POINT BY POINT SUMMARY
Prepared by Rabbi P. Feldman
of Kollel Iyun Hadaf, Yerushalayim
Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld
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Previous daf Sotah 47
SOTAH 47, 48 - have been anonymously dedicated by a very special Marbitz
Torah and student of the Daf from Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel.
1) ELISHA'S ACTIONS
(a) (Rav or Shmuel): This was a miracle.
2) YEHOSHUA BEN PRACHYAH'S TALMID
(b) (The other of Rav and Shmuel): This was a miracle within
1. The 1st opinion holds that a forest already was
there; the bears came miraculously.
(c) Question: Why was it necessary to miraculously bring a
forest - just bring the bears!
2. The 2nd opinion holds that also the forest came
(d) Answer: The bears would be too timid to attack if they
did not have a place to hide.
(e) (R. Chanina): Because of the 42 sacrifices that Balak
brought, 42 Jewish children died.
(f) Question: But Rav Yehudah taught, his reward was that Rus
descended from him, and from her Shlomo, who brought
thousands of sacrifices!
1. (R. Yosi ben Choni): Rus was the daughter of Eglon,
who was the son of Balak.
(g) Answer: Balak's intention was to curse Yisrael (i.e. to
2. We learn from Balak that a person should always
engage in Torah and Mitzvos, even for ulterior
motives, for he will come to engage in them for pure
(h) Question: "The people of the city told Elisha, this is a
good city, as you can see" - how could they say this, the
water was bad, and there were miscarriages!
(i) Answer (R. Chanin): People love the place they live in.
1. (R. Yochanan): Three things always find grace:
people love the place they live in; a wife has grace
in the eyes of her husband; a buyer is happy with
what he bought.!
(j) (Beraisa): Elisha fell sick 3 times: as a result of
causing the bears (through his curse); for casting off
Gechazi with both hands; and the sickness he died from.
(k) (Beraisa): A person should dispel with the left hand, and
bring close with the right, unlike Elisha and Yehoshua
ben Prachyah, who dispelled with both hands.
1. Question: "(Elisha rebuked Gechazi) You took the
money, garments, olives, vineyards, flock, cattle,
male and female servants" - but he only took money
(l) (R. Yochanan): "The leprosy of Na'aman should cling to
you forever" - the 4 lepers mentioned later are Gechazi
and his 3 sons.
2. Answer (R. Yitzchak): At the time, Gechazi was
learning about the 8 rodents from Elisha. Elisha
mentioned 8 things in his rebuke to hint to him -
'The time has come for you to receive your reward
for learning about the 8 rodents.'
(m) (R. Yochanan): "Elisha went to Dameshek" - he went to get
Gechazi to repent.
1. Gechazi: You taught me - one who sinned and made
many others sin, he is not able to repent.
(n) Question: What did Gechazi do?
(o) Answer #1: He used a magnet to suspend Yeravam's idols in
the air (to make people believe that they have powers).
(p) Answer #2: He carved Hash-m's name on the mouth of the
idol, and the idol would say the first 2 of the 10
(q) Answer #3: He rejected Talmidim that wanted to learn from
1. After he left, there were so many Talmidim that they
(a) When King Yanai killed the Chachamim, his wife hid her
brother, Shimon ben Shetach, to save him. R. Yehoshua ben
Prachyah fled to Aleksandriya. When the danger subsided,
Shimon ben Shetach wrote to R. Yehoshua ben Prachyah,
suggesting that he return.
3) BEHEADING THE CALF
(b) On his way back, he stayed at an inn; he was treated
1. R. Yehoshua ben Prachyah: Our hostess is very nice!
(c) R. Yehoshua excommunicated him in front of 400 people.
Each day, the Talmid came before him, but he refused to
see him. One day, he came before him when R. Yehoshua was
reading Shma Yisrael. He gestured that he would see him
when he finished.
2. A Talmid: But her eyes are round!
3. R. Yehoshua: Evil one - you gaze at married women?!
(d) The Talmid misinterpreted the gesture, and thought that
he would not see him. He set up a brick and worshipped
1. R. Yehoshua: Repent!
(e) (R. Shimon ben Elazar): The evil inclination, a child,
and a wife - the left hand should repel them, the right
hand should draw them close.
2. The Talmid: You taught me - one who sinned and made
many sin, he is not able to repent.
3. The Talmid did witchcraft, enticed individuals
and the masses to serve idols, and caused Yisrael to
(a) (Mishnah): If the murderer was found before beheading the
calf, the calf may graze with the herd (i.e. it is not
forbidden in any way);
1. If the calf was already beheaded, it is buried in
its place - it is always brought to atone before the
murderer is found, lest he will not be found!
Finding the murderer later does not change the
status of the calf.
(b) If the murderer is found after beheading the calf, he is
(c) If 1 witness says that he saw the murderer, and 1 witness
contradicts him; or, 1 woman says that she saw the
murderer, and 1 woman contradicts her - we behead a calf;
(d) If 1 witness says that he saw, and 2 witnesses contradict
him, we behead a calf; if 2 witnesses say that they saw,
and 1 witness contradicts them, we do not behead a calf.
(e) After murder became widespread, the ritual of the
beheaded calf was abolished;
1. This was at the time of Eliezer ben Dinai, who was
called Techina ben Prisha; they started calling him
the murdering son.
(f) When adultery became rampant, R. Yochanan ben Zakai
abolished the Sotah water - "I will not visit upon your
daughters, for they have extramarital relations, and your
daughter-in-laws, for they commit adultery..."
(g) When Yosi ben Yo'ezer of Tzreidah and Yosi ben Yehudah of
Yerushalayim died, there were no more clusters (to be
(h) Yochanan Kohen Gadol abolished the recital of the
Ma'aseros, the arousers, and the beaters (to be explained
(i) Until his day, one would hear hammers pounding during
Chol ha'Moed in Yerushalayim;
4) 1 WITNESS IS BELIEVED
(j) In his day, there was no need to ask about doubtfully
(k) (Gemara - Beraisa): "Atonement for the land will only
come through the blood of the murderer" - this teaches
that if the murderer is found after beheading the calf,
he is killed.
(a) (Mishnah): If 1 witness says that he saw the murderer ...
5) THE DECLINE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
(b) The only reason we do not behead a calf is because 1
witness contradicts him - otherwise, the witness would be
(c) Question: What is the source for this?
(d) Answer (Beraisa): "It is not known who killed him" - if
even 1 person at the end of the world would know, a calf
is not brought.
(e) R. Akiva says "Our eyes did not see" - if the Sanhedrin
saw the murder, even though they do not recognize the
murderer, they do not bring a calf.
(f) Question: If 1 witness is believed, how can 1 witness
1. (Ula): Wherever the Torah believed 1 witness, he is
believed as 2, and the other witness is not believed
(g) Answer #1 (Ula and R. Yitzchak): The Mishnah should say
that a calf is not brought.
(h) (R. Chiya): A calf is brought.
1. Question: How does R. Chiya answer the above
(i) (Mishnah): 1 witness says that he saw, 2 contradict him -
a calf is brought.
2. Answer (And this is a 2nd answer to question (f)):
The Mishnah speaks when the witnesses testify
together; Ula's law only applies when they come at
1. Question: We infer, if only 1 witness contradicted
him, a calf is not brought - this refutes R. Chiya!
(j) (Beraisa - R. Nechemyah): Wherever the Torah believed 1
witness, we follow the majority;
2. Counter-question (Mishnah): 2 say that they saw, 1
contradicts them - a calf is not brought.
i. We infer, if only 1 witness saw, a calf is
brought (this supports R. Chiya and refutes
3. Answer: Both Ula and R. Chiya must explain that
these last 2 clauses of the Mishnah speak of invalid
witnesses, as R. Nechemyah.
1. Version #1: 2 women that contradict a man are as 2
men that contradict a man (and they are believed).
(k) The case in the Mishnah is that a woman testified first.
2. Version #2: If a valid witness came first, even if
100 women later contradict him, they are only
considered as 1 man (and they are not believed,
since the valid witness was believed as 2).
(l) We explain R. Nechemyah's words as follows: Wherever the
Torah believed 1 witness, we follow the majority; 2 women
that contradict 1 woman are as 2 men that contradict a
man (and they are believed);
1. But 2 women that contradict 1 man - we are in doubt
who to believe.
(m) Question: Why must the Mishnah teach 2 clauses about
(n) Answer: One might have thought that we only follow the
majority (of invalid witnesses) to be stringent - we
hear, we even follow them to be lenient.
(a) (Mishnah): After murder became widespread ...
6) THE DECLINE IN TORAH
(b) (Beraisa): After murder became widespread, the ritual of
the beheaded calf was abolished, since it only comes when
the murderer is unknown.
1. The murderers killed in public.
(c) (Mishnah): When adultery became rampant ...
(d) (Beraisa): "The man will be clean from sin" - the water
only checks his wife when the man is clean from sin;
1. It also says "I will not visit upon your daughters,
for they have extramarital relations ..."
(e) Question: Why is the 2nd verse needed?
(f) Answer: One might have thought, only his own sin prevents
the water from working, but not the sin of his children -
the 2nd verse teaches that his children's sins also
prevent the water from working.
(g) Suggestion: Perhaps only adultery prevents the water from
working, but not relations with a single woman.
(h) Rejection: "They are company with harlots ..."
(i) Question: What does it mean, "A nation that does not
understand will grow weary (from punishments)"?
(j) Answer (R. Elazar): The prophet told them: if you
yourselves conduct morally, the water will test your
wives; if not, not.
(k) (Continuation of Beraisa): When judges that seek
pleasures increased, judgments became distorted and deeds
became perverted, and the world is not pleasing to
(l) When there increased judges that show favoritism,
fulfillment of "Do not fear (in judgment)" ceased;
1. They cast of the yoke of Heaven, and the yoke of
human kings was put upon them.
(m) When there increased those that try to persuade judges,
Hash-m's anger against Yisrael increased, and the Divine
Presence departed - "Hash-m will judge amidst the
(n) When there increased those that pursue pleasure,
flatterers increased; when flatterers increased, woe
(o) When there increased those that draw out their spit,
haughtiness increased, and Talmidim decreased, and the
Torah seeks those that will learn it;
1. When haughtiness increased, Bnos Yisrael started
marrying haughty men - in our generation, only the
external is seen.
(p) When there increased judges that ask merchants to do
business for them, increased bribery and tilting of
judgment, and goodness ended;
2. Question: But it was taught, one who is haughty,
even his household do not accede to him - "A man is
haughty, his dwelling will not last" - he will not
even dwell in his home!
3. Answer: At first, Bnos Yisrael pursued (to marry)
haughty men; later, the men were disgraced in their
1. When there increased judges that showed their
appreciation of favors, there was an increase in
people doing as fit in their own eyes; the lowly
were raised, the great ones were lowered, and the
kingship in Yisrael degenerated.
(q) When there increased stingy people and thieves, there was
more callousness and refusal to lend money;
1. People transgressed "Lest there be a base thought in
(r) When there increased people that walk with raised necks
and scorning eyes, there were more Sotos, but they ceased
having them drink.
(s) When there increased people that receive gifts, days and
years were shortened - "One who hates gifts will live".
(a) When there increased people that rely on their own
understanding, dispute increased in Yisrael; when the
Talmidim of Hillel and Shamai increased, who did not
learn from their Rebbeim as long as they should have,
dispute became rampant, and it is as if there are 2
(b) When there increased people that take Tzedakah from
Nochrim, Yisrael (a euphemism) rose and they declined;
Yisrael was in front, and they, in back.
(c) (Mishnah): When Yosi ben Yo'ezer of Tzreidah died ...
(d) Question: What are the clusters?
(e) Answer (Rav Yehudah): Men that contain everything
(Chachmos and good traits).
(f) (Mishnah): Yochanan Kohen Gadol abolished the recital of
the Parsha of Ma'aseros ...
(g) (R. Yosi b'Rebbi Chanina): He did this because Ma'aseros
were not given properly;
1. The Torah says that Ma'aser Rishon should be given
to a Levi, and we give it to Kohanim.