Understanding Kiddushin Daf Yomi Sotah 17 1) WHAT PARTS OF PARSHAS SOTAH ARE WRITTEN AND ERASED QUESTION: The Mishnah cites three opinions of Tana’im regarding which verses of the Parshah of Sotah are written down and erased in the Mayim ha’Me’orerim, as the Torah commands (Bamidbar 5:23). The Parshah of Sotah (Bamidbar 5:19-22) consists of two distinct sections. The first section is a Shevu’ah with an Alah (Alah refers to a description of the punishment that will befall her if she sinned). This section is comprised of the words Im Lo Shachav Ish (second half of verse 19) until the end of verse 20. The second section is the Shevu’ah and an Alah, wherein the Kohen details to the woman what will happen to her if she sinned.
Both sections begin with Tzava’os, introductory sentences telling the Kohen to administer the Shevu’ah. At the conclusion of the Parshah, the Torah tells the woman to answer Amen, Amen to the Alos. Rebbi Yosi maintains that the Kohen writes the entire Parshah. The Gemara explains that he derives from the Heh of ha’Alos (Bamidbar 5:23) that the first half of the Parshah is to be written. This first half is referred to as the Klalos ha’Ba’os Machmas Berachos (the Klalah that is implied by the Berachah).
From the word Es in the phrase Es ha’Alos (ibid.) he derives that the Kohen must write the Tzava’os and Kabalos as well (the commands to the Kohen to administer the Shevu’ah, and the command to the woman to answer Amen, Amen). It seems that Rebbi Yosi holds that the Kohen starts writing from the beginning of the Parshah of Sotah, from the beginning of verse 19 (v’Hishbi’a Osah ha’Kohen), the command to the Kohen to administer the first Shevu’ah. However, RASHI on the Mishnah (DH Lo Hayah Mafsik) tells us that even according to Rebbi Yosi, the Kohen starts writing from the words Im Lo Shachav Ish (the second half of verse 19), which is the beginning of the actual Shevu’ah. He does not start writing from the beginning of the Parshah. This is also the opinion of the RAMBAM (in Perush ha’Mishnayos).
Why do they not explain that Rebbi Yosi holds that the Kohen starts from the Tzava’ah of the Shevu’ah? If, like they say, Rebbi Yosi maintains that the first Tzava’ah is not written down, then what is Rebbi Yosi’s source to differentiate between the two Tzava’os? The word Es, which teaches that the Tzava’ah is to be written, is an article subordinate to the word ha’Alos which refers to both the Alah and the Shevu’ah, and therefore Es should include both Tzava’os! The Es should include both the Tzava’ah of the Alah (the second Tzava’ah), and the Tzava’ah of the Klalah (the first Tzava’ah), because the Klalah itself is alluded to by the Heh of ha’Alos! ANSWER: Rashi learns from the wording of Rebbi Yosi in the Mishnah that Rebbi Yosi does not mean to include the Tzava’ah of the Klalah. Rebbi Yosi heard Rebbi Meir say that the Kohen starts from Im Lo Shachav (the beginning of the Klalah) and then skips the Tzava’ah between the Klalah and the Alah. Rebbi Yosi argues and says the Kohen did not skip anything but wrote everything from the point at which he started. Rebbi Yosi is not arguing that the Kohen starts *earlier*. Rather, he is arguing that once the Kohen has started writing the verses (from Im Lo Shachav), he continues without skipping.
He agrees with Rebbi Meir that the Tzava’ah of the Klalah is not written. He argues only about writing the Tzava’ah of the Alah. How, though, does Rebbi Yosi learn from the verse to differentiate between the two Tzava’os? The answer is that Rebbi Yosi maintains that the Es is coming to add something to what is written *openly* in the verse — the Alos, but not to something that is only hinted to in the verse, which is the Klalah (hinted to by the letter Heh of ha’Alos). 2) QUESTION: The Gemara asks why Rebbi Meir insists that the verse Im Lo Shachav is to be written and erased. Rebbi Meir holds that we cannot infer the inverse from a statement, and thus there is no point in writing the verse, If no man has lain with you and you have not committed adultery.., because it is not part of the Klalah that says that she will die if she sinned. What is the Gemara’s question? Rebbi Meir says that the Heh of ha’Alos teaches that we write the Klalos ha’Ba’os Machmas Berachos.
Even if, normally, the inverse cannot be inferred from a statement, here the Torah is saying explicitly that the verse must be written and erased in the water of the Sotah whether or not the inverse is implied! ANSWERS: (a) From the explanation of the NETZIV, it seems that the Gemara’s question is that it is not logical for the inverse to be written and erased in the waters of the sotah unless it has some connotation of Klalah, curse. Hence, the very fact that the verse here tells us that it should be erased should teach us that normally the inverse *can* be inferred from a statement. (b) The Gemara’s question might be as follows. Why does Rebbi Meir learn from the Heh of ha’Alos that the verse of Im Lo Shachav, the first of the verses of Klalah, is to be written? Perhaps the Heh is adding only that the second verse, v’At Ki Satis Tachas Ishech (verse 20), is to be written! The fact that Rebbi Meir equates the first verse with the second and says that it is just as important to write Im Lo Shachav as it is to write v’At Ki Satis shows that Rebbi Meir holds that logically the inverse can be deduced. That is why the Gemara asks why is this verse different than all other verses where Rebbi Meir holds that the inverse *cannot* be deduced.
3) THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE TECHELES OPINIONS: The Gemara relates that in the merit of Avraham Avinu’s words when he said, Im mi’Chut.., the Jewish people were rewarded with the Mitzvah of Techeles. The Gemara asks what is so special about the Mitzvah of Techeles. The Gemara answers by citing Rebbi Meir in a Beraisa who says that Techeles is unique from all of the other colors because the color Techeles is similar to the sea, the sea is similar to the sky, and the sky is similar to the Kisei ha’Kavod, the Throne of Hashem’s Glory. What is the significance of this fact? (a) RASHI in Menachos (43b, DH v’Rakia) explains the Gemara in what seems to be the simplest way possible. The Techeles reminds its wearer that Hashem is above him by reminding him of the Throne of Hashem’s Glory.
(b) RASHI in Chulin (89a, DH DH Domeh) explains it using the reverse logic. When *Hashem* looks at the Throne, He is reminded of the Mitzvah of Techeles that *we* perform. Why does Rashi not explain it here the way he does in Menachos? It appears that Rashi here wants to explain what physical benefits the Jewish people derive from Techeles, since the Gemara implies that the Mitzvos of Tefilin and Techeles bring glory to the Jewish people. If Techeles only *reminds us* of Hashem’s Throne, it does not necessarily lend us prestige. (c) RASHI in Menachos (ibid.) offers another approach.
By wearing the Techeles, it is as if we are carrying the Holy Throne of Glory on our bodies, which certainly is prestigious. (d) RASHI here (DH she’ha’Techeles) suggests yet another interpretation of the Gemara (based on the Sifri, Parashas Shelach). By wearing Techeles we are considered to have greeted the Shechinah of Hashem. 4) BECOMING CLOSE TO THE SHECHINAH IN THIS WORLD QUESTION: The Gemara quotes Rebbi Meir who says that Techeles is similar [in color] to the *sea*, the sea is similar [in color] to the *sky*, and the sky is similar [in color] to [Hashem’s] *Throne of Glory*, as it says (Shemos 24:10), ‘They saw the G-d of Israel, and under His feet was something like a sapphire stone, bright as the color of the sky.’ The reason that the *sky* was included in the string of comparisons is easy to understand. Since we have never actually seen the Throne of Hashe …