Thoughts from Kollel KLAL


In this week’s parsha the Torah describes the process of the sotah which involved many miracles.

The passuk states “in the hand of the Kohen shall be מי המרים המאררים.” Onkelos translates as “the bitter water which cause the curses.” Rashi explains Onkelos means that the water will be bitter in that it will express the curse in this woman’s body in the future by causing her to die. The Ramban explains מי המרים differently; when the woman will drink the water it will taste sweet like regular water. If she contaminated herself by straying from her husband to another man, then when it enters her stomach it will become bitter in her mouth and stomach.

The passuk states the Kohen puts an oath of curse on the sotah, ירכך נופלת ואת בטנך צבה. Onkelos translates as “your thigh melted, and your stomach swelled.” Later on the passuk statesובאו בה המים המאררים למרים וצבתה בטנה ונפלה ירכה which Onkelos translates as “the cursed water will enter into her for a curse, and it will swell her stomach and melt her thigh.” Rashi asks: why does the passuk switch the order: first it mentions the thigh and then stomach, and afterwards it mentions the stomach and then thigh? Rashi answers that by the curse it first mentions the thigh since with it she started to do the aveira by going to another man, however by the punishment, it first mentions the stomach since the water enters into the stomach and swells the stomach, and afterwards affects the thigh. Rashi adds that the words “ובאו בה and they will enter into her” reflects that it went into all of her, punishing her entire body.

The Sifsei Chachomim points out that by the curse it statesובאו המים המאררים האלה לצבות בטן ולנפיל ירך which Onkelos translates as “and this cursed water will enter into your stomach to cause it to swell and melt your thigh,” mentioning the stomach first, and then the thigh. He explains b’shem Rashi that this passuk refers to the man whom she strayed to; he too will be punished like the sotah.

The Ramban explains that the laws of the Torah are not dependent on a miracle except here by the sotah. The water determines her purity and causes her stomach to swell and her thigh to fall off. It is a wonder and miracle that Hashem performs when most of Yisrael follow the will of Hashem. Hashem wants to rebuke women to not do as the other nations and to cleanse Yisrael from having mamzairim in order to be fitting to rest His Shechinah amongst them. The Mishnah teaches that once many people started to act immorally the water of the sotah stopped. It may seem that they are exempt from punishment although they sinned, which certainly can’t be. Rather Hashem will not perform this great miracle for Yisrael since it was only done for their honor and for them to be a holy nation.

May we reach that level of holiness once again which will enable Hashem to bring back His Shechina!

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