Sotah 47b:13סוטה מ״ז ב
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47bמ״ז ב

עד ימיו היה פטיש מכה בירושלים ובימיו א"צ לשאול על הדמאי

Until his days the hammer of smiths would strike in Jerusalem on the intermediate days of a Festival, but he banned the practice. And furthermore, in his days there was no need to inquire about doubtfully tithed produce [demai], as everyone was careful to tithe.

גמ׳ ת"ר מנין שאם נערפה העגלה ואח"כ נמצא ההורג שאין פוטרת אותו ת"ל (במדבר לה, לג) ולארץ לא יכופר לדם אשר שפך בה כי אם בדם שפכו

GEMARA: The Sages taught: From where is it derived that if the heifer’s neck was broken and afterward the killer was found, then the breaking of the neck does not exempt him from punishment? The verse states: “And the land shall not be atoned, for the blood that was spilled in it, but by the blood of he who spilled it” (Numbers 35:33).

עד אחד אומר ראיתי את ההורג כו' טעמא דמכחיש ליה הא לא מכחיש ליה עד אחד מהימן

The mishna taught that if one witness says: I saw the killer, and another testifies: You did not see him, they would break the heifer’s neck. The Gemara infers: The reason they break the neck is because the second witness contradicts him, but if no one contradicts him, one witness is relied upon, and they do not break the heifer’s neck.

מנהני מילי דת"ר (דברים כא, א) לא נודע מי הכהו הא נודע מי הכהו אפילו אחד בסוף העולם לא היו עורפין רבי עקיבא אומר מנין לסנהדרין שראו אחד שהרג את הנפש ואין מכירין אותו שלא היו עורפין ת"ל (דברים כא, ז) ועינינו לא ראו והלא ראו

From where are these matters derived? The Gemara answers that it is as the Sages taught in a baraita: It states with regard to the heifer whose neck is broken: “It is not known who has smitten him” (Deuteronomy 21:1). Consequently, if it was known who smote him, even if it was only one person at the end of the world who knew, they would not break the neck of the heifer. Rabbi Akiva says: From where is it derived that if the members of the Sanhedrin themselves saw one person kill someone, but they do not recognize him, then they would not break the neck of the heifer? The verse states: “Nor did our eyes see” (Deuteronomy 21:7), and did they not see? Seeing the murder alone obviates the need for the performance of the ritual.

השתא דאמרת עד אחד מהימן אידך חד היכי מצי מכחיש ליה והאמר עולא כל מקום שהאמינה תורה עד אחד הרי כאן שנים ואין דבריו של אחד במקום שנים אמר לך עולא תני לא היו עורפין וכן א"ר יצחק תני לא היו עורפין

The Gemara poses a question: Now that you have said that in this case one witness is relied upon, if so, how is the other one able to contradict him? Didn’t Ulla say: Wherever the Torah relies on one witness, there is the equivalent of the testimony of two witnesses here, and the statement of one witness has no standing in a place where it is contradicted by two witnesses. The Gemara answers: Ulla could have said to you that the text of the mishna should be emended and teach the mishna in this way: They would not break the neck of the heifer. And Rabbi Yitzḥak also said to teach: They would not break the neck.

ור' חייא אמר תני היו עורפין ולרבי חייא קשיא דעולא לא קשיא כאן בבת אחת כאן בזה אחר זה

And Rabbi Ḥiyya said that one should teach: They would break the neck. The Gemara asks: And according to Rabbi Ḥiyya, the above ruling of Ulla is difficult. The Gemara answers: This is not difficult, as here, in the mishna, the case is discussing when two witnesses came simultaneously, and therefore both of their testimonies are rejected; whereas there, with regard to the statement of Ulla, it is referring to a case when they testified one after the other. Ulla rules that once the testimony of the first witness has been accepted the testimony of the second witness cannot nullify it.

תנן עד אחד אומר ראיתי את ההורג ושנים אומרים לא ראית היו עורפין הא חד וחד לא היו עורפין תיובתא דרבי חייא

We learned in the mishna: If one witness says: I saw the killer, and two say: You did not see, they would break the neck. This cannot be stated just to teach us this halakha, as the fact that two witnesses override one witness is well known. The Gemara assumes that it is stated for the following inference: Therefore, if one testified, and the other one then testified, they would not break the neck. This appears to be a conclusive refutation of Rabbi Ḥiyya, who has the text of: They would break the neck.

וליטעמיך אימא סיפא שנים אומרים ראינו ועד אחד אומר לא ראיתם לא היו עורפין הא חד וחד היו עורפין

The Gemara answers: And according to your reasoning that the mishna states its cases in order to teach an inference, say the latter clause of the mishna: If two witnesses say: We saw, and one witness says: You did not see, they would not break the neck. The Gemara makes an inference from this clause: Therefore, if one came and then the other one came, i.e., they did not come simultaneously, they would break the neck. The two inferences from the different clauses of the mishna consequently contradict one another, and the mishna needs to be explained differently.

אלא מתני' כולה בפסולי עדות וכדרבי נחמיה דאמר כל מקום שהאמינה תורה עד אחד הלך אחר רוב דעות ועשו שתי נשים באיש אחד כשני אנשים באיש אחד

Rather, the correct understanding is that the entire mishna is not dealing with valid witnesses and stating an obvious halakha in order to enable an inference, but instead it is dealing with people who are disqualified from bearing witness and is also teaching us a novel ruling. And the mishna is in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Neḥemya, who says: Wherever the Torah relies on one witness, follow the majority of opinions. In other words, if the testimonies of two disqualified witnesses conflict, the court rules in accordance with the testimony provided by more witnesses, whether or not they are qualified to testify. And they established that with regard to the testimony of two women, who are usually disqualified from testifying, when they testify against one man, it should be like that of two men against one man, and the court will rule in accordance with the testimony of the two women.

ואיכא דאמרי כל היכא דאתא עד אחד כשר מעיקרא אפילו מאה נשים כי אחד דמיין והכא במאי עסקינן כגון דאתאי אשה מעיקרא ותרצה לדרבי נחמיה הכי רבי נחמיה אומר כל מקום שהאמינה תורה עד אחד הלך אחר רוב דעות ועשו שתי נשים באשה אחת כשני אנשים באיש אחד אבל שתי נשים באיש אחד כי פלגא ופלגא דמי

And there are those who say a different version of Rabbi Neḥemya’s opinion: Anywhere that one valid witness came at the outset, even one hundred women who later contradict him are considered like one witness, and do not override his testimony. And with what are we dealing here in the mishna? A case where a woman came at the outset, and testified that she saw the killer. Then two other women arrived to contradict her statement. And according to this interpretation you must emend the statement of Rabbi Neḥemya so that it reads like this: Rabbi Neḥemya says: Wherever the Torah relies on one witness, follow the majority of opinions. And they established that two women against one woman are like two men against one man. But two women in opposition to one man who is a valid witness is like half of a pair of witnesses and half of a pair of witnesses, and the mishna did not address that case.

ותרתי פסולי עדות למה לי מהו דתימא כי אזלינן בתר רוב דעות לחומרא אבל לקולא לא קמ"ל

The Gemara poses a question on these two interpretations of the mishna: And why do I need two cases in the mishna to teach the halakha that the majority opinion of those disqualified from bearing witness is followed? The Gemara explains: It is necessary, lest you say that when we follow the majority opinion in the case of invalid witnesses, this is when it results in a decision to be stringent and require the performance of the ritual. But when it results in a decision to be lenient and say that the ritual is not required, we do not follow the majority opinion, and the performance of the ritual is required even if there is one witness saying that the killer was not seen. Therefore, the mishna teaches us that there is no difference in this regard, and the majority opinion is followed in any case.

משרבו הרוצחין כו' ת"ר משרבו הרוצחנין בטלה עגלה ערופה לפי שאינה באה אלא על הספק משרבו הרוצחנין בגלוי בטלה עגלה ערופה

§ The mishna taught that from the time when murderers proliferated, the ritual of the heifer whose neck is broken was nullified. The Sages taught: From the time when murderers proliferated, the ritual of the heifer whose neck is broken was nullified, because it comes only for a case involving uncertainty with regard to the identity of the murderer. Therefore, when there was an increase of murderers acting openly so that their identities were known, the ritual of the heifer whose neck is broken was nullified.

משרבו הנואפין כו' ת"ר (במדבר ה, לא) ונקה האיש מעון בזמן שהאיש מנוקה מעון המים בודקין את אשתו אין האיש מנוקה מעון אין המים בודקין את אשתו ואומר (הושע ד, יד) לא אפקוד על בנותיכם כי תזנינה כו'

The mishna also taught that from the time when adulterers proliferated, the performance of the ritual of the bitter water of a sota was nullified. The Sages taught: It states: “And the man shall be cleared of transgression, and that woman shall bear her transgression” (Numbers 5:31), which indicates that when the man is clear of transgression the waters evaluate if his wife was unfaithful, but if the man is not clear of transgression the waters do not evaluate if his wife was unfaithful. And it states: “I will not punish your daughters when they commit harlotry, nor your daughters-in-law when they commit adultery; for they consort with lewd women, and they sacrifice with prostitutes; and the people that is without understanding is distraught” (Hosea 4:14).

מאי ואומר וכי תימא עון דידיה אין דבניה ודבנתיה לא תא שמע לא אפקוד על בנותיכם כי תזנינה ועל כלותיכם כי תנאפנה

The Gemara clarifies: What is the purpose of the addition of: And it states? What is lacking in the exposition from the verse of the Torah? The Gemara explains: And if you would say that based on the verse: “And the man shall be cleared of transgression,” the halakha would be that with regard to his transgression, yes, it will cause the waters to be ineffective, but the transgression of his sons and daughters does not impact the effectiveness, come and hear the verse: “I will not punish your daughters,” i.e., I will not punish your wives, due to your daughters, “when they commit harlotry, nor your daughters-in-law when they commit adultery.”

וכי תימא עון אשת איש אין עון דפנויה לא ת"ש כי הם עם הזונות יפרדו ועם הקדשות יזבחו וגו'

And if you would say: With regard to the transgression of adultery with a married woman, yes, it will cause the waters to be ineffective, but the transgression of one who engaged in sexual intercourse with an unmarried woman does not impact the effectiveness, come and hear the continuation of the verse: “For they consort with lewd women, and they sacrifice with prostitutes.”

מאי ועם לא יבין ילבט אמר רבי אלעזר אמר להם נביא לישראל אם אתם מקפידין על עצמכם מים בודקין נשותיכם ואם לאו אין המים בודקין נשותיכם

The Gemara turns its attention to the end of the verse. What is the meaning of: “And the people that is without understanding is distraught”? Rabbi Elazar says: The prophet said to the Jewish people: If you are particular about yourselves, the water evaluates your wives; but if not, the water does not evaluate your wives. This would make people distraught, as they would not know how to overcome their suspicion if they are concerned that their wives have been unfaithful.

משרבו בעלי הנאה נתעותו הדינין ונתקלקלו המעשים ואין נוח בעולם משרבו רואי פנים בדין בטל (דברים א, יז) לא תגורו ופסק לא תכירו ופרקו עול שמים ונתנו עליהם עול בשר ודם

§ The Gemara cites statements similar to those of the mishna. From the time when those who accept benefit from others proliferated, the laws became twisted and deeds became corrupted, and there was no comfort in the world. From the time when those who look at the faces of the litigants in judgment, in order to rule based on the appearance of the litigants, proliferated, the fulfillment of the verse: “You shall not fear the face of any man” (Deuteronomy 1:17), ceased, and the fulfillment of the verse: “You shall not respect faces in judgment” (Deuteronomy 1:17), halted, and they removed the yoke of Heaven from themselves, and placed upon themselves the yoke of flesh and blood.

משרבו לוחשי לחישות בדין רבה חרון אף בישראל ונסתלקה השכינה משום שנאמר (תהלים פב, א) בקרב אלהים ישפוט משרבו (יחזקאל לג, לא) אחרי בצעם לבם הולך רבו האומרים (ישעיהו ה, כ) לרע טוב ולטוב רע משרבו האומרים לרע טוב ולטוב רע רבו הוי הוי בעולם

From the time when those who whisper whisperings in judgment, advising judges surreptitiously, proliferated, fierce anger proliferated in Israel, and the Divine Presence departed, because it is stated: “God stands in the congregation of God; in the midst of the judges He judges” (Psalms 82:1). The Divine Presence that dwells among judges leaves if they judge improperly. From the time when those who are referred to in the verse: “Their heart goes after their covetousness” (Ezekiel 33:31), proliferated, “Those who say to evil good, and to good evil” (Isaiah 5:20) proliferated, i.e., those who treat wicked people as though they were righteous proliferated as a result. From the time when the fulfillment of the verse: “Those who say to evil good, and to good evil,” proliferated, the cry of: Woe, woe, proliferated in the world. There was an increase in troubles that cause people to cry out.

משרבו מושכי הרוק רבו היהירים ונתמעטו התלמידים והתורה חוזרת על לומדיה משרבו היהירים התחילו בנות ישראל להנשא ליהירים שאין דורינו רואה אלא לפנים

From the time when those who show their arrogance by drawing out spittle proliferated, the number of haughty people in general proliferated, and the number of students decreased, as they would say haughtily that there was nothing left for them to learn, and the Torah needs to go around to seek those who study it, as people do not learn of their own initiative. Furthermore, from the time when haughty people proliferated, the daughters of Israel began marrying haughty men, as our generation looks only at the face, i.e., the external aspects of a person, and ignores the inner aspects of a person.

איני והאמר מר האי מאן דמיהר אפילו אאינשי ביתיה לא מיקבל שנאמר (חבקוק ב, ה) גבר יהיר ולא ינוה לא ינוה אפי' בנוה שלו מעיקרא קפצה עליה לסוף מיתזיל עלייהו

The Gemara raises a difficulty: Is that so? Do women wish to marry arrogant men? But didn’t the Master say: One who is haughty is not even accepted by the members of his household, as it is stated: “The haughty man abides not” (Habakkuk 2:5)? “Abides [yinaveh] not” means that even in his abode [naveh], he is not accepted. The Gemara explains: Initially, she jumps at the chance to marry him, because he appears to be a great person to her, but in the end, once she gets to know him, he is demeaned in her eyes.

משרבו מטילי מלאי על בעלי בתים רבה השוחד והטיית משפט ופסקה טובה משרבו מקבלני טובתך ומחזקני טובותיך רבו (שופטים יז, ו) איש הישר בעיניו יעשה שפלים הוגבהו והגבוהים הושפלו ומלכותא אזלא ונולא משרבו צרי עין וטורפי טרף רבו מאמצי הלב וקופצי ידים מלהלוות ועברו על מה שכתוב בתורה (דברים טו, ט) השמר לך פן וגו'

The baraita continues: From the time when there was an increase in those who placed upon homeowners the obligation to designate the profits from merchandise for the upkeep of judges, bribery and corruption of judgment proliferated and good ceased. From the time when those judges and leaders who say: I accept your favor, and: I hold your favor, proliferated, the fulfillment of the verse: “Every man did that which was right in his eyes” (Judges 17:6), proliferated. Lowly ones were raised and lofty ones were lowered, and the monarchy is increasingly on the decline. From the time when misers and those greedy for profit proliferated, those hardened of heart and who closed their hands from lending proliferated, and they transgressed that which is written in the Torah: “You shall not harden your heart, nor shut your hand from your needy brother…Guard yourself in case there is a base thought in your heart…and you do not give him” (Deuteronomy 15:7, 9).

משרבו (ישעיהו ג, טז) נטויות גרון ומשקרות עינים רבו מים המרים אלא שפסקו משרבו מקבלי מתנות נתמעטו הימים ונתקצרו השנים דכתיב (משלי טו, כז) ושונא מתנות יחיה משרבו זחוחי הלב רבו מחלוקת בישראל משרבו תלמידי שמאי והילל שלא שימשו כל צורכן רבו מחלוקת בישראל ונעשית תורה כשתי תורות משרבו מקבלי צדקה מן העובדי כוכבים היו ישראל למעלה והם למטה ישראל לפנים והם לאחור

From the time when women with “stretched-forth necks and wanton eyes” (Isaiah 3:16) proliferated, the bitter waters of a sota proliferated, as more people were suspected of committing adultery; but they eventually ceased when licentiousness became too widespread. From the time when those who accept gifts proliferated, the days decreased and the years shortened, as it is written: “And he who hates gifts lives” (Proverbs 15:27). From the time when those with boastful [zeḥuḥei] hearts proliferated, dispute proliferated in Israel. From the time when the students of Shammai and Hillel who did not serve their Rabbis sufficiently proliferated, dispute proliferated in Israel, and the Torah became like two Torahs. From the time when those who accept charity from gentiles proliferated, the Jewish people were above and they below; the Jewish people ahead and they behind. This last statement is a euphemism; it was the Jewish people that were below and behind, but the Gemara did not want to say so explicitly.

משמת יוסי בן יועזר כו' מאי אשכולות אמר רב יהודה אמר שמואל איש שהכל בו יוחנן כהן גדול העביר הודיית המעשר כו' מ"ט אמר רבי יוסי בר' חנינא לפי שאין נותנין אותו כתיקונו דרחמנא אמר דיהבי ללוים

§ The mishna taught that from the time when Yosei ben Yo’ezer died the clusters ceased. The Gemara poses a question: What is the meaning of clusters [eshkolot]? Rav Yehuda says that Shmuel says: It means a man who contains all [ish shehakol bo] elements of Torah and mitzvot. The mishna further taught that Yoḥanan the High Priest took away the declaration of the tithe. The Gemara poses a question: What is the reason he did this? Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, says: Because they did not give the tithe in the proper manner as stated by the Torah. In what way is that? As the Merciful One states in the Torah that they should give the first tithe to the Levites,