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The Sotah and MRI’s

October 30, 2007

This morning’s (10/30/07) Morning Edition on NPR contained a piece entitled Neuroscientist Uses Brain Scan to See Lies Form. Essentially, by using MRI’s, neuroscientists can look into one’s brain and see if one is lying. While the application might not seem readily apparent, the piece actually provides a nice way to teach the Sotah as recounted in Num 5.

In the news piece, NPR’s Dina Temple-Raston interviewed Joel Huizenga, the president of the company No Lie MRI, who markets and sells this procedure in the private sector. While he saw the applications for this unique service in writing wrongs and proving that defendants weren’t lying, it has also found another niche market.

“We have had a huge number of people contact us with regard to sexuality,” he said. “In other words: ‘I am being faithful to my partner, but he doesn’t believe me.’ That’s a common complaint. Interestingly, it is mostly women who are calling and asking to do this.”

The similarities to the Sotah are interesting as well. In Num 5:11-31 we find a ritual for a woman suspected of adultery. A woman so accused is able to prove her innocence through use of an ordeal involving incantations and potions administered by a priest at the shrine.

19Then the priest shall make her take an oath, saying, ‘If no man has lain with you, if you have not turned aside to uncleanness while under your husband’s authority, be immune to this water of bitterness that brings the curse. 20But if you have gone astray while under your husband’s authority, if you have defiled yourself and some man other than your husband has had intercourse with you’— 21let the priest make the woman take the oath of the curse and say to the woman—‘the Lord make you an execration and an oath among your people, when the Lord makes your uterus drop, your womb discharge; 22now may this water that brings the curse enter your bowels and make your womb discharge, your uterus drop!’ And the woman shall say, ‘Amen. Amen.’ (Num 6: 19-22 NRSV)

I guest we can be happy that his new procedure is less invasive than a discharged uterus…

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