Miraculous Evidence by Tzvi Zuckier


 In its introduction to the subject of Sotah, the possibly adulterous woman who must undergo a unique ordeal to prove or disprove her faithfulness, the Torah (5:11) begins as it does in many occasions: “Vaydabeir Hashem El Moshe Leimor,” “Hashem spoke to Moshe saying.”  This phrase is always used when Hashem is giving Moshe a message to be repeated to the Bnei Yisrael.  Although this common Pasuk is rarely expounded upon, the Midrash states in this context that “Leimor” means “Ledorot,” that the message should be related for future generations.  Why does the Midrash feel compelled to comment here?  This Pasuk is always an indication that Moshe is to relay a message to later generations as well his own; what does the Midrash add by making this point about the laws of Sotah?

 The Tiferet Yehonatan explains this based on the Gemara’s statement (Yoma 75a) that the generation of Bnei Yisrael who received the Mann were not obligated in the laws of Sotah.  The Gemara there discusses possible meanings of the phrase “KeZera Gad Lavan” (Bemidbar 16:31), which describes the quality of Mann, apart from the literal translation, “like a coriander seed and white.”  After offering several explanations, the Gemara suggests that the words Gad and Lavan could mean that the Mann could tell (“Maggid”) the judges what the conclusion should be (“Lavan”) in a case whose facts are ambiguous.  One of the examples of such ambiguous cases that the Gemara presents is a husband who claimed that his wife cheated on him, but whose wife responded that he was just trying to cheat her out of her Ketubah money.  When the Mann was collected the next morning, the Omer of Mann (one person’s serving) that the wife normally received would determine who was correct.  If it turned up in the house of the wife’s father, it meant that the woman had been faithful and that the husband was just trying to find a way out of presenting her with the Ketubah money she deserved.  If, on the other hand, the Mann found its way into the husband’s house, it meant that she had committed the grave sin of unfaithfulness to her husband, and would therefore not receive the Ketubah money.  In this miraculous way, the Mann indirectly judged an obscure case.  This Gemara shows that in the generation when the Mann fell, Bnei Yisrael did not need the Mitzvah of Sotah because the Mann determined the judgment for all potential Sotah cases.

 This explains that why the Midrash made its seemingly unnecessary comment.  The word “Ledorot” is not trying to add future generations of Bnei Yisrael to the list of Jews who are to be given the laws of Sotah; rather, it is coming to restrict the application of these laws to only the future members of the Bnei Yisrael.  The Jews to whom Moshe is speaking, however, are not actually obligated in these laws.

 Perhaps we should not overlook even such simple and common Pesukim as the one quoted above – as in this case, even they can carry great significance.


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