WRITING THE MEGILAH
(Mishnah - R. Meir) He (the Kohen) starts writing the scroll (that will be erased into the water) from "if a man did not lie with you... since you strayed under your husband."
He omits "the Kohen imposes an oath on her." He writes "Hash-m should make you a (means for people to) curse and swear... The cursing water should come into your innards, to make the stomach swell and the thigh fall." He does not write "the woman says Amen, Amen."
R. Yosi says, he does not interrupt (i.e. he does not skip in the middle).
R. Yehudah says, he writes only "Hash-m should make you a (means for people to) curse and swear... The cursing water should come into your innards..." He does not write "the woman says Amen, Amen."
(Gemara): The Tana'im argue about how to expound "the Kohen will write ha'Alos ha'Elu (these curses) in the Sefer":
R. Meir holds that "Alos (curses)" are the (explicit) curses. The letter Hei (ha'Alos) includes curses that are inferred from Berachos (i.e. if the conditions for the Berachos are not true, curses result);
"Elu (these)" excludes the curses in Sefer Devarim. The Hei in "ha'Elu" excludes directives ("the Kohen imposes an oath...") and acceptances ("the woman says Amen, Amen").
R. Yosi learns like R. Meir, with one exception. The word "Es" teaches that he writes directives and acceptances;
R. Meir does not expound "Es."
R. Yehudah holds that the entire verse comes to exclude:
"Alos" are the (explicit) curses. The Hei in "ha'Alos" excludes curses inferred from Berachos. "Elu" excludes the curses in Devarim. The Hei in "ha'Elu" excludes directives and acceptances.
Question: Why does R. Meir say that the Hei in ha'Alos includes, but the Hei in ha'Elu excludes?
Answer: "Alos" includes, so its Hei also includes. Elu excludes, so its Hei also excludes.
Question: (How can R. Meir include curses inferred from Berachos?) R. Meir holds that we do not infer the positive from the negative!
Answer (R. Tanchum): (The letters 'Hei' and 'Ches' are interchangeable.) The Berachah "Hinaki (you will be clean)" may be read 'Chanki' (you will choke).
HOW WE MERITED THE MITZVAH OF SOTAH
(R. Akiva): When a husband and wife merit, the Divine Presence is between them. (There is a Yud in Ish, and a Hei in Ishah. These comprise the shortened form of Hash-m's name.) If they do not merit, fire consumes them (the letters of Hash-m's name depart, and only Aleph and Shin, Esh, remains).
(Rava): The fire that consumes the wife is worse.
Question: What is the reason?
Answer: Esh is part of the word Ishah, without intervening letters.
Question (Rava): Why did the Torah say to use soil for a Sotah?
Answer (Rava): If she is innocent, she will merit having children like Avraham, who said "I am soil and ashes." If she is guilty, she will return to the soil she was created from.
(Rava): A reward for Avraham's saying "I am soil and ashes" was that his descendants merited the Mitzvos of ashes of the Parah Adumah and the soil of Sotah.
Question: Why did Rava omit the soil of covering the blood (of a slaughtered bird or Chayah)?
Answer: That Mitzvah has no direct benefit (i.e. above the reward Hash-m pays for fulfilling it).
(Rava): A reward for Avraham's saying "(I will not take from Melech Sedom) from a thread to a shoelace" was that his descendants merited two Mitzvos: the thread of Techeiles (wool died blue, on Tzitzis) and the strap of Tefilin.
We know the direct benefit of Tefilin - "all the nations will see that Hash-m's name is called upon you";
(Beraisa - R. Eliezer ha'Gadol): This refers to the head Tefilin.
Question: What direct benefit do we get from the thread of Techeiles?
Answer (Beraisa - R. Meir) Question: Why did the Torah say to use a thread specifically of Techeiles?
Answer: (If one fulfills the Mitzvah is Techeiles, it is as if he received the Divine Presence.) The color Techeiles resembles the sea; the sea resembles the sky; the sky is like Hash-m's throne of glory - "they saw (the honor of) Hash-m, and under His feet, like the sapphire brick, as clear like the sky", and it says "the sapphire brick resembles the throne."
THE WRITING OF THE SCROLL
(Mishnah): He does not write on a tablet, nor on papyrus, nor on a hide that was not tanned, only on a Megilah (a proper parchment), for it says "in a Sefer."
He does not write with sap, vitriol nor any dye that is absorbed into parchment, only with ink.
"He will blot out" - the writing must be erasable.
(Gemara - Rava): If Megilas Sotah was written at night, it is invalid.
We learn this from a Gezeirah Shavah "Torah-Torah." It says here "the Kohen will do this whole Torah (procedure) to her", and it says "according to the Torah that they will instruct you, and the Mishpat (law)."
Just like Mishpat (Rashi - monetary laws; Tosfos - capital cases, like a Chacham who rules unlike the Great Sanhedrin) must be during the day, also the writing of Megilas Sotah.
(Rava): If it was written out of order, it is invalid.
We learn from "he will write these curses" - like (the order in which) they are written (in the Torah).
(Rava): If he wrote it before she accepted the oath, it is invalid.
It says "he imposes the oath on her", and afterwards it says "he will write."
(Rava): If he wrote it like a letter (without lines to ensure straight writing), it is invalid.
It says "a Sefer."