The cohen is to write these curses on a scroll,wash them off into the water of embitterment
The portion starts with a census. Then HaShem tells Moshe to instruct the Children of Israel,
'When a man or woman commits any kind of sin against another person and thus breaks faith with Adonai, he incurs guilt. He must confess the sin which he has committed; and he must make full restitution for his guilt, add twenty percent and give it to the victim of his sin. (Numbers 5:5-7)
The confessing is not done unto a man but unto HaShem. That is because, created in HaShem's image, as we commit a sin towards a human being, we commit it against HaShem. The sins we are talking about could include cussing at people, disrespect towards our spouses, road rage, being condescending, dominating, disrespecting, controlling, mocking; also lying or concealing truth, ...
Here is a lit of what could be construed as sins against another person?
- Revenge (HaShem says revenge is His!)
- Holding a grudge (it's funny that we say to 'hold' a grudge... why don't we just let it go?)
- Talking evil behind people's backs (it is even worse when they are dead. People often do that towards their parents)
- Coveting things they don't have (materialism)
- Murder (also character assassination; killing someone's name)
- Theft (even the robbing of someone's time by being late to an appointment)
- Not supporting and helping our parents in their old age; it doesn't say whether they deserve it or not. The joy of grand-parents is to see their grand-children but sometimes children use it against their own parents by withholding the grand-children from their grandparents.
- Not keeping an oath or a promise we make whether it is a money repayment or not following through a commitment. Also breaking a promise. Marriage is a promise made before God and witnesses.
"Tell the people of Isra'el, 'If a man's wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him; that is, if another man goes to bed with her without her husband's knowledge, so that she becomes impure secretly, and there is no witness against her, and she was not caught in the act; then, if a spirit of jealousy comes over him, and he is jealous of his wife, and she has become impure -- or, for that matter, if the spirit of jealousy comes over him, and he is jealous of his wife, and she has not become impure --
Much of this refers to suspicion whether the woman is guilty or not ...
... he is to bring his wife to the cohen, along with the offering for her, two quarts of barley flour on which he has not poured olive oil or put frankincense, because it is a grain offering for jealousy, a grain offering for remembering, for recalling guilt to mind. The cohen will bring her forward and place her before Adonai.
- The Cohen had to bring the suspected woman before Adonai. This was done by bringing her to the Temple priesthood.
- If you lived in Jerusalem it wasn't too much of a problem, but if you lived in Galilee or in diaspora, it became a more difficult commandment if you did not have access to a local Cohen, or someone with a Nazarite vow.
- The logistics alone could serve as a deterrent against abusive suspicion; a form of protection against abusive over suspicious husbands.
This whole thing works on expressing the situation by means of symbols.
The cohen will make her swear by saying to her, "If no man has gone to bed with you, if you have not gone astray to make yourself unclean while under your husband's authority, then be free from this water of embitterment and cursing. But if you have in fact gone astray while under your husband's authority and become unclean, because some man other than your husband has gone to bed with you . . ." then the cohen is to make the woman swear with an oath that includes a curse; the cohen will say to the woman, ". . .may Adonai make you an object of cursing and condemnation among your people by making your private parts shrivel and your abdomen swell up! May this water that causes the curse go into your inner parts and make your abdomen swell and your private parts shrivel up!" -- and the woman is to respond, "Amen! Amen!"
- The woman is to pronounce a curse against herself that will come to pass if she is guilty.
- The woman is to be proven guilty or innocent through the intervention of a priest asking for a miracle.
The cohen is to write these curses on a scroll, wash them off into the water of embitterment
- The priest is to write out the words of the curse on a scroll;
- He is to wash the ink from the scroll into water;
- The woman is then to drink the whole solution;
- As she drinks, the woman symbolically ingests the curse to prove to all whether she is guilty or innocent.
- If she is guilty, the water harms her in her belly and her thingh;
- If she is innocent, the water has no malignant effect on her and she is blessed with fertility.
THERE IS A PROBLEM WITH THAT.
Because of the command concerning respect toward the Sacred Name, it is ordinarily forbidden in Judaism to erase of deface HaShem's Ineffable Name. Here is where this is taken from:
Here are the laws and rulings you are to observe and obey in the land Adonai, the God of your ancestors, has given you to possess as long as you live on earth. You must destroy all the places where the nations you are dispossessing served their gods, whether on high mountains, on hills, or under some leafy tree. Break down their altars, smash their standing-stones to pieces, burn up their sacred poles completely and cut down the carved images of their gods. Exterminate their name from that place. "But you are not to treat Adonai your God this way.
These commands have always been interpreted in Judaism in the following manner. When a scribe copies the Scriptures in Hebrew, he can erase any mistake he makes unless it contains HaShem's Name. If he errs while writing a line of text with HaShem's Name in it, he can erase the rest of the line, but not the Name. It is because of this same biblical injunction that observant Jews do not write the HaShem's Name on a chalkboard, a white board where it could be erased, or on any surface that can be soiled such as clothing or a bumper sticker.
Documents containing the Ineffable Name of God also take on a more precious status. They are not carelessly dropped or destroyed or irreverently tossed in the garbage. Holy books containing the Name Name are not even left face down on a table or placed beneath other less sacred books. Holy books are never taken into bathrooms. Even photocopies containing the Name take on a holy status.
When a scroll or book or piece of paper containing the Name is ready for disposal, the item is accorded a proper "burial" of sorts in a repository for sacred writings.
While these traditions teach us to respect and revere HaShem's Name, they seem to contradict the ritual necessary to clear the woman suspected of adultery. The sages of the Talmud draw a very interesting conclusion for this seeming contradiction. They teach,... that God is so concerned for peace between a husband and wife that He is even willing for His own Name to be erased to bring it about (Sifre 17).
- In Judaism, harmony between husband and wife is called shalom bayit (שלום בית), a term that literally means "peace of the house." It is even used to refer to the intimate relationship between a husband and a wife.
- Many marriages are disrupted by religious differences between spouses, but what we see here is that God is more interested in the success of our marriages than He is in our particular religious choices.
- He is so committed to the sanctity of marriage that He is even willing for his Name to be erased to preserve peace in the home.
- How much more then should we make every effort to bring peace into our homes in spite of whatever differences we may have.
It is the opinion of this writer that even though both parties are responsible for the peace-keeping of a family, at the end of the day, the buck stops with us men. If God is willing to have his Holy Name besmirched just to preserve our marriages, we should be able to, if necessary to be wronged and take it if that's what it takes to keep it together.
Jewish sages teach that, "One must always be careful of wronging his wife, for her tears are frequent and she is quickly hurt." The passage goes on to say that God is quick to respond to a wife's tears and that her tears are more efficacious than our (men's) prayers. God takes the tears of a woman very seriously. The passage concludes by saying, "One must always be respectful towards his wife because blessings rest on a man's home only for the sake of his wife." (b.Baba Metzia 59a)
Then the cohen is to remove the grain offering for jealousy from the woman's hand, wave the grain offering before Adonai and bring it to the altar. The cohen is to take a handful of the grain offering as its reminder portion and make it go up in smoke on the altar; afterwards, he is to make the woman drink the water. When he has made her drink the water, then, if she is unclean and has been unfaithful to her husband, the water that causes the curse will enter her and become bitter, so that her abdomen swells and her private parts shrivel up; and the woman will become an object of cursing among her people. But if the woman is not unclean but clean, then she will be innocent and will have children.
The Hebrew for verse 28 reads:
וְאִם-לֹא נִטְמְאָה הָאִשָּׁה, וּטְהֹרָה הִוא--וְנִקְּתָה, וְנִזְרְעָה זָרַע.
As far as I understand human biology, women do not conceive 'seed'. I think that HaShem knows that too! So why is it written?
On two times only this expression is used in the Torah. In Genesis 3 ...
וְאֵיבָה אָשִׁית, בֵּינְךָ וּבֵין הָאִשָּׁה, וּבֵין זַרְעֲךָ, וּבֵין זַרְעָהּ: הוּא יְשׁוּפְךָ רֹאשׁ, וְאַתָּה תְּשׁוּפֶנּוּ עָקֵב.
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; they shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise their heel.' ... and in the passage of the women suspected of adultery.
- HASHEM KNOWS HIS BIOLOGY; HE KNOWS WOMEN DO NOT SEED.
- EVE IS TOLD THAT 'HER' SEED (A MIRACULOUS BIRTH?) WILL WILL DEFEAT THE DEVIL
- IT IS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED WITH MIRIAM WHOSE MIRACULOUS CONCEPTION BROUGHT THE DEMISE OF HASATAN.
- MIRIAM, THE WIFE OF YOSEPH, WAS NOT ONLY SUSPECTED BUT ACCUSED OF ADULTERY, AND SHE WAS VINDICATED BY THE DIVINE INTERVENTION OF AN ANGEL.
- IN THE SAME WAY THE WOMAN SUSPECTED OF ADULTERY IS VINDICATED BY THE INTERVENTION OF THE PRIEST ASKING FOR A DIVINE INTERVENTION TO PROVE THE WOMAN.
* * * * * * *
HERE IS AN ARTICLE I FOUND INTERESTED WRITTEN BY A PROMINENT RABBI
MY COMMENTS IN BOLD ITALICS.
THE HIDING WIFE
The prophets speak of the bond between G-d and Israel as a marriage, and of Israel's sins as a wife's betrayal of her husband. Following this model, the sages of the Talmud see the sotah-the "wayward wife" discussed in ourParshah-as the prototype of all transgression against the divine will. ...
The sotah is not a woman who is known to have actually committed adultery, but rather one whose behavior makes her suspect of having done so. Her faithfulness to her husband must therefore be established before the marriage relationship can be resumed.
A woman becomes a sotah through a two-stage process: "jealousy" (kinui) and "hiding" (setirah). The first stage occurs when a husband suspects his wife of an improper relationship with another man, and warns her not to be alone with that individual. If the woman disregards this warning and proceeds to seclude herself with the other man, she becomes a sotah, forbidden to live with her husband unless she agrees to be tested with the "bitter waters."
The woman is warned that if she has indeed committed adultery, the "bitter waters" will kill her; if, however, she has not actually been unfaithful, the drinking of these waters exonerates her completely. In fact, the Torah promises that, having subjected herself to this ordeal, her marriage will now be even more rewarding and fruitful than before her "going astray."
As applied to the marriage between G-d and His people:
Israel can never truly betray her G-d; at worst she can be only like a sotah, a wife whose behavior gives the appearance of unfaithfulness and causes a temporary rift between herself and her husband. The process began at Mount Sinai, when G-d, like a "jealous" husband, warned: "Do not have any other gods before Me." But no matter how far the Jewish soul strays, she never truly gives herself to these "other gods"; she is only "hiding" from G-d, indulging the illusion that there exists a dimension of reality that is outside of G-d's all-pervading presence and providence.
Even this she can do only because G-d has "set her up" to it by His "jealousy." In the case of the sotah, simply secluding herself with another man does not make her a "wayward wife"-unless such seclusion has been preceded by a warning from her husband. In other words, it is the husband's "jealousy" which makes her act a betrayal, not the act in and of itself. By the same token, a soul's "hiding herself" from G-d is possible only because G-d has allowed for this possibility by proclaiming "Do not have any other gods before Me," thereby giving credence to the illusion that there can be anything other. Were it not for this divine contrivance, sin-that is, a denial of the divine reality-would not be possible.
As Paul said in Rom 7:7-8
Therefore, what are we to say? That the Torah is sinful? Heaven forbid! Rather, the function of the Torah was that without it, I would not have known what sin is. For example, I would not have become conscious of what greed is if the Torah had not said, "Thou shalt not covet." But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, worked in me all kinds of evil desires -- for apart from Torah, sin is dead. (Rom 7:7-8 CJB)
To continue the analogy: When the Jewish people act as a sotah, they are tested with the bitter waters of galut ("Because of our sins we were exiled from our land"). Indeed, two thousand years of exile have proven that, despite all appearances, the Jewish soul is inseparable from her G-d. The Jew may be persecuted for centuries, may assimilate for generations, but ultimately there comes a moment of truth, a moment which lays bare the question of who and what we are, stripped of all distortion and self-delusion, and our innate faithfulness to G-d comes to light.
And like the bitter waters of the sotah, galut is more than just a test. It is a "descent for the sake of ascent," a crisis in the marriage which ultimately deepens and enhances it by unearthing deep wells of loyalty and commitment which remain untapped in an unchallenged relationship. The trials of galut call forth the quintessential powers of the Jewish soul, intensifying the bond between G-d and His people.
I would personally continue the with Isaiah and the Book of Revelation where after the bitter 'drinking' of exile, the 'wife' is reunited with her husband and is blessed with children in:
Then you will ask yourself, "Who fathered these for me? I've been mourning my children, alone, as an exile, wandering to and fro; so who has raised these? I was left alone, so where have these come from?" (Isaiah 49:21)
MAY WE BE GOOD HUSBANDS FASHIONED AFTER MESSIAH:
As for husbands, love your wives,
just as the Messiah loved the Messianic Community,
indeed, gave himself up on its behalf,
(Eph 5:25 CJB)