Sotah 20aסוטה כ׳ א
The William Davidson Talmudתלמוד מהדורת ויליאם דוידסון
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20aכ׳ א

קשיא דר' עקיבא אדרבי עקיבא התם אמר מחיקה מעכבא והכא אמר קומץ מעכב

The Gemara asks: The statement of Rabbi Akiva is difficult, as it is contradicted by another statement of Rabbi Akiva: There, in the first baraita, he said that erasure prevents the authorities from compelling the woman to drink the water if she retracted her decision to drink, and here he says that the sacrifice of the handful prevents the authorities from compelling the woman to drink the water. In other words, according to the first baraita the woman can retract her decision to drink until the scroll is erased, whereas according to the second baraita she can retract her decision until the handful is sacrificed.

תרי תנאי ואליבא דר"ע

The Gemara responds: There is a dispute between two tanna’im, and they disagree with regard to the opinion of Rabbi Akiva. They disagree with regard to what point in time, according to Rabbi Akiva, is the final moment at which a woman can refuse to drink the bitter water without being forced to do so.

איבעיא להו אמרה איני שותה מחמת בריותא וחזרה ואמרה שותה אני מהו כיון דאמרה איני שותה טמאה אני קאמרה וכיון דאחזיק נפשה בטומאה לא מציא הדרה בה או דילמא כיון דאמרה שותה אני גליא דעתה דמחמת ביעתותא הוא דאמרה תיקו

A dilemma was raised before the Sages: If she initially said: I will not drink, while in a state of good health, and then she retracted her statement and said: I will drink, what is the halakha? Does one say that when she said: I will not drink, it is as if she confessed and said: I am defiled, and since she established herself as defiled she cannot retract her statement? Or perhaps when she said: I will drink, she revealed her thoughts that it was only due to fear that she said she will not drink? The Gemara concludes that the dilemma shall stand unresolved.

אמר אבוה דשמואל צריך שיתן מר לתוך המים מ"ט דאמר קרא מי המרים שמרים כבר

Shmuel’s father says: It is necessary for one to put a bitter substance into the water that the sota drinks. What is the reason for this? It is as the verse states: “And he shall blot them out into the water of bitterness” (Numbers 5:23), indicating that they are already bitter before the scroll is erased.

מתני׳ עד שלא נמחקה המגילה אמרה איני שותה מגילתה נגנזת ומנחתה מתפזרת על הדשן ואין מגילתה כשרה להשקות בה סוטה אחרת נמחקה המגילה ואמרה טמאה אני המים נשפכין ומנחתה מתפזרת על בית הדשן נמחקה המגילה ואמרה איני שותה מערערין אותה ומשקין אותה בעל כרחה

MISHNA: If before the scroll was erased she said: I will not drink, the scroll that was written for her is sequestered, and her meal-offering is burned and scattered over the place of the ashes, and her scroll is not fit to give to another sota to drink. If the scroll was erased and afterward she said: I am defiled, the water is poured out, and her meal-offering is scattered in the place of the ashes. If the scroll was already erased and she said: I will not drink, she is forced to drink against her will.

אינה מספקת לשתות עד שפניה מוריקות ועיניה בולטות והיא מתמלאת גידין והם אומרים הוציאוה שלא תטמא העזרה

When a guilty woman drinks she does not manage to finish drinking before her face turns green and her eyes bulge, and her skin becomes full of protruding veins, and the people standing in the Temple say: Remove her, so that she does not render the Temple courtyard impure by dying there.

אם יש לה זכות היתה תולה לה יש זכות תולה שנה אחת יש זכות תולה ב' שנים יש זכות תולה ג' שנים מכאן אומר בן עזאי חייב אדם ללמד את בתו תורה שאם תשתה תדע שהזכות תולה לה ר"א אומר כל המלמד בתו תורה (כאילו) לומדה תפלות

The mishna limits the scope of the previous statement: If she has merit, it delays punishment for her and she does not die immediately. There is a merit that delays punishment for one year, there is a larger merit that delays punishment for two years, and there is a merit that delays punishment for three years. From here Ben Azzai states: A person is obligated to teach his daughter Torah, so that if she drinks and does not die immediately, she will know that some merit she has delayed punishment for her. Rabbi Eliezer says: Anyone who teaches his daughter Torah is teaching her promiscuity [tiflut].

ר' יהושע אומר רוצה אשה בקב ותפלות מט' קבין ופרישות הוא היה אומר חסיד שוטה ורשע ערום ואשה פרושה ומכות פרושין הרי אלו מבלי עולם

Rabbi Yehoshua says: A woman desires to receive the amount of a kav of food and a sexual relationship [tiflut] rather than to receive nine kav of food and abstinence. He would say: A foolish man of piety, and a conniving wicked person, and an abstinent woman [perusha], and those who injure themselves out of false abstinence; all these are people who erode the world.

גמ׳ א"ר יהודה אמר שמואל משום ר"מ כשהייתי למד תורה אצל ר"ע הייתי מטיל קנקנתום לתוך הדיו ולא אמר לי דבר כשבאתי אצל ר' ישמעאל א"ל בני מה מלאכתך אמרתי לו לבלר אני אמר לי בני הוי זהיר שמלאכתך מלאכת שמים היא שמא תחסיר אות אחת או תתיר אות אחת נמצאת אתה מחריב את כל העולם כלו

GEMARA: Rav Yehuda says that Shmuel says in the name of Rabbi Meir: When I was studying Torah before Rabbi Akiva, as his disciple, I used to put iron sulfate into the ink with which I wrote Torah scrolls, and he did not say anything to me in protest. Afterward, when I came to learn Torah before Rabbi Yishmael, he said to me: My son, what is your vocation? I said to him: I am a scribe [lavlar] who writes Torah scrolls. He said to me: My son, be careful in your work, as your work is the work of Heaven, lest you omit a single letter from the Torah scroll or add a single letter, and in this you are found to be destroying the entire world if the mistake alters the meaning of the verse and results in blasphemy.

אמרתי לו דבר אחד יש לי שאני מטיל לתוך הדיו וקנקנתום שמו אמר לי וכי מטילין קנקנתום לתוך הדיו התורה אמרה ומחה כתב שיוכל למחות

Rabbi Meir continues: I said to Rabbi Yishmael: I have one substance that I put into the ink, and it is called iron sulfate, which prevents the writing from being erased. He said to me: And may iron sulfate be put into the ink? The Torah clearly said with regard to the scroll of the sota: “And the priest shall write these curses in a scroll, and he shall blot them out into the water of bitterness” (Numbers 5:23). This indicates that the Torah requires writing that can be blotted out.

מאי קא"ל ומאי קא מהדר ליה

Since Rabbi Meir’s remark about iron sulfate seems unrelated to Rabbi Yishmael’s previous statement, the Gemara asks: What is Rabbi Yishmael saying to Rabbi Meir, and what is Rabbi Meir replying to Rabbi Yishmael?

הכי קא"ל לא מבעיא בחסירות ויתירות דבקי אנא אלא אפילו למיחש לזבוב דדילמא אתי ויתיב אתגיה דדלי"ת ומחיק ליה ומשוי ליה רי"ש דבר אחד יש לי שאני מטיל לתוך הדיו וקנקנתום שמו

The Gemara explains: This is what Rabbi Meir is saying to him: It is not necessary to say that I do not err in omissions and additions, as I am an expert. Rather, there is not even any reason for concern with regard to a fly lest it come and sit on the protrusion of the letter dalet and erase it, thereby rendering it the letter reish, which could be a critical error. There is no concern of this erasure occurring, since I have a certain substance that I put into the ink and that prevents the writing from being erased, and it is called iron sulfate.

איני והא תניא אמר רבי מאיר כשהייתי למד תורה אצל ר' ישמעאל הייתי מטיל קנקנתום לתוך הדיו ולא אמר לי דבר כשבאתי אצל ר"ע אסרה עלי

The Gemara questions the initial part of Rabbi Meir’s statement: Is that so? But isn’t it taught in a baraita that Rabbi Meir said: When I was studying Torah before Rabbi Yishmael, I used to put iron sulfate into the ink with which I wrote Torah scrolls, and he did not say anything to me. Afterward, when I came to learn Torah with Rabbi Akiva, he prohibited me from doing so.

קשיא שמוש אשמוש קשיא אסרה אאסרה

The Gemara points out that there are two separate contradictions between the two statements: Rav Yehuda’s statement with regard to Rabbi Meir first serving Rabbi Akiva as a disciple is difficult, as it is contradicted by the statement of the baraita with regard to his first serving Rabbi Yishmael. Furthermore, Rav Yehuda’s statement is difficult, since he states that it was Rabbi Yishmael who prohibited the addition of iron sulfate, and this is contradicted by the statement of the baraita that it was Rabbi Akiva who prohibited it.

בשלמא שמוש אשמוש לא קשיא מעיקרא אתא לקמיה דר' עקיבא כיון דלא מצי קם אליביה אתא לקמיה דר"י וגמר גמרא הדר אתא לקמיה דר"ע סבר סברא

The Gemara answers: Granted, the apparent contradiction between Rav Yehuda’s statement with regard to Rabbi Meir’s serving Rabbi Akiva first, and the statement of the baraita with regard to serving Rabbi Yishmael first, poses no difficulty. Initially, he came before Rabbi Akiva to study, but since he could not comprehend his extremely complicated method of learning, he came before Rabbi Yishmael and learned the oral tradition from him. Afterward, he returned and came before Rabbi Akiva and studied his method of logical reasoning in order to understand the reasons behind the halakhot he had already learned.

אלא אסרה אאסרה קשיא קשיא

However, the contradiction between Rav Yehuda’s statement that it was Rabbi Yishmael who prohibited the addition of iron sulfate and the statement of the baraita that it was Rabbi Akiva who prohibited it still poses a difficulty. The Gemara concludes: Indeed, the matter is difficult.

תניא רבי יהודה אומר אומר היה ר"מ לכל מטילין קנקנתום לתוך הדיו

It is taught in a baraita: Rabbi Yehuda says that Rabbi Meir would say: Iron sulfate may be put into the ink that is used for all sacred writings, i.e., Torah scrolls, phylacteries, and mezuzot,