Musings of an Orthodox Jew

Thoughts on Torah and the Jewish world today.

Sotah and Nazir Originally posted June 3, 2008

This weeks parsha is Naso, and it starts off with discussing the sotah. The question is asked by the meforshim: Why does the Torah discuss the Sotah, the adulterous wife, and the suspected Sotah, straight after the Nazir- somebody who took an oath to abstain from all grape products, tumat meit (impurity from the dead) and cutting their hair. Essentially the Sotah and Nazir are polar opposites- one abstains to achieve holiness and the other immerses themselves in physicality (partaking in a forbidden sexual relationship) and degrades their spirituality completely.

One thing stated in the Talmud in both Masechta Sotah and Masechta Nazir is the idea that someone, on seeing a woman going through the process of drinking the bitter waters to determine if she was adulterous or not, should take a vow to be a Nazir.

So, how do you relate this to the modern era? Its simple- how much wallowing in pure physicality do we see on a daily basis? How much physicality is promoted in TV, movies, adverts, our daily lives? But the question is- what action do we take in our lives to counter this immersion in physicality? Do we just accept the modern era, accept that the world is not ideal? Or do we work on improving ourselves- accepting that though it is hard, we should find ways to increase our immersion in the spiritual, rather than accept that we have to accept what the world around us would have us accept as normal?

Perhaps the sotah teaches us this as well. if she was guilty- if she had sequestered with a man after her husband had told her not to, if she had engaged in an adulterous liaison, then both her and the man died painfully from the bitter waters (don’t forget, at any point in the process she could admit her guilt and walk away- divorced but with no other repercussions). if she was innocent- then the waters had served their purpose- peace was restored between husband and wife and she was blessed. So – here we see it- if we are mired in physicality, then we die- either literally or spiritually. If we reject the lure of the world around us- remain true to the Torah and its desire to enhance us spiritually, then we are blessed.

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June 24, 2008 - Posted by | Other Torah, Parshah, Torah | ,

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