THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
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Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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SOTAH 31-35 - These Dafim have been dedicated by Mrs. Estanne Abraham-Fauer
in honor of the first Yahrzeit (18 Teves 5761) of her father, Reb Mordechai
ben Eliezer Zvi (Weiner). May the merit of supporting and advancing the
study of the Talmud be l'Iluy Nishmaso.
1) THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN "MEZID" AND "RATZON"
QUESTION: The Beraisa teaches that the Kohen must explain to the woman -- in
whatever language she understands -- what the Aveirah is that causes her to
be punished from drinking the Mei Sotah. He must tell her of the different
consequences of whether she became Tamei b'Shogeg (inadvertently) or b'Mezid
(advertently), b'Ones (by coercion) or b'Ratzon (willingly).
2) THE CASE OF "MEZANAH B'SHOGEG"
Why does the Gemara mention *four* categories? "Mezid" and "Ratzon" seem to
be the same type of act! The Beraisa should have mentioned only b'Shogeg,
b'Mezid, and b'Ones! (TOSFOS asks a similar question in Yevamos 53b.)
(a) TOSFOS in Yevamos (53b) suggests reading the words of the Gemara as
follows: the Kohen explains to her the consequences of doing the Aveirah
b'Shogeg or b'Mezid, whether that act of Shogeg or Mezid was done b'Ones or
whether that act of Shogeg or Mezid was done b'Ratzon, without coercion
(that is, even if she did it b'Ones, the act could still be considered one
of Shogeg, in a case where she thinks that the person she was forced to be
with is her husband; her act is one of "Mezid b'Ones" when she realizes that
she is being forced to live with a man who is not her husband).
(b) The RASHASH in Yevamos, extrapolating from another answer that Tosfos
gives there (which does not apply to our Sugya), suggests that "b'Ratzon"
means doing the act for personal gain or benefit, and "b'Mezid" means simply
in order to harm someone else (or, in our case, to rebel against her
(c) The MINCHAS YAKOV suggests that the Gemara might be hinting to the
Halachic ruling of the MAHARIK (#165) who distinguishes between a woman who
sins b'Shogeg and a woman who thinks that her act of Z'nus is permitted. The
Maharik writes that although a woman who was Mezanah b'Shogeg (i.e. she
thought that the man she was living with was her husband) is permitted to
her husband, if she is unfaithful to her husband because she thinks that the
Torah does not prohibit the act, then she *does* become prohibited to her
husband. The reason is because the Torah prohibits an unfaithful woman to
her husband not because of the violation of Torah law ("Ma'alah ba'Hashem")
but because she was disloyal to her husband (as the Torah says, "u'Ma'alah
Vo Ma'al" (Bamidbar 5:12)). Even if her act of disloyalty would not be
prohibited by the Torah, she still would become prohibited to her husband.
Therefore, when she mistakenly thinks that the act is permitted by the
Torah, it does not lessen her disloyalty to her husband.
The Maharik cites a number of proofs for this:
1. The RAMBAM (Hilchos Sotah 2:4) writes that if a married Ketanah commits
adultery, she becomes prohibited to her husband and to the Bo'el. The
Torah's prohibitions, though, do not apply to a Ketanah, and nevertheless
she becomes prohibited to her husband for being disloyal. Even though most
Rishonim do not accept the Rambam's ruling, they reject it for the reason
that Pituy Ketanah is considered Ones, and not because she cannot become
prohibited if she did not commit a sin.
Hence, when our Sugya says "Mezid," it might be referring to a case of "Omer
Mutar," where she becomes prohibited to her husband even though she did not
transgress the Torah's prohibition.
2. He cites TOSFOS in Yoma (82b, DH Mah) who explains that it was permitted
for Esther to live with Achashverosh willingly, since she was doing it in
order to save the entire Jewish people, as we find that Yael did (Nazir
23b). Nevertheless, the Gemara in Megilah (15a) says that Esther realized
that after she would live with Achashverosh willingly she would become
prohibited to her husband. (See CHOCHMAS SHLOMO EH 178:3.)
The REMA (EH 178:3) cites the ruling of the Maharik as the Halachah. REBBI
AKIVA EIGER (Teshuvos 114), cited by the Pischei Teshuvah, adds that the
woman also loses her Kesuvah for being Mezanah in such a manner. However,
even according to the Maharik, it is likely that if the woman was not only
persuaded that there is no prohibition of the Torah of adultery, but was
even persuaded that her adultery will not be a sign of disloyalty to her
husband, then she should be permitted to her husband.
(d) The TIFERES TZION suggests that Ones and Ratzon are both referring to
situations where someone else imposes on her and initiates the act, either
through force or through persuasion. Shogeg and Mezid refer to situations
where she herself instigates the act, either inadvertently or purposefully.
(e) RASHI in Menachos (25b, DH Shogeg) explains that Ratzon and Mezid are
one and the same. The Gemara mentions both only because the Gemara needs to
contrast Shogeg with Mezid, and thus it also mentions the contrast of Ones,
which is Ratzon, even though it does not have to mention Ratzon since it is
the same as Mezid. Rashi here (DH u'va'Meh Hi Nitma'ah) implies this as
QUESTION: The Gemara explains that if a woman was Mezanah b'Shogeg,
committing adultery by accident, she is permitted to her husband. How is a
woman Mezanah b'Shogeg? RASHI explains that an example of such a case is
when a woman was told that her husband died, and she lived with another man
thinking that her husband was dead.
3) OUR FOREFATHER -- LAVAN?
However, when the Gemara earlier (28a) mentions that a woman who was Mezanah
b'Shogeg does not become prohibited to her husband, Rashi there explains
that the case of Shogeg is when two men are in a house with their two wives,
and one man lives with the other man's wife, mistaking her for his own wife.
The woman, too, mistakenly thought that the man was her husband.
Why does Rashi change his explanation of the case of Mezanah b'Shogeg?
ANSWER: RASHI here cannot explain that the case of Mezanah b'Shogeg is when
the two men and two women were in a house together, because the only time
the woman drinks the Mei Sotah is when she was Nisterah, secluding herself
with another man with no other people present. The reason she is considered
Shogeg must be because she thought her husband had died.
Rashi earlier, though, is discussing a Vadai Sotah (a woman who definitely
sinned) for whom there are witnesses who testify that she was Mezanah. The
act, therefore, could have been done with other people present.
However, why does Rashi earlier not suggest the simple case of Shogeg that
he suggests here (where the woman mistakenly thought that her husband had
died)? The answer is that Rashi wants to explain "Shogeg" in the normal
context in which it is used, which is the type of Shogeg for which a person
is Chayav to bring a Korban. The Gemara in Shabbos (72b) and Kerisus (19b)
teaches that, according to Rava, if a person intended to cut an object on
Shabbos which he thought was detached from the ground, and it turned out
that it was attached to the ground, the person's act is considered to be one
of "Mis'asek" and not "Shogeg" (and therefore he is not Chayav to bring a
Because of this, Rashi explains that the normal case of Shogeg is not when a
person had a misconception about a fact that affects the Halachah, but
rather when he was aware that there are two different objects in front of
him, one permitted and one prohibited, and he accidentally took the
prohibited one when he thought that he was taking the permitted one. In this
case, Rava agrees that it is considered Shogeg because the person knew that
he had to be careful since he was aware that there also was an object
present that was prohibited (see also Tosfos and Insights there).
This is why Rashi prefers to explain (on 28a) that the case of Shogeg is
when there are two women and two men in one house, and not that the woman
was under a misconception (thinking that her husband died, or thinking that
the other man was her husband when there was only one person in the house
In our Sugya, however, Rashi has no choice but to explain that the word
"Shogeg" is an imprecise term, and the case is really one of Mis'asek. (M.
It is worth noting that we may infer an important point from each of these
two comments of Rashi.
First, as the RASHASH there alludes (see also MINCHAS YAKOV), we can infer
from Rashi's words (on 28a) that Rashi holds the woman is only considered a
Sotah b'Shogeg because *both* she *and* the Bo'el were Shogegim and did the
act inadvertently. If only she was Shogeg (but the Bo'el was Mezid), then
she would still have the status of a Sotah for some matters. Rashi seems to
be adopting the opinion of the Yerushalmi, cited by Tosfos (27b, DH k'Shem),
that even when the woman was Shogeg, if the Bo'el was Mezid then the woman
becomes prohibited to him (not like the Gemara in Kesuvos 9a; see Insights
Second, from Rashi's words here it appears that Rashi has no option of
explaining the "Shogeg" of our Gemara as a true Shogeg, and therefore he
explains that the case of our Gemara is a case of Mis'asek. Why does Rashi
not explain that "Shogeg" here means that the woman was not aware that the
Torah prohibits adultery ("Omer Mutar")? The Gemara in Shabbos (end of 72b)
says clearly that a person brings a Korban Chatas in such a situation (see
Rashi there, DH v'Chatach). The only time that "Omer Mutar" does not have a
status of Shogeg is with regard to Galus for one who killed someone else by
accident (Makos 7b; see Tosfos in Shabbos 72b). The fact that Rashi does not
choose to explain that our Gemara is discussing a case of "Omer Mutar"
supports the opinion of the MAHARIK (see previous Insight), who maintains
that a woman becomes a Sotah if she is "Omer Mutar" and she is not deemed to
be a Shogeg with regard to the laws of Mei Sotah (see MINCHAS YAKOV, 28a).
QUESTION: Rebbi Shimon bar Yochai says that a person should speak his praise
quietly, and speak his disgrace loudly. We learn that one should speak his
disgrace loudly from the laws of Mikra Bikurim, where the person who brings
the Bikurim recites out loud the verse, "Arami Oved Avi" (Devarim 26:5). The
Gemara concludes that Rebbi Shimon bar Yochai did not mean that one should
say one's disgrace loudly, but that one should relate one's *suffering*
loudly (so that others will pray for him).
4) SHAMING SINNERS
When the Gemara initially understood that Rebbi Shimon bar Yochai was
referring to one's disgrace, RASHI explains that "Arami Oved Avi" is a
self-effacing statement because the people "are admitting that their father,
Lavan ha'Arami, was a Rasha." Rashi seems to be translating the verse,
"Arami Oved Avi," as, "My father (Lavan) was a hopelessly lost (wicked)
How can Rashi say that the Torah refers to Lavan as "our father?" The Gemara
in Berachos (16b) says that the only ones to whom we refer as our "fathers"
are Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yakov. Moreover, a number of Midrashim teach that
the Jewish people are not considered to be related to Terach, and the other
parents of the Matriarchs (such as Besuel and Lavan).
Second, how can the continuation of the verse be explained according to this
interpretation? The verse continues and says, "and he descended to
Mitzrayim." How can Rashi say that the subject of the verse is Lavan? Lavan
never went to Mitzrayim! Obviously, the subject of the verse is Yakov Avinu.
The verse is translated either like the Targum Unkelos and the Hagadah of
Pesach explain, that "[Lavan] the Arami wanted to destroy my father," which
would not appear to be disgraceful for us, since we are not mentioning Lavan
in the context of being our ancestor, or the verse means -- like the Ibn
Ezra and Chizkuni explain -- that "my father [Yakov] was a wandering Arami."
The verse continues and says that Yakov then descended to Mitzrayim.
What, then, does Rashi here mean? (See MINCHAS YAKOV in the name of HA'GAON
RAV AHARON SHECHTER shlit'a.)
(a) The Rishonim ask a similar question regarding the statement in the
Hagadah of Pesach, "Our forefathers were idol-worshippers," and it cites a
verse that says that Terach was an idol-worshipper. How can we call Terach
our "forefather?" (Based on the RAMBAM in Hilchos Avodas Kochavim 1:3, who
says that Avraham Avinu was raised among the idol-worshippers and
participated by rote in their service with his parents and family members
until the age of 40, it could be that the Hagadah is referring to Avraham
Avinu himself. See Hagadah mi'Beis Levi, page 125, in the name of the Beis
ha'Levi. However, the Rambam himself (Hilchos Chametz u'Matzah 7:4) and the
Ritva in Pesachim says that the Hagadah is referring to Terach and those who
The OR ZARU'A (1:106) and the TOSFOS RID in Pesachim answer that the Gemara
in Berachos is referring to saying words of praise, taking pride in someone
and giving someone the honor of calling him the "father" of our nation. When
we are not giving honor but we are relating something disgraceful, we can
call even Terach "our father" since it is not an honor to be called our
father in such a context. (See also RASHBA and RITVA in Berachos 16b.)
The Or Zaru'a adds that the Gemara only means that one cannot ask Hashem to
remember the Zechus Avos of anyone other than the three Avos, Avraham,
Yitzchak, and Yakov. This seems to be based on the RA'AVAD cited by the
Rashba in Berachos, who says that the Gemara means that we should not pray
to Hashem saying, "May He Who answered Reuven our father answer us as well."
Regarding the meaning of the verse, "Arami Oved Avi," the Gemara might have
thought that the verse should be divided, and "Arami" is referring to Lavan,
and "he descended to Mitrzayim" is referring to Yakov, and the verse is just
mentioning different sources of shame.
(b) Rashi might be explaining the verse like the RASHBAM, that "Arami"
refers to Avraham Avinu who came from Padan Aram (and not to Yakov Avinu,
who only passed through there). When the verse says that he went to
Mitzrayim, it is referring to the nation that he bore. The disgrace of the
verse is that we are referring to Avraham Avinu's early days in Aram before
he began to serve Hashem, when he was still "Oved," wandering among the
idol-worshippers. This is the same type of disgrace to which the Mishnah
refers in Pesachim (116a) according to Rav, when it says that we are
"Maschil b'G'nus." The words "Lavan ha'Arami" in Rashi seem to be a mistake
and the original text might have read "Avram" or "Avraham" (and the printers
changed it, because they could not understand what Avraham Avinu had to do
with the verse "Arami Oved Avi" and how Rashi could call Avraham a "Rasha").
According to the Gemara's conclusion that Rebbi Shimon bar Yochai is
referring to relating one's suffering out loud and not to relating one's
disgrace, the verse can be translated either like the Targum Unkelos or like
the other Rishonim (as referring either to Avraham or to Yakov's years of
QUESTION: The Gemara says that the reason the Chachamim enacted that we
recite the Shemoneh Esreh silently is in order for sinners not to be
embarrassed. If we had to recite the Shemoneh Esreh out loud, one who had
sinned and wanted to ask Hashem for forgiveness in his prayers would be
embarrassed to do so. Therefore, the Chachamim enacted that we pray silently
to prevent such embarrassment.
The holy Rav of Brisk, RAV YEHOSHUA LEIB DISKIN (Maharal Diskin),
brilliantly uses our Gemara to explain a difficulty in the verses in Parshas
When a person is obligated to bring a Chatas, the Torah gives him a choice
as to what type of animal to bring. He may bring either a goat (Vayikra
4:28) or a lamb (Vayikra 4:32). In either case, the animal that he brings
must be female, unblemished, and one year old. Likewise, the procedure
described by the Torah for each is the same (4:29-31 for the goat, and
4:33-35 for the ewe).
However, there is one odd difference in the Torah's description of each type
of Chatas. When describing the results of successfully offering a
goat-Chatas, the Torah says, "And the Kohen atones for him, and he is
In contrast, when describing the results of successfully offering a
lamb-Chatas, the Torah says, "And the Kohen atones for him *for his sin
which he sinned* and he is forgiven" (4:35).
Why does the Torah add those few extra words -- "for his sin which he
sinned" -- when discussing the atonement achieved by a lamb-Chatas? It is
obvious that the atonement granted is for the sin that he committed, because
that is his purpose in bringing the Chatas! Furthermore, we see that there
was no need to add those words when describing the exact same atonement
achieved by the goat-Chatas! Is there a difference in the atonement achieved
by each type of animal? Why does the Torah change its wording?
ANSWER: The Maharal Diskin cites our Gemara which proves from the Torah that
protecting sinners from shame when they want to repent is a desirable
quality. The Torah, in Parshas Vayikra, instructs that both the Korban
Chatas (brought by a sinner to atone for his sin) and the Korban Olah (which
is not brought by a sinner) are to be slaughtered and prepared in the same
area of the Beis ha'Mikdash. That way, nobody else knows what the person's
Korban is being brought for, and the person is saved the embarrassment of
others knowing that he sinned.
The Gemara asks that a person will still be embarrassed, though, because we
know that a Chatas must be a female animal (Vayikra 4:28. 4:32), and an Olah
must be a male animal (Vayikra 1:10). Hence, when people see that he is
bringing a female animal, they will know that he is bringing a Chatas and
that he sinned! The Gemara answers that the gender of the animal is not so
readily noticeable, because it is covered by the fur of the animal's tail.
The Gemara continues and asks that this answer suffices when the sinner
brings a lamb as his Chatas, for a lamb has a very furry tail. On the other
hand, when one brings a goat as his Chatas, there is no fur on the tail
(there is a hardly a tail at all) to cover up her gender-signs, and it will
be evident to all that he is bringing a Chatas! To this the Gemara responds
that indeed he will be embarrassed, but it is his own fault for choosing to
bring a goat as his Chatas. If he really wanted to keep the purpose of his
Korban hidden, he would have brought a lamb, and not a goat.
The Maharal Diskin points out that there is, however, a positive element in
being embarrassed about one's sin. The Gemara in Berachos (12b) says that
"if a person commits a sin but is then embarrassed about what he did, then
*all of his sins* are forgiven." The Gemara there proves this from a verse
Consequently, when one brings a goat as his Chatas, he not only gains
forgiveness for the single sin for which he is bringing the Chatas, but he
gains forgiveness for *all* of his sins as well as a result of being
embarrassed about the one sin that he committed for which he is bringing the
Chatas! He is embarrassed, though, only when he brings a goat, for her
gender-signs are readily noticeable. When he brings a lamb, nobody can see
its gender-signs and nobody knows that he is bringing a Chatas! Therefore,
he attains forgiveness only for the single sin for which he is bringing the
Chatas, but not for all of his other sins.
This explains the difference in the Torah's description of the atonement
achieved by each type of Chatas. Regarding a goat-Chatas, the Torah says,
"And the Kohen atones for him, and he is forgiven" (4:31) -- that is, since
it does not specify what he is forgiven for, it implies that he is forgiven
for all of his sins! On the other hand, regarding a lamb-Chatas the Torah
says, "And the Kohen atones for him *for his sin which he sinned* and he is
forgiven" (4:35) -- stating that he is only forgiven for the single sin for
which he is bringing the Chatas, and not for his other sins, because by
bringing a lamb he avoided embarrassment!