And so we begin a new Tractate today.
Undoubtedly the idea of public humiliation of a woman due to the jealousy of the husband is worrying for many of us in the modern era.
Here is a fascinating article which looks at the differences between the Biblical Sota and the Sota as detailed in Rabbinic literature. The abstract at the beginning of the article sets out the key differences as follows:
“The apparent goal of tractate Sota is to delineate the biblical ritual of the suspected adulteress. While the text indeed largely follows the order laid out in the book of Numbers, a careful examination reveals that the rabbinic ritual has been dramatically changed from an individual, priestly process undertaken before God, to a public, largely rabbinic spectacle performed before a live audience.”
The conclusion of the article (which is well worth a read) is the following:
“The Mishnah thus rewrote the Biblical ritual, making it into a public lesson about men’s fears and women dangers.”
I am not sure if that is danger to women or danger posed by women, either way, this promises to be a fascinating tractate.