Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Chapter 5 of B'midbar describes the ritual for the woman accused by her husband of adultery. It includes this, after the kohein declares to her what will happen:

וְאָמְרָה הָאִשָּׁה, אָמֵן אָמֵן

and the woman shall say: 'Amen, Amen.' (end of 5:22)

And just in case there's any doubt, in 21 it says the kohein causes her to swear an oath.

What happens if the woman doesn't consent to saying "amen, amen" or swearing the oath? Does the ritual proceed anyway, even though the torah says she has to say these things? Is the ritual halted, and she and her angry husband go home to resolve their differences (or not)? Does everybody just wait, until someone gives up? Or what?

share|improve this question
up vote 7 down vote accepted

The Mishna in Sotah 1:4-5 and 3:3 explains that until the name of G-d is erased, the Beit Din tries to prevent the name from being erased, but convincing her to tell the truth.

The Talmud explains how they go about convincing her to confess (if she is guilty).

If she admits to wrongdoing, or refuses to go through with the process, she is divorced from the husband without the husband having to pay the Ketubah fees.

If they have already erased the name of G-d, she is forced to drink, unless she admits to her guilt (Mishnah 3:3 and Rambam Sotah 4:6).

share|improve this answer
On the last point: only if she refuses to drink but still maintains her innocence. If she pleads guilty, then even after the erasure she still doesn't have to drink (Rambam, Hil. Sotah 4:6). – Alex May 12 '13 at 19:59

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.