(Torah Portion Naso) Peace at Home!
The Torah speaks about the laws of the Sotah, a situation where a husband suspects his wife of being unfaithful after giving his wife a formal warning not to go to a secluded place with the suspected man. If witnesses testify that they were seen alone in a secluded area, the woman is summoned by her husband to go to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. A Kohain – priest – asks her if she was intimate with the suspected man. If she admits that she was, her husband must divorce her and she is forbidden to marry the adulterer.
If she insists that she is pure and did not have an intimate relationship with the suspected man the Torah prescribes a ritual which miraculously determines if she was intimate or not.
If she was indeed guilty she would die in a prescribed manner, and at the same time, the adulterer – wherever he is, would die in the same manner.
If she does not die, it is an indication that she was free from adulterous activity. She would return to her husband and they would be blessed with the birth of exceptional children.
Chana, the mother of Samuel the prophet was barren for many years. All along, she poured out her heart to G-d in prayer. Once, when her desperation for a child reached the breaking point, she reasoned with G-d that He must provide her with a child naturally, for otherwise she could manipulate G-d into giving her a child. Chana pleaded, “I can have my husband warn me not to be secluded with another man. Then witnesses will see me go into seclusion with him and I would be a suspected Sotah and have to go through the process in the Holy Temple. When I will be found to be pure of any extramarital involvement, You will have to give me a child based on the Torah’s promise.”
G-d answered Chana’s prayer and granted her a special child, Samuel the prophet, without her having to go through the Sotah process.
In the Book of Samuel, it describes how Chana’s husband Elkana was extremely good and kind to Chana. They had Shalom Bayis – peace and tranquility – between themselves.
The Torah wishes that the relationship between husband and wife be peaceful, respectful and loving; this requires sensitivity, calm, caring and understanding. It also requires effort, patience and consideration.
In our daily prayers, we pray for peace and recite a blessing that G-d provide us with peace. We are not only asking for peace in Israel and our country we are asking for peace in our homes as well. It is interesting that the format of the blessing of peace in the daily Amidah is the only blessing where the text in the morning and the evening and night differs. In the morning the blessing begins with “Sim Shalom” – Establish peace. While in the evening and night Amidah it begins with “Shalom Rav” – Establish abundant peace.
Commentators point out that the morning prayers reflect a person’s position as he is poised to go out into the world and his job, where he has to interact with others. We ask G-d to provide us with a peaceful environment. However, as the day wears on and the stresses mount we turn to G-d in prayer in the evening and night as we head home and ask Him to provide us with an abundance of peace. We must delicately work on peace within the familiarity of the home due to the tension and pressure of caring for children etc. Our Sages established that we pray for G-d’s abundant blessing to be present at home.
G-d has many names that describe His powers. Some names are intrinsically holy – we can only recite them within prayers, blessings and study, and never in vain. Shalom is also a name of G-d, although it may be used as a person’s name or as a description for peace. G-d chose the word Shalom to describe both Himself and peace teaching us the importance G-d holds for creating and maintaining a peaceful environment.
We see something phenomenal with regards to the Sotah ritual. The Torah instructs the Kohain to write the portion of the Torah that describes the Sotah ritual on a parchment, and then scrape off the lettering of the script into a jug containing water and earth. The suspected woman then drinks the potion, which determines if she was faithful or not.
The Talmud asks, “Doesn’t the script and writ of the Sotah portion of the Torah contain G-d’s holy name; how then is the Kohain allowed to scrape it off and erase it into the water?
The Talmud answers, “G-d says, ‘I will allow My holy name be erased in order that it will restore Shalom Bayis between husband and wife – for it will erase any doubt of unfaithful activity!”
“Blessed are You Hashem Who blesses His people Israel with peace!”
Wishing you a most enjoyable & uplifting Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks