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The Babylonian Talmud in Selection, by Leo Auerbach, [1944], at

p. 170 p. 171


(Tractate Sotah)

IF A man be jealous of his wife, he may warn her, according to Rabbi Eliezer, before two witnesses. He may make her drink the bitter water on the evidence of two witnesses, or on his own evidence.

How does he warn her? If he says to her, before two witnesses: Don't talk to so-and-so. But if she spoke to the man, she is still allowed into the home and she may eat of the Heave-offering. If she secretly entered a house with him, and stayed there long enough to be defiled, she is barred from her home, and is barred from eating of the Heave-offering. If her husband should die she performs the rite of Halizah, but does not contract levirate marriage.

The Sotah used to be brought before the high court in Jerusalem and the judges addressed her in the same way as they addressed witnesses in capital cases. They would say to her: Our daughter, wine contributes much to sin; frivolity, much; childishness, much; evil neighbors, much. Behave yourself for the sake of the great

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name that was written in holiness and which will not be obliterated by water. And they say to her things which neither she nor the family of her father's house are worthy of hearing.

If she says: I have been defiled, she forfeits her marriage allotment and is sent away. If she says: I am pure, she is brought to the Eastern gate which is near the gate of Nicanor. There the suspected women drink the bitter water. There the women are cleansed after child birth, and there the lepers are cleansed. A priest gets hold of her garments, if they get torn, they are torn. If they are ripped, let them be ripped, so that her bosom becomes uncovered. He undoes her hair. Rabbi Yehuda says: If she has a beautiful bosom, he does not uncover it. If she has beautiful hair, he does not undo it. If she was dressed in white, he dresses her in black. If she wore ornaments of gold chains and rings in her nose and on her fingers, they are taken away from her to make her look repulsive. Then the priest takes an Egyptian rope and ties it above her breasts. Whoever wants to gaze at her may come and gaze upon her, with the exception of her slaves and bondswomen, because her heart would be hardened by this. All the women are permitted to gaze at her, as was said: (Ezekiel xiii, 48) That all women may be taught not to do after lewdness.



THE Husband takes the meal offering out of the Egyptian basket and puts it in the ministering vessel and into her hand: the priest then puts his hands under hers and waves it. After the waving he takes it to the

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altar and lets a part of it go up in smoke, and the rest is eaten by the priests. He then makes her drink the bitter water and bring her sacrifice.



IF A man warned his wife and she secretly went out, even if he heard of it from a flying bird he may give her her marriage allotment and send her away. Thus says Rabbi Eliezer. Rabbi Joshua, however, says: Not until the women who spin yarn by the moonlight begin to talk about it may he send her away.



SAMUEL said: A man should rather marry a woman of bad reputation than marry the daughter of a woman who has a bad reputation. For the one comes from pure stock, while the other comes from a tainted stock. Rabbi Yohanan, however, said: A man should rather marry the daughter of a woman of bad reputation, but not the woman of bad reputation, because the one is assumed to be chaste while the other one is not. An objection. Does one marry a woman of bad reputation? The Rabbi answered: It should be interpreted: If a man had married a woman of bad reputation. Rabbi Tahlifa bar Maaraba learned from Rabbi Abahu: The children of a loose woman are legitimate because the majority of the intercourses are ascribed to the husband.

Rab Amram asked. What is the case if she is a very loose woman? If one maintains that a woman conceives only shortly before her period, then no question may be raised, because the husband does not know when this occurs and cannot watch for her. However one that maintains that a woman conceives after her cleansing,

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can raise the question, because he knows when this takes place. Or cannot he tell anyway, since she is a very loose woman? The question remains without a solution.


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