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June 24th: We Are the Sotah

Rabbi Bearman's Note: This reflection is based on the Sotah ritual- first described in the Book of Numbers- where a woman would be forced into a humiliating, public trial by ordeal through which her husband's accusation of infidelity would be proven or disproven. Whatever the "verdict" ended up being, the "trial" was abusive and horrific. The body and soul of the Sotah (the accused) was sacrificed and disregarded in order to enact this ritual of divine theater. The Sotah's life was less important than her husband's rage. I share this reflection today, hours after the Supreme Court has issued its ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization.

We are the wife whose life is valued less than the dust on the floor.

We are the sibling whose pain and suffering is fetishized by the panel of priests that condemn them.

We are the young one who loves the body that God gave them despite all of the injuries and judgment the world has heaped upon it.

We are the woman who is judged by strangers who claim to speak for God.

We are the child who is sacrificed to the rapacious fire of the powerful’s rage and fear and insecurity.

We are the lowly one whose uncovered hair is mocked by those who pretend they will never be chosen to face the same humiliation.

We are the spouse who never strayed and yet stands accused of harlotry.

We are the mystic who will be tried by the same witchcraft for which they are condemned.

We are the friend whose belly distends and whose thigh sags under the weight of their oppression.

Our cries echo in the halls of power.

Our blood stains the temples of justice.

Future generations will judge harshly all of us who have stood in silence as God’s name was used to justify cruelty…

That is if future generations do not use this precedent to further punish us, Sotahs one and all.

We are the Sotah-

If not today, then we will be tomorrow.

And from our eyes will fall waters that are bitter indeed.


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