This week’s sedrah is entitled “Naso” which coincidentally for those of us living out 2020 is the “take” part of “take a census.” It is the longest of all the sedrahs, and as expected from that, it meanders a bit. And as in so many parts of the book of Bamidbar (“Numbers” to you goyim), there’s a recitation of some census results. Yawwwwn. Let’s get to the fun stuff.
Amidst the begats and recitations of tribal stats, there is a very interesting section- how to tell if your wife is fucking around. And it’s foolproof! Who says religion isn’t useful?
Now bear with me as we go through the procedure, and please be assured that I am making nothing up here. It’s this weird.
OK, you suspect that slut (sotah) of sleeping around. But there’s no witnesses, and being as this is in the days before PornHub and iPhones, there’s no videos. What you do, Shmuley, is haul that sotah in front of a Kohen (priest). Being as it’s (((us))), you know there’s payment coming, and it begins with you handing over a tenth of an ephah (which works out to about a gallon, using Went To The Moon units of measure) of barley flour for the Kohen’s time. Now, because we’re fellow Yids, the Kohen won’t get extra oil or frankincense, just the barley. “For it is a meal offering of jealousies, a meal offering of remembrance, recalling iniquity,” which reminds me much of my last marriage. Still, you have it easy compared to your sotah.
The Kohen and his assistant Kohens first march that sotah bitch around for a while until she gets tired, then the real fun begins as she is dragged in front of the Sanhedrin. There, she is, ummm, persuaded to confess. The various Sanhedrinites play good cop/bad cop, telling her that if she confesses, it’ll be cool, they’ll give her a divorce and let her go. Then telling her that if she continues lying, bad shit’s going to happen. Really, really bad shit. If this doesn’t work, then the next step in the ritual begins, the Ordeal of the Bitter Water.
And this is my favorite part. The exhausted and brow-beaten sotah has her head uncovered and her hair exposed and let down (if it’s tied up). Then her blouse or tunic is torn open to free her titties. It’s not really necessary for the ritual to work, but it’s well known that old Jewish men like to look at titties, and coincidentally, the Sanhedrin was composed mostly of old Jewish men.
The sotah is then handed the gallon of barley flour to hold, then the Magic Potion is prepared. A clay pot is filled with Holy Water, then some dirt from the Temple floor is mixed in. The kohen takes the section of Torah with the description of the Ordeal (or scribes a new one on parchment), then drops it into the water/dirt mixture until the ink dissolves off. Mumbo jumbo, mumbo jumbo, then the sotah (sorry, alleged sotah) drinks it, while everyone stands back.
Why do we stand back? Because if she’s the cheating slut we think she is, magic is going to happen. Her belly swells up, her uterus explodes and falls out, and… well, it’s a gynecological version of the Mr. Creosote scene in The Meaning Of Life.
I’m unable to find records of a positive result here, so presumably, the Jew ladies of the time were a pretty faithful lot. But let’s not give up the opportunity to look at titties.
Once the Temple was gone, so was this delightful ceremony. And Jew ladies started to fuck around without fear of uterine explosions.
Now, there is a related Ordeal that exists in current times. If SP thinks I’m cheating, she has the Ordeal of the Rusty Tin Can Lids. But that’s a story for a different sedrah.