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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sotah

Folio 5a

[the meaning is:] Though he practise charity in secret,1  concerning which it is written: 'A gift in secret pacifieth anger,2  he will not escape the punishment of Gehinnom.

Whence is there a prohibition for the haughty of spirit? — Raba said in the name of Ze'iri: Hear ye, and give ear; be not proud.3  R. Nahman b. Isaac said: [It is derived] from this passage, Thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God,4  and it is written: Beware lest thou forget the Lord thy God.5  This is in accord with what R. Abin said in the name of R. Elai; for R. Abin said in the name of R. Elai: Wherever it is stated 'Beware' 'lest' and 'Do not' the reference is to a prohibition.

R. 'Awira expounded, sometimes he said it in the name of R. Assi and at other times in the name of R. Ammi: Every man in whom is haughtiness of spirit will in the end be reduced in rank; as it is said: They are exalted, there will be reduction of status;6  and lest you think that they remain in existence, the text continues, 'And they are gone'. If, however, he changes [and becomes humble], he will be gathered [to his fathers] in his due time like our father Abraham; as it is said: But when they are lowly, they are gathered in like all7  — i.e., like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in connection with whom the word 'all' is used.8  If not, They are cut off as the tops of the ears of corn.9  What means 'as the tops of the ears of corn'? R. Huna and R. Hisda [explain it]. One says that it means like the awn of the grain, and the other that it means like the ears themselves. This is quite right according to him who says that it means like the awn of the grain, since it is written 'as the tops of the ears of corn'; but according to him who says that it means like the ears themselves, what signifies 'as the tops of the ears of corn'? — R. Assi said, and it was similarly taught in the School of R. Ishmael: It is like a man who enters his field; he gleans the tallest ears.

With him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit.10  R. Huna and R. Hisda [explain it]. One says that it means the contrite is with Me, and the other that I [God] am with the contrite. The more probable view is in accord with him who holds the meaning to be I am with the contrite; for behold, the Holy One, blessed be He, ignored all the mountains and heights and caused His Shechinah to abide upon Mount Sinai, but did not elevate Mount Sinai [up to Himself].

R. Joseph said: Man should always learn from the mind of his Creator; for behold, the Holy One, blessed be He, ignored all the mountains and heights and caused His Shechinah to abide upon Mount Sinai, and ignored all the beautiful trees and caused His Shechinah to abide in a bush.11

R. Eleazar also said: Every man in whom is haughtiness of spirit is fit to be hewn down like an Asherah.12  It is written here, The high ones of stature shall be hewn down,13  and elsewhere it is written: And ye shall hew down their Asherim.14  Further said R. Eleazar, Every man in whom is haughtiness of spirit, his dust will not be disturbed [for the Resurrection]; as it is said: Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust15  — it is not said 'ye that lie in the dust', but, 'ye that dwell [shokne] in the dust', i.e., each one who during his lifetime made himself a neighbour [shaken] to the dust [by his humility]. Further said R. Eleazar: Over every man in whom is haughtiness of spirit the Shechinah laments; as it is said: But the haughty he knoweth from afar.16

R. Awira expounded, and according to another version it was R. Eleazar: Come and see that the manner of the Holy One, blessed be He, is not like the manner of human beings. The manner of human beings is for the lofty to take notice of the lofty and not of the lowly; but the manner of the Holy One, blessed be He, is not so. He is lofty and He takes notice of the lowly, as it is said: For though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly.17

R. Hisda said, and according to another version it was Mar 'Ukba: Every man in whom is haughtiness of spirit, the Holy One, blessed be He, declares, I and he cannot both dwell in the world; as it is said: Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I destroy; him that hath an high look and a proud heart will I not suffer18  — read not 'him' [I cannot suffer], but 'with him'19  I cannot [dwell]. There are some who apply this teaching to those who speak slander; as it is said,'whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I destroy­.

R. Alexandri said: Every man in whom there is haughtiness of spirit, even the slightest wind will disturb;20  as it is said: But the wicked are like the troubled sea.21  If the sea, which contains so many quarters of a log,22  is ruffled by the slightest wind, how much more so a human being who contains but one quarter of a log.23

R. Hiyya b. Ashi said in the name of Rab: A disciple of the Sages should possess an eighth [of pride].24  R. Huna the son of R. Joshua said: [This small amount of pride] crowns him like the awn of the grain. Raba said: [A disciple of the Sages] who possesses [haughtiness of spirit] deserves excommunication, and if he does not possess it he deserves excommunication.25  R. Nahman b. Isaac said: He should not possess it or part of it; is it a trifling matter concerning which it is written: Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord!26

Hezekiah said: A man's prayer is not heard unless he makes his heart [soft] like flesh; as it is said, And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, shall all flesh come to worship, etc.27  R. Zera said: Concerning flesh it is written: And it is healed;28  but it is not written concerning man, And he is healed.

R. Johanan said: The word for man [adam] indicates dust, blood and gall;29  the word for flesh [basar] indicates shame, stench and worm. Some declare that [instead of 'stench' we should have the word] Sheol, since its initial letter corresponds.30

R. Ashi said: Every man in whom is haughtiness of spirit will in the end be degraded; as it is said,

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. He gives from 'hand to hand'.
  2. Prov. XXI, 14.
  3. Jer. XIII, 15.
  4. Deut. VIII, 14.
  5. Ibid. 11.
  6. Job XXIV, 24.
  7. lbid.
  8. V. Gen. XXIV, 1, XXVII, 33 and XXXIII, 11.
  9. Job loc. cit.
  10. Isa. LVII, 15.
  11. Ex. III, 2. Similarly should man associate with the humble.
  12. An object of idolatrous worship.
  13. Isa. X, 33.
  14. Deut. VII, 5.
  15. Isa. XXVI, 19. 'Ye that lie in the dust' would apply to all mortals.
  16. Ps. CXXXVIII, 6. The Hebrew word translated knoweth, [H], is understood in the sense of punish, cf. Jud. VIII. 16.
  17. lbid.
  18. Ps. CL. 5.
  19. Involves a slight change in the vocalization.
  20. [The smallest disappointment is liable to discomfit him.]
  21. Isa. LVII, 20.
  22. A liquid measure, equal to the contents of six eggs.
  23. This was considered the minimum quantity of blood in the body essential to life.
  24. He should have a little pride to maintain his self-respect.
  25. To have too much is bad, and also too little because it prevents a Rabbi from exercising his authority.
  26. Prov. XVI, 5.
  27. Isa. LXVI, 23.
  28. Lev. XIII, 18. Hence only one whose heart is soft like flesh will be healed, and not a man in his full pride.
  29. The initials of these words in Hebrew form adam.
  30. The initial of the word for 'stench' is samek, whereas the second letter in basar is similar in form to that of 'Sheol'.
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Sotah 5b

For a rising and for a scab,1  and se'eth ['rising'] means nothing else than elevation, as it is said: Upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are nisaoth [lifted up].2  Sappahath ['scab'] means nothing else than attachment; as it is said: Attach me, I pray thee, into one of the priests' offices, that I may eat a morsel of bread.3

R. Joshua b. Levi said: Come and see how great are the lowly of spirit in the esteem of the Holy One, blessed be He, since when the Temple stood, a man brought a burnt-offering and received the reward of a burnt-offering, a meal-offering and he received the reward of a meal-offering; but as for him whose mind is lowly, Scripture ascribes it to him as though he had offered every one of the sacrifices; as it is said: The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit.4  More than that, his prayer is not despised; as it continues: A broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

R. Joshua b. Levi further said: He who calculates his ways in this world will be worthy to behold the salvation of the Holy One, blessed be He; as it is said: To him that ordereth his way will I show the salvation of God5  — read not we-sam [that ordereth] but we-sham [who calculates] his way.6

HOW MUST HE WARN HER? etc. This is self-contradictory. You declare, IF HE SAYS TO HER IN THE PRESENCE OF TWO, DO NOT CONVERSE WITH THAT MAN — consequently conversation is the equivalent of seclusion.7  He then proceeds to teach: AND SHE CONVERSED WITH HIM, SHE IS STILL PERMITTED TO HER HUSBAND AND PERMITTED TO PARTAKE OF THE HEAVEOFFERING — consequently conversation is nothing! — Abaye said: This is what he means: [If he said to her,] Do not converse, and she conversed with him, Do not converse, and she secluded herself with him, that is nothing; [but if he said to her,] Do not be secluded with him, and she conversed with him, she is still permitted to her husband and permitted to partake of the heave-offering. Should she have entered a private place with him and stayed a time sufficient for misconduct to have occurred, she is forbidden to her husband and forbidden to partake of the heave-offering.

IF [HER HUSBAND] DIED, SHE PERFORMS THE CEREMONY OF HALIZAH. Why so? Let her also contract a levirate marriage! — R. Joseph said: Scripture declared: And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife8  — she may marry 'another' man but not her brother-in-law.9  Abaye said to him, According to your argument, Halizah also should be unnecessary! He replied to him, If the husband is living, is not a Get required?10  So here likewise Halizah is necessary.11  Another version is: R. Joseph said: The All-Merciful declared: And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife, so as not to destroy his house;12  and you argue, let her also contract a levirate marriage!13  Abaye said to him, According to your argument, she should never marry again so as not to destroy another man's house! — He replied to him,

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Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. Lev. XIV, 56 interpreted as: having first been elevated, he will become something superfluous among men, and therefore esteemed as nothing.
  2. Isa. II, 14.
  3. I Sam. II, 36. The Hebrew for the verb attach resembles the word for scab, v. Shebu, 6b.
  4. Ps. LI, 19.
  5. Ibid. L, 23.
  6. He calculates the loss incurred in fulfilling a precept against the reward it will bring him, v. Aboth, II, 1.
  7. Since it justifies a warning from the husband.
  8. Deut. XXIV, 2.
  9. ['Another' excludes the brother-in-law whose marriage to her is but a continuation, so to speak, of her first marriage. The derivation is based on the superfluous word 'another' which is taken to refer to a case where the wife was charged with an 'unseemly thing' and her husband died. The meaning of the verse would accordingly be as follows: If she found no favour … because he hath found some unseemly thing, he shall write her a bill of divorcement. When she departs out of his house (whether on his death or on divorce) and she goeth and becometh another man's wife, implying she can become the wife only of another man but not the brother-in-law.]
  10. Despite her misconduct. Ibid. 3 mentions, and write her a bill of divorcement. The technical term for this document is Get.
  11. [The brother-in-law taking the place of the dead husband.]
  12. V. supra p. II where it is taught that the wife's immorality destroys the husband's house.
  13. And perhaps destroy the brother-in-law's house.
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