מתני׳ המקנא לאשתו רבי אליעזר אומר מקנא לה על פי שנים ומשקה על פי עד אחד או ע"פ עצמו רבי יהושע אומר מקנא לה על פי שנים ומשקה ע"פ שנים MISHNA: 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.
כיצד מקנא לה אומר לה בפני שנים אל תדברי עם איש פלוני ודברה עמו עדיין היא מותרת לביתה ומותרת לאכול בתרומה 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.
נכנסה עמו לבית הסתר ושהתה עמו כדי טומאה אסורה לביתה ואסורה לאכול בתרומה ואם מת חולצת ולא מתייבמת 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.
גמ׳ מכדי תנא מנזיר סליק מאי תנא דקא תנא סוטה GEMARA: The Gemara questions the placement of this tractate within the mishnaic order of Nashim. Now, the tanna arose from tractate Nazir, which is the tractate preceding Sota in the order of the Mishna. What did he teach in Nazir that required that he teach tractate Sota immediately afterward, as at first glance there seems to be no connection between this tractate and Nazir?
כדרבי דתניא רבי אומר למה נסמכה פרשת נזיר לפרשת סוטה לומר לך שכל הרואה סוטה בקלקולה יזיר עצמו מן היין The Gemara answers: This was done in accordance with the statement of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi with regard to the sequence of passages in the Torah, as it is taught in a baraita that Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi says: Why is the portion of a nazirite (Numbers, chapter 6) placed adjacent to the portion of a sota (Numbers, chapter 5)? This was done to tell you that anyone who sees a sota in her disgrace as she undergoes the rite of the bitter water should renounce wine, as wine is one of the causes of sexual transgression, as it loosens inhibitions. For the same reason that the Torah teaches these passages one after the other, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi arranged these tractates one after the other.
וליתני סוטה והדר ליתני נזיר איידי דתנא כתובות ותנא המדיר תנא נדרים ואיידי דתנא נדרים תנא נזיר דדמי לנדרים וקתני סוטה כדרבי The Gemara asks: But if so, let him teach tractate Sota first and then let him teach tractate Nazir, which is the way these topics are ordered in the Torah, and also accords better with the statement of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi. The Gemara answers: Since the tanna taught tractate Ketubot, and in that tractate he taught a chapter that begins: One who vows, in which there are several mishnayot concerning vows between husbands and wives, he then taught tractate Nedarim, whose subject is the halakhot of vows. And since he taught tractate Nedarim, he then taught tractate Nazir, which is similar to tractate Nedarim in that one becomes a nazirite by taking a vow. And he then teaches tractate Sota, in accordance with the statement of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi.
המקנא דיעבד אין לכתחילה לא קסבר תנא דידן אסור לקנאות § The Gemara begins clarifying the mishna. The mishna states: One who issues a warning to his wife. By employing the descriptive phrase: One who issues a warning, and not the prescriptive phrase: One issues a warning, the tanna indicates that after the fact, yes, it is effective if he issues a warning in this manner, but ideally, no, one should not issue a warning to his wife at all ab initio. Apparently, the tanna of our mishna holds that it is prohibited to issue a warning to one’s wife ab initio in a manner that can cause her to become a sota, and all the halakhot concerning a sota are for one who issued a warning when not obligated to do so.
א"ר שמואל בר רב יצחק כי הוה פתח ריש לקיש בסוטה אמר הכי אין מזווגין לו לאדם אשה אלא לפי מעשיו שנא' (תהלים קכה, ג) כי לא ינוח שבט הרשע על גורל הצדיקים אמר רבה בר בר חנה אמר ר' יוחנן וקשין לזווגן כקריעת ים סוף, שנאמר (תהלים סח, ז) אלהים מושיב יחידים ביתה מוציא אסירים בכושרות Rav Shmuel bar Rav Yitzḥak says: When Reish Lakish would introduce his discussion of the Torah passage of sota he would say this: Heaven matches a woman to a man only according to his actions, as it is stated: “For the rod of wickedness shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous” (Psalms 125:3), indicating that if one has a wicked wife it is due to his own evil conduct. Rabba bar bar Ḥana says that Rabbi Yoḥanan says: And it is as difficult to match a couple together as was the splitting of the Red Sea, as it is stated in a verse that speaks of the exodus from Egypt: “God makes the solitary individuals dwell in a house; He brings out prisoners into prosperity [bakosharot]” (Psalms 68:7). God takes single individuals and causes them to dwell in a house by properly matching a man to a woman. This is similar to the exodus from Egypt, which culminated in the splitting of the Red Sea, where He released prisoners into prosperity.
איני והא אמר רב יהודה אמר רב ארבעים יום קודם יצירת הולד בת קול יוצאת ואומרת בת פלוני לפלוני בית פלוני לפלוני שדה פלוני לפלוני לא קשיא הא בזוג ראשון הא בזוג שני The Gemara asks: Is that so that a man is matched to a woman according to his actions? But Rav Yehuda says that Rav says: Forty days before an embryo is formed a Divine Voice issues forth and says: The daughter of so-and-so is destined to marry so-and-so; such and such a house is destined to be inhabited by so-and-so; such and such a field is destined to be farmed by so-and-so. This clearly states that these matters, including marriage, are decreed for a person even before he is formed. The Gemara answers: This is not difficult. This statement that Rav Yehuda says in the name of Rav is with regard to a first match [zivug], while this statement of Rabba bar bar Ḥana in the name of Rabbi Yoḥanan is with regard to a second match. A first match is decreed in heaven; a second match is according to one’s actions.
ר"א אומר מקנא לה על פי שנים וכו' עד כאן לא פליגי אלא בקינוי וסתירה אבל בטומאה עד אחד מהימן § The Gemara now clarifies the dispute in the mishna. Rabbi Eliezer says: The husband must issue a warning to her based on, i.e., in the presence of, two witnesses, and he gives the bitter water to her to drink based on the testimony of one witness. 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 who saw them secluded together. The Gemara notes: Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua disagree only with regard to the requisite number of witnesses for the warning and the seclusion, whether one or two witnesses are required, but with regard to the testimony concerning defilement after the warning was issued and seclusion had occurred, they agree that even the testimony of one witness is deemed credible to establish that the woman actually engaged in sexual intercourse with the man while secluded.
ותנן נמי עד אחד אומר אני ראיתי שניטמאת לא היתה שותה The Gemara comments: And we learned also in another mishna (31a) that if a single witness says: I saw that she was defiled, then she would not drink the bitter water, as the testimony is accepted, and her husband must divorce her and she forfeits payment of her marriage contract. Therefore, there is no need to perform the sota rite.
מדאורייתא מנלן דמהימן עד אחד דתנו רבנן (במדבר ה, יג) ועד אין בה בשנים הכתוב מדבר The Gemara asks: By Torah law, from where do we derive that one witness is deemed credible with regard to testifying that a sota engaged in sexual intercourse? The Gemara answers: As the Sages taught in reference to the verse describing the circumstances in which a woman defiled through an act of adultery becomes forbidden to her husband, which states: “And a man lie with her carnally and it be hid from the eyes of her husband, she being defiled secretly, and there is no witness [ed] against her” (Numbers 5:13), the verse is speaking of a lack of two witnesses. When the verse refers to the lack of an ed, written in the singular, it actually indicates that there are not two witnesses against her, but only one, as the baraita will now explain.
או אינו אלא אפילו באחד ת"ל (דברים יט, טו) לא יקום עד אחד באיש The baraita continues and asks: Or perhaps the verse is referring only to a case where there was not even one witness to the act of sexual intercourse, as the singular usage of the word ed would seem to indicate? The baraita now proves that elsewhere the word ed is used to indicate two witnesses, as the verse states: “One witness [ed] shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity or any sin that he sins; by the mouth of two witnesses or by the mouth of three witnesses shall a matter be established” (Deuteronomy 19:15).