Sotah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Three

 

Introduction

After putting the meal offering on the hand of the woman, the priest begins to write the curse on a scroll (Numbers 5:23).  Later, he will state this curse or curses to the woman and then the writing will be rubbed out into the water and she will drink the mixture. 

In our mishnah there is a debate about how much he writes on the scroll.

 

Mishnah Three

He now comes to write the scroll.

1)      From what place [in Scripture] does he write?

a)      From “If no man has lain with you  . . . but if you have gone astray while married to your husband” (Numbers 5:19-20). 

b)      He does not write, “Then the priest shall cause the woman to swear” (v. 21), but continues, “May the Lord make you a curse and an imprecation . . . And may this water that induces the spell enter your body make your belly swell, and your thigh to sag.” (vs. 21-22)

c)      He does not write “And the woman shall say, ‘amen, amen’” (vs. 22).

d)      Rabbi Yose says:  he makes no omissions. 

2)      Rabbi Judah says: he writes nothing except, ““May the Lord make you a curse and an imprecation . . . And may this water that induces the spell enter your body make your belly swell, and your thigh to sag.” (vs. 21-22)

a)      He does not write “And the woman shall say, ‘amen, amen’” (vs. 22).

 

Explanation

Section one:  According to the first opinion in the mishnah, the priest does not begin with the curses which begin in verse 21, but begins to copy into the scroll a couple of verses earlier, with the circumstances of her being brought for the test, mentioned in verses 19-20.  However, anything that is a directive to the priest about what to do, he does not write. 

Rabbi Yose says that he does not omit anything, but rather writes straight from verse 19 through the end of verse 22.

Section two:  Rabbi Judah disagrees regarding the point from where the priest begins to write.  Verses 19-20 are not part of the curses mentioned in verse 23, and hence they are not written.   

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