Sotah, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Two



In yesterday’s mishnah we learned which “declarations” can be recited in any language.  In today’s mishnah we learn the opposite; those things which must be recited in Hebrew.  The list in today’s mishnah will be discussed in much greater length in the rest of this chapter and indeed through most of the rest of the tractate.


Mishnah Two

The following are recited in the holy tongue (Hebrew):  

1)      The reading made at the offering of the firstfruits,  

2)      The recitation at halitzah,  

3)      The blessings and curses,  

4)      The priestly blessing,  

5)      The blessing of the high priest,  

6)      The section of the king,  

7)      The section of the calf whose neck is broken,  

8)      And the priest anointed [to accompany the army] in battle when he speaks to the people. 



Section one:  When a person brings his first fruits to the Temple, he must recite Deuteronomy 26:5-11.  In tomorrow’s mishnah we shall learn why this must be recited in Hebrew.

Section two:  Halitzah is the ceremony performed when the brother-in-law does not want to marry his dead brother’s wife.  Both the widow and her brother-in-law must make some declarations (see Deuteronomy 25:7-9).  Mishnah four will explain why this must be recited in Hebrew.

Section three:  These refer to the blessings and curses stated by the Levites on Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal.  Mishnah 5 will elaborate.

Section four:  The priestly blessing is described in Numbers 6:23-26.  It is still recited in the morning prayer service today, as part of the amidah prayer.  It will be discussed below in mishnah 6. 

Section five:  This refers to the blessing given by the high priest to the people on Yom Kippur after he has come out from the Holy of Holies.  See below, mishnah 7.

Section six:  The “section of the king” refers to the portion of the Torah read by the king when the congregation gathers together on Sukkot after the seventh year has been completed (below mishnah eight). 

Section seven:  This is what the elders recite when they break the neck of a heifer to atone for a murder whose perpetrator is unknown (Deuteronomy 21:7-8).  This will be explained in chapter nine.

Section eight:  This refers to the charge given by the priest given to the army before they go out to war (Deuteronomy 20:2-4).  See below, chapter eight.