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Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld

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Sotah 20


(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!
(b) Answer: The Tana'im of the 2 Beraisos argue on what R. Akiva holds.
(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?
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.
(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!
(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 throat.
(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 (infrequent relations);
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!
2. R. Meir: I have something I put in the ink - vitriol!
3. R. Yishmael: You cannot put vitriol in the ink - the Torah says, "He will erase" - the writing must be erasable!
(b) Question: R. Meir's response does not address R. Yishmael's concern!
(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;

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 Tana'im.
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 different!
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 Sotah!
(i) Question: Does R. Achi really argue on the following?
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 her.
(k) Question: By Sotah, it also says "He will do for her"!
(l) Answer: That refers to erasing the scroll, not writing it.
(a) (Mishnah): Before she finishes drinking, her face ...
(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 offered.
(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 drinks).
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!
(h) Answer #2 (Abaye): Rather, the concern is, lest she will become Nidah.
(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 blood.
(l) Answer: Prolonged fear inhibits the flow; sudden terror induces it.
(a) (Mishnah): If she has merit ...
(b) Question: The Mishnah is unlike all the following Tana'im!
1. (Beraisa - Aba Yosi ben Chanan): Merit suspends her death 3 months, the time necessary for pregnancy to show;
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. children);
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;
3. R. Yishmael says 12 months; there is not a proof for this, but a verse hints at it.
i. "... Redeem your (Nebuchadnetzar's) sin with Tzedakah ... your serenity will be prolonged".
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