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The bulk of the tractate of Sotah discusses the laws of a married woman suspected by her husband – with strong circumstantial evidence – of infidelity. She is brought to the Temple and given to drink from the "bitter waters," and if she was indeed unfaithful, she miraculously dies.

The end of the tractate, however, discusses a variety of subjects, the last of which is the law of eglah arufah—the procedure prescribed in the Torah in the event of an unsolved homicide. However, the Mishnah says, when murder became rampant in Israel, the eglah arufah ceremony was no longer done.

This segues into a discussion about various phenomenons that stopped at a particular point in time (as did the Sotah procedure, when adultery became widespread). The very last section of Sotah discusses certain great sages who were unequalled in a particular field. So much so that when they died, it is considered as if that field, or attribute, "ceased":

The rabbis taught:

When Rabbi Eliezer died, the Torah scroll was hidden away (for so much of the Torah wisdom that he accrued went to the grave with him).

When Rabbi Yehoshua died, counsel and thought ceased.

When Rabbi Akiva died, the "arms of Torah" (the profound cognition required to expound the words of the Written Torah) ceased and the fountains of wisdom were stopped up.

When Rabbi Eliezer ben Azariah died, the "crowns of wisdom" ceased; for the "crown of the wise people is their wealth" (Proverbs 14:18) (and Rabbi Eliezer ben Azariah was exceedingly wealthy).

When Rabbi Chaninah ben Dosa died, people of action (mitzvot) ceased.

When Abba Yosi ben Katonta died, chassidim (pious people) ceased. And why was he called "Abba Yosi ben Katonta" ("katonta" comes from the Hebrew word kattan, small)? Because he was the smallest of the chassidim.

When Ben Azzai died, assiduous studiers ceased.

When Ben Zoma died, those who excelled in biblical exegesis ceased.

When Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel died, a plague of locust struck, and troubles proliferated.

When Rebbe (Rabbi Yehudah the Prince) died, the troubles multiplied.

Quote from the Mishnah: "When Rebbe died, humility and fear of sin ceased."

Rabbi Yosef said to the one who repeated the Mishnah to his students: "Do not say that humility has ceased, because there is I."

Rabbi Nachman said to the one who repeated the Mishnah to his students: "Do not say that fear of sin has ceased, because there is I."