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Sotah 3:3-4

Sotah 3:3

If the woman refuses to drink before the scroll is erased, the scroll is put into storage and her flour offering is discarded on the ash pile. Her scroll cannot be used for any other sotah. If the scroll was already erased and she confessed to adultery, the water is spilled out and her flour offering is discarded on the ash pile. If she refuses to drink after the scroll has been erased, then she is compelled to drink against her will.

Sotah 3:4

As soon as she starts to drink, (if guilty,) her face might turn green, her eyes might bulge and she would appear covered in veins. If this happened, they would yell, “Take her out! Take her out!” because of the concern that she might defile the Temple courtyard. If she had merits, they could delay her punishment – one, two or even three years depending on the merit. For this reason, Ben Azzai says that a man should teach his daughter Torah. That way, if she ever has to drink the bitter water, she will know that it’s the merit of Torah study that delays her punishment. Rabbi Eliezer says that if a man teaches his daughter Torah, he’s effectively teaching her immodest behavior (because of the assumption that Torah study can “beat” the bitter water test). Rabbi Yehoshua says that a woman would rather have one bushel of produce and sexual activity than nine bushels with abstinence. He also used to say that a pious fool, a sneaky sinner, a holier-than-thou woman and self-flagellating Pharisees ruin the world (because their superficial piety misleads others).

Author: Rabbi Jack Abramowitz