Friday, June 05, 2009

Parshat Naso - פרשת נשא

דַּבֵּר אֶל־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם אִישׁ אִישׁ כִּי־תִשְׂטֶה אִשְׁתֹּו וּמָעֲלָה בֹו מָעַל׃ וְשָׁכַב אִישׁ אֹתָהּ שִׁכְבַת־זֶרַע וְנֶעְלַם מֵעֵינֵי אִישָׁהּ וְנִסְתְּרָה וְהִיא נִטְמָאָה וְעֵד אֵין בָּהּ וְהִוא לֹא נִתְפָּשָׂה׃ וְעָבַר עָלָיו רוּחַ־קִנְאָה וְקִנֵּא אֶת־אִשְׁתֹּו וְהִוא נִטְמָאָה אֹו־עָבַר עָלָיו רוּחַ־קִנְאָה וְקִנֵּא אֶת־אִשְׁתֹּו וְהִיא לֹא נִטְמָאָה׃ והביא האיש את־אשתו אל־הכהן והביא את־קרבנה עליה עשירת האיפה קמח שערים לא־יצק עליו שמן ולא־יתן עליו לבנה כי־מנחת קנאת הוא מנחת זכרון מזכרת עון׃

Speak to the Children of Israel and say to them: Any man whose wife shall go astray and commit treachery against him: and a man could have lain with her carnally but it was hidden from the eyes of her husband, and she became secluded and could have been defiled - but there was no witness against her - and she had not been forced: And a spirit of jealousy had passed over him and he had warned his wife and he had not become defiled: The man shall bring his wife to the Kohen and he shall bring her offering for her; a tenth-ephah of barley flour; he shall not pour oil over it and shall not put frankincense upon it, for it is a meal-offering of jealousies a meal-offering of remembrance, a reminder of iniquity.
(Bamidbar 5:12-15)

The text above details the case of a "Sotah," the wife who is suspected of having cuckolded her husband. Here the text writes specifically that the husband takes an active part in this mitzvah, as it says, "והביא האיש את־אשתו אל־הכהן - The man shall bring his wife to the Kohen." In Torah law, there is a concept of a Shaliach, a messenger who may perform a mitzvah on someone's behalf. Although we are encouraged to not use an emissary to do mitzvot that we could otherwise do ourselves, the practice remains permissible. Unusually here in the case of Sotah, the use of a Shaliach is banned.

In עזנים לתורה, Rav Zalman Sorotzkin's understanding of this text is explained. The Rav points out that the specification that the woman's husband must bring her to the Bet Hamikdash seems odd. In practice this is not the standard procedure, as the husband is forbidden from bringing his wife to the Kohanim alone and two Talmidei Chachamim are assigned to bring them to the Bet Hamikdash together. If that is the case, then why does the verse state that the husband shall bring her - what is being taught here?

The answer given is that the husband is forced to take an active role in proceedings so that he will truly understand what he is putting his wife through. For example, it might be fair enough for one to say that he has not got a good knowledge of Torah and as such will appoint an emissary to fulfill the father's mitzvah of teaching torah to his son, but there is no excuse as to why a man should not be able to follow up his accusation over his wife's promiscuity. More than that, it is hoped that by forcing the husband to subject his wife to the Sotah procedure, he will share in his wife's humiliation at the hands of the court and abort, even if there is good reason to suspect her of infidelity.

There is also another positive result of the husband's attendance of the procedure. In the event that the wife is proven innocent, he will be able to see her innocence being proved with his own eyes and he will understand the unnecessary suffering caused, as well as the relief and joy she will experience. It is one thing to use a messenger for a mitzvah that one must do for himself, but it really is a totally different thing to expect to charge a woman with infidelity and not even turn up for the hearing. By ensuring the husband has an active role in proceedings, the torah reduces the number of times people were put to death and the number of times that Hashem's name was erased needlessly.

Wishing you a שבת שלום!

No comments:

Post a Comment