“The priest shall write these curses in a scroll, and he shall blot them out into the water of bitterness” Bemidbar 5:23


The ritual of the Sotah took place in Temple times when a woman was suspected of adultery. An earthenware vessel was filled with sacred water, earth from the floor and the words of a curse written on parchment, which was then erased into the water. 

The woman drank the water and if she was guilty, she died an unpleasant death. If she was innocent, the couple are reconciled and she conceived a child. 

This is a very unusual procedure for the Torah. It reflects the overwhelming power of sexual jealousy, which in some cases can only be resolved by dramatic intervention.

A most remarkable aspect of the ceremony was the dissolving of the words of the curse into the water, especially so, because they contain the name of God. 
The Talmud tells us that God says, “in order to make peace between man and wife the Torah decreed, Let My name, written in sanctity, be blotted out in water” (Shabbat 116a). 

A name represents a person’s standing or reputation in the world. This statement is teaching that peace is so important, the God Himself is prepared to allow His presence in the world to be a little diminished, if that is the price for reconciling a husband and wife. If that is true of Him, it has to be true of us.

How many arguments could we repair or avoid if we were not so concerned about our prestige? Often there are real issues at stake, but just as frequently it is ego, and not principle, that prevents reconciliation. 

We are too protective of our “name”. If we were willing to sacrifice a little of our status, then we would make way for more peace in the world.

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