Parsha Naso

"...Any man whose wife goes astray..."(5:12)

From the juxtaposition of the section discussing the Priestly gifts to the laws of the Sotah, a woman suspected of infidelity, the Talmud derives the following: The consequence of a person refusing to give the Kohein his tithes is that his wife will be suspected of infidelity. He will therefore be forced to turn to the Kohein to perform the procedure of the "bitter waters", which will clarify whether he may resume relations with his wife.

The Maharal asks a question about this; if the message is that a person who does not appreciate the Kohein, apparent in the fact that he does not give him his tithes, will eventually need his services, why does this have to manifest itself through the law of Sotah? The same message could be conveyed by any number of services requiring a Kohein. Furthermore, why do his actions result in his wife being suspected of indiscretion?

We are not discussing an individual who does not keep the tithing laws. The Talmud does not say that he does not separate the tithes, rather that he holds back from giving them to the Kohein. What could be the motivation of one who separates the tithes, but holds back from giving them to the Kohein?

If a person does tithe, but refuses to give it to the Kohein, what he is doing is exerting his control over the Kohein. The Torah is teaching us that a person who feels the need to exert his control over others probably relates to his spouse in the same manner. It is this domination over his wife that either causes her to rebel or results in his uncontrollable jealousy, which makes it necessary for her to drink the "bitter waters". His own wife, over whom he exerts control, becomes prohibited, and the only one who can permit him to resume relations with her is the Kohein. He now faces the realization that he has no control over either party.

Rabbi Mordechai Shifman

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PARSHAS NASSO -- Bringing Hashem's Blessings Into The World?

by Rabbi Dovid Horowitz