More Discussions for this daf
1. Why the woman says Amen, Amen 2. Rav Hamnuna 3. Bereirah and Dichuy
4. אמן שלא אטמא

Michael Cohen asks:

Rava asks a series of questions on the top of Sota 18a. Just before the "taku" he asks - If we say that you can't erase each sota parsha in a separate cup and then mix them together then what if he divided them back into 2 cups- is there bereiah here or not.

My question is this- why doesn't "dichui" apply here like it did by the blackened kli on15b? Rava's question is built on the combined cup not being good. Why can it ever become good again? Does bereiah somehow get around the problem? If so how are we to understand Bereirah? Certainly not like the Tosfos.

Thanks for your help!

Michael Cohen, Yerushalayim

The Kollel replies:

It seems to me that the difference is that the blackened cup on 15b underwent a significant physical change by becoming black and unfit for the Sotah to drink from. Therefore, this is considered as Dichuy. In contrast, on 18a the liquid in the two cups got mixed up but nothing actually changed physically in the liquid; it merely became unfit since each woman is not necessarily drinking her own liquid. Therefore, when the drinks are divided again into two cups we may apply the Halachic concept of Bereirah and say that each woman is again drinking her own liquid. The liquid in the case on 18a never underwent a physical change, only a Halachic change when it became mixed up with the other liquid, and when that Halachic change was later reversed this means that nothing changed in the total sum of events, so Dichuy does not apply.

Kol Tuv,

Dovid Bloom

The Kollel adds:

I think there's a bit more to this than Reb Dovid wrote.

The reason two Sotah's cannot drink from the same cups is not because the ink or water is mixed. Tosfos writes that it has nothing to do with the Sotah having to drink from some specific ink or Parsha. The reason the two Sotah's cannot drink from the same cup is because it has to be clear to all at the time of the drinking that the Sotah is drinking from her own cup. Thus, the mixture of the water makes absolutely no difference to us, as long as the Sotah is not yet drinking from it.

What I mean to say is that even a Halachic and not physical Psul would certainly make a Dichuy. Nevertheless, in our case the water is valid because there was no Dichuy in the water at all! It's being in a single cup is not a disqualification; drinking it from a single cup is the disqualification.

Best wishes,

Mordecai Kornfeld

The Kollel adds:

I found that this question is asked by the sefer Nesivos Chaim 1:34, DH v'Nir'eh (by Rav Chaim Korb zt'l of Chicago). He answers that in fact the problem of Dichuy is dependent on Bereirah. If one holds of Bereirah, this means that when the water is re-poured into the two cups and one of the women wants to drink from this cup, it now transpires that it is "Huvrar" -- it has been "clarified" retroactively -- that the part of the Megilah that is now in this cup was ready right from the beginning to fall into this cup. If we say this, it means that the part of this woman's Megilah was never "Nidcheh" -- rejected -- at all, so there was never any Dichuy. The Nesivos Chaim writes that this is why the Gemara makes the question about "Chazar v'Chilkan" dependent on the question of Bereirah. In other words, if we say Bereirah, then it transpires at the end that there was never any Dichuy. The concept of Bereirah itself defeats the concept of Dichuy.

I have a new Peshat, b'Siyata di'Shemaya, in order to answer this question. Possibly the basis of this was already mentioned in my first reply, and more so I think that this is consistent with Rav Kornfeld's comments, but I am going to explain it in more detail.

1) Firstly, we note an interesting thing in Rashi DH Mechikah. He writes that it is necessary that it is "Nikar" -- recognisable -- that the erasing is done Lishmah. However, Rashi does not explain why it is required that it be Nikar.

2) Now let us look at Tosfos DH Chazar. One of the questions that Tosfos asks on our Sugya is that we have a rule (Rosh Hashanah 13b) that "Yesh Bilah" -- when liquids are mixed together they are considered as dissolving completely into each other, and the individual liquids that were present before they were mixed together are considered as no longer traceable. According to this, it seems very difficult to understand why, in a case of "Chazar v'Chilkan" -- when the mixed liquids are put into two separate cups, it is considered that each woman drinks her own water, since the liquids are totally dissolved into each other. Since we say "Yesh Bilah," it must follow that there is no Bereirah with liquids!

Tosfos answers that in the case of "Chazar v'Chilkan," each woman is now drinking from her own cup. The water of each woman is now "Nikarin" -- recognizable. Therefore, if we say Bereirah, it follows that each woman's water has been "clarified." We notice that Tosfos also uses the concept of Nikar, similar to Rashi.

3) I suggest that this concept of "Nikar" is something unique to the Parshah of Sotah. The whole idea of the Mitzvah of the Torah of Sotah is to do something very public in order to show whether the suspected wife is innocent or guilty. If she is guilty, she will die in a very public way, the aim of which is to deter other women from committing her crimes. This is why Rashi and Tosfos write that the water should be dealt with in a noticeable way. According to Tosfos, it is sufficient, according to one side of the Gemara's question, that each woman drinks her own individual cup of water. Even though we know that not all of the water in the cup is actually from her Megilah, that does not bother us because it is sufficient that the Sotah should drink a cup which is drunk only by her and which contains at least some of her water. It does not have to contain all of her water. This can also be proven from the question of Rav Ashi a few lines later in the Gemara, concerning the water that was spilled but some still remained. The Rambam (Hilchos Sotah 4:11) rules that this is valid, even though some of the water is missing. Therefore, Tosfos maintains that it is sufficent merely that she is drinking a cup which is only drunk by her. This makes it sufficiently clear to everyone that the Sotah process is being carried out, and the process will prove in a very recognizable way whether or not she is innocent or guilty.

4) Now we have an answer also to the question about Dichuy. There is no problem with Dichuy because there was never actually anything unfit about the water even when the two cups were still mixed together. Even though the waters are mixed together, this does not render the Sotah test invalid. The only problem was that when it was only in one cup it was not recognizable to everyone that the Sotah test was being carried out on this particular woman. After we divided the water into two cups, we acquired all that we needed because the actual water was sufficient even before it was in the two cups, and now we received the added advantage that it is clear that each woman is drinkng her own individual cup. There is no problem of Dichuy because the water itself was valid even before it was poured into the two cups.

5) I later saw a source which illustrates vividly the idea I mentioned above. This is cited in Chidushim u'Vi'urim by Rav Chaim Greineman zt'l, on Sotah 18a. Rav Greineman writes that our Sugya can be understood only if one realises that the Mitzvah of Sotah works according to a miraculous intervention, when the suspected wife drinks the water and this shows whether or not she was Mezanah. Therefore, when -- in our Gemara -- she drinks the water which has been mixed up and then poured back into two cups, there is no question that, physically speaking, "Yesh Bilah" -- the waters are fully mixed together and she is drinking not only her own water but the other woman's as well, as I wrote above. However, there is something miraculous about Sotah, which means that even so the water that she drinks has sufficient power to determine whether or not she was unfaithful.

6) The source that the Chidushim u'Vi'urim cites is the Midrash Tanchuma, Parshas Naso #6, which relates a story about tow sisters who looked very much alike. They were both married and lived in different cities. The husband of one of the sisters suspected his wife of being unfaithful so he warned her not to be alone with the suspected man, and then he wanted his wife to drink the Mei Sotah in Yerushalayim. The wife went to her sister in the other town who offered to go in her place to drink the water. She wore the clothes of her sister, pretended to be the suspected woman, drank the water, and was found not guilty. She returned to her sister and they were both very happy that she was off the hook, and hugged and kissed each other. However, the moment that their lips touched, the unfaithful wife smelled the Mei Sotah and died on the spot.

7) We see from this story the tremendous power that the Sotah waters possessed. Even though they had been swallowed long ago by the innocent sister, there was still some smell that remained of the water, and this was sufficient to kill the Sotah sister. If so, in our Gemara, when the woman drinks a cup which actually contains at least some of her personal water, this certainly may be sufficient to determine whether or not she was unfaithful. Indeed, there could be no greater "Dichuy" than the water safely swallowed by the good sister, but when the Sotah sister later smelled the water, this was enough to kill her, so we may conclude from here that Dichuy does not apply to the miraculous Sotah water.

8) I would now just like to return to the question of Dichuy in more conventional cases. I found that the Kehilos Yakov (Zevachim, end of #11, DH v'Efshar) writes an idea according to which Dichuy would not apply anyway in our Gemara. The Kehilos Yakov writes that it may be that the disqualification of Dichuy applies only if the item is "Ma'us" or "Pagum" -- if it is repulsive or defective. He gives an example of a rich person who separated a pair of bird offerings as his Korban in a case where such a Korban would be accepted only if offered by a poor person. Would these birds be considered as "Dachuy" if the owner was later to offer them as a different Korban, where a bird offering is acceptable from a rich person? The Kehilos Yakov writes that it is arguable that this would not be considered Dachuy because there is nothing actually wrong with the birds that he separated, as we know that if a poor person was to bring them they would be valid. The "Cheftza" -- the item -- is perfectly acceptable, but it is merely the wrong person who is offering it. Similarly, in our Gemara, we may say that the mixed water itself is quite Kosher, but it is merely the wrong person who is drinking it, and therefore this would not come under the Pesul of Dichuy.

Kol Tuv,

Dovid Bloom

The Kollel adds:

I found additional, very relevant sources for our Sugya which are connected to the issue of Dichuy.

1) The Pischei Teshuvah (Shulchan Aruch YD 201:19) deals with our Sugya when he relates to the question of a Mikvah which contains very murky water. The Shulchan Aruch there (YD 201:25) states that if dyed water fell into a Mikvah which already contained the sufficient amount of water (40 Se'ah), it does not render the Mikvah invalid. The reason is that the dyed water does not contain the "Mamashus" of the dye; the dyes were soaked in the water and they gave over a color to the water, but the water itself is not a dye. Consequently, the colored water is still considered water, not dye, and is valid for a Mikvah.

However, the Pischei Teshuvah cites the Mishkenos Yakov #44 who argues that water that was heated up (presumably by coal-fired heating) and thereby became very smoky-looking is worse than the dyed water and is capable of rendering the entire Mikvah invalid. The Mishkenos Yakov cites the Gemara in Sotah 15b where Rava states that if the Kli became blackened, it is invalid. Tosfos (DH u'Mah) questions this from the Din of colored water in a Mikvah, which is valid. The Mishkenos Yakov answers the question of Tosfos and asserts that there is a difference between color that fell into water, and a Kli or water that became smoky. When coloring fell into water, the water itself did not actually change. Rather, an external ingredient was added that caused a color change. In contrast, if water was filled with smoke, this means that an essential change has taken place in the water, and it is not the same water anymore.

2) We now may suggest that this approach of the Mishkenos Yakov can answer the question from 18a. If the Mishkenos Yakov maintains that dyed water does not change the water into which it fals, even though it did change the color of the water, then certainly we may argue that when one woman's water became mixed up with a different woman's water, this is not considered Dichuy because the actual physical nature of the water did not change at all. Afterwards, when the mixed water was split up again and poured into a Kli which is designated for this particular woman, no Dichuy is considered to have occurred in the meantime. This is not the same as the blackened Kli or the smoky water, which may be considered Dichuy, because in the latter cases the actual nature of the water was changed when the smoke became an unseparable component of the water.

(This appears to be similar to my very first reply, where I made a distinction between the physical change undergone by the blackened Kli and the Halachic change undergone by the water of the women.)

3) There is another important source, in which the Gemara in Sotah 15b again is the basis of a practical Halachah. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 160:1), in discussing what water is valid for use for washing one's hands before eating bread) states that water that underwent a "Shinuy" (change) is unfit for Netilas Yadayim. However, the Magen Avraham (160:1) writes that if the water returned to its original state, it becomes valid again. The Magen Avraham writes that the source for this is Sotah 15b. He means that since the Rambam rules that there is not a problem of Dichuy with the blackened Kli, there also should be no Dichuy concerning water.

4) The Chazon Ish (Orach Chaim 22:12) questions the Din of the Magen Avraham. Why does Rava on 15b ask only about a Kli which went black? Why does he not ask about water that changed? The Chazon Ish suggests that this implies that Rava maintained that it was obvious that water which became unfit can never return to become valid for Netilas Yadayim, which is exactly the opposite of the Magen Avraham's ruling.

The Chazon Ish adds that even though he argues that water that became, for example, green from standing in the sun for a long time (see Mishnah Berurah OC 160:2) can never become valud again even if it loses the greenness, it is not difficult to understand why we know that if the invalid water became mixed with other water, the entire mixture becomes valid again. The Chazon Ish writes that the difference is that the new mixture is considered a totally different substance; it is no longer the same original water since it was entirely mixed with other water.

Again, this answers our question from 18a. We see from the Chazon Ish that although he considers the water going black as irreversible, nevertheless mixing water with other water is a good way of making the new water acceptable. If the water becomes dirty it can never become acceptable again, but the water which never underwent any physical change can become valid again when it is mixed with other, valid water.

Kol Tuv,

Dovid Bloom

The Kollel adds:

I posed this question to a big Talmid Chacham and he answered that on 15b Rava was in doubt and on 18a he was also in doubt. Rava's question on 18a was based on the possibility that on 15b we say that there is no problem of dichuy.

Dovid Bloom