הַמְקַנֵּא לְאִשְׁתּוֹ, רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר אוֹמֵר, מְקַנֵּא לָהּ עַל פִּי שְׁנַיִם, וּמַשְׁקָהּ עַל פִּי עֵד אֶחָד אוֹ עַל פִּי עַצְמוֹ. רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ אוֹמֵר, מְקַנֵּא לָהּ עַל פִּי שְׁנַיִם וּמַשְׁקָהּ עַל פִּי שְׁנָיִם:
With regard to one who issues a warning to his wife not to seclude herself with a particular man, so that if she does not heed his warning she will assume the status of a woman suspected by her husband of having been unfaithful [sota], Rabbi Eliezer says: He issues a warning to her based on, i.e., in the presence of, two witnesses for the warning to be effective. If two witnesses were not present for the warning, she is not a sota even if two witnesses saw her seclusion with another man. And the husband gives the bitter water to her to drink based on the testimony of one witness who saw the seclusion, or even based on his own testimony that he himself saw them secluded together, as Rabbi Eliezer holds that only the warning requires witnesses, not the seclusion. Rabbi Yehoshua says: He both issues a warning to her based on two witnesses and gives the bitter water to her to drink based on the testimony of two witnesses.
כֵּיצַד מְקַנֵּא לָהּ. אָמַר לָהּ בִּפְנֵי שְׁנַיִם, אַל תְּדַבְּרִי עִם אִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי, וְדִבְּרָה עִמּוֹ, עֲדַיִן הִיא מֻתֶּרֶת לְבֵיתָהּ וּמֻתֶּרֶת לֶאֱכֹל בַּתְּרוּמָה. נִכְנְסָה עִמּוֹ לְבֵית הַסֵּתֶר וְשָׁהֲתָה עִמּוֹ כְדֵי טֻמְאָה, אֲסוּרָה לְבֵיתָהּ וַאֲסוּרָה לֶאֱכֹל בַּתְּרוּמָה. וְאִם מֵת, חוֹלֶצֶת וְלֹא מִתְיַבָּמֶת:
The mishna asks: How does he issue a warning to her in an effective manner? If he says to her in the presence of two witnesses: Do not speak with the man called so-and-so, and she nevertheless spoke with him, she is still permitted to her home, i.e., she is permitted to engage in sexual intercourse with her husband, and if she is the wife of a priest she is still permitted to partake of teruma. However, if after he told her not to speak with so-and-so, she entered into a secluded place and remained with that man long enough to become defiled, i.e., sufficient time to engage in sexual intercourse, she is forbidden to her home from that moment until she undergoes the sota rite. And likewise, if she was the wife of a priest she is prohibited from partaking of teruma, as she was possibly disqualified by her infidelity, so long as her innocence is not proven by means of the bitter water. And if her husband dies childless before she drinks the bitter water, she perform ḥalitza with her late husband’s brother and may not enter into levirate marriage, as, if she had been unfaithful, levirate marriage is forbidden.
וְאֵלּוּ אֲסוּרוֹת מִלֶּאֱכֹל בַּתְּרוּמָה, הָאוֹמֶרֶת טְמֵאָה אֲנִי לְךָ, וְשֶׁבָּאוּ עֵדִים שֶׁהִיא טְמֵאָה, וְהָאוֹמֶרֶת אֵינִי שׁוֹתָה, וְשֶׁבַּעְלָהּ אֵינוֹ רוֹצֶה לְהַשְׁקוֹתָהּ, וְשֶׁבַּעְלָהּ בָּא עָלֶיהָ בַדֶּרֶךְ. כֵּיצַד עוֹשֶׂה לָהּ, מוֹלִיכָהּ לְבֵית דִּין שֶׁבְּאוֹתוֹ מָקוֹם, וּמוֹסְרִין לוֹ שְׁנֵי תַלְמִידֵי חֲכָמִים, שֶׁמָּא יָבֹא עָלֶיהָ בַּדֶּרֶךְ. רַבִּי יְהוּדָה אוֹמֵר, בַּעְלָהּ נֶאֱמָן עָלֶיהָ:
And these are women who, despite being married to priests, are prohibited from partaking of teruma due to suspicion of adultery: A woman who says to her husband: I am defiled to you, i.e., she admitted to having committed adultery with another man; and in a case where witnesses came forth and testified that she is defiled; and a woman who says after a warning and seclusion: I will not drink the bitter water of a sota; and in a case where her husband does not want to force her to drink the water even after she secluded herself with another man after his warning; and in a case where her husband engaged in sexual intercourse with her on the way to bringing her to the Temple to drink the bitter water, as in such a case the water will not be effective in evaluating whether she was unfaithful, due to the husband’s own prohibited act. The mishna details the procedure for administering the drinking of the bitter water of a sota. What does her husband do with her after she secluded herself with the man about whom she had been warned? He brings her to the court that is found in that location, and the court provides him with two Torah scholars to accompany him, lest he engage in sexual intercourse with her on the way to the Temple, which is not only prohibited but will also prevent the bitter water from evaluating her. Rabbi Yehuda says: Her husband is trusted with regard to her, so there is no need to provide scholars to accompany him.
הָיוּ מַעֲלִין אוֹתָהּ לְבֵית דִּין הַגָּדוֹל שֶׁבִּירוּשָׁלַיִם, וּמְאַיְּמִין עָלֶיהָ כְדֶרֶךְ שֶׁמְּאַיְּמִין עַל עֵדֵי נְפָשׁוֹת. וְאוֹמְרִים לָהּ, בִּתִּי, הַרְבֵּה יַיִן עוֹשֶׂה, הַרְבֵּה שְׂחוֹק עוֹשֶׂה, הַרְבֵּה יַלְדוּת עוֹשָׂה, הַרְבֵּה שְׁכֵנִים הָרָעִים עוֹשִׂים. עֲשִׂי לִשְׁמוֹ הַגָּדוֹל שֶׁנִּכְתַּב בִּקְדֻשָּׁה, שֶׁלֹּא יִמָּחֶה עַל הַמָּיִם. וְאוֹמְרִים לְפָנֶיהָ דְּבָרִים שֶׁאֵינָהּ כְּדַאי לְשׁוֹמְעָן, הִיא וְכָל מִשְׁפַּחַת בֵּית אָבִיהָ:
The mishna details the next stage of the process. They would bring her up to the Sanhedrin that was in Jerusalem, and the judges would threaten her in order that she admit her sin. And this was done in the manner that they would threaten witnesses testifying in cases of capital law. In those cases, the judges would explain to the witnesses the gravity of their testimony by stressing the value of human life. Here too, the judges would attempt to convince the woman to admit her sin, to avoid the loss of her life. And additionally, the judge would say to her: My daughter, wine causes a great deal of immoral behavior, levity causes a great deal of immoral behavior, immaturity causes a great deal of immoral behavior, and bad neighbors cause a great deal of immoral behavior. The judge encouraged her to admit her sin by explaining to her that he understands that there may have been mitigating factors. The judge then continues: Act for the sake of His great name, so that God’s name, which is written in sanctity, shall not be erased on the water. If the woman admits to having committed adultery, the scroll upon which the name of God is written will not be erased. And additionally, the judge says in her presence matters that are not worthy of being heard by her and all her father’s family, in order to encourage her to admit her sin, as the Gemara will explain.
אִם אָמְרָה טְמֵאָה אָנִי, שׁוֹבֶרֶת כְּתֻבָּתָהּ וְיוֹצֵאת. וְאִם אָמְרָה טְהוֹרָה אָנִי, מַעֲלִין אוֹתָהּ לְשַׁעַר הַמִּזְרָח שֶׁעַל פֶּתַח שַׁעַר נִקָּנוֹר, שֶׁשָּׁם מַשְׁקִין אֶת הַסּוֹטוֹת, וּמְטַהֲרִין אֶת הַיּוֹלְדוֹת, וּמְטַהֲרִין אֶת הַמְּצֹרָעִים. וְכֹהֵן אוֹחֵז בִּבְגָדֶיהָ, אִם נִקְרְעוּ נִקְרָעוּ, אִם נִפְרְמוּ נִפְרָמוּ, עַד שֶׁהוּא מְגַלֶּה אֶת לִבָּהּ, וְסוֹתֵר אֶת שְׂעָרָהּ. רַבִּי יְהוּדָה אוֹמֵר, אִם הָיָה לִבָּהּ נָאֶה, לֹא הָיָה מְגַלֵּהוּ. וְאִם הָיָה שְׂעָרָהּ נָאֶה, לֹא הָיָה סוֹתְרוֹ:
If after the judge’s warning she says: I am defiled, she writes a receipt for her marriage contract. That is, she writes a receipt indicating that she has no claims on her husband with regard to the sum written in her marriage contract, as a woman who admits to adultery forfeits her right to this payment. And she is then divorced from her husband. But if after the warning she maintains her innocence and says: I am pure, they bring her up to the Eastern Gate, which is at the opening of the Gate of Nicanor, because three rites were performed there: They give the sota women the bitter water to drink, and they purify women who have given birth (see Leviticus 12:6–8), and they purify the lepers (see Leviticus 14:10–20). The mishna continues describing the sota rite. And the priest grabs hold of her clothing and pulls them, unconcerned about what happens to the clothing. If the clothes are torn, so they are torn; if the stitches come apart, so they come apart. And he pulls her clothing until he reveals her heart, i.e., her chest. And then he unbraids her hair. Rabbi Yehuda says: If her heart was attractive he would not reveal it, and if her hair was attractive he would not unbraid it.
הָיְתָה מִתְכַּסָּה בִלְבָנִים, מְכַסָּהּ בִּשְׁחוֹרִים. הָיוּ עָלֶיהָ כְלֵי זָהָב וְקַטְלָיאוֹת, נְזָמִים וְטַבָּעוֹת, מַעֲבִירִים מִמֶּנָּה כְּדֵי לְנַוְּלָהּ. וְאַחַר כָּךְ מֵבִיא חֶבֶל מִצְרִי וְקוֹשְׁרוֹ לְמַעְלָה מִדַּדֶּיהָ. וְכָל הָרוֹצֶה לִרְאוֹת בָּא לִרְאוֹת, חוּץ מֵעֲבָדֶיהָ וְשִׁפְחוֹתֶיהָ, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁלִּבָּהּ גַּס בָּהֶן. וְכָל הַנָּשִׁים מֻתָּרוֹת לִרְאוֹתָהּ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (יחזקאל כג) וְנִוַּסְּרוּ כָּל הַנָּשִׁים וְלֹא תַעֲשֶׂינָה כְּזִמַּתְכֶנָה:
If she was dressed in white garments, he would now cover her with black garments. If she was wearing gold adornments, or chokers [katliyot], or nose rings, or finger rings, they removed them from her in order to render her unattractive. And afterward the priest would bring an Egyptian rope fashioned from palm fibers, and he would tie it above her breasts. And anyone who desires to watch her may come to watch, except for her slaves and maidservants, who are not permitted to watch because her heart is emboldened by them, as seeing one’s slaves reinforces one’s feeling of pride, and their presence may cause her to maintain her innocence. And all of the women are permitted to watch her, as it is stated: “Thus will I cause lewdness to cease out of the land, that all women may be taught not to do after your lewdness” (Ezekiel 23:48).
בַּמִדָּה שֶׁאָדָם מוֹדֵד, בָּהּ מוֹדְדִין לוֹ. הִיא קִשְּׁטָה אֶת עַצְמָהּ לַעֲבֵרָה, הַמָּקוֹם נִוְּלָהּ. הִיא גִלְּתָה אֶת עַצְמָהּ לַעֲבֵרָה, הַמָּקוֹם גִּלָּה עָלֶיהָ. בַּיָּרֵךְ הִתְחִילָה בָעֲבֵרָה תְחִלָּה וְאַחַר כָּךְ הַבֶּטֶן, לְפִיכָךְ תִּלְקֶה הַיָּרֵךְ תְּחִלָּה וְאַחַר כָּךְ הַבֶּטֶן. וּשְׁאָר כָּל הַגּוּף לֹא פָלֵט:
The mishna teaches lessons that can be derived from the actions and treatment of a sota. With the measure that a person measures, he is measured with it. For example, she, the sota, adorned herself to violate a transgression, the Omnipresent therefore decreed that she be rendered unattractive; she exposed herself for the purpose of violating a transgression, as she stood in places where she would be noticed by potential adulterers, so the Omnipresent therefore decreed that her body be exposed publicly; she began her transgression with her thigh and afterward with her stomach, therefore the thigh is smitten first and then the stomach, and the rest of all her body does not escape punishment.
שִׁמְשׁוֹן הָלַךְ אַחַר עֵינָיו, לְפִיכָךְ נִקְּרוּ פְלִשְׁתִּים אֶת עֵינָיו, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שופטים טז) וַיֹּאחֲזוּהוּ פְלִשְׁתִּים וַיְנַקְּרוּ אֶת עֵינָיו. אַבְשָׁלוֹם נִתְגָּאָה בִשְׂעָרוֹ, לְפִיכָךְ נִתְלָה בִשְׂעָרוֹ. וּלְפִי שֶׁבָּא עַל עֶשֶׂר פִּילַגְשֵׁי אָבִיו, לְפִיכָךְ נִתְּנוּ בוֹ עֶשֶׂר לוֹנְבִיּוֹת, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמואל ב יח) וַיָּסֹבּוּ עֲשָׂרָה אֲנָשִׁים נֹשְׂאֵי כְּלֵי יוֹאָב. וּלְפִי שֶׁגָּנַב שְׁלשָׁה לְבָבוֹת, לֵב אָבִיו, וְלֵב בֵּית דִּין, וְלֵב יִשְׂרָאֵל, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שם טו) וַיְגַנֵּב אַבְשָׁלוֹם אֶת לֵב אַנְשֵׁי יִשְׂרָאֵל, לְפִיכָךְ נִתְקְעוּ בוֹ שְׁלשָׁה שְׁבָטִים, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שם יח) וַיִּקַּח שְׁלשָׁה שְׁבָטִים בְּכַפּוֹ וַיִּתְקָעֵם בְּלֵב אַבְשָׁלוֹם:
The mishna provides additional examples of people who were treated by Heaven commensurate with their actions. Samson followed his eyes, therefore he was punished measure for measure, as the Philistines gouged out his eyes, as it is stated: “And the Philistines laid hold on him, and put out his eyes” (Judges 16:21). Absalom was excessively proud of his hair, and therefore he was hanged by his hair. And furthermore, because he engaged in sexual intercourse with ten of his father’s concubines (see II Samuel 15:16 and 16:22), therefore ten spears [loneviyyot] were put, i.e., thrust, into him, as it is stated: “And ten young men that bore Joab’s armor compassed about and smote Absalom, and slew him” (II Samuel 18:15). And because he stole three times, committing three thefts of people’s hearts: The heart of his father, as he tricked him by saying that he was going to sacrifice offerings; the heart of the court, as he tricked them into following him; and the heart of the Jewish people, as it is stated: “So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel” (II Samuel 15:6), therefore three spears were embedded into his heart, as it is stated: “Then said Joab: I may not tarry like this with you. And he took three spears in his hand, and thrust them through the heart of Absalom, while he was yet alive” (II Samuel 18:14).
וְכֵן לְעִנְיַן הַטּוֹבָה. מִרְיָם הִמְתִּינָה לְמשֶׁה שָׁעָה אַחַת, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות ב) וַתֵּתַצַּב אֲחֹתוֹ מֵרָחֹק, לְפִיכָךְ נִתְעַכְּבוּ לָהּ יִשְׂרָאֵל שִׁבְעָה יָמִים בַּמִּדְבָּר, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר יב) וְהָעָם לֹא נָסַע עַד הֵאָסֵף מִרְיָם. יוֹסֵף זָכָה לִקְבֹּר אֶת אָבִיו, וְאֵין בְּאֶחָיו גָּדוֹל מִמֶּנּוּ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (בראשית נ) וַיַּעַל יוֹסֵף לִקְבֹּר אֶת אָבִיו, וַיַּעַל עִמּוֹ גַּם רֶכֶב גַּם פָּרָשִׁים. מִי לָנוּ גָדוֹל מִיּוֹסֵף, שֶׁלֹּא נִתְעַסֵּק בּוֹ אֶלָּא משֶׁה. משֶׁה זָכָה בְעַצְמוֹת יוֹסֵף, וְאֵין בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל גָּדוֹל מִמֶּנּוּ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות יג) וַיִּקַּח משֶׁה אֶת עַצְמוֹת יוֹסֵף עִמּוֹ. מִי גָדוֹל מִמּשֶׁה, שֶׁלֹּא נִתְעַסֵּק בּוֹ אֶלָּא הַמָּקוֹם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים לד) וַיִּקְבֹּר אֹתוֹ בַגַּיְא. לֹא עַל משֶׁה בִלְבַד אָמְרוּ, אֶלָּא עַל כָּל הַצַּדִּיקִים, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה נח) וְהָלַךְ לְפָנֶיךָ צִדְקֶךָ כְּבוֹד ה' יַאַסְפֶךָ:
The mishna continues: And the same is so with regard to the reward of good deeds; a person is rewarded measure for measure. Miriam waited for the baby Moses for one hour at the shore of the Nile, as it is stated: “And his sister stood afar off, to know what would be done to him” (Exodus 2:4). Therefore the Jewish people delayed their travels in the desert for seven days to wait for her when she was smitten with leprosy, as it is stated: “And Miriam was confined outside of the camp seven days; and the people journeyed not until Miriam was brought in again” (Numbers 12:15). Joseph merited to bury his father, resulting in a display of great honor to his father, and there was none among his brothers greater than he in importance, for he was viceroy of Egypt, as it is stated: “And Joseph went up to bury his father; and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the Elders of his house, and all the Elders of the land of Egypt, and all the house of Joseph, and his brethren, and his father’s house; only their little ones, and their flocks, and their herds, they left in the land of Goshen. And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen; and it was a very great company” (Genesis 50:7–9). Who, to us, had a greater burial than Joseph, as it was none other than Moses who involved himself in transporting his coffin. Moses merited to be the only person involved in the transportation of Joseph’s bones to be buried in Eretz Yisrael, and there was none among the Jewish people greater than he, as it is stated: “And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him” (Exodus 13:19). Who had a greater burial than Moses, as no one involved himself in his burial other than the Omnipresent Himself, as it is stated: “And He buried him in the valley in the land of Moab over against Beth Peor; and no man knows of his sepulcher unto this day” (Deuteronomy 34:6). The mishna comments: Not only with regard to Moses did the Sages say that God takes part in his burial, but also with regard to all the righteous individuals, as it is stated: “Your righteousness shall go before you and the glory of the Lord shall gather you in” (Isaiah 58:8).