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(Num 4:21 - 7:89)

B'Midbar/Numbers 5:11   Any man, if his wife goes astray and will commit a sin against him ...


This text introduces the passage that deals with the sotah, a woman suspected of adultery by her husband. Our sages (in this case, Who Is ...

Resh Lakish: Shimon ben Lakish lived in Sepphoris, Israel in the 3rd century CE; reputedly a bandit and a gladiator in his youth, he married the sister of Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai and taught alongside him for many years; renowned as one of the most prominent second generation Amoraim
Resh Lakish) said: "A person does not commit adultery unless a spirit of folly enters into him" (b. Sotah 3a). The Talmud points out that the verb , she will go astray, is spelled the same way in the consonantal text as , she will act foolishly. Who Is ...

Rashi: Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (1040-1105 CE), French rabbi who wrote commentaries on the Torah, the Prophets and the Talmud, lived in Troyes where he founded a yeshiva in 1067; focuses on the plain meaning (p'shat) of the text, although sometimes quite cryptic in his brevity
Rashi connects this with the verse, "The one who commits adultery with a woman is lacking in sense; he who would destroy himself does it" (Proverbs 6:32, NASB). By quoting this verse, Rashi shows that anyone who commits adultery, male or female, is lacking in sense.

Who Is ...

Hirsch: Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888 CE), German rabbi, author and educator; staunch opponent of the Reform movement in Germany and one of the fathers of Orthodox Judaism
Hirsch, taking this a step further, quotes the verses, "Do not enter the path of the wicked ... turn away from it and pass on" (Proverbs 4:14-15, NASB) where the root means not only turning aside from the way in a physical sense but also in a moral sense: turning away from a prescribed moral road. The root is used in Aramaic to mean turning away from the right mental way, towards insanity, so that Jastrow has examples from the Midrash, the Talmud and later rabbinic writings showing a range of meanings such as "to be demented, to be mad or insane". Hirsch combines these to conclude that every moral lapse is at the same time a mental one for, since he considers that moral truth and logical truth coincide, no man sins unless he has first lost the true conception of things. Put another way, what man or woman would commit adultery with their partner in the same bed - which would demonstrate a very altered perception of reality.

Support for the idea that sin happens when we are not aware of or are distracted from the truth comes from the record of the very first sin: "Then the L-rd G-d said to the woman, 'What is this you have done?' And the woman said, 'The serpent deceived me, and I ate'" (B'resheet 3:13, NASB). Rav Sha'ul confirms this when he writes, "It was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman who, on being deceived, became involved in the transgression" (1 Timothy 2:14, CJB). Havah (Eve) ate the fruit of the tree that was forbidden because the Adversary, as the serpent, lied to her and made her doubt the truth of G-d's word. Yeshua says that the Devil "is a liar, and the father of lies ... because there is no truth in him" (John 8:44, NASB). Each morning, near the start of the Shacharit prayer service, echoing the words Yeshua taught the disciples when they asked Him to teach them to pray (Matthew 6:9-13), we pray, "May it be Your will, L-rd our G-d and G-d of our ancestors, to accustom us to Your Torah and make us attached to Your commandments. Lead us not into error, transgression, iniquity, temptation or disgrace" (Authorised Daily Prayer, page 21). We ask G-d to show us the truth of His word and His commandments and to keep us away from error or deception that could confuse us and so make a way for sin.

Yeshua told the disciples, "If you love Me, you will keep My commands; and I will ask the Father, and He will give you another comforting Counsellor like Me, the Spirit of Truth, to be with you forever" (John 14:15, CJB). There is a symmetry between keeping G-d's commandments and the presence of the Ruach HaKodesh - the Holy Spirit. The Spirit leads us into truth; gives us a clear view, as it were, of reality; makes us aware of our motives and sometimes the motives of others; reveals the feelings of our hearts; gives us discernment. He does this so that we can make good and accurate decisions about situations and be able to obey G-d's commands in any circumstance; without Him we are blind. G-d wants us to know the truth so that we do not go astray and sin against Him.

Further Study: 2 Corinthians 11:2-3; Proverbs 23:23; John 8:32

Application: Do you struggle with obeying G-d all the time? Does sin seem to come so easily some days? You need the truth to be able to see the reality of the Kingdom and avoid sin. Ask G-d today to open your eyes and show you how things really are!

© Jonathan Allen, 2007

20May07 05:01 JonathanS: And the word activates the spirit and nourishes it, because it is the truth!

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