I Will Give You The Secret and The Truth

Read these words, and I will take you there, to the cap stone.

John ‘The Nazarite’

“When a sotah who was innocent drinks [the bitter water], she becomes stronger and her face glows. If she was afflicted by sickness [that prevented her from conceiving],59 it will disappear; she will conceive and give birth to a male. If she previously had difficulty giving birth, she will give birth speedily. If she would give birth to girls, she will give birth to males.”

This article is about the Jewish stone. For the Indian revenue block, see Kallal block. For தமிழ்(Tamil) கல் (Kal) means Stone . The Indian – தமிழ்(Tamil) village, see Kallal (village).

According to rabbinical sources, the kallal was a small stone urn kept in the Tabernacle and later in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem which contained the ashes of a red heifer. The Hebrew Bible does not mention any urn in the Numbers 19 account.[1] Kallal is the Aramaic word for a stone vessel or pitcher.[2][3] Alternatively, kallal is also used for large jars for washing.[4]


The kalal is mentioned specifically in the Mishnah (Parah 3:3, Eduyot 7:5), Hebrew Rabbinic writings describe vessels hidden under the direction of Jeremiah seven years prior to the destruction of Solomon’s Temple, because the dangers of Babylonian conquest were imminent. The vessels that were hidden included the Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle fittings, the stone tablets of Moses, the altar (with cherubim) for the daily and seasonal sacrifices, the menorah (candelabra), the kallal and numerous vessels of the priests.

Dead Sea Scrolls[edit]

Mainstream scholarship does not recognise any mention of the kallal vessels in the Dead Sea Scrolls. However Vendyl Jones of the Vendyl Jones Research Institute interpreted the Copper Scroll in the Archaeological Museum of Jordan to contain mention of sixty-four lost objects buried in the “Cave of the Column” mentioned in the Copper Scroll, including a kallal buried behind a pillar, which would be a reference to the kallal of ashes in the Mishnah.[5] Jones died without finding such an urn, and his findings and readings of the Copper Scroll have not been accepted.


The second perek of Masechet Sotah teaches about the preparations for the ceremony itself. The Mishnah on our daf teaches about how the “bitter waters” are prepared. The kohen would bring an earthenware peyale, and would fill it with a half log of water from the kiyor – the Temple washbasin. Rabbi Yehuda requires only a revi’it, one quarter of a log. Based on the passage in Bamidbar (5:17), dirt would be taken from the floor of the mishkan – or from under the stones of the Temple floor – to be placed in the water.

Masechet Sotah 13a-19b | Everyday Jewish Living | OU Life

LEVIRATE MARRIAGE (Hebr. “yibbum”):

By: Solomon SchechterJoseph Jacobs

Marriage with a brother’s widow. This custom is found among a large number of primitive peoples, a list of which is given by Westermarck (“History of Human Marriage,” pp. 510-514). In some cases it is the duty of a man to marry his brother’s widow even if she has had children by the deceased, but in most cases it occurs when there are no children, as among the Hindus (“Institutes of Manu,” v. 59-63). Among the Hebrews marriage with a brother’s widow was forbidden as a general rule (Lev. xviii. 16, xx. 21), but was regarded as obligatory (Deut. xxv. 56) when there was no male issue, and when the two brothers had been dwelling on the same family estate. The surviving brother could evade the obligation by the ceremony of Ḥaliẓah. The case of Ruth is not one of levirate marriage, being connected rather with the institution of the Go’el; but the relations of Tamar with her successive husbands and with Judah are an instance (Gen. xxxviii.). If the levirate union resulted in male issue, the child would succeed to the estates of the deceased brother. It would appear that later the levirate marriage came to be regarded as obligatory only when the widow had no children of either sex. The Septuagint translates “ben” (son) in the passage of Deuteronomy by “child,” and the Sadducees in the New Testament take it in this sense (Mark xii. 19; comp. Josephus, “Ant.” iv. 8, § 23).

By Talmudic times the practise of levirate marriage was deemed objectionable (Bek. 13a), and was followed as a matter of duty only. To marry a brother’s widow for her beauty was regarded by Abba Saul as equivalent to incest (Yeb. 39b). Bar Ḳappara recommends ḥaliẓah (Yeb. 109a). A difference of opinion appears among the later authorities, Alfasi, Maimonides, and the Spanish school generally upholding the custom, while R. Tam and theNorthern school prefer ḥaliẓah (Shulḥan ‘Aruk, Eben ha-‘Ezer, 165). The marriage was not necessary if the brother left a child by another marriage, even if such a child were on the point of death (l.c. 157). A change of religion on the part of the surviving brother does not affect the obligation of the levirate, or its alternative, the ḥaliẓah (Isaac b. Sheshet, Responsa, i. 2), yet the whole question has been profoundly affected by the change from polygamy to monogamy due to the taḳḳanah of Gershom ben Judah (see Marriage).

The Samaritans followed a slightly different course, which may indicate an earlier custom among the Hebrews; the former practised the levirate only when the woman was betrothed and the marriage had not been consummated (Ḳid. 65b). The Karaites appear to have followed the same practise, and Benjamin Nahawendi, as well as Elijah Bashyaẓi, favored it Adderet Eliyahu, Nashim,” p. 93a).

It has been suggested by Kalisch (“Leviticus,” ii. 362-363) that the prohibition in Leviticus is of later date than the obligation under certain conditions in Deuteronomy, but it is equally possible that the Leviticus prohibition was a general one, and the permission in Deuteronomy only an exception when there was no male issue. J. F. Maclennan (“Studies in Ancient History,” i. 109-114) suggested that the existence of levirate marriage was due to polyandry among the primitive Hebrews, and has been followed by Buhl (“Sociale Verhaltnisse,” p. 34) and Barton (“Semitic Origins,” pp. 66-67); but this is rather opposed to the Hebraic conditions, for it would be against the interests of the surviving brother to allow the estate to go out of his possession again. There is, besides, no evidence of polyandry among the Hebrews.

Sotah 16a-b

As we learned on yesterday’s daf, the procedure for preparing the “bitter waters” involves mixing dirt from the floor of the mishkan or mikdash with the water that will be used. Our Gemara quotes a baraita that teaches that this is one of three cases where the same thing is seen –

  1. The dirt mixed with water in the case of Sotah
  2. The ashes mixed with water in the case of Parah Adumah
  3. The spit of a Yevamah during the chalitza ceremony.

Rabbi Yishma’el adds the case of the blood of the bird used in the ceremony marking the recovery of a metzorah (someone suffering from biblical leprosy) that is mixed with water.

Children Used in the Offering

The next care was to find one to whom no suspicion of possible defilement could attach, who might administer purification to such as needed it. For this purpose a priest was not required; but any one—even a child—was fit for the service. In point of fact, according to Jewish tradition, children were exclusively employed in this ministry. If we are to believe the Mishnah (Parah, iii. 2-5), there were at Jerusalem certain dwellings built upon rocks, that were hollowed beneath, so as to render impossible pollution from unknown graves beneath. Here the children destined for this ministry were to be born, and here they were reared and kept till fit for their service. Peculiar precautions were adopted in leading them out to their work. The child was to ride on a bullock, and to mount and descend it by boards. He was first to proceed to the Pool of Siloam190 and to fill a stone cup with its water, and thence to ride to the Temple Mount, which, with all its courts, was also supposed to be free from possible pollutions by being hollowed beneath.

Dismounting, he would approach the ‘Beautiful Gate,’ where the vessel with the ashes of the red heifer was kept. Next a goat would be brought out, and a rope, with a stick attached to it, tied between its horns. The stick was put into the vessel with the ashes, the goat driven backwards, and of the ashes thereby spilt the child would take for use in the sacred service so much as to be visible upon the water. It is only fair to add, that one of the Mishnic sages, deprecating a statement which might be turned into ridicule by the Sadducees, declares that any clean person might take with his hand from the vessel so much of the ashes as was required for the service. The purification was made by sprinkling with hyssop. According to the Rabbis (Parah, xi. 9), three separate stalks, each with a blossom on it, were tied together, and the tip of these blossoms dipped into the water of separation, the hyssop itself being grasped while sprinkling the unclean. The same authorities make the most incredible assertion that altogether, from the time of Moses to the final destruction of the Temple, only seven, or else nine, such red heifers had been offered: the first by Moses, the second by Ezra, and the other five, or else seven, between the time of Ezra and that of the taking of Jerusalem by the Romans. We only add that the cost of this sacrifice, which was always great, since a pure red heifer was very rare, 191 was defrayed from the Temple treasury, as being offered for the whole people.192

Those who lived in the country would, for purification from defilement by the dead, come up to Jerusalem seven days before the great festivals, and, as part of the ashes were distributed among the priesthood, there could never be any difficulty in purifying houses or vessels.

Alfred Edersheim: Temple–Its Ministry and Services – Christian Classics Ethereal Library (ccel.org)

fare, while, for the same reason, the customary addition of oil and frankincense was omitted. Before this offering was waved and part of it burned on the altar, the priest had to warn the woman of the terrible consequences of a false profession before the Lord, and to exhibit what he spoke in a symbolical act. He wrote the words of the curse upon a roll; then, taking water out of the laver, in which the daily impurities of the priests were, so to speak, symbolically cleansed, and putting into it dust of the sanctuary, he washed in this mixture the writing of the curses, which were denounced upon the special sin of which she was suspected

Sotah – Chapter Three – Texts & Writings (chabad.org)


[In the Sanctuary,] there was a place, one cubit by one cubit, at the right as one entered, [covered by] a marble tile with a ring affixed to it.30 [The priest] would lift the tile and take “from the dust… on the earth of the Tabernacle” [Numbers 5:17] and place it in the water, so that it could be seen [floating] on the water.


When a sotah who was innocent drinks [the bitter water], she becomes stronger and her face glows. If she was afflicted by sickness [that prevented her from conceiving],59 it will disappear; she will conceive and give birth to a male. If she previously had difficulty giving birth, she will give birth speedily. If she would give birth to girls, she will give birth to males.

About Royal Rosamond Press

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