Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Daf: Sotah 31-32

Some interesting points here, both in terms of gemara approach and in terms of philosophy. Enjoy, preferably with a gemara in front of you.

The gemara debates whether to read Yeshayah 63:9 as בכל צרתם לא צר or as בכל צרתם לו צר, whether Gd is troubled, or not troubled, when are are troubled. Why doesn’t the gemara point out that the word itself is subject to קרי and כתיב variation in the Masoretic text? We know that קרי and כתיב variants are employed throughout the gemara.

Also: It’s odd that the gemara here omits from the לא-לו discussion the most famous such variant, from Vayyikra 25:30. That variant is discussed in the gemara, just not here.

The gemara here seems to shift gears in its translation of יראה – at first it refers to fear of punishment, but then it seems to shift to awe of Gd. See the Torah Temimah to Devarim 7:10, note טו; he is adamant that יראה as used in this context refers not to fear of punishment, but to awe of Gd.

It seems odd that we would believe a single witness here, particularly one who has an axe to grind. I would remind the reader, though, that this is a case of רגלים לדבר, the equivalent of a driver pulled over for erratic driving, with an open beer in the car. Even before the breathalyzer, there is a circumstantial-evidence argument to support the contention that he was driving drunk. Here, too, קינוי and subsequent סתירה establish a suspicious fact pattern before we ever arrive at the single witness to a sexual act.

Although one may be able to fulfill certain obligatory prayers in English, that’s only fine for the first time or the second – one should still work to learn to daven in the original!

Note that Rashi (at the top) has a different text in our gemara, using the pasuk of ואמר אל האשה.

Rashi here, on ארמי אובד אבי, varies from his commentary on the Torah. On the Torah he assumes that אבי is Yaakov, but here he says it is Lavan who is “my father”! Of course, in his commentary to the Torah he is citing the Sifri and explaining it, and the Sifri varies from our gemara, but I still find his version here very interesting and worth further analysis.

Our gemara here provides one reason for the silent Amidah; the more famous reason is in Berachot 33 or so, from Chanah.

Note that Chullin makes it clear that an observer in the Beit haMikdash will still know which korban a person is bringing, despite the fact that the location for חטאת and עולה are the same. We still try to provide whatever concealment is possible.

Here, once again, we find the tension between public acknowledgement of sin and concealment of error. Yehudah was praised earlier in Sotah for publicly acknowledging error (הודה ולא בוש), but as we have pointed out in earlier Daf comments (such as here), we also say אשרי נשוי פשע כסוי חטאה, better not to admit sin aloud, if the sin is not already commonly known, lest that admission de-sensitize people to wrongdoing.

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