Sotah 4 - How long do they need?

We learned that if a man gets especially jealous of his wife in relation to a particular fellow, he can warn her not to hide with that fellow. The warning is really for both, and later consequences may befall both. Now if they do hide, suspicion has grounds, and the husband is not allowed to live his life normally any longer but needs to clear her of the suspicions, in the Temple.

How long do they have to hide? - Enough to do the thing. What thing? - Cohabitation. And what is that? - We learned before that the beginning of it - the touch of the genitals - is sufficient, the disagreement was only about was is considered a touch.

So how long is that? Rabbi Ishmael said, "The time it takes to mix a cup of wine." Rabbi Yehoshuah said, "Time to drink it." Ben Azai said, "Time to fry an egg." Rabbi Akiva: "Time to swallow that egg." Chanin ben Pinchas said, "The time it takes her to put a hand into a basket and take out a bread." The Talmud discusses these and other opinions and changes them, for example, "Time to drink" really means "Time to mix and then drink." It also wants to know, what kind of bread, wheat or barley, warm or cold, and what type of basket, but does not find an answer.

Every opinion came from personal experience, except perhaps for Ben Azai, who was never married, because Torah study took all his time. Then how did he know? Some say, he married but separated, some - that his teacher told him, and yet others - that God tells His secrets to those who are aware of Him.

Art: An elegant couple on a bench by a pond by Johann Heinrich The Elder Tischbein