Sunday, May 23, 2021

End of Sotah - Ency Judaica

 Ordeal Annulled.

This rabbinical interpretation of the law relating to the ordeal practically annulled it, and it soon fell into disuse. During the Roman invasion of Palestine, and the last days of the commonwealth, the Sanhedrin, under the presidency of Johanan ben Zakkai, abolished the ordeal entirely; as the Mishnah states, "when adulterers became numerous, the 'ordeal of the bitter waters' ceased, and it was R. Johanan ben Zakkai who abolished it; as it is written (Hosea, iv. 14), 'I will not punish your daughters, when they commit whoredom, nor your spouses, when they commit adultery; for themselves are separated with whores, and they sacrifice with harlots'" (Soṭah, ix. 9). For it appears that under the Roman régime, immorality spread among the people, the judges became corrupt, the springs of justice were defiled, and general demoralization resulted (Graetz, "History of the Jews," ii. 237, 238). Probably for this very reason Queen Helena of Adiabene, the illustrious and munificent proselyte to Judaism, favored the ordeal; for she presented a golden tablet to the Temple with the chapter from the Law engraved on it, to be used for the rite of the ordeal (Tosef., Yoma, ii. 3; Mishnah Yoma, iii. 10; Gem. ib. 37b). But even if it had not been abolished, the rite would have sunk into abeyance with the fall of the Temple, because, according to the Law, the ceremony could not be performed elsewhere.

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