Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Her Mother Was A WHAT!?!?

For readers who are fans of Monty Python, the answer is not “a hamster.”

A rather crazy notion recently came up during my night seder chevrusa, where we happen to learning Masechta Sotah. On 7B, the Gemara discusses the a contradiction of a braisa to the mishna under examination regarding the beis din trying to intimidate the suspected adulteress into fessing up to her crime, if in fact she was guilty. This was done in order to prevent the erasure of G-d’s name in the creation of the potentially deadly potion that would cause any true Sotah to explode shortly thereafter (or following a delay, but that’s a whole different discussion).

The contradictory braisa that the Gemara quotes says that the beis din would try to intimidate the woman in the opposite direction, namely that she should drink the Sotah water. The Gemara then resolves the seeming contradiction by saying that the beis din tries to intimidate her not to drink before the shem HaShem is erased, to prevent such drastic measures. But once the name has already been erased into the Sotah’s beverage, then they do their best to make sure she does drink so that the erasure of G-d’s name was not done for naught.

Rashi there writes that one of the things the beis din would say to the woman to convince her TO drink was mentioning the concern that she might cast aspersions on her children if she suddenly decides not to drink at that last minute (IE they might be the product of an adulterous relationship and thus mamzerim).

My immediate response (thanks to years of reading Bad4’s blog) was that Rashi was basically saying “it’s bad for shidduchim!” After both my chevrusa and I calmed down from our fit of laughter, we wondered what if such a thing was really an issue nowadays, and how that would dramatically impact the “research” that people do into potential shidduchim candidates.

Forget “her parents are divorced,” “her grandmother was a convert,” “her mother was chozer b’teshuva in college,” and even “her mother doesn’t cover her hair.”

What about: “her mother was a sotah, and y’know… exploded.”

Presume that the suggestion in question was born halachically fine without any problem of mamzerus. Talk about yichus problems...

Think about it.


  1. You'd be surprised. In many communities there is a shadchan who deals with meyuchas mamzerim exclusively. Since they can only get married to other mamzerim, the pool of potential matches becomes very small.

  2. Hehehe, I actually laughed out loud, thanks!

  3. B"H none of our mothers were sotahs who exploded!

    BTW, was there even a case of a sotah who exploded? I learned that they were given the option to drink or not to drink...
    the ones who were innocent would drink the potion to prove their innocence; the ones who were guilty chose not to drink because they didn't want to die...


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