Sotah, Chapter One, Mishnah Six



This mishnah continues to describe the public humiliation which the Sotah must undergo.


Mishnah Six

1)                     If she was clothed in white, he clothes her in black.

a)                                           If she wore gold jewelry or necklaces, ear-rings and finger-rings, they remove them from her in order to make her repulsive.

2)                     After that [the priest] takes a rope made of twigs and binds it over her breasts.

3)                     Whoever wishes to look upon her comes to look with the exception of her male and female slaves, since she has no shame in front of them.

4)                     All of the women are permitted to look upon her, as it is said, “That all women may be taught not to do after your lewdness” (Ezekiel 23:48).



Section one:  The Sotah is not allowed to continue to wear clothes or jewelry that make her more beautiful. 

Section two:  After the clothes were torn (see previous mishnah), the priest uses a coarse rope to tie them above her breasts.  She is not meant to stand there naked, but rather just disheveled.

Section three:  The mishnah allows, indeed encourages, the Sotah to be made into a public spectacle.  Anyone who wishes to look at her can do so. The only exceptions are her male and female slaves, for they are accustomed to seeing her at her most intimate moments.  Seeing them might encourage her not to admit to her crime, and one of the goals of the ceremony is for her to crime.

Section four:  The Talmud understands that not only are other women permitted to look at her, but they are actually obligated to look at her.  This is learned from Ezekiel who says that other women shall see the adulteress punished and will not repeat her crimes.  Note that the chapter in Ezekiel uses the metaphor of adultery to describe Israel’s “whoring” itself after foreign Gods. The vivid descriptions of her crimes and the description of her punishment are reflections of the punishment of adulteresses.