MISHNAH. WHEN HE COMES TO WRITE THE SCROLL, FROM WHAT PLACE DOES HE WRITE? FROM IF NO MAN HAVE LAIN WITH THEE1 … BUT IF THOU HAST GONE ASIDE, BEING UNDER THY HUSBAND ETC.2 HE DOES NOT, HOWEVER, INCLUDE, THEN THE PRIEST SHALL CAUSE THE WOMAN TO SWEAR,3 BUT CONTINUES WITH, THE LORD MAKE THEE A CURSE AND AN OATH … AND THIS WATER THAT CAUSETH THE CURSE SHALL GO INTO THY BOWELS AND MAKE THY BELLY TO SWELL, AND THY THIGH TO FALL AWAY.4 HE DOES NOT, HOWEVER, INCLUDE, AND THE WOMAN SHALL SAY, AMEN, AMEN. R. JOSE SAYS, HE MAKES NO OMISSIONS.5 R. JUDAH SAYS, HE WRITES NONE OF ALL THIS EXCEPT, THE LORD MAKE THEE A CURSE AND AN OATH ETC. AND THIS WATER THAT CAUSETH THE CURSE SHALL GO INTO THY BOWELS ETC. AND DOES NOT INCLUDE, AND THE WOMAN SHALL SAY, AMEN, AMEN.
GEMARA. On what point do they differ? — They differ in [the interpretation of] the following verse: And the priest shall write these curses in a book.6 R. Meir7 is of the opinion that curses denotes [the passages which are] actually curses;8 the curses9 is to include the curses which result from the benedictions;10 'these' is to exclude the curses in Deuteronomy;11 'the these' is to exclude instructions [given to the officiating priest] and the responses of Amen [made by the woman]. R. Jose agrees with all that has been stated, except that he interprets the particle 'eth12 as indicating the inclusion of instructions and responses, whereas R. Meir draws no deductions from the occurrences of the particle 'eth. R. Judah, on the other hand, expounds all the above points as implying limitation; 'curses' denotes [the passages which are] actually curses; 'the curses' is to exclude the imprecations which result from the benedictions; 'these' is to exclude the imprecations in Deuteronomy; 'the these' is to exclude instructions and responses. What is the difference that R. Meir interprets the definite article [in the curses] as implying amplification and the definite article [in the these] as implying limitation? — When the definite article occurs in connection with amplification13 it also denotes amplification, and when it occurs in connection with limitation14 it also denotes limitation. But R. Meir does not accept the rule that an affirmative is to be deduced as the corollary of a negative!15 — R. Tanhum said: It is written hinnaki.16
R. Akiba expounded: When husband and wife are worthy, the Shechinah abides with them; when they are not worthy fire consumes them.17 Raba said: [The fire which results] from the woman is severer than that from the man.18 What is the reason? In the case of the former [the letters aleph and shin] are consecutive, but not in the case of a man.19
Raba said: Why does the Torah command that dust should be provided for [the ceremony of] a suspected woman? If she be innocent, there will issue from her a son like our father Abraham, of whom it is written: Dust and ashes;20 and if she be not innocent, she reverts to dust.21
Raba expounded: As a reward for our father Abraham having said: 'I am but dust and ashes', his descendants were worthy to receive two commandments, viz., the ashes of the red heifer and the dust [of the ceremony] of a suspected woman. But there is likewise dust for the covering of the blood!22 — In this case [the use of dust is merely] the completion of the commandment without any advantage [to the performer].23
Raba expounded: As a reward for our father Abraham having said: I will not take a thread nor a shoelatchet,24 his descendants were worthy to receive two commandments, viz., the thread of blue25 and the thong of the phylacteries. It is right in the case of the thong of the phylacteries, for it is written: And all the peoples of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the Lord,26 and it has been taught: R. Eliezer the Elder says: This refers to the phylactery worn upon the head;27 but what is [the advantage to him who performs the law] of the thread of blue? — It has been taught: R. Meir used to say: Why is blue specified from all the varieties of colours? Because blue resembles [the colour of] the sea, and the sea resembles [the colour of] heaven, and heaven resembles [the colour of] the Throne of Glory, as it is said: And they saw the God of Israel and there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and as it were the very heaven for clearness,28 and it is written: The likeness of a throne as the appearance of a sapphire stone.29
MISHNAH. HE WRITES NEITHER ON A [WOODEN] TABLET NOR ON PAPYRUS NOR ON
Sotah 17bDIFTERA1 BUT ON A [PARCHMENT] SCROLL, AS IT IS SAID, IN A BOOK.2 NOR DOES HE WRITE WITH A [PREPARATION OF] GUM OR VITRIOL3 OR WITH ANYTHING WHICH INDENTS [THE PARCHMENT] BUT WITH INK,4 AS IT IS SAID, AND BLOT OUT5 — WRITING WHICH IS CAPABLE OF BEING BLOTTED OUT.
GEMARA. Raba said: A scroll for a suspected woman which one wrote at night is invalid. What is the reason? An analogy is drawn between two passages where the word 'law' occurs: here it is written: And the priest shall execute upon her all this law,6 and elsewhere it is written: According to the tenor of the law which they shall teach thee, and according to the judgment.7 As judgment [could only be delivered] in the daytime,8 so a scroll for a suspected woman [could only be written] in the daytime. If he wrote the text not in its proper order,9 it is invalid; for it is written: And he shall write these curses10 — just as they are written [in the Scriptural text]. If he wrote it before she took the oath upon herself, it is invalid; as it is said: He shall cause her to swear and after that, He shall write.11 If he wrote it in the form of a letter,12 it is invalid — 'in a book' said the All-merciful.
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