Vol 28.05 - Naso 1 Spanish French Audio Video
Chumash Bamidbar Talmud English - Sotah
1. At the end of the section dealing with a Sotah, the verse (Num. 5:28) states:
“But if the woman had not become defiled and she is pure, she will be exempted and shall bear seed”.
Rashi explains the words, “shall bear seed”,
(After Rashi explains the word: “she shall be exempted: from (the dire effects of) the curse-bearing water” which will be explained in Par. 3)
”If she used to have painful births, she will now have easy births; if she used to give birth to dark-skinned babies, she will now give birth to fair ones”.
It is seemingly puzzling:
The source of this explanation is in the Sifri, the Talmud (Sotah 26a), and the Tosefta (and similarly in the Talmud Yerushalmi and the Tanchuma).
In all these places, it cites additional aspects of the blessing –
“If she formerly bore girls she will now give birth to boys; if formerly short she will now bear tall children”.
And (also) in all these places,
“If she formerly bore one she will now bear two”, “If she formerly bore once every two years, she will now bear every year”.
Why then does Rashi change from all these places and choose two aspects –
”If she used to have painful births, she will now have easy births” ,”if she used to give birth to dark-skinned babies, she will now give birth to fair ones”?
(To add and to clarify – even Rambam cites only two of the aspects (however not the same two that Rashi cites, but rather),
“If previously she would give birth in pain, she will give birth comfortably; if previously she would give birth to daughters, she will give birth to sons”.
One must say that according to Pshat – which is the aspect of Rashi’s commentary on Torah (as he states, “I come only to explain the literal meaning of Scripture”)
One can only precisely derive from the verse, just these two blessings, that he cites.
2. One can understand this by prefacing a wonder:
The simple explanation of the words “she shall bear seed” is that if “she is pure”, then (not only will she not incur the punishment of,
“And her belly will swell, and her thigh will rupture”,
but rather that she will have children. So learn many of the literal commentators that, “G-d will give her children in reward for the shame that she endured”.
Therefore, how is it that Rashi, whose aspect is to explain the simple meaning of the verse, as aforementioned, translates “she shall bear seed” (not – that she will have children, but) that “she will now have easy births . . she will now give birth to fair ones”?
In the Talmud (and the Sifri), there is a debate between R’ Akiva and R’ Yishmael:
“R’ Akiva states, 'Then she shall be free and conceive seed' — so that if she had been barren, she now becomes visited’. R’ Yishmael said to him, ‘In that case, all barren women will seclude themselves and be visited etc. If so, what is the purpose of 'Then she shall be free and shall conceive seed'? If she formerly bore children in pain she will now bear with ease etc.”
The commenters state that Rashi does not learn like R’ Akiva who states, “if she had been barren, she now becomes visited” due to R’ Yishmael’s objection, “In that case, all barren women will seclude themselves and be visited etc.”
Therefore, he accepts the explanation of R’ Yishmael.
However, it is seemingly (extremely) difficult to say that this is Rashi’s reason (why he cites the explanation of R’ Yishmael) – for:
The same question could be asked of R’ Yishmael (as Tosafot asks and concludes with the question):
“In that case, all women who bear in pain will seclude themselves and afterward bear with ease” (as the commentators deeply expound on this).
In other words, the blessing “she shall bear seed” was said (according to R’ Akiva) regarding a barren woman.
This is so, despite that which the question on Rashi’s comment is
(for the Torah speaks of the majority)
why he does not explain that, “she shall bear seed” speaks regarding the majority of women, a woman who is able to conceive – that in the reward for her shame, “G-d will give her children” (as is understood plainly, that even for a woman who already has children, a (an another) child is the greatest blessing).
3. One must also understand the beginning of Rashi’s words (on “she shall be exempted”):
“From (the dire effects of) the curse-bearing water, and moreover, she shall bear seed. If she used to etc.”
Seemingly, what is it coming to tell us that, “she will be exempted” means from “the curse-bearing water”? It is self-understood that this is the simple explanation of “she will be exempted”. As it expressly states in the oath that the Kohen makes her swear:
“If . . you have not gone astray . . then (you will) be absolved of these bitter waters“!
The Rom () learns that Rashi is forewarning with this that, one should not think that, “she will be exempted” is a preface to, “she shall bear seed”
(which is implied from the plain wording of the verse. Namely, that “she shall bear seed” is a result of “she will be exempted”).
and the simple meaning of the verse is,
“She will be exempted from the things that prevent giving birth and in this she shall bear seed”
Therefore, Rashi negates this and states that, “she will be exempted” means
“From the curse-bearing water that is an aspect of salvation from the swelling of the belly and the rupturing of the thigh”.
And “she shall bear seed is an independent aspect”.
However, one must seemingly examine this, for:
(that she had previously)?
The verse should have said, “She will be healed”, and so forth.
(“then you will be absolved of these bitter waters”)
would not even be mentioned when the verse speaks of the actual fulfillment of the thing!
Similarly, it is difficult according to the answer of the Gur Aryeh. Namely, that Rashi is coming to forewarn that we should not explain, “She will be exempted” that it refers to
“From punishment like ‘the man shall be absolved of iniquity’”.
For the verse explicitly states earlier that “you will be absolved of these bitter waters”. Therefore, from where can one say that the same wording, “she will be exempted” at the conclusion of the matter means another aspect (than punishment).
4. One could say that the explanation of all this is:
Rashi, in his comment, comes to answer a simple question in the verse:
Since, when giving the woman the oath, all the details, which will happen, as a result of drinking “the curse-bearing water” are delineated. Both
"If no man has lain” as well as “if you have gone astray to another instead of your husband”.
Therefore, how can it be that afterward, when the verse speaks of the actual outcome, that it adds a new aspect – “she shall bear seed” – which is not stated (פאראויסגעזאגט) in the oath?
To forewarn this question – Rashi states in the heading, “she will be exempted” and states,
“She shall be exempted: from (the dire effects of) the curse-bearing water, and moreover, she shall bear seed. If she used to etc.”
With this Rashi wishes to emphasize that with the words, “she shall bear seed”, the Torah does not mean to add a plain reward that she receives (due to the shame that she endured). Rather, this is an outcome and act of the (curse-bearing) water itself. In other words, not only do the waters not effect any punishment (the “bitterness” of the waters are nullified) – but on the contrary – “not only this, but” – the waters will also effect an aspect of blessing (contrary to bitterness) - “she shall bear seed”.
Therefore, Rashi states, “she will be exempted from the curse-bearing water”:
This is not (so much) to negate another explanation of, “she will be exempted”. Rather, it is to emphasize that, “she shall bear seed” that comes afterward, is a result of the (curse-bearing) water.
According to this, it comes out that “she shall bear seed” is a part (and continuation) of the “she will be exempted from the curse-bearing water”. Therefore, it is not a question why this is not stated previously by the woman swearing the oath. For the Kohen says the aspect, only in a general manner, “you will be absolved of these bitter waters etc.”, and afterward Scripture specifies that “you will be absolved of these bitter waters” also includes the detail of “she shall bear seed”.
5. According to all this one can also understand why Rashi explains, “she shall bear seed” – “If she used to have painful births, she will now have easy births; if she used to give birth to dark-skinned babies, she will now give birth to fair ones”:
Since, according to Rashi, “she shall bear seed” is an action of the “curse-bearing water” in place of its opposite effect for “if you have gone astray”. It is probable that the manner of the good action (פעולה לטובה) is comparable to the manner of the opposite effect:
Just as by the opposite effect, the “curse-bearing water” would not only “eliminate” (מחסר) her from the world (like Rashi’s words, “curse-bearing: which eliminates her from the world“) – but it is specifically in a manner of pain and afflictions (her belly will swell, and her thigh will rupture).
Therefore, so too is the action for a blessing from the “waters” (by “you have not gone astray”). Not only will she have children (“she shall bear seed”) but also the manner of “she shall bear seed” is the opposite of pain:
“If she used to have painful births, she will now have easy births (תלד בריוח); if she used to give birth to dark-skinned babies, she will now give birth to fair ones (יולדת לבנים)”.
As opposed to the “darkened face” (״שחרות״ הפנים) that bring the afflictions of “her belly will swell, and her thigh will rupture”.
Whereas the other aspect which the Sages cite –
“If she formerly bore girls she will now give birth to boys; if formerly short she will now bear tall children”.
(and similarly, “If she formerly bore one she will now bear two”, “If she formerly bore once every two years, she will now bear every year”)
do not have any property that has some sort of relation and example of the action (by “if you have gone astray”) of the curse-bearing water.
6. This aspect – that the “she shall bear seed” is not just a reward, but a result of the “curse-bearing water” themselves – also fits with the inner theme of the aspect of Sotah:
In the beginning of the aspect, on the verse:
“Should any man's wife go astray etc.” (איש . . כי תשטה אשתו)
The Sages state,
“A person does not commit a transgression unless a spirit of folly (שטות) enters into him”
This means that the aspect of Sotah alludes to the “spirit of folly” which gives the possibility and causes that the person should be one who “commits a transgression” (עובר עבירה) which is the aspect of jealousy and seclusion (קינוי וסתירה) in spiritual Avodah. Namely that a Yid secludes himself (turns away) from G-d (the Husband of Knesset Yisroel – the Jewish people). This is so, even though the “Husband” warned the wife, and told her, “do not seclude yourself”, “do not have . . before My Presence “, and seclude yourself with “another man” – the Yetzer Hara.
The aspect of “she will be exempted and she shall bear seed” depicts the aspect of Teshuva. Through Teshuva, one not only cleanses oneself (as it states, “she will be exempted/cleansed”) from the impurity of the sin, but more than this. – one attains an elevation from that of the previous actions, as it states,
“In the place where Baalei teshuva stand, completely righteous Tzaddikim cannot stand”.
This is what Rashi forewarns (even according to the inner context) that, “she shall bear seed” - the elevation that one attains through Teshuva– is not just a plain (supplemental) (זייטיקער) aspect. Rather, this comes from the “curse-bearing water” itself. The elevation is connected through that which the “curse-bearing water” itself is transformed to good – Ishapcha etc. Transforming bitter taste to sweetness, and where willful sins are transformed into merits.
This is the inner reason why the aspect of, “she shall bear seed” is first stated at the conclusion of the section (when it comes out in actuality), and not beforehand, in the oath etc.
For this aspect, that through the descent etc. into the sin (“Sotah”) there comes afterward an elevation compared to before the sin – cannot visibly stand before doing Teshuvah.
Before a Yid does Teshuvah, it is like one who says, “I will sin and then I will repent, Heaven does not provide him the opportunity to repent“. One must not commit a sin with the intention that, through it, there will come the elevation that comes through Teshuvah.
Specifically after there is actual Teshuvah – then it becomes revealed that the intent of this was, that it should be (not just that “she will be exempted” like before the sin, but rather) “she shall bear seed” – to effect a more lofty elevation and in ease and whiteness.
(Note: as it states, “if your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow).
It states, “Yisroel will do Teshuvah and immediately will be redeemed”. In place of the pain and afflictions of the pangs of Moshiach there will be ease (ריוח). And in place of the “blackness” (שחרות) of Galut (as it states, “the face of the Jewish people was blackened . . like the bottom of a pot”) there will be “whiteness”, (לבנים) the light of Geulah.
This “ease” and “whiteness” begins before the Geulah in the last moments of Galut, as it states, “As in the days when you left Egypt”. Even in Egypt, before the Geulah, subjugation (pain) was nullified. Moreover, it states “And all Bnei Yisroel had light in their dwellings”.
We will go the true and complete Geulah in a manner of, “With tranquility and restfulness shall you be saved”, speedily and in our days – mamosh.
MSichas Shabbat Parshat Naso 5740
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