Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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1) Ch. 5, v. 7: "V'hisvadu v'heishiv" - Why does the verse begin with the plural form and end with the singular form?

2) Ch. 5, v. 13: "Osoh" - Rashi ends his commentary on this verse with a "droshoh" that from the word "osoh" we exclude the infidelity of the "sotoh's" sister. The following words appear in the Rashi as well, but are found in parentheses: "as with the story of the two sisters (who were similar in appearance)." What is the case of the two sisters?

3) Ch. 5, v. 28: "V'niksoh v'nizroh zora" - When Chanoh found herself barren after being married for a number of years to Elkonoh, she prayed to Hashem to be blessed with a child. The gemara Brochos 31b relates that in Chanoh's prayers she told Hashem that if He would grant her a child, fine. If not, she threatened to go into seclusion with a man other than her husband. Her husband would warn her not to go into seclusion with that man and she would do it anyhow. This would force her husband to bring her to the Mikdosh for the "sotoh" ritual. She would go through with it and would be found innocent. Then the fulfillment of our verse "v'niksoh v'nizroh zora - if found innocent she will have children" - would have to take place. She thus felt that she could force Hashem's hand, so to speak, into granting her a child. Wasn't Chanoh concerned about causing Hashem's Holy Name to be erased, a component of the "sotoh" water procedure?

4) Ch. 6, v. 23: "OMORE lohem" - The word OMORE, meaning "SAY," should have been vowelized "EMORE," as we find in Vayikra 21:1, "EMORE el haKohanim."

5) Ch. 7, v. 13: "Kaaras kesef achas shloshim u'mei'oh mishkoloh mizrok echod kesef shivim shekel b'shekel hakodesh SHNEIHEM m'lei'im" - The Targum Yonoson ben Uziel says that the "k'oroh," the plate had a thin wall, while the "mizrok," the bowl, had a thick wall. How does he know this?



The Ibn Ezra answers that the beginning of the verse refers back to both the man and woman who are mentioned in verse 6. The end of the verse refers singly to either the man or the woman. We are still left with the problem of why the verse changed from both, to each singularly. The Beis Yisroel answers with the gemara B.M. 75b, which says that one who lends to another when no witnesses are present, has given ample opportunity for the borrower to lie about the loan having ever taken place. The lender has transgressed "v'lifnei i'veir lo si'tein mich'shol" (Vayikra 19:14). Likewise here, when a person is able to deny that he ever borrowed from another person and has even sworn falsely to that effect, both the borrower and the lender are responsible, hence the plural form "v'hisvadu." Once the borrower has admitted to lying, ONLY HE is responsible to make good the payment, hence the singular form.


The Sifsei Chachomim explains that this Rashi refers to the gemara Y'vomos 95a, which tells us that if the husband of the wayward wife had himself been unfaithful and had relations with his wife's sister, it would not forbid their own marriage from continuing. This in no way explains the last words of Rashi, "who were similar in appearance." As mentioned in the question, these words are in parentheses, and we may assume that the Sifsei Chachomim did not have it in his text, or considered it an inaccurate text.

However, to understand the words "who were similar in appearance" we might possibly say that Rashi refers to a Yalkut Shimoni at the end of remez #705. It relates the following: A man was suspicious of his wife's activities with another man after she had gone into seclusion with him. He warned her not to repeat this, but she took no heed and repeated her improper actions. As required by halacha, he started his trip to Yerusholayim with his wife, to have her tested by drinking the dreaded "bitter sotoh waters." It was a lengthy trip, and the woman's sister lived in a community that was on the way to Yerusholayim. They stopped there for overnight lodging. When the two sisters had some privacy, the host sister asked her visiting sister the purpose of the visit, as it was not the season for the holiday pilgrimage to the Holy City. Her sister responded that she was on her way to be tested with the "mei sotoh." The host sister asked if she was indeed guilty, to which she responded in the affirmative.

The host sister suggested a most novel scheme. Since they were extremely similar in appearance, she offered to switch clothes with her errant sister and pretend to be the "sotoh." The guilty sister readily agreed, realizing that she would otherwise be put to the test and have only two options; to admit her guilt and be divorced and sent away in shame with no financial support, or to drink the waters and risk death.

The ruse worked and the imposter was not caught by her sister's husband. She drank the waters, suffering no negative affects, and happily started the trip homeward. They once again stopped at the home of the sister, and when the guilty one stepped out of the house to greet her sister who had saved her life, they embraced and kissed each other on the lips. A bit of the flavour of the "mei sotoh" still lingered in the imposter's throat and entered the mouth of the guilty sister. There was an immediate reaction. The adulteress's body started to swell and she died shortly thereafter, the ultimate kiss of death. If this story is the one to which Rashi refers, we clearly see why he mentioned that the sisters were similar in appearance. The verse tells us that the "mei sotoh" only affect the guilty woman, "osoh," and not the imposter sister.

Once on the subject of this story, I have a bit of difficulty understanding the story. Since the truly guilty woman never accepted upon herself the oath and the curse inherent in the waters, how was she negatively affected? These are a prerequisite to the effectiveness of the whole procedure. Perhaps the rule that "the waters do not test" only means that it is not conclusive that she is innocent if there is no reaction, but it is still possible for the waters to test even if requisite details are not fulfilled.


Indeed, the Beis haLevi points out that there was this one snag in Chanoh's strategy. If Hashem would grant her a child through the power of her prayers alone, all would be fine. However, if she would go through the motions of becoming a "sotoh" etc., she would cause the erasure of Hashem's name (5:23). In Shmuel 1:1:10 the verse expresses Chanoh's praying as "Vatispa'lel Chanoh AL Hashem." The Rada"k translates AL as EL, "TO Hashem." However, says the Beis haLevi, since going through the "sotoh" procedure would entail the erasure of Hashem's name, we can interpret the word AL as REGARDING, a more literal way of translating AL. Chanoh prayed to Hashem, beseeching Him to grant her a child. She said to Hashem that if necessary she would go through the "sotoh" process, which includes erasing Hashem's name. She therefore prayed "AL Hashem," regarding (the erasure of) Hashem's Holy Name, beseeching Hashem to grant her a child without having to erase His Holy Name.


The Nachalas Yaakov of Liso answers that we find in Vayikra 9:22 "Va'yiso Aharon es yodov el ho'om va'y'voracheim." Rashi says that Aharon blessed the bnei Yisroel with the priestly benediction, "Y'vo'rech'cho, Yo'eir, Yiso," the three verses of Birkas Kohanim of our parsha (6:24,25,26). The Nachalas Yaakov says that we see from this that Aharon with his power of divine inspiration knew the text of the priestly benediction before it was given in our parsha. As mentioned above, the command form "SAY" is "EMORE." The word for "it was already said" is "OMUR." Our verse wants to integrate into one word the command "SAY" and to state that the text of the Birkas Kohanim was already said, "OMUR," by Aharon through his power of divine inspiration. The compromise form for "EMORE" and "OMUR" is "OMORE."

However, the opinion of the Ramban on Vayikra 9:22 is that according to Rashi the parsha of the text of the priestly benediction was given before the parsha of Shmini.


The GR"A says that the gemara Yoma 62b derives from the word "SHNEI" (Vayikra 16:5) that the two goat sacrifices of Yom Kippur must be similar. Here we also have the word SHNEI in "SHNEIHEM m'lei'im." This teaches us that the two vessels are equal. The "k'oroh" had almost twice as much silver in it as the "mizrok." How then could they be equal? The GR"A answers that they have equal volume of content. This could only be true if the vessel made of 130 coins of silver weight was created with a very thick wall, and the vessel made of 70 coins of silver weight was created with a thinner wall.



See also Sedrah Selections, Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights

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