is spilled out and the Minchah is
spread on the ash-heap;
1. If she refuses to drink, we force the water down her
(g) Before she finishes drinking, her face turns green, her
eyes bulge, her veins stick out; they say, 'Take her out
before she makes Tamei the courtyard (of the Temple)'!
1. If she has merits, they suspend her death; merits
can suspend for 1, 2 or 3 years.
(h) Ben Azai says, a man is obligated to teach his daughter
Torah, so if she drinks, she will know that her merit is
suspending her death;
1. R. Eliezer says, one who teaches his daughter Torah,
teaches her frivolity;
(i) R. Yehoshua says, a woman prefers 1 Kav of food and
frequent relations, rather than 9 Kabim and abstention
1. A foolish Chasid, a crafty evildoer, a woman that
abstains, and the afflictions of abstainers - these
destroy the world.
(a) (R. Meir): When I learned Torah by R. Akiva, I used to
put vitriol in the ink; he never objected. I went to
learn by R. Yishmael; I told him that I was a scribe.
1. R. Yishmael: Be careful with your work - it is the
work of Heaven! If you would omit or add a single
letter, this would destroy the world!
(b) Question: R. Meir's response does not address R.
2. R. Meir: I have something I put in the ink -
3. R. Yishmael: You cannot put vitriol in the ink - the
Torah says, "He will erase" - the writing must be
(c) Answer: R. Meir full reply was, 'Not only am I an expert
regarding missing and extra letters; I am even concerned
lest a fly (rest on and) remove the ink at the extension
of a Daled, making it a Reish'!
1. To prevent this, I put vitriol in the ink.
(d) Objection (Beraisa - R. Meir): When I learned Torah by R.
Yishmael, I used to put vitriol in the ink; he never
objected. I went to learn by R. Akiva, he forbade this.
1. This contradicts Rav Yehudah's version of the story,
both regarding by whom R. Meir first learned, and
regarding who forbade him to use vitriol!
(e) Answer: We can resolve the first difficulty: R. Meir
first learned by R. Akiva, but was unable to understand.
He went to R. Yishmael, and learned the laws. He returned
to R. Akiva, and learned the reasoning behind the laws.
1. The second contradiction remains difficult.
(f) (Beraisa - R. Yehudah): Any ink may contain vitriol,
except for the ink used to write the passage of Sotah;
3) HOW THE WATER TESTS HER
1. R. Yakov says, except for the ink used to write a
scroll for a Sotah in the Mikdash.
(g) Question: What is the source of their dispute (regarding
the passage of Sotah in the Torah)?
(h) Answer (R. Yirmiyah): Whether the Sotah scroll may be
erased from a Sefer Torah.
1. R. Yehudah and R. Yakov argue as the following
(i) Question: Does R. Achi really argue on the following?
i. (Beraisa): A scroll written for a Sotah may not
be used for a different Sotah; R. Achi bar
Yoshiyah allows this.
2. Rejection #1 (Rav Papa): The disputes may be
i. The 1st Tana (of the latter Beraisa) only says,
once a scroll was written for 1 Sotah, it is
invalid for a different Sotah; but the Torah
was not written for any particular Sotah -
perhaps it could be used for any Sotah!
3. Rejection #2 (Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak): The
disputes may be different!
i. Rav Achi bar Yoshiyah only says, a scroll
written for a Sotah may be used for a different
Sotah, since it was written to be curses; but
the Torah was written to learn from, not to be
a curse - perhaps it may not be used for a
1. (Mishnah): Reuven wrote a Get for his wife, then
decided not to divorce her. He found another man
Reuven in his city, and their wives' names were also
the same. The 2nd Reuven cannot use the Get to
divorce his wife.
(j) Answer: R. Achi can agree to the Mishnah. By divorce, it
says "He will write for her" - the Get must written for
(k) Question: By Sotah, it also says "He will do for her"!
(l) Answer: That refers to erasing the scroll, not writing
(a) (Mishnah): Before she finishes drinking, her face ...
4) MERIT SUSPENDS PUNISHMENT
(b) The Mishnah is as R. Shimon, who says that she drinks
after offering the Minchah.
1. "A Minchah of remembrance, that mentions sin" - the
water does not test her until the Minchah is
(c) Question: But the end of the Mishnah says 'if she has
merits, it suspends her death' - this is as Chachamim!
1. R. Shimon says, merit does not suspend her death!
(d) Answer (Rav Chisda): The Mishnah is as R. Akiva.
1. R. Akiva says that she drinks after offering the
Minchah; he also says that if she has merits, it
suspends her death.
(e) (Mishnah): They say, 'Take her out ...'
(f) Question: Why must they take her out?
(g) Answer #1: Perhaps she will die.
1. This implies, it is forbidden to have a corpse in
the Ezras Nashim (the place in the Temple where she
(h) Answer #2 (Abaye): Rather, the concern is, lest she will
2. Objection (Beraisa): A (person or vessel) that is
Tamei from contact with a corpse may enter the
Levite camp (which corresponds to the Ezras Nashim);
i. Even a corpse may be brought in - "Moshe took
Yosef's bones with him" - in his residence!
(i) Question: This implies, trepidation induces menstrual
blood to come out!
(j) Answer: Correct!
1. (Rav): "v'Tischalchal the queen" - this means that
she became a Nidah.
(k) Question (Mishnah): Fear inhibits the flow of menstrual
(l) Answer: Prolonged fear inhibits the flow; sudden terror
(a) (Mishnah): If she has merit ...
(b) Question: The Mishnah is unlike all the following
1. (Beraisa - Aba Yosi ben Chanan): Merit suspends her
death 3 months, the time necessary for pregnancy to
2. R. Eliezer ben Yitzchak says, 9 months,
corresponding to the term of pregnancy;
i. (By an innocent woman) it says "She will be
vindicated, and have Zera (seed, i.e.
3. R. Yishmael says 12 months; there is not a proof for
this, but a verse hints at it.
ii. We learn from "The seed of those that serve
(Hash-m), the praise of Hash-m will be told" -
seed that is fit to tell Hash-m's praise;
i. "... Redeem your (Nebuchadnetzar's) sin with
Tzedakah ... your serenity will be prolonged".