Jesus is judging the woman accused of adultery employing an ancient custom that was done away with before he was born. Being a candidate for the Messiah, Jesus must be WITHOUT SIN….without error. Sin means ‘missing the mark’. This is why Jesus pretends not to hear the accusations against the woman accused of adultery. When I read this lesson by Rabbi Eliezer Irons eight years ago, I got it, the answer to the riddle.
“Not only witnessing the actual criminal act, but even witnessing the
punishment and humiliation of the crime can have a deleterious
influence on the viewer.”
Rabbi Jesus gives the same lesson to the witnesses and crowd, who are now all – with sin! Did he suggest they take the Oath of the Nazarite?
“Parshas Naso :
Witness to Sin
By Rabbi Eliezer Irons
The Sotah, a woman suspected of adultery, is a topic in this week’s
Parsha. A Sotah must either confess her guilt, or suffer public
humiliation. The Sotah, upon denying her guilt, would be forced to
drink waters, in which G-d’s name was placed. If she were truly
guilty, her stomach would expand and burst.
The Nazir (Nazarite) is discussed immediately following Sotah.
Nazir is a voluntary status that one pursues to attain greater levels
of holiness. A Nazir is forbidden to drink wine or eat grapes, cut
his hair, or become defiled by a human corpse.
Rashi, quoting the Talmud, asks,
“What is the connection between these two topics?”
(A connection exists when the Torah places two topics sequentially.)
The Talmud answers that one who sees the humiliation of the Sotah
should abstain from wine, etc., and become a Nazir. If one sees a
Sotah, a woman who fell victim to her desires, it may influence him
to sin as well. In order to protect himself against the type of evil
inclination that corrupted the Sotah, he should become a Nazir.
Why would witnessing the humiliation of a Sotah influence one to sin?
Logic dictates that the exact opposite should occur! Onlookers
should be fearful when witnessing the consequences of the averah (the
To answer this question, we must first examine a difficult
passage Sefer D’varim (12,17) in prohibiting the eating of maaser
sheni (the second tithe) outside Jerusalem. The verse uses the
curious terminology “you are not able to eat.” It would appear to
make more sense had the Torah said “You should not eat forbidden
food.” One is certainly able to eat forbidden food; it is among his
The Telzer Rosh Yeshiva Reb Eliyahu Meir Bloch zt”l explains that
the Torah here teaches us that sin should be viewed as something
unimaginable and far removed from the realm of possibility. To
illustrate the point, consider this example: A man on a roof who is
ordered to jump is likely to respond “I can’t.” Of course, he is
physically able, but in his mind it is utterly unimaginable and
Based on this explanation, we can now proceed to our original
question. When one witnesses the humiliation of the Sotah, he
realizes that the averah he once thought to be unimaginable is now a
distinct possibility. In order to protect himself, the witness must
therefore become a Nazir and thereby elevate himself to his former
This idea parallels the concept of Chilul Hashem (a disgrace to G-
d) expressed by Tosafos Yom Tov, in Yoma 8:8. “Anyone who does an
averah (a sin) and others are influenced thereby to take the matter
lightly and to act likewise is committing the sin of Chilul Hashem.”
This week’s Parsha takes the Tosafos Yom Tov idea one step further.
Not only witnessing the actual criminal act, but even witnessing the
punishment and humiliation of the crime can have a deleterious
influence on the viewer.
>From this we can derive a practical halacha (law) regarding the
law of lashon harah (talebearing and gossiping). Lashon harah is a
serious averah, but can one speak lashon harah about himself? The
Chafetz Chaim addresses self-abasing lashon harah in two places.
First, he warns that one cannot absolve himself from the guilt of
lashon harah by including himself in the story about a friend. One
may speak unfavorable about himself, but not about a friend.
In another instance, the Chafetz Chaim writers that if upon
hearing lashon harah, it is forbidden to believe it. However, if the
talebearer mentions himself in the story, it is permissible to accept
his story as true . . . but only about himself. It is forbidden to
believe what he says about his friend.
From these two places one could possibly deduce that it is
permitted to speak lashon harah about oneself. *According to the
lessons of Parshas Naso, even though one may not be violating the
laws of lashon harah, it is forbidden to tell others of one’s own
sins, because by doing so, one is violating the law of chilul Hashem.
If one repeats tales of his own sins, he may entice a friend to sin.
It will show him that it is possible to commit the sin.
May we be only good, positive influences on each other and all of
8 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees *brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, 4 they *said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” 6 They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. 7 But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. 10 Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” 11 She said, “No one, [a]Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go.
Arguments for Johannine authorship
There is clear reference of the pericope adulterae from the primitive Christian church in the Syriac Didascalia Apostolorum. (II,24,6; ed. Funk I, 93.) Zane C. Hodges and Arthur L. Farstad argue for Johannine authorship of the pericope. They suggest there are points of similarity between the pericope’s style and the style of the rest of the gospel. They claim that the details of the encounter fit very well into the context of the surrounding verses. They argue that the pericope’s appearance in the majority of manuscripts, if not in the oldest ones, is evidence of its authenticity.
The subject of Jesus’ writing on the ground was fairly common in art, especially from the Renaissance onwards; Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery by Pieter Bruegel is a famous example. There was a medieval tradition, originating in a comment attributed to Ambrose, that the words written were terra terram accusat (“earth accuses earth”), which is shown in some depictions in art, for example the Codex Egberti. There have been other speculative suggestions as to what was written
Interestingly enough, the earliest manuscripts of the Gospel of John do not contain this beloved passage. Indeed, the first manuscript to contain the story is from around 400 C.E. Around 4% of Greek manuscripts that include the passage place it in locations other than John 8:1-8:11; the earliest of these is from around the ninth and tenth centuries C.E. This perplexing manuscript history fuels debates about whether the story was originally in John’s Gospel and, if so, where. The majority of scholars believe a later Christian scribe inserted the passage into John’s Gospel at John 8:1-8:11 and that the alternate locations are due to the effects of later liturgical reading in what is known as the lectionary system. This popular method of reading the Bible broke the text into individual units that were designated for specific days and often rearranged the order of the holy text in order to reflect these reading preferences. The story of the woman caught in adultery was one of several such relocated passages.
A fascinating aspect of this passage is Jesus’ writing on the ground in John 8:6, John 8:8. Interpreters have offered an array of interpretations of these actions, which range from the idea that he wrote biblical passages to the idea that he was doodling. One must recognize, however, that if what he wrote was important, then the author probably would have included that information. Most likely, John 8:6, John 8:8 represents simply a claim that Jesus could write—a claim quite significant in the ancient world, where most individuals were illiterate. Such a claim also explains why a scribe inserted the passage after John 7, where the Jewish leaders question both Jesus’ literacy specifically (John 7:15) and Galileans’ knowledge of the law and ability to search it generally (John 7:49, John 7:52). In addition, the author borrows the verbs for “writing” in John 8:6, John 8:8 from the Greek version of Exod 32:15. This passage describes God’s authorship of the Ten Commandments; the woman in John’s gospel is accused of breaking the command against adultery. The context in Exodus insists that God wrote these laws with his finger (Exod 31:18), and in the story of the adulteress, Jesus, too, writes with his finger (John 8:6). The author of the story of the adulteress seems to be claiming not only that Jesus can write but also that this particular instance of writing parallels the actions of God himself, thus making Jesus superior to Moses, whom his enemies had challenged him to usurp by pronouncing judgment on the woman in the first place.
In their eagerness to set a snare for the Savior’s foot, they forgot one important thing: themselves. But Jesus, knowing all, knew them and the woman very well, even as He knows all men. So He ignored them. Pretending He didn’t hear them, He wrote on the ground. The Bible does not say what He wrote. Perhaps Jesus wrote words describing the sins of those who wanted Him to stone her. Regardless of what the exact words were, the Bible says something very interesting: – See more at: http://e-graphx.com/blog/jesus-the-twister-sista/#sthash.7RwtLkJ4.dpuf
Jesus wisely ignored them initially. He wasn’t about to be pressured into giving an off-the-cuff response by their contrived theatrics and the spectators it attracted. They kept demanding an answer while he wrote in the dirt with his finger.
When he finally does respond, his brilliant answer turns the snare back onto the trappers. “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”
The world to come, age to come, or heaven on Earth are eschatological phrases reflecting the belief that the “current world” or “current age” is flawed or cursed and will be replaced in the future by a better world or age or paradise. The concept is related but differs from the concepts of heaven, the afterlife, and the Kingdom of God in that heaven is another place or state generally seen as above the world, the afterlife is generally an individual’s life after death, and the Kingdom of God could be in the present (such as Realized eschatology) or the future. All of these may also be characterized as otherworlds or possible worlds
In Zoroastrian eschatology, the world to come is the frashokereti, where the saoshyant will bring about a resurrection of the dead in the bodies they had before they died. This is followed by a last judgment. The yazatas Airyaman and Atar will melt the metal in the hills and mountains, and the molten metal will then flow across the earth like a river. All mankind—both the living and the resurrected dead—will be required to wade through that river, but for the righteous (ashavan) it will seem to be a river of warm milk, while the wicked will be burned. The river will then flow down to hell, where it will annihilate Angra Mainyu and the last vestiges of wickedness in the universe.
Resurrection of the dead, fresco from the Dura-Europos synagogue
HaOlam HaBa, or “the world to come,” is an important part of Jewish eschatology, although Judaism concentrates on the importance of HaOlam HaZeh (“this world”). The afterlife is known as Olam haBa, Gan Eden (the Heavenly Garden of Eden) and Gehinom. According to the Talmud, any non-Jew who lives according to the Seven Laws of Noah is regarded as a Ger toshav (righteous gentile), and is assured of a place in the world to come, the final reward of the righteous.