Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Benefiting from the Sotah Waters

Rava inquired (Daf Yom: Sotah 18a): If two scrolls were written for two different sotahs, but they were erased into one cup, what is the halacha?

If you would conclude that each sotah needs her own personal cup, what would the halacha be if the scrolls were erased into two separate cups, but then they were mixed together? Is it valid because the scroll was erased into her cup? Or perhaps, it is disqualified, because she is not drinking her own personal cup!

The Steipler Gaon asks: Even if the halacha would be that a sotah is not obligated to drink from her own personal cup, how would she be permitted to drink from a cup that was mixed together with another sotah’s water? The water for a sotah comes from the kiyor, and that water has sanctity and carries with it a me’ilah transgression. One is prohibited from benefiting from something that possesses an inherent sanctity. If this woman is indeed innocent, she will give birth to male handsome children. It will emerge that she is deriving pleasure from these holy waters! How can this be allowed?

He answers based upon a Gemora below (20a) which states that we place something bitter into the water in order for the scroll to be properly erased. Accordingly, we can state that one who drinks water with a bitter taste will not be violating the me’ilah prohibition, for it would be regarded as drinking in an abnormal manner. This would be Biblically permitted.