MISHNAH. THE FOLLOWING9 ARE PROHIBITED TO PARTAKE OF THE HEAVE-OFFERING:10 SHE WHO SAYS, 'I AM UNCLEAN TO THEE';11 WHEN WITNESSES CAME [AND TESTIFIED] THAT SHE HAD MISCONDUCTED HERSELF;12 SHE WHO SAYS, I REFUSE TO DRINK [THE WATER]'; WHEN THE HUSBAND IS UNWILLING TO MAKE HER DRINK [THE WATER]: AND WHEN THE HUSBAND COHABITED WITH HER ON THE JOURNEY.13
GEMARA. R. Amram said: The following did R. Shesheth tell us and enlighten our eyes from our Mishnah:14 In the case of a suspected woman where the witnesses against her are in a far-distant land,15 the water does not prove her.16 What is the reason? Because Scripture states: And be kept close and she be defiled and there be no witness against her17 — this is when there is nobody who knows anything against her, thus excluding the case when there are men who know something against her.18 And he enlightened our eyes from our Mishnah where it is taught: WHEN WITNESSES CAME [AND TESTIFIED] THAT SHE HAD MISCONDUCTED HERSELF. When did the witnesses come? If we say that they came before she drank the water, she is an adulteress;19 consequently they could only have come after she had drunk the water. This is quite right if you say that the water does not prove her,20 then all is clear; but if you say that [in such a circumstance] the water does prove her, the water may demonstrate retrospectively that the witnesses were false!21 — R. Joseph said to him, Still I maintain that the water does prove her, and answer that some merit she possesses causes the water to suspend its effect.22
In what do [R. Joseph and R. Shesheth] differ? — In the matter of her becoming ill, according to the teaching of Rabbi. For we learn: Rabbi says: Merit [in the woman] causes the water of bitterness to suspend its effect, and she never bears a child or thrives, but she gradually grows ill and finally dies through that death.23 R. Shesheth is of the opinion that both in the view of Rabbi and of the Rabbis she grows ill;24 and R. Joseph is of the opinion that in the view of Rabbi she grows ill but in the view of the Rabbis she does not.25
R. Shimi b. Ashi raised an objection: R. Simeon says: Merit does not cause the water of bitterness to suspend its effect; and if you say that merit does cause the water of bitterness to suspend its effect, you discredit the water in the case of all the women who drink it and defame the pure woman who drank it, since people will say: They were unclean, only their merit caused the water to suspend its effect upon them.26 But if it is so,27 then through [the teaching], 'Where the witnesses against her are in a far-distant land', you likewise defame the pure women who drank and people will say: They were unclean, only the witnesses against them are in a far-distant land! — [The reply to R. Shimi is:] You quote R. Simeon; but as R. Simeon holds that merit does not cause the water to suspend its effect, he similarly holds that the existence of witnesses does not cause it to suspend its effect.
Rab raised an objection: The following have their meal-offerings destroyed:28
Sotah 6bShe who says: 'I am unclean'; and when witnesses came [and testified] that she had misconducted herself.1 When did the witnesses come? If I say that they came before the offering was hallowed,2 then it can become non-holy?3 Consequently they could only have come after it had been hallowed. This is quite right if you say that the water proves her;4 consequently she is qualified to have [the flour] hallowed and offered on her behalf, and since it was hallowed from the commencement, it is certainly holy5 and for that reason her meal-offering is destroyed. But if you say that the water does not prove her, it becomes evident retrospectively that the hallowing was from the commencement in error,6 and therefore [the flour] becomes non-holy!7 — Rab Judah of Diskarta8 said: Suppose that [after the hallowing] she committed adultery within the Temple-precincts,9 since it was hallowed from the commencement, it is certainly holy! R. Mesharsheya objected: But do not the priestly novitiates accompany her?10 — Rab Judah [meant,] She committed adultery with one of these novitiates. R. Ashi11 said: Suppose it was necessary for her to relieve herself, do you think that the priestly novitiates hang on to her headgear!12 R. Papa said: The matter is certainly as we originally explained;13 and when you argue, [The offering] becomes non-holy, [the answer is that the rule by which the offering is destroyed] is a decree of the Rabbis lest it should be said, we may take [the flour] out of the ministering vessel for secular use.
R. Mari raised an objection: If her offering became ritually defiled before it became hallowed in the vessel, behold it is like all meal-offerings14 and is redeemed; but if [it became defiled] after it had been hallowed in the vessel, behold it is like all meal-offerings [in such a circumstance] and is destroyed.15 If the handful of flour16 was hallowed but there was not sufficient time to offer it before [the husband] died17 or she died, behold it is like all the meal-offerings and must be destroyed. If the handful had been offered but there was not sufficient time [for the priest] to eat the remainder18 before [the husband] died or she died, behold it is like all the meal-offerings and is eaten; because it was brought from the commencement in connection with a matter of doubt,19 it atoned for the doubt which is now ended. If witnesses came [and testified] against her that she had misconducted herself, her meal-offering is destroyed; should the witnesses against her be proved to be perjurers,20 her meal-offering is non-holy?21 — You mention perjured witnesses; the fact that they were perjured witnesses is generally known.22
There is a teaching in accord with the view of R. Shesheth23 but not for the same reason as his,24 viz., If she be clean25 — [this indicates] there are no witnesses against her in a far-distant land;26 'and if she be clean' — [the addition of and indicates] it is not merit that causes the water to suspend its effect; ['and if] she [be clean'] — [meaning that she has escaped the effect of the water because she is in fact clean] and not because women who spin by moonlight were discussing her.27 Now as for R. Simeon,28 agreed that he does not expound the conjunction and;29 still there is the case
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