The question was asked, how is it if she said: 'I refuse to drink' through defiance and she retracts and says 'I am willing to drink'? Is it that since she said: 'I refuse to drink' she admitted 'I am unclean', and having presumed her self to be unclean, she is unable to retract; or perhaps, since she says 'I am willing to drink', she evidences that she first spoke in terror? — The question remains unanswered. Samuel's father said: It is necessary to put something bitter into the water. What is the reason? Scripture declares, The water of bitterness1 — i.e., [water] which had been previously made bitter.
MISHNAH. IF, BEFORE [THE WRITING ON] THE SCROLL HAD BEEN BLOTTED OUT, SHE SAID 'I REFUSE TO DRINK', HER SCROLL IS STORED AWAY2 AND HER MEAL-OFFERING IS SCATTERED OVER THE ASHES.3 HER SCROLL IS NOT VALID TO BE USED IN GIVING ANOTHER SUSPECTED WOMAN TO DRINK. IF [THE WRITING ON] THE SCROLL HAS BEEN BLOTTED OUT AND SHE SAID 'I AM UNCLEAN', THE WATER IS POURED AWAY AND HER MEAL-OFFERING IS SCATTERED IN THE PLACE OF THE ASHES.4 IF [THE WRITING ON] THE SCROLL HAD BEEN BLOTTED OUT AND SHE SAID 'I REFUSE TO DRINK', THEY EXERT INFLUENCE UPON HER AND MAKE HER DRINK BY FORCE.
SHE HAD SCARCELY FINISHED DRINKING WHEN HER FACE TURNS GREEN, HER EYES PROTRUDE AND HER VEINS SWELL;5 AND IT IS EXCLAIMED, REMOVE HER THAT THE TEMPLE-COURT BE NOT DEFILED'.6 IF SHE POSSESSED A MERIT, IT [CAUSES THE WATER] TO SUSPEND ITS EFFECT UPON HER. SOME MERIT SUSPENDS THE EFFECT FOR ONE YEAR, ANOTHER FOR TWO YEARS, AND ANOTHER FOR THREE YEARS. HENCE DECLARED BEN AZZAI, A MAN IS UNDER THE OBLIGATION TO TEACH HIS DAUGHTER TORAH, SO THAT IF SHE HAS TO DRINK [THE WATER OF BITTERNESS], SHE MAY KNOW THAT THE MERIT SUSPENDS7 ITS EFFECT. R. ELIEZER SAYS: WHOEVER TEACHES HIS DAUGHTER TORAH TEACHES HER OBSCENITY. R. JOSHUA SAYS: A WOMAN PREFERS ONE KAB8 AND SEXUAL INDULGENCE TO NINE KAB9 AND CONTINENCE. HE USED TO SAY, A FOOLISH PIETIST, A CUNNING ROGUE, A FEMALE PHARISEE, AND THE PLAGUE OF PHARISEES10 BRING DESTRUCTION UPON THE WORLD.
GEMARA. Rab Judah declared that Samuel said in the name of R. Meir: When I studied Torah with R. Akiba, I used to put vitriol11 into the ink and he said nothing to me; but when I went to R. Ishmael, he said to me, 'My son, what is thy occupation?' I answered: 'I am a scribe'.12 He told me: 'My son, be careful, because thy work is the work of Heaven; if thou omittest a single letter or addest a single letter, thou dost as a consequence destroy the whole world'.13 I said to him, 'There is an ingredient which I put into the ink, and its name is vitriol'. He asked me, 'May we put vitriol into the ink? The Torah has said: He shall blot out,14 i.e., writing which can be blotted out!' What did [R. Ishmael] intend to tell [R. Meir] that the latter answered him in that manner?15 — [R. Meir] meant, Obviously, I am skilled in the rules of defective and plene spelling;16 but I even have no reason to fear lest a fly should come and settle upon the crownlet of the letter D and obliterate it so that it makes it look like the letter R.17 There is an ingredient which I put into the ink, and its name is vitriol. But it is not so, for it has been taught: R. Meir said: When I studied Torah with R. Ishmael, I used to put vitriol into the ink and he said nothing to me; but when I went to R. Akiba, he forbade it to me! Here is an inconsistency in [the order of the Rabbis upon whom R. Meir] attended, and an inconsistency in [the name of the Rabbi who] forbade it. It is quite right, there is no inconsistency in [the order of the Rabbis upon whom R. Meir] attended; he first went to R. Akiba, but when he was unable [to follow his arguments],18 he went to R. Ishmael. After having studied19 with him, he returned to R. Akiba whose reasoning he was then able to grasp. But there is an inconsistency in [the name of the Rabbi who] forbade it! — That is a difficulty.
It has been taught: R. Judah says: R. Meir used to declare that for all [kinds of script] we may put vitriol into the ink
Sotah 20bexcept only for the portion concerning the suspected woman. R. Jacob says in his [R. Meir's] name, Except the portion of the suspected woman [written] in the Temple.1 What is the difference between them? — R. Jeremiah said: The point between them is [whether it is permissible] to blot out from the Torah [-scroll the passage required for the rite of the water of bitterness];2 and these teachers [differ on the same issue] as the following teachers, for it has been taught: Her scroll is not valid to be used in giving another suspected woman to drink. R. Ahi b. Joshiah says: Her scroll is valid to be used in giving another suspected woman to drink.3 R. papa said: perhaps it is not so, the first teacher only gives his opinion there because [the scroll] was designated for Rachel and cannot therefore be re-designated for Leah, but since the text of the Torah-scroll is written without reference to any individual, we may obliterate [the passage]. R. Nahman b. Isaac said: perhaps It is not so; R. Ahi b. Joshiah only gives his opinion there in the case of a scroll which was written for the purpose of the curses; but with a Torah-scroll which is written for the purpose of study, we may not obliterate [the passage]. Does not, then, R. Ahi b. Joshiah accept what we learnt: If a man wrote [a document] to divorce his wife but changed his mind, and then met a man who resided in the same city4 and said to him, 'My name is identical with yours and my wife's name identical with your wife's name', it is invalid [as a document] wherewith to divorce?5 — They answer: There [in connection with divorce] the All-Merciful declared: He shall write for her6 — we require that it should be written expressly for her; here likewise [it is stated], Shall execute upon her7 — what is intended by the word 'execute'? The obliteration [of the writing].8
SHE HAD SCARCELY FINISHED DRINKING WHEN HER FACE etc. Whose [teaching] is this?9 — It is R. Simeon's, because he said that [the priest] sacrifices her meal-offering and then gives her to drink,10 since the water does not affect her so long as her meal-offering is not sacrificed, as it is written: A meal-offering of memorial, bringing iniquity to rememberance.11 But cite the continuation [of the Mishnah]: IF SHE POSSESSED A MERIT, IT [CAUSES THE WATER] TO SUSPEND ITS EFFECT UPON HER — this accords with the view of the Rabbis; because if [it be supposed that it accords with the view of] R. Simeon, behold he has declared: Merit does not cause the water of bitterness to suspend its effect!12 — R. Hisda said: Whose is it, then? It is R. Akiba's, because he said: He sacrifices her meal-offering and then gives her to drink, and on the question of [the effect of] merit he agrees with the Rabbis.
AND IT IS EXCLAIMED, 'REMOVE HER' etc. What is the reason? — Perhaps she dies. Is this to say that a corpse is forbidden in the camp of the Levites?13 But it has been taught: One who is defiled through contact with a corpse is permitted to enter the camp of the Levites; and not only did they say this of one who is defiled through contact with a corpse but even the corpse itself [may be taken there], as it is said: And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him14 — 'with him', i.e., in his division!15 — Abaye said: [The reason is] lest she become menstruant.16 Is this to say that a sudden fright brings on [menstruation]? — Yes, for it is written: And the queen was exceedingly grieved,17 and Rab said, [It means] that she became menstruant. But we have learnt: Trembling holds back [the menstrual] flow! — Fear holds it back but a sudden fright brings It on.
IF SHE POSSESSED A MERIT etc. Whose teaching is our Mishnah? It is not that of Abba Jose b. Hanan, nor of R. Eleazar b. Isaac of Kefar Darom, nor of R. Ishmael; for it has been taught: If she possess a merit, it suspends [the effect of the water] for three months, sufficiently long for pregnancy to be recognisable. Such is the statement of Abba Jose b. Hanan; R. Eleazar b. Isaac of Kefar Darom says: For nine months, as it is stated: Then she shall be free and shall conceive seed,18 and elsewhere it declares, A seed shall serve him, it shall be related19 — i.e., a seed which is fit to be related.20 R. Ishmael says: For twelve months, and although there is no proof of this, yet there is some indication; because it is written, Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor,'
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