קַשְׁיָא דְּרַבִּי עֲקִיבָא אַדְּרַבִּי עֲקִיבָא הָתָם אָמַר מְחִיקָה מְעַכְּבָא וְהָכָא אָמַר קוֹמֶץ מְעַכֵּב 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.
תְּרֵי תַּנָּאֵי וְאַלִּיבָּא דְּרַבִּי עֲקִיבָא 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.
אִיבַּעְיָא לְהוּ אָמְרָה אֵינִי שׁוֹתָה מֵחֲמַת בְּרִיּוּתָא וְחָזְרָה וְאָמְרָה שׁוֹתָה אֲנִי מַהוּ כֵּיוָן דְּאָמְרָה אֵינִי שׁוֹתָה טְמֵאָה אֲנִי קָאָמְרָה וְכֵיוָן דְּאַחְזִיק נַפְשַׁהּ בְּטוּמְאָה לָא מָצְיָא הָדְרָה בַּהּ אוֹ דִילְמָא כֵּיוָן דְּאָמְרָה שׁוֹתָה אֲנִי גַּלִּיָא דַּעְתַּהּ דְּמֵחֲמַת בִּיעֲתוּתָא הוּא דְּאָמְרָה תֵּיקוּ 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.
אָמַר אֲבוּהּ דִּשְׁמוּאֵל צָרִיךְ שֶׁיִּתֵּן מַר לְתוֹךְ הַמַּיִם מַאי טַעְמָא דְּאָמַר קְרָא מֵי הַמָּרִים שֶׁמָּרִים כְּבָר 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.
מַתְנִי׳ עַד שֶׁלֹּא נִמְחֲקָה הַמְּגִילָּה אָמְרָה אֵינִי שׁוֹתָה מְגִילָּתָהּ נִגְנֶזֶת וּמִנְחָתָהּ מִתְפַּזֶּרֶת עַל הַדֶּשֶׁן וְאֵין מְגִילָּתָהּ כְּשֵׁרָה לְהַשְׁקוֹת בָּהּ סוֹטָה אַחֶרֶת נִמְחֲקָה הַמְּגִילָּה וְאָמְרָה טְמֵאָה אֲנִי הַמַּיִם נִשְׁפָּכִין וּמִנְחָתָהּ מִתְפַּזֶּרֶת עַל בֵּית הַדֶּשֶׁן נִמְחֲקָה הַמְּגִילָּה וְאָמְרָה אֵינִי שׁוֹתָה מְעַרְעֲרִין אוֹתָהּ וּמַשְׁקִין אוֹתָהּ בְּעַל כׇּרְחָהּ 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.
אֵינָהּ מַסְפֶּקֶת לִשְׁתּוֹת עַד שֶׁפָּנֶיהָ מוֹרִיקוֹת וְעֵינֶיהָ בּוֹלְטוֹת וְהִיא מִתְמַלֵּאת גִּידִין וְהֵם אוֹמְרִים הוֹצִיאוּהָ [הוֹצִיאוּהָ] שֶׁלֹּא תְּטַמֵּא הָעֲזָרָה 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.
אִם יֵשׁ לָהּ זְכוּת הָיְתָה תּוֹלָה לָהּ יֵשׁ זְכוּת תּוֹלָה שָׁנָה אַחַת יֵשׁ זְכוּת תּוֹלָה שְׁתֵּי שָׁנִים יֵשׁ זְכוּת תּוֹלָה שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁנִים מִכָּאן אוֹמֵר בֶּן עַזַּאי חַיָּיב אָדָם לְלַמֵּד אֶת בִּתּוֹ תּוֹרָה שֶׁאִם תִּשְׁתֶּה תֵּדַע שֶׁהַזְּכוּת תּוֹלָה לָהּ רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר אוֹמֵר כׇּל הַמְלַמֵּד בִּתּוֹ תּוֹרָה (כְּאִילּוּ) לִומְּדָהּ תִּפְלוּת 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].
רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ אוֹמֵר רוֹצָה אִשָּׁה בְּקַב וְתִפְלוּת מִתִּשְׁעָה קַבִּין וּפְרִישׁוּת הוּא הָיָה אוֹמֵר חָסִיד שׁוֹטֶה וְרָשָׁע עָרוּם וְאִשָּׁה פְּרוּשָׁה וּמַכּוֹת פְּרוּשִׁין הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ מְבַלֵּי עוֹלָם 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.
גְּמָ׳ אָמַר רַב יְהוּדָה אָמַר שְׁמוּאֵל מִשּׁוּם רַבִּי מֵאִיר כְּשֶׁהָיִיתִי לָמֵד תּוֹרָה אֵצֶל רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא הָיִיתִי מֵטִיל קַנְקַנְתּוֹם לְתוֹךְ הַדְּיוֹ וְלֹא אָמַר לִי דָּבָר כְּשֶׁבָּאתִי אֵצֶל רַבִּי יִשְׁמָעֵאל אָמַר לִי בְּנִי מָה מְלַאכְתֶּךָ אָמַרְתִּי לוֹ לַבְלָר אֲנִי אָמַר לִי בְּנִי הֱוֵי זָהִיר שֶׁמְּלַאכְתְּךָ מְלֶאכֶת שָׁמַיִם הִיא שֶׁמָּא תַּחְסִיר אוֹת אַחַת אוֹ תֹּתִיר אוֹת אַחַת נִמְצֵאתָ אַתָּה מַחְרִיב אֶת כָּל הָעוֹלָם כֻּלּוֹ 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.
אָמַרְתִּי לוֹ דָּבָר אֶחָד יֵשׁ לִי שֶׁאֲנִי מֵטִיל לְתוֹךְ הַדְּיוֹ וְקַנְקַנְתּוֹם שְׁמוֹ אָמַר לִי וְכִי מְטִילִין קַנְקַנְתּוֹם לְתוֹךְ הַדְּיוֹ הַתּוֹרָה אָמְרָה וּמָחָה כְּתָב שֶׁיּוּכַל לִמְחוֹת 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.
מַאי קָאָמַר לֵיהּ וּמַאי קָא מַהְדַּר לֵיהּ 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?
הָכִי קָאָמַר לֵיהּ לָא מִבַּעְיָא בַּחֲסֵירוֹת וִיתֵירוֹת דְּבָקִי אֲנָא אֶלָּא אֲפִילּוּ לְמֵיחַשׁ לִזְבוּב דְּדִילְמָא אָתֵי וְיָתֵיב אַתָּגֵיהּ דְּדָלֶית וּמָחֵיק לֵיהּ וּמְשַׁוֵּי לֵיהּ רֵישׁ דָּבָר אֶחָד יֵשׁ לִי שֶׁאֲנִי מֵטִיל לְתוֹךְ הַדְּיוֹ וְקַנְקַנְתּוֹם שְׁמוֹ 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.
אִינִי וְהָא תַּנְיָא אָמַר רַבִּי מֵאִיר כְּשֶׁהָיִיתִי לָמֵד תּוֹרָה אֵצֶל רַבִּי יִשְׁמָעֵאל הָיִיתִי מֵטִיל קַנְקַנְתּוֹם לְתוֹךְ הַדְּיוֹ וְלֹא אָמַר לִי דָּבָר כְּשֶׁבָּאתִי אֵצֶל רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא אֲסָרָהּ עָלַי 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.
קַשְׁיָא שִׁמּוּשׁ אַשִּׁמּוּשׁ קַשְׁיָא אֲסָרָהּ אַאֲסָרָהּ 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.
בִּשְׁלָמָא שִׁמּוּשׁ אַשִּׁמּוּשׁ לָא קַשְׁיָא מֵעִיקָּרָא אֲתָא לְקַמֵּיהּ דְּרַבִּי עֲקִיבָא כֵּיוָן דְּלָא מָצֵי (קָם) [לְמֵיקַם] אַלִּיבֵּיהּ אֲתָא לְקַמֵּיהּ דְּרַבִּי יִשְׁמָעֵאל וּגְמַר גְּמָרָא הֲדַר אֲתָא לְקַמֵּיהּ דְּרַבִּי עֲקִיבָא סָבַר סְבָרָא 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.
אֶלָּא אֲסָרָהּ אַאֲסָרָהּ קַשְׁיָא קַשְׁיָא 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.
תַּנְיָא רַבִּי יְהוּדָה אוֹמֵר אוֹמֵר הָיָה רַבִּי מֵאִיר לַכֹּל מְטִילִין קַנְקַנְתּוֹם לְתוֹךְ הַדְּיוֹ 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,