This week’s Torah reading discusses the laws of Sotah. If a man suspects his wife of being disloyal to him, he may give her a warning to refrain from secluding herself with a specific man. During the times of the Bais Hamikdash (the Holy Temple), if she was found to have been secluded with that man after the warning was issued, the husband would bring her to the Bais Hamikdash to undergo a special procedure. The woman (known as the Sotah) was given special water to drink, and if she had sinned and was disloyal to her husband, the water would cause her to die an unnatural death. The verse says (5:28) that if she indeed did not sin, she would be blessed with children.

Why a Blessing?

Rabbi Eliyahu Lopian asks a simple question (in Lev Eliyahu, Shvivei Lev). Even if this Sotah woman did not actually enter an illicit physical relationship, she is still far from being innocent. She nonetheless acted immorally by merely secluding herself, against her husband’s wishes, with a man who the husband suspected of potentially sinning with her. Why then does she deserve a blessing?

Rabbi Lopian answers this with an incredible insight. Despite the fact that she did not act properly overall, the fact that she refrained from engaging in an actual sin is deserving of credit. Chances are that such a woman was indeed tempted to sin with the man she secluded herself with, yet she controlled herself anyway. She may have done the wrong thing by secluding herself with that man, and she may suffer consequences for doing so. Nevertheless, for the deed of controlling herself and refraining from the actual sin, she is rewarded by Heaven with a special blessing.


This is a remarkable concept we must keep in mind throughout our lives. We don’t always succeed in behaving in the most optimal way we know we should. At times it can be because we are worn out, frustrated, upset or any other reason, and we find ourselves failing to keep to the standards we ordinarily strive for. The natural tendency is to resign ourselves to being in that mode, and not even try to put any effort into controlling ourselves at all. We feel that since we anyways are not performing the way we ought to, there is no point in trying at all.

But this is a big mistake. Even if we did some things which are wrong, there is still so much we can gain from whatever bit we do push ourselves to do correctly. The Sotah, who didn’t control herself from meeting another man in a fashion which defies the husband, was already heading on a negative streak. But when she held herself back from going all the way in her sinful manner, she was rewarded with a tremendous blessing. So too, in every situation, even if we already made some mistakes and are not in a good spiritual mode, it is foolish to just give up on ourselves entirely. To whatever degree we do control ourselves and do what is right, we will be rewarded immensely.

Grab What You Can!

The Chofetz Chaim (in his introduction to Sefer Shmiras Halashon) writes that someone once asked a great rabbi, “If one finds himself towards the end of his prayers, having gone through most of the prayers without concentrating on what he was saying, what can he do to arouse himself to concentrate on the rest of his prayers?”

The rabbi gave him a parable as follows: “A girl was standing with a large basket on a street corner, selling vegetables. Then, a thief came, and started snatching vegetables from the basket. The girl just stood there motionless, not knowing what to do. A wise man saw what was going on from a distance and shouted to her, ‘Don’t just stand there idly waiting for him to steal everything! Just as he’s grabbing, you should grab too! At least you’ll have whatever you can save for yourself.’ So too, the Yetzer Hara (Evil Inclination) overpowers you and makes you lose out on having proper concentration on many sections of the prayers. But don’t let that stop you from grabbing some for yourself as well! For whatever part of the prayers you can still concentrate, make sure you grab for yourself and do so for whatever is left.”

Your Small Victories Are Invaluable

This is a lesson we see from the Sotah. If instead of giving in to her Yetzer Hara all the way, she stops herself in her tracks, she has performed an extremely precious deed. We all have situations in which we know we started on a track that may not be ideal. Don’t just give up and let the Yetzer Hara take over. Even if the Yetzer Hara already got you to make some mistakes, make sure you grab whatever you can for yourself. No matter how much you may have erred already, there is no reason to lose out on even more. Remember, whichever victories you manage to still gain in overcoming your Yetzer Hara are invaluable. by Rabbi Yitzchok Aryeh Strimber

Please follow us and share:

Want constant access to online Torah and Jewish resources?

First Name: 
Last Name: 
Leave a Reply