The Torah tells us this week about the Sota – a wife accused of being with another man. In order to prove her innocence, the Kohen takes mayim chayim – water from a live spring – and puts it into an earthenware vessel. The Be’er Mayim Chayim tells us that this is also a metaphor: The earthenware vessel represents the human body, which is fashioned from the earth. The mayim chayim (the live water) refers to the neshama which comes from the source of life itself: HaKadosh Baruch Hu. The Torah tells us further that she must take an oath claiming that she is faithful.
Upon seeing his words, it is apparent that the message of the Sota is not only about this particular woman, but rather refers to each and every one of us who exist with the same synthesis of a neshama placed into a body. The Be’er Mayim Chayim continues “just as the Sota must take an oath, the gemora tells us that each person before he is born must also take an oath of allegiance to be good and not to be bad.
I think that many people when they think about the Sota, they think about a person who has gone “overboard” suspected of doing a despicable act. While this is true, the source of the issue is a lack of faithfulness to the oath which she made before she was even born. Many people sin and think that the sin is acceptable: They speak loshen hara, talk during davening, etc. The parsha of Sota tells us that when we do not make our bodies conform to the desires of the Torah, we have truly gone astray by going back on our oath.
There is a custom to stay awake on Shavuos night to learn Torah. Many people ask “Is it worthwhile? It is so hard to stay up all night, fighting off sleep at every moment. Wouldn’t it be more productive to sleep at night and learn for a few extra hours during the day?” The holiday of Shavuos represents our bris with HaKadosh Baruch Hu. Truly a parallel to the bris between a man and a wife as they stand under the chupah, which they commit to give of themselves for mutual growth. Sometimes in marriage one spouse feels it is more productive to do something for themselves, though it may have a negative effect on their spouse or even their marriage. We understand that this type of selfish action is something that could cause the erosion of the marriage. On Shavuos night we give deference to our neshama to prepare for the acceptance of the Torah at the expense of physical self, thus even our physical self will be elevated. This underscores the point that we understand the primary purpose of our existence is our growth in the ruchnios sphere, and our bodies are only secondary, but elevated through our mitzvos. It is worth it to stay up because it shores up our resolve in our relationship with Hashem.
This Shabbos we read about the Sota – which represents our commitment to our spouses – which is followed by the holiday of Shavuos – which represents our commitment to Hashem. These two ideas come together to tell us that even a slight deviation in the prohibition of yichud is enough to put our relationship in jeopardy. When a Jew has the urge to do something wrong, he often will push HaKadosh Baruch Hu out of his mind for a few seconds and sin; he has essentially transgressed on yichud! He is truly the Sota, as he pushed Hashem out of his life and secluded himself with the yetzer hara.
As we make our bris on Shavuos night recommitting ourselves to HaKadosh Baruch Hu, we should merit the brocho of the acquitted Sota woman who was proclaimed innocent, thus showing her stalwart allegiance. So too on Shavuos, our staying up all night to learn, also shows our unwavering commitment to Hashem and his Torah and in turn we should all be zoche to an abundance of brocho in everything we do.
Good Shabbos and Good Yom Tov!