Sotah, Chapter Eight, Mishnah Three



In yesterday’s mishnah we learned the categories of people who are exempt from going out to battle; in today’s mishnah we learn who is not exempt.   


Mishnah Three

The following do not return home:

1)      He who built a gatehouse, a portico or a porch;

2)      He who planted four fruit trees or five trees which are not fruit-bearing;

3)      He who took back his divorced wife.

4)      If a high priest married a widow, or an ordinary priest married a divorcee or a halutzah, or an Israelite married a mamzereth or a netinah, or the daughter of an Israelite married a mamzer or a natin, he does not return home.  

5)      Rabbi Judah says: even he who builds a house upon its [original] foundations does not return home.

6)      Rabbi Eliezer says: even he who builds a brick-house in the Sharon does not return home.



Section one:  The three structures listed in this section do not count as “houses” and hence one who builds one of them is not exempted from war.  While the structures listed in yesterday’s mishnah were not typically used as living quarters, the structures in today’s mishnah are never used as living quarters.  A portico is an area encircled by pillars and covered with a roof, but it is not walled-in.  A porch is an extension of the upper floor that is not covered by a roof.

Section two:  Yesterday we learned that to be exempt from going out to war he had to plant five fruit bearing trees. Less than five trees, or more than five non-fruit bearing trees does not count as being similar enough to a vineyard to exempt him.

Section three:  Deuteronomy 24:5 states, “When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out with the army.”  From here we see that remarrying one’s former wife does not exempt him from going to war.

Section four:  Someone who marries a woman who is prohibited to him does not receive an exemption from war.  For an explanation of this list see Yevamot 2:4.

Section five:  Rabbi Judah says that one must build a new house in order to be exempt.  Rebuilding an old house on its original foundations does not count.

Section six:  The Sharon was an area in the land of Israel that was (and still is) prone to earthquakes.  The people of Sharon would build their houses out of brick, in anticipation that they would have to rebuild them twice every seven years.  Since the houses did not last long, Rabbi Eliezer does not consider them as sufficient to exempt one from the army.