There should presumably be two likely outcomes to the Sotah ordeal (Bamidbar 5:1-5:31) after drinking the embittering waters: Either she is guilty and then dies, or she is innocent and lives and goes back to her husband.

What about a third possibility: She is innocent but does not want to go back to her husband. If she knows she has never committed adultery, she has just been suspected on little grounds (even circumstantial evidence) for whatever motives by her (seemingly) faithful and loving husband. He has the Kohen subject her to an ordeal of being publicly embarrassed in front of everyone (at the gate of Nikanor). He removes the clothing of her upper body and hair, he tires her by having her run around and hold the meal offering of remembrance (jealousies), and he subjects her to more humiliating rituals. Although the Torah says that she may resume relations with her husband and that they will have healthy children afterwards, do you really think that a woman whose husband just embarrassed her like this would have any respect for her husband anymore and would want to be with her husband? What is even worse, if the woman resents what her husband did and doesn't want to go back to him, she can't even give him a get. She is stuck between a rock and a hard place. She is forced to (re)love her husband who because of a baseless hunch or feeling had her go through the Sotah ordeal.

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    Why do you think the husband had a choice? Once she's secluded, she's forbidden to her husband until after the ritual
    – Double AA
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 12:20
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    "do you really think that a woman whose husband just embarrassed her like this would have any respect for her husband anymore and would want to be with her husband?" Why can't the answer be "Yes, she would still go back to her husband"? Societal differences notwithstanding, even nowadays there are couples who stay together after terrible ordeals. Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 13:14
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    "he falsely accused her" he did NOT falsely accuse her, all he did was asked her not to do yihud with a certain man, and she did do the yihud, (if a man believes his wife was with another man she is forbidden to him (and he needs to give her, the kesuba amount) and there is no way test it, unless it is sposificly as the above case)
    – hazoriz
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 13:20
  • Please read my question carefully Double AA. I asked about an innocent woman AFTER the ritual, who is permitted to her husband. Not only is she permitted but HKB"H promises to bless the couple because he falsely accused her and she is נקיה. Is it the norm that a woman would WANT to go back to her husband in this case? The Torah does speak בהווה (as rashi mentions frequently) (according to the common situations in life). I supposed it may have been the common situation for women back then from a financial advantage and rather than being single and alone.
    – הבלשן
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 13:27
  • there is a fourth possibility torahweb.org/torah/2000/parsha/rhab_naso.html
    – rosends
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 17:21

2 Answers 2


Note that the husband is overcome by a "ruach kinah". According to some meforshim (from memory) he could be literally insane because of jealousy or he can be overcome by this feeling because of her behavior. We have seen this in our days. The proof that he was wrong is a shock to his system and can turn him around to be on the right track. Consider couples who in modern days go to "couples therapy".

Also consider that her behavior was not completely innocent. She allowed herself to be in a "compromising" situation with a man even though she was not guilty of adultery.

As we see in Rambam Hilchos Sotah 3:1

What is the process through which a sotah is compelled to drink the bitter water? First the husband comes to the court in his city and tells them: "I warned my wife [not to enter into privacy] with so and so, and she entered into privacy with him. These are the witnesses who will confirm my statements. She claims not to have committed adultery. I desire to have her drink the bitter water to verify this matter."

The fact that she is willing to undergo the ordeal and allow her name to be defamed, means that she sees something that can be redeemed from the situation.

Also note that the husband can have divorced her at any time before taking her to the bais hamikdash. The relationship is not as simplistic as you seem to say.

There are those who say that she can insist that the husband give a get after the sotah procedure has found her innocent.

Sotah (as an example) points out that at any point in the procedure she can refuse to drink as long as she is willing to forego the kesuvah. Even after the ordeal she can refuse to go back to him. Note that there are other opinions, but this is an example.

According to Jewish law (Shulchan Aruch, Even Hoezer Ch. 77) every Jewish woman has the right to force her husband to give her a divorce. If she comes to court and declares that she can no longer endure cohabitation with her husband for no reason whatsoever other than the simple fact that she simply doesn't like him any more, and she is willing to forego her ketubah, he must give her a divorce.

Note that the citation uses the term "right to force" based on the Rambam that the man must appease her within a certain amount of time or bais din can force him to give a get. That does not have to do with the point being made here and would need to be addressed in a different post.

Meforshim point out that when Chana (the mother of Shmuel Hanavi) was praying, she said that if necessary, she would deliberately put herself in the position of having to undergo the ordeal (Brachot, 31b). Since she would be innocent, she would be rewarded with a healthy child. This could also be the motive for returning to the husband.


I almost do not understand the question. The roles are reversed: this woman committed a grave fault towards her husband.

Even she did not commit the maximum adultery, she is not innocent. She nevertheless locked herself up with a stranger. Despite the fact that it disturbed her husband so much that he has forbidden her.

See also Sotah 8a and as Rashi explains:

שמצוה לביישה ואפילו טהורה משום ונוסרו כל הנשים שלא יביאו עצמן לידי חשד ותהיינה צנועות

And meforshim explain that, it is not a blessing, that she would there have healthy children, but, as a result: she drinked sacred water in whose was erased the Holy name. If it did not cause damage, it heals.

And as already mentioned, the husband had no choice: after she is secluded, she became forbidden to him until she drinks the embittered water.

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    "She nevertheless locked herself up with a stranger." It may have been an accident, or she might have been forced to be locked up, in which case she is indeed totally innocent.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 14:34
  • @DoubleAA Who said the סתירה is even if she was forced? It always said נכנסה עמו לבית הסתר I do not think this applies when it was באונס
    – yO_
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 15:34
  • If that was so she could always claim Oneis and get out of drinking. The whole point is we don't know what happened in there and need to test it. ShA says Stirah is כיצד היא הסתירה, שנסתרה בפני עדים עם אותו פלוני שקנא לה, ושהתה כדי טמאה. Intent is irrelevant.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 16:02
  • @DoubleAA שנסתררה בפני עדים עם אותו פלוני means, they saw them locking together; if was clearly not beOneis. If they indeed saw that the stranger had grabbed her, taked her away and closed the door, would that be considered a סתירה ?? Obviously not.
    – yO_
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 16:13
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    @DoubleAA The פתחי תשובה on Even Haezer 178(14) brings a Yerushalmi that the woman must lock herself with the guy (at witnesses' eyes) in order to be considered נסתרה . And if a man entered in her house, even remained a long time, she is not a sotah, and "maybe she discussed with him until she succeeded to convince him to go out". ושמחתי מאד לכוין לירושלמי
    – yO_
    Commented Feb 19, 2017 at 13:10

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