Sotah 31 - Parrot

A husband who jealously warns his wife not to seclude herself with a certain man is putting himself into a number of complications. If he hears that she did seclude herself with the man, even as told to him by a parrot, he then needs to divorce her. This is the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer, who says that we would even believe the husband himself, so once the husband is sure about the seclusion, his warning is triggered. However, he has to pay her the money of the Ketubah, since he does not have any real proof, and it was his fault that he got into this situation.

Rabbi Yehoshua says that the evidence of seclusion must be stronger: if the affair is the talk of the town, so that women who get together to weave and chat at night discuss this, then the situation is certain to the point that the water drinking test will not work anyway. It is not, however, certain to the point of her loosing the Ketubah, so in that situation the husband still pays.

If the fact of seclusion is established, she gets exonerated by drinking bitter water in the Temple. However, if there are also witnesses that cohabitation has taken place during seclusion, then again the water test is not needed, and this time she gets a divorce and looses the Ketubah. This witness can be anyone who is normally not a good witness. Even those five close female relatives, like her mother-in-law, who would not be believed to testify about the death of her husband (because of their vested interest in her downfall) are believed here. Except that if these five women testify to the cohabitation, then she still keeps the right to the Ketubah payment.

Art: Woman With Parrot by Paul Cezanne