Modern Day Sotah Test?


We do not have a sotah ritual today. But I feel I have reasonable suspicion that my wife cheated on me decades ago before we had our kids. In the absence of the sotah ritual, what is a man supposed to do to find out the truth? Or his he supposed to inquire at all? I am nervous about confronting my wife directly. I have never been jealous, but I just want know.
In our first two years of marriage, my wife hung out often with a man she considered her ‘best friend.’ I fully believed he was a platonic friend and approved and trusted her, even though they had dated before and decided not to marry each other. She went over his apartment often and they watched movies together as I worked until late in the evening. Then I got my dream job and we moved away and she lost all but occasional contact with him. We made new friends, started a family, and she stopped contacting him. I have had many happy years of marriage ever since. We have heard that he died about 10 years ago.
If my suspicions are ever confirmed true, I have no intention of ending our marriage under any circumstances, regardless of anyone’s opinion. I know several couples who divorced over adultery. But I am the type to forgive, and I have already forgiven others for things that hurt me much more, and I will remain married to my beloved wife until death do us part. I just want to know one way or another for peace of mind’s sake.
I would like to know what approach we typically use in Jewish tradition today to ascertain the truth when there is suspicion.
We conceived no children during this period of time, but soon after we moved away, we did. I know for sure our firstborn daughter, who is now happily married with children of her own, is my biological child and not his because we have taken DNA tests.



  1. While I understand your desire to know the truth, I am not sure that finding it out is something that I would recommend that you do for two reasons. The first is that, if you find out that your wife did have an affair with the person, according to Jewish Law you obligated to divorce her. Seeing as you have no intention of doing so, it is actually better that you never find out rather than know that she did and that you still live together. The second reason is a little more complex. I know that you write that finding out that your wife was unfaithful to you would not change the way that you relate to her, but, psychologically, that is normally not the case. Once a person knows that their spouse has been unfaithful to them, it almost invariably changes the dynamics of the relationship, leaving it to spiral downwards into enmity and negativity.

    The law of Sotah applies only when the husband warned his wife in advance not to be alone with a very specific person, and afterwards there is testimony that she was alone with that specific man. It does not generally apply, and we are taught not to warn our wives in this way since in the absence of the Temple there is no longer the possibility for doing the Sotah procedure to clear matters up.

    Best wishes from the Team