Sotah 6bסוטה ו׳ ב
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6bו׳ ב

האומרת טמאה אני ושבאו לה עדים שהיא טמאה

One who says: I am defiled, and witnesses came forth and testified with regard to her that she is defiled.

דאתו עדים אימת אילימא מקמי דתקדוש תיפוק לחולין

Rav clarifies: In the case where witnesses came forth, when did they come forth? If we say that they came forth before the meal-offering was sanctified, as all meal-offerings become sanctified only when placed in the service vessels used in the Temple service, then the testimony should obviate the need for the sota rite, and the meal-offering should be transferred to non-sacred status, as any meal-offering that was found to be consecrated in error before it was sanctified in a service vessel reverts to non-sacred status. Therefore, Rav infers that the witnesses could not have testified before the offering’s sanctification, or the meal-offering would not be burned.

אלא לבתר דקדוש אי אמרת בשלמא מים בודקין אותה אלמא בת מקדש ומקרב היא וכי קדוש מעיקרא שפיר קדוש ומשום הכי מנחתה נשרפת

Rav states his objection: Rather, the witnesses must have come forth after the meal-offering was sanctified. Granted, if you say the bitter water of a sota evaluates whether she was unfaithful in a case where there are witnesses to her infidelity, even if they have not testified, evidently the meal-offering is suitable to be sanctified and sacrificed; and when it was sanctified at the outset, although there were witnesses who could have testified, it was properly sanctified, and due to that reason her meal-offering is burned, because once an offering has been properly sanctified it cannot be transferred to non-sacred status.

אלא אי אמרת אין המים בודקין אותה תיגלי מילתא למפרע דכי קדוש מעיקרא בטעות קדוש ותיפוק לחולין

But if you say that the bitter water does not evaluate whether she was unfaithful so long as there are witnesses to her infidelity, then once the witnesses come forth, the matter should be revealed retroactively that when the meal-offering was sanctified at the outset, it was sanctified in error. And the meal-offering should therefore be transferred to non-sacred status, not burned.

אמר רב יהודה מדיסקרתא כגון שזינתה בעזרה דכי קדוש מעיקרא שפיר קדוש

Rav Yehuda from Diskarta said, in response, that the mishna concerning meal-offerings is referring to a case where the woman committed adultery in the Temple courtyard after the meal-offering had been sanctified in a service vessel, as at the outset, when the meal-offering was sanctified due to the previous seclusion, it was properly sanctified, as the witnesses were to the infidelity that occurred in the Temple courtyard, not to infidelity during the seclusion.

מתקיף לה רב משרשיא והלא פירחי כהונה מלוין אותה שזינתה מפירחי כהונה עצמן

Rav Mesharshiyya objects to this explanation: But how can she commit adultery in the Temple courtyard? Don’t young priests [pirḥei kehunna] accompany her to the place where she drinks? The Gemara answers: This is a case where she committed adultery with the young priests themselves.

רב אשי אמר כגון שנצרכה לנקביה דאטו פירחי כהונה בכיפה תלי לה

Rav Ashi said differently: It is a case where she needed to relieve herself and the accompanying young priest allowed her to go relieve herself in private, and she committed adultery there, for is that to say that the young priests hold her in a cell? Since there are times when she is out of their sight, there remains a possibility that she will commit adultery with others even when accompanied by the young priests.

רב פפא אמר לעולם כדאמרינן מעיקרא ודקאמרת תיפוק לחולין מדרבנן גזירה שמא יאמרו מוציאין מכלי שרת לחול

Rav Pappa said differently: Actually, the explanation is as we initially said, that the witnesses testify that she had been defiled during the initial seclusion for which she must drink, and not for adultery committed in the Temple courtyard. And that which you say, that if the bitter water does not evaluate a woman about whom there are witnesses concerning her infidelity, and therefore the offering was sanctified in error and it should be transferred to non-sacred status, you are correct that by Torah law it is non-sacred. However, it is considered sacred by rabbinic law, due to a rabbinic decree, lest people who do not know that the sanctification was done in error will mistakenly say: One can transfer a meal-offering to non-sacred status without it being redeemed even after it had been sanctified in a service vessel.

מתיב רב מרי נטמאת מנחתה עד שלא קדשה בכלי הרי היא ככל המנחות ותפדה משקדשה בכלי הרי היא ככל המנחות ותשרף

Rav Mari raises an objection to Rav Pappa’s interpretation from a baraita in the Tosefta (2:4–6) that states: If the meal-offering of a sota became ritually impure, its status is determined by when it became impure. If it became impure before it was sanctified by being placed in a service vessel, it is like all other meal-offerings that became impure prior to sanctification, and it should be redeemed by a replacement offering brought in its stead. If it became impure after it had been sanctified by being placed in a service vessel, it is like all other meal-offerings that became impure after sanctification and must be burned.

קדש הקומץ ולא הספיק להקריבו עד שמת הוא או עד שמתה היא הרי היא ככל המנחות ותשרף

The baraita continues: If, after the meal-offering was sanctified by being placed in a service vessel, the priest removed a handful from it to be sacrificed on the altar, and the handful was sanctified by being placed in its own service vessel, but the priest did not manage to sacrifice it before he, the husband, died, or before she, the wife, died, rendering the offering irrelevant, then it is like all other meal-offerings that are invalidated between the removal of the handful and its being sacrificed, and it must be burned.

קרב הקומץ ולא הספיק לאכול שירים עד שמת הוא או עד שמתה היא הרי היא ככל המנחות ותאכל שעל הספק באת מתחילה כיפרה ספיקה והלכה לה

The baraita continues: If the handful was sacrificed but the priest did not manage to eat the remainder of the meal-offering before the husband died, or before the wife died, it is like all other meal-offerings that become invalidated after the handful has been sacrificed, and it must be eaten by the priests. The baraita explains why, despite the death of the husband or wife, which renders this meal-offering irrelevant as the woman will not drink the bitter water, the meal-offering still is eaten: Because this meal-offering initially came due to an uncertainty as to whether the woman had been unfaithful, and it atoned for its uncertainty and left, i.e., it fulfilled its purpose of being sacrificed at the time when the husband and wife were still alive, it remains valid afterward as well.

באו לה עדים שהיא טמאה מנחתה נשרפת נמצאו עדיה זוממין מנחתה חולין

The baraita continues: If witnesses came forth before the handful was offered and testified with regard to her that she is defiled, her meal-offering is burned. If the witnesses who testified about her infidelity are later found to be conspiring, her meal-offering is transferred to non-sacred status. This final clause teaches that if the witnesses to the wife’s infidelity are found to be conspiring witnesses, then the meal-offering is transferred to non-sacred status even after it was already sanctified in a service vessel. This is difficult for Rav Pappa, for he said that in a similar case, where witnesses testified about her infidelity after the offering was sanctified, the Sages decreed that the offering should be burned, in order to prevent people from saying that a meal-offering that has been sanctified in a service vessel may be transferred afterward to non-sacred status.

עדים זוממין קאמרת עדים זוממין קלא אית להו

The Gemara refutes this objection: Do you say that one can question Rav Pappa’s statement from a ruling concerning conspiring witnesses? The cases are not comparable, as conspiring witnesses generate publicity. Since the circumstances of these cases are well publicized, everyone knows that the offering was sanctified in error.

תניא כוותיה דרב ששת ולאו מטעמיה

After attempting to question Rav Sheshet’s novel ruling, that in the case of a sota with regard to whom there are witnesses in a country overseas who can testify that she engaged in sexual intercourse, the bitter water does not evaluate whether she was unfaithful, the Gemara attempts to adduce support for his ruling: It is taught in a baraita in accordance with the opinion of Rav Sheshet, but not due to his reasoning, rather based upon the explication of a verse.

טהורה ולא שיש לה עדים במדינת הים

The baraita expounds several words in the verse concerning a sota who survives the drinking of the bitter water and is found to have been faithful: “And if the woman be not defiled, but be clean [utehora hee], then she shall be cleared and shall conceive seed” (Numbers 5:28). Noting that the phrase “but be clean,” is apparently redundant, the baraita explains: The usage of the word “clean [tehora]” in the verse indicates that only one who survived the drinking of the bitter water due to her fidelity will conceive a child, but this will not happen in a case where she did not die because there are witnesses for her in a country overseas who can testify that she engaged in sexual intercourse.

וטהורה ולא שתלתה לה זכות

Additionally, from the additional letter vav in the word utehora,” meaning “but be clean,” another case is excluded. Only one who survived the drinking of the bitter water due to her fidelity will conceive a child, but this will not happen in a case where merit delays punishment for her, and she consequently doesn’t die immediately after drinking the bitter water.

היא ולא שישאו ויתנו בה מוזרות בלבנה

The baraita continues: The next word in the verse, “she [hee],” excludes a third case: But not where she, i.e., her infidelity, is discussed by weavers [mozerot] in the moonlight. Women would sit in groups while spinning thread in the moonlight and gossip about the goings-on in the city. If they discuss her having committed adultery, then it is considered public knowledge, and the bitter water would not evaluate her in that case, as evaluation is not needed.

ורבי שמעון נהי דוי"ו לא דריש והא איכא

After citing this baraita as proof for the ruling of Rav Sheshet, albeit from a different source, the Gemara questions how Rabbi Shimon could deny the ability of the woman’s merit to delay the sota punishment due to fear that it will discredit the whole sota rite, being that there is another case that prevents the bitter water from evaluating a woman, i.e., where witnesses in a country overseas are able to testify. And Rabbi Shimon, granted that he does not interpret the letter vav, as he holds that its addition is not significant, and therefore he holds that her merit does not delay her punishment, but there is