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Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld

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Sotah 21

SOTAH 21-25 - These Dafim have been dedicated by Mrs. Estanne Abraham-Fauer in honor of the first Yahrzeit (18 Teves 5761) of her father, Reb Mordechai ben Eliezer Zvi (Weiner). May the merit of supporting and advancing the study of the Talmud be l'Iluy Nishmaso.


(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 (Nevuchadnetzar's) sin with Tzedakah ... your serenity will be prolonged".
ii. "At the end of 12 months (he was punished)".
(c) Answer: The Mishnah is as R. Yishmael; another verse shows that Hash-m's patience is 3 times greater.
1. "(Hash-m will not punish until) 3 transgressions of Edom".
(d) Question: Why did R. Yishmael say this is not a proof?
(e) Answer: (One could say), Hash-m is not as quick to punish Nochrim (in this world).
(a) (Mishnah): Some merit can suspend for 3 years ...
(b) Question: Which merit?
1. Suggestion: If merit of Torah - but a woman is not commanded!
(c) Answer #1: The merit of Mitzvos.
(d) Objection: The merit of Mitzvos does not protect so much!
1. (Beraisa R. Menachem bar Yosi): "A Mitzvah is (as) a lamp; Torah is light" - just as a lamp only illuminates temporarily, a Mitzvah only protects temporarily;
i. Just as light always illuminates, Torah always protects.
2. "When you walk, (Torah) will give you to rest" - in this world;
i. "When you lie down, it will guard you" - in death;
ii. "When you wake up, it will advocate for you" - in the world to come.
3. A parable: a man is walking in the black of the night. He fears thorns, pits, wild beasts, and robbers; also, he does not know on which path he is walking.
i. If he gets a torch - this saves him from thorns and pits; he still fears wild beasts and robbers; and does not know on which path he is walking;
ii. When dawn comes, he is saved from wild beasts and robbers, but he still does not know on which path he is walking;
iii. When he gets to the crossroads, he is saved from all his concerns.
4. "Great waters cannot extinguish the love" - a sin can inhibit the reward for a Mitzvah, but not the reward for Torah.
5. (Rav Yosef): A Mitzvah protects (from punishment) and saves (from sin) when one is doing it; afterwards, it protects, but does not save;
i. Torah protects and saves, even when not engaging in it.
6. Objection (Rava): Do'eg and Achitofel engaged in Torah - why didn't it save them from sin?
7. (Rava): Rather, Torah protects and saves when engaging in it; when not engaging in it, it only protects;
i. A Mitzvah protects but does not save, both when doing the Mitzvah and when not doing it.
(e) Answer #2 (Ravina): Really, the merit of Torah can give a woman 3 years.
1. Even though she is not commanded to learn - since she brings her sons to learn Chumash and Mishnah, and misses her husband when he is learning, she shares in their reward.
(f) Question: What is the crossroads in the parable?
(g) Answer #1 (Rav Chisda): A Chacham that comes to the day of his death.
(h) Answer #2 (Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak): A Chacham that obtains fear of sin.
(i) Answer #3 (Mar Zutra): A Chacham whose words are accepted as the ruling.
(j) (Beraisa (above)): A sin can inhibit the reward for a Mitzvah, but not the reward for Torah.
1. Rav Yosef: R. Menachem bar Yosi expounded the verses as if he received them on Mount Sinai - had Doeg and Achitofel expounded thusly, they would not have sought the downfall of David.
i. They said "Hash-m has abandoned him".
2. Question: Why did they think so?
3. Answer: "Hash-m will not see in you a matter of sin (illicit relations), lest he turn away from you".
i. They did not realize that a sin can inhibit the reward for a Mitzvah, but not the reward for (David's) Torah.
(k) Question: What do we learn from "Boz Yavuzu Lo" - "he would be laughed to scorn"?
(l) Answer (Ula): Not as Shimon, brother of Azaryah (he was called thusly, for his brother supported him); nor as R. Yochanan, (who was supported by the Nasi);
(m) Rather, as Hillel who did not accept support from Shevna.
1. (Rav Dimi): Hillel and Shevna were brothers; Hillel engaged in Torah, Shevna in business.
i. Shevna: Let us be partners, and split the rewards (in this and the next worlds).
ii. A voice from Heaven: "If a man would give all his wealth for love (Torah learning), he would be laughed to scorn."


(a) (Mishnah - ben Azai): A man is obligated to teach ... R. Eliezer says, one who teaches his daughter Torah teaches her folly.
(b) Objection: You cannot say, he teaches her folly!
(c) Correction: Rather, it is as if he teaches her folly.
(d) (R. Avahu): R. Eliezer learns from "I (the Torah) am Chochmah, my neighbor is Ormah (craftiness)" - once a person learns Chochmah, craftiness enters him.
1. Chachamim expound the verse as R. Yosi bar Chanina.
2. (R. Yosi bar Chanina): "I am Chochmah, my neighbor is Ormah (related to Arum - naked)" - Torah only lasts in a person that strips himself (of possessions).
(e) (R. Yochanan): Torah only lasts in a person that makes himself as nothing - "Chochmah me'Ayin (from where - the word may be read 'from nothing') will be found.
(f) (Mishnah - R. Yehoshua): A woman prefers ...
(g) Question: What is he saying?
(h) Answer: A woman prefers 1 Kav (sparse rations) and frequent relations, more than 9 Kabim and infrequent relations.
(a) (Mishnah - R. Yehoshua): A foolish Chasid ...
(b) Question: What is an example of a foolish Chasid?
(c) Answer: When a woman is drowning in the river, he will not save her, to avoid having to look at a woman.
(d) Question: What is an example of a crafty evildoer?
(e) Answer #1 (R. Yochanan): One who presents his case to the judge before his opponent comes.
(f) Answer #2 (R. Avahu): One who gives 1 Zuz to a poor person, in order that he will now have 200 Zuz.
1. (Mishnah): One that has 200 Zuz may not take agricultural gifts for the poor, i.e. dropped sheaves, forgotten produce, the unharvested corner of the field, and the tithe for the poor.
2. One who has 199 Zuz may accept gifts for the poor, even if 1000 people give him at once.
(g) Answer #3 (Rav Asi): One who counsels sons to sell sparse property (i.e. insufficient to feed all the orphans until the girls grow up; it should be used to feed the daughters).
1. (Rav Asi): Sons that sold sparse property, the sale stands.
(h) Answer #4 (Abaye): One who counsels to sell received property, in accordance with R. Shimon ben Gamliel's law.
1. (Beraisa - Rebbi): 'I give my property to Reuven; after him, it should go to Peloni' - if Reuven sold it, Peloni takes it from the buyers;
2. R. Shimon ben Gamliel says, Peloni only receives what Reuven leaves over when he dies.
(i) Answer #5 (Rav Yosef bar Chama): One who persuades others to go in his (evil) ways.
(j) Answer #6 (R. Zerika): One who is lenient on himself and stringent on others.
(k) Answer #7 (Ula): One who learned written Torah and Mishnah, but not the reasons behind the Mishnayos and resolutions of their difficulties.
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