The critical action which makes a woman a potential Sotah is "CONCEALMENT" and on that basis it is immaterial whether she is just kissing, touching or making love. What is the point of the husband warning her against "minor" infractions which of themselves are not punishable but become so through cocealment.
My chaver thinks that "touching bodies" etc. is a veiled reference to homosexuality
In my view, the Gemorah is teaching that by warning against actions which are of themselves are of little importance, the husband is preventing his wife from taking the first steps on a slippery slope.
We are hanging on your reply!
Another point we have dicussed is the rarity or otherewise of the Sotah ritual. At timse the Gemara seems to imply the it was not infrequent, but given the restrictions surrounding it, and a womman's natural reluctance to suffer such a trial, makes it likely to be an exceptional happening. Is there any historical evidence on this point?
Thank you in anticipation of your help
Ralph Fagelston, Netanya, Israel
(a) The Gemara is teaching want constitutes a Halachicly-effective "Kinuy." While it is correct, as you say, that concealment, or seclusion, is the critical action, the Gemara teaches that warning against other acts (minor ones, as you mention) also constitutes Kinuy, even though she is subject to the laws of Sotah only through seclusion. The reason behind this is likely as you write -- these acts tend to lead to seclusion, and are the "first steps on a slippery slope."
"Touching bodies" is to be understood literally. A woman does not become forbidden to her husband for such relations (although, as any severe act of immorality does, it may serve as valid grounds for divorce).
(b) We are not aware of historical evidence. The Gemara does mention in one or two places an incident involving the process of Sotah. It seems, however, that it was rather rare.