MISHNAH. IF ONE WARNS1 HIS WIFE [NOT TO ASSOCIATE WITH A CERTAIN MAN]. R. ELIEZER SAYS: HE WARNS HER ON THE TESTIMONY OF TWO WITNESSES,2 AND MAKES HER DRINK [THE WATER OF BITTERNESS] ON THE TESTIMONY OF ONE WITNESS3 OR HIS PERSONAL TESTIMONY. R. JOSHUA SAYS: HE WARNS HER ON THE TESTIMONY OF TWO AND MAKES HER DRINK ON THE TESTIMONY OF TWO.
HOW DOES HE WARN HER? IF HE SAYS TO HER IN THE PRESENCE OF TWO, DO NOT CONVERSE WITH THAT MAN, AND SHE CONVERSED WITH HIM, SHE IS STILL PERMITTED TO HER HUSBAND4 AND PERMITTED TO PARTAKE OF THE HEAVE-OFFERING.5 SHOULD SHE HAVE ENTERED A PRIVATE PLACE WITH HIM AND STAYED WITH HIM A TIME SUFFICIENT FOR MISCONDUCT TO HAVE OCCURRED, SHE IS FORBIDDEN TO HER HUSBAND6 AND FORBIDDEN TO PARTAKE OF THE HEAVE-OFFERING. IF [HER HUSBAND] DIED,7 SHE PERFORMS THE CEREMONY OF HALIZAH8 BUT CANNOT CONTRACT A LEVIRATE MARRIAGE.
GEMARA. Now that the Tanna has finished [Tractate] Nazir, what is his reason for continuing with [Tractate] Sotah?9 — It is according to the view of Rabbi; for it has been taught: Rabbi says, Why does the section of the Nazirite adjoin that of the suspected woman?10 To tell you that whoever witnesses a suspected woman in her disgrace should withhold himself from wine.11 But [the Tanna in the Mishnah] should treat of [Tractate] Sotah first and afterwards that of Nazir!12 — Since he treated of [Tractate] Kethuboth [marriage-settlements] and dealt with the theme, 'He who imposes in vow upon his wife',13 he next treated of [Tractate] Nedarim [Vows]; and since he treated of [Tractate] Nedarim, he proceeded to treat of [Tractate] Nazir which is analogous to Nedarim,14 and then continues with Sotah for the reason given by Rabbi.
R. Samuel b. R. Isaac said: When Resh Lakish began to expound [the subject of] Sotah, he spoke thus: They only pair a woman with a man according to his deeds;17 as it is said: For the sceptre of wickedness shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous.18 Rabbah b. Bar Hanah said in the name of R. Johanan: It is as difficult to pair them as was the division of the Red Sea; as it is said: God setteth the solitary in families: He bringeth out the prisoners into prosperity!19 But it is not so; for Rab Judah has said in the name of Rab: Forty days before the creation of a child, a Bath Kol20 issues forth and proclaims, The daughter of A is for B;21 the house of C is for D; the field of E is for F! — There is no contradiction, the latter dictum referring to a first marriage and the former to a second marriage.
R. ELIEZER SAYS, HE WARNS HER ON THE TESTIMONY OF TWO WITNESSES etc. So far only do [R. Eliezer and R. Joshua] differ, viz. in the matter of warning and seclusion, but in the matter of misconduct [they agree] that one witness is believed.22 We similarly learn in the Mishnah: If one witness says: I saw that she committed misconduct, she does not drink the water.23 Whence is it derived according to Torah-law that one witness is believed? As our Rabbis taught: And there be no witness against her24 — the text refers to two witnesses.25 But perhaps it is not so and even one [suffices]! There is a teaching to declare, One witness shall not rise up against a man.26
Sotah 2bFrom the fact that it is stated: '[A] witness1 shall not rise up against a man', do I not know that one is intended? Why is there a teaching to declare 'one witness'?2 This establishes the rule that wherever it is stated 'witness', it signifies two unless the text specifies 'one'; and [in the case under discussion] the All-Merciful declares that when there are not two witnesses against her but only one, and she has not been violated,3 she is forbidden [to her husband].4 Now the reason for that5 is because it is written: One witness shall not rise up against a man. Were it however not so [stated], I might have supposed that 'witness' in the verse relating to a suspected woman means one.6 But if there be not even one witness against her, why should she then be prohibited [to her husband]? — [The verse: One witness etc.] is necessary, because otherwise it might have occurred to me to suppose that 'there be no witness against her' means, he is not believed against her. He is not believed against her! What, then, [does the text] want unless there are two witnesses?7 Let the Scriptural text be silent on the point [and not mention it at all], since the rule could have been deduced by analogy from the occurrence of the word dabar8 in the verse relating to civil actions, and I would know that it applies to every case of testimony mentioned in the Torah! — It was necessary [for Scripture to have mentioned it], because otherwise it might have occurred to me to suppose that the matter is different in the case of a suspected woman inasmuch as there was some basis for the charge, seeing that he had warned her and she had been secluded [with the man]; consequently one witness should be believed against her. But how is it possible to say [that if the Torah had not specified that 'witness' always means two, I might have supposed that the intention of 'there be no witness against her' was] that he is not believed against her and she is permitted to her husband? Surely from what is written: 'and she had not been violated'9 it is implied that she is forbidden to him! It was necessary [for Scripture to have mentioned this], because otherwise it might have occurred to me to suppose that [the evidence against her] is not believed unless there are two witnesses,10 and [that the verse means] that she had not been violated on the evidence of two witnesses. We are consequently taught [that one witness is believed].
R. JOSHUA SAYS: HE WARNS HER ON THE TESTIMONY OF TWO etc. What is R. Joshua's reason? Scripture states 'against her' — I.e., 'against her' [in the matter of misconduct]11 but not in the matter of warning, 'against her' [in the matter of misconduct] but not in the matter of seclusion. R. Eliezer, [on the other hand] says: 'Against her' [in the matter of misconduct] but not in the matter of warning only. Perhaps, however, 'against her' does mean, and not in the matter of seclusion! — Seclusion is compared to 'defilement' [misconduct], for it is written, and he kept close and she be defiled.12 But warning also is compared to 'defilement', for it is written, and he be jealous of his wife and she be defiled!13 — The All-Merciful excluded this by the phrase 'against her'.14 But what leads you to this conclusion?15 — It is obvious that seclusion is more serious [than warning] because she is forthwith prohibited to her husband as with 'defilement'. On the contrary, warning is more serious since it is the root cause [of her seclusion rendering her forbidden to her husband]!16 — If there was no seclusion, would there have been any warning?17 But if there was no warning, what effect would seclusion have? — Nevertheless seclusion is the more serious since it is the beginning of 'defilement'.
Our Mishnah does not agree with the following Tanna. For it has been taught: R. Jose son of R. Judah says in the name of R. Eliezer: He who warns his wife does so on the testimony of one witness or his personal testimony, and makes her drink [the water of bitterness] on the testimony of two witnesses. The Sages replied: According to the view of R. Jose son of R. Judah, there is no purpose in the matter.18 What is the reason of R. Jose son of R. Judah? — Scripture states 'against her', i.e., 'against her' [in the matter of misconduct] but not in the matter of seclusion. Perhaps, however, 'against her' means: and not in the matter of warning? — Warning is compared to 'defilement', for it is written, and he be jealous of his wife and she be defiled. But seclusion is also compared to 'defilement', for it is written, and he kept close and she be defiled? — That refers to a length of time sufficient for 'defilement' to have occurred.19
[It was stated above:] 'The Sages replied: According to the view of R. Jose son of R. Judah, there is no purpose in the matter'. What does this mean? — There may be times when he did not warn her and he claims that he did warn her.20 Is there, then, according to our Mishnah any purpose in the matter, since there may be times when she had not been secluded with the man and the husband claims that she had been secluded?21 — R. Isaac b. Joseph said in the name of R. Johanan, [Read] also according to the view of R. Jose son of R. Judah, there is no purpose in the matter. 'Also according to the view of R. Jose son of R. Judah' [you say]; is there, then, no question with respect to our Mishnah? On the contrary, according to our Mishnah there is foundation [for the charge], but in the other case [the view of R. Jose son of R. Judah] there may be no foundation!22 — But if the teaching is reported, it must be in this form: R. Isaac b. Joseph said in the name of R. Johanan: 'According to the view of R. Jose son of R. Judah, and also according to our Mishnah, there is no purpose in the matter.'
R. Hanina of Sura said: Nowadays a man should not say to his wife, 'Do not be secluded with So-and-so', lest we decide according to R. Jose son of R. Judah who said: A warning [is effective] if given on [the husband's] personal testimony. If she then secluded herself with the man, since we have not now the water for a suspected woman to test her, the husband forbids her to himself for all time.
Resh Lakish said: What is the meaning of the term kinnui?23 A matter which causes hatred [Kin'ah] between her and others. Consequently he holds that the warning can be on [the husband's] personal testimony; and since not everybody knows that he gave her a warning and they say: 'What has happened that she holds herself aloof?' they will proceed to cause hatred against her. R. Jemar b. Shelemia said in the name of Abaye: [Kinnui means] a matter which causes hatred between husband and wife. Consequently he holds that the warning must be on the testimony of two witnesses and everybody is aware that he gave her a warning,24 and it is he who proceeds to cause hatred against her.
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