Thoughts from Kollel KLAL


The passuk states regarding a sotah אם לא שכב… הנקי ממי המרים המאררים האלה. Rashi explains: this is an oath which is conditional; אם לא שכב, if a man did not lay with you, then הנקי, you will be innocent. However שכב אם, if a man did lay with you, then חנקי, you will be strangled. The Sifsei Chachomim adds that the letter ה, of הנקי and the letter ח are interchangeable, thereby becoming חנקי. This is as the Gemara brings that before Hashem’s name is erased they scare her to confess and not cause the shem Hashem to be erased. However, once Hashem’s name was already erased she needs to drink in order to prove her innocence, to permit her to her husband and remove any libels against herself and her children.

Onkelos translates  הנקיas הוי זכאה, which is a command: be innocent. This follows the opinion of Rebi Yishamael who says that the Kohen tries to convince the woman to drink even before erasing Hashem’s name in the water, in order to prove that she is innocent.

The passuk states ונקתה ונזרעה זרע. Rashi explains that these are separate points; 1- ונקתה-she will be clean from the bitter waters, she did not blow up and fall apart, and in addition, 2- ונזרעה זרע-if she had children with difficulty, she will give birth with ease. If she gave birth to dark children she will give birth to light children. This follows the opinion of Rebi Yishmael who is bothered; only a woman who will do this improper act will be blessed with children, whereas a woman who does not do this improper act will not? Rather Hashem will help her have an easier childbirth and nicer children.

Onkelos translates ונקתה ונזרעה זרע differently; ונקתה translates as ותפוק זכאה “and she will go out innocent.” The Mi’at Tzuri explains she will be innocent by leaving any suspicion of sinning. And ונזרעה זרע is translated, “and she will indeed conceive.” This follows the opinion of Rebi Akiva who says a sotah who does not blow up, will become pregnant.

A sotah is a woman who betrayed her husband and secluded herself with another man. Why should she deserve to have children or have nicer children?  The Ibn Ezra explains, Hashem will give her children for the disgrace which occurred to her. The Mishnah teaches a Kohen would hold onto her clothes by her neck, it did not matter if her clothes tore a bit or a lot, and he would undo the braids of her hair. She would be dressed in an ugly way with dark clothes and needed to remove all jewelry from upon her in order to disgrace her. The Beis HaLevi explains that she is bentched because Hashem sees her pain of needing to go through the process.

Chazal say one who suspects another of something he didn’t do needs to bentch the person he suspected.  Here too, the sotah was suspected of betraying her husband to have children with another man, which she didn’t do. Therefore, ותפוק זכאה, she goes out of all suspicions, and merits the bracha of having children.

Just as the Torah cares about the sotah who did something improper, let us take this lesson to care about others even if they are not acting as they should!

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