web analytics
October 23, 2014 / 29 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Safek K’vadai: When Doubt Becomes Certain

In this week’s parshah the Torah writes about the halachos of a sotah. A sotah is a woman whose husband warned her, in the presence of two witnesses, not to go into seclusion with a specific man – but two witnesses saw her in seclusion with that man. Even though the only testimony that we have is that she was secluded with this man, she is nevertheless forbidden to be with her husband as she is an adulteress. This is in effect until she drinks the sotah water.

The Gemara in Sotah 28a says that concerning a sotah, the Torah treats every doubt as if it is certain (safek k’vadai). The Gemara then extends this halacha to the halacha of safek tumah (a doubt as to whether something became tamei). In other words, if there is a doubt whether something became tamei, it has the status of something that definitely became tamei. If the doubt occurred in a private place (by definition less than three people; similar to a sotah), it is viewed as certainly having become tamei. If the doubt occurred in a public place (by definition three or more people), it is deemed as certainly pure.

Reb Chaim Soloveitchik (Stencils) debates what the intention of the halacha was when it says that every doubt should be treated as if we were certain that it was tamei. Did the Torah intend that we should assume that all the necessary details that need to occur in order for it to be tamei actually occurred, thereby rendering it tamei, or should we just render it tamei without assuming that we know what exactly happened? For example, do we assume in the case of a sotah that the woman committed adultery and is thus forbidden to be with her husband, or is she forbidden to be with her husband even though we are unsure whether she indeed committed adultery?

Reb Chaim suggests that there is a proof that we do not assume we know what happened; rather we issue the p’sak with certainty without knowing the story’s details. The Gemara in Sotah says that an adulteress is forbidden regarding three things: to be with her husband; to be with the adulterer (she can never marry the adulterer even after she is divorced from her husband); and participating in terumah. The Gemara derives from the Torah’s written word, “v’nitmah” (written three times) that these same halachos apply to a sotah as well.

Question: Why does the Gemara require three pasukim to teach us these halachos? If we are to assume that we know what happened, i.e. that she was mezaneh, one pasuk would have been sufficient. Since we are to assume that we know with certainty that she committed adultery, all the halachos of an adulteress should apply to her. It seems clear from this that the Torah only intended that we render the sotah forbidden, and not assume that we know the details. Therefore, if the Torah only had one pasuk teaching us that we are to certainly render her forbidden to be with her husband, we would not apply all the halachos of an adulteress to her.

Based on this we can explain the machlokes between Tosafos in Yevamos (11b, d”h mai) and Tosafos in Sotah (28a, d”h ma). Lashes can only be administered to one who transgresses a lav (negative commandment). If, however, one transgresses a positive commandment or even a lav haba michlal assei (a prohibition that is derived from an assei), no lashes are administered. If there is a doubt whether it was forbidden, one does not receive lashes. On this issue, there is a lav for a husband to live with his wife after she commits adultery. This lav is punishable by lashes. The prohibition written in the Torah regarding a safek sotah is a lav haba michlal assei, which is not punishable by lashes.

Tosafos in Sotah says that even though the Torah said with certainty that a safek sotah is forbidden to be with her husband, it is only a lav haba michlal assei; therefore, if her husband transgresses and lives with her, they do not receive lashes. Tosafos in Yevamos disagrees, stating that since the Torah said to treat the doubt as if it were certainly a forbidden act, they receive lashes. The latter Tosafos is difficult to understand as to why there should be lashes by a safek sotah, as the only certain prohibition is a lav haba michlal assei – for which one does not receive lashes. One cannot receive lashes in the case of a safek sotah for having transgressed the lav of living with one’s wife after she committed adultery since it is a safek whether she is an adulteress.

Reb Chaim explains that Tosafos in Yevamos must hold that the Torah’s intention was for us to assume that we knew all the necessary details of the doubt with certainty. In this case we should assume that she committed adultery, and that that is the reason why she is prohibited by a lav haba michlal assei. So even though the Torah does not say explicitly that we should treat the doubt as if it were certain regarding the lav prohibiting the husband from living with his wife after she committed adultery, we can apply lashes if her husband lives with her because we assume with certainty that she committed adultery.

Tosafos in Sotah understands that when the Torah said to treat the doubt as if it were certain, the intention was only to render it as certainly forbidden – and not to assume that we know the details with certainty. Hence we can only treat the doubt with certainty regarding the three things that the Torah said (see above). Since the Torah only said to treat with certainty that which regards the lav haba michlal assei, they do not receive lashes.

For questions or comments, e-mail RabbiRFuchs@gmail.com.

About the Author: For questions or comments, e-mail RabbiRFuchs@gmail.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Safek K’vadai: When Doubt Becomes Certain”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Arabs burn tires in Shuafat neighborhood of Jerusalem.
Arab Violence in Jerusalem Forces Police to Return Law and Order
Latest Judaism Stories
Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Boundaries must be set in every home. Parents and children are not pals. They are not equals.

Rabbi Avi Weiss, head of theYeshivat Chovevei Torah. Rabbi Asher Lopatin will be replacing him as head of the school.

Noah and his wife could not fathom living together as husband and wife and continuing the human race

Rabbi Sacks

The Babel story is the 2nd in a 4-act drama that’s unmistakably a connecting thread of Bereishit

Bible1

Our intentions are critical in raising children because they mimic everything we parents do & think

A humble person who achieves a position of prominence will utilize the standing to benefit others.

Myth #1: It is easy to be a B’nai Noach. It is extraordinarily hard to be a B’nai Noach.

The creation of the world is described twice. Each description serves a unique purpose.

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

To the surprise of our protectzia-invested acquaintances, my family has thrived in our daled amos without that amenity, b’ezras Hashem.

Shimon started adjusting the branches on the roof. In doing so, a branch fell off the other side of the car and hit the side-view mirror, cracking it.

I, the one who is housed inside this body, am completely and utterly spiritual.

Should we sit in the sukkah on a day that may be the eighth day when we are not commanded to sit in the sukkah at all?

For Appearance’s Sake
‘Shammai Did Not Follow Their Own Ruling’
(Yevamos 13b 14a)

If one hurts another human being, God is hurt; if one brings joy to another, God is more joyous.

I’m grateful to Hashem for everything; Just the same, I’d love a joyous Yom Tov without aggravation.

Bereshit: Life includes hard choices that challenge our decisions, leaving lingering complications.

More Articles from Rabbi Raphael Fuchs
Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

Others suggest that one cannot separate Shabbos from Yom Kippur by accepting Shabbos early.

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

While women are exempt from actually learning Torah, they are obligated in a different aspect of the mitzvah.

The Chafetz Chaim answered that there are two forms of teshuvah; teshuvah m’ahava and teshuvah m’yirah.

Since it is a Rabbinic prohibition we may follow the more lenient opinion.

They ask, how can Rabbeinu Gershom forbid marrying more than one wife, when the Torah explicitly permits it in this parshah?

First, how could a beis din of 23 judges present a guilty verdict in a capital punishment case? After all, only a majority of the 23 judges ruled in favor of his verdict.

According to Rabbi Yishmael one was not permitted to eat such an animal prior to entering Eretz Yisrael, while according to Rabbi Akiva one was permitted to eat animals if he would perform nechirah.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/safek-kvadai-when-doubt-becomes-certain/2012/06/01/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: