SALT - Monday, 8 Shevat 5779 - January 14, 2019

  • Rav David Silverberg
In loving memory of
Yitzchak ben Chaim Zvi Schwartz z"l, who passed away on 13 Shvat 5771
and Sheva Shayndel bat David Schwartz z"l, who passed away 13 Shvat 5778
Dedicated by Avi and Sarah Schwartz
            The Torah in Parashat Beshalach tells about the manna which God sent from the heavens each morning as Benei Yisrael traveled through the wilderness, except on Shabbat.  A double portion of manna fell on Friday morning, which sufficed for both that day and Shabbat, when no manna fell.  God commanded the people not to leave the camp to look for manna on Shabbat, instructing Moshe to tell them, “Al yeitzei ish mi-mekomo ba-yom ha-shevi’i” – “No man shall leave from his place on the seventh day” (16:29).
            The Gemara in Masekhet Eiruvin (51a) interprets this verse as not only instructing that generation not to go search for manna on Shabbat, but also establishing for all generations the prohibition of “techum Shabbat” (literally, “the Shabbat boundary”).  This command forbids one from walking on Shabbat 2,000 amot (approximately 3,500-4,000 feet) beyond the town where he spends Shabbat.  This is how Targum Yonatan Ben Uziel translates this verse, as well.  (The law of “eiruv techumin” allows a person to walk beyond this distance if he places food before Shabbat at a site within 2,000 amot from the boundary of his town, in which case he may then walk until 2,000 amot beyond that site.)
            The Rambam lists this command as one of the Torah’s 365 mitzvot lo ta’aseh (Biblical prohibitions) in his Sefer Ha-mitzvot (lo ta’aseh 321).  Citing the aforementioned verse in Parashat Beshalach – “Al yeitzei ish mi-mekomo ba-yom ha-shevi’i”) – the Rambam writes that the Torah here introduces the prohibition against walking on Shabbat beyond 2,000 amot outside one’s city.  This is also the position taken by the Behag (Hilkhot Eiruvin) and the She’iltot (Parashat Beshalach).
            Interestingly, the Rambam modified his position in Mishneh Torah.  In Hilkhot Shabbat (27:1), he writes – based on the Talmud Yerushalmi (Eiruvin 3:4) – that the Biblical prohibition of “techum Shabbat” forbids only walking a distance of twelve mil – or 24,000 amot, which tradition teaches was the length of the Israelite camp in the wilderness.  The Rambam explains that Moshe instructed the people not to walk outside the camp on Shabbat, which meant, in practice, that they should not walk a distance of more than twelve mil – and thus this is the distance forbidden by Torah law.  The 2,000-amot boundary, the Rambam writes, was enacted later by Chazal.
            Several other Rishonim, however, including the Ramban (in his critique to Sefer Ha-mitzvot, and in Milchamot Hashem, Eiruvin 5a in the Rif’s pages), the Ba’al Ha-ma’or (Eiruvin 5a in the Rif’s pages) and the Rosh (Eiruvin 1:24), maintain that the entire institution of “techum Shabbat” originates from Chazal.  The Ba’al Ha-ma’or notes that the origin of this prohibition is a matter of debate among the Tanna’im, as the Gemara in Masekhet Sota (30a) attributes specifically to Rabbi Akiva the view that “techum Shabbat” constitutes a Torah violation.  Seemingly, then, the majority view maintains that it was enacted by the Sages, and does not constitute a Biblical prohibition. 
            A number of Acharonim raised the question of whether the opinion which regards “techum Shabbat” as a Torah prohibition applies this view even on Yom Tov.  According to this view, the source of “techum Shabbat” is God’s instructions to Benei Yisrael in the wilderness regarding the collection of manna on Shabbat.  It is thus questionable whether this Biblical prohibition was stated also in regard to Yom Tov.  Nevertheless, as some Acharonim note, Tosefot write explicitly in Masekhet Pesachim (93b) that according to Rabbi Akiva, the Biblical prohibition of “techum Shabbat” applies also on the first day of Pesach, clearly assuming that no distinction is drawn in this regard between Shabbat and Yom Tov.  By contrast, the Peri Chadash (O.C. 495) concluded that on Yom Tov, the “techum” prohibition applies according to all opinions on the level of Rabbinic enactment.
            Rav Menachem Kasher, in Torah Sheleima (Parashat Beshalach, appendix 23), cites several sources from the Geonim clearly indicating that no distinction exists in this regard between Shabbat and Yom Tov, and that if “techum Shabbat” constitutes a Torah prohibition on Shabbat, this is true on Yom Tov, as well.  Rav Kasher further notes the explicit comment in the Mekhilta to Parashat Beshalach (16:26) that the manna did not fall on Yom Tov just as it did not fall on Shabbat.  Hence, since the Biblical source of “techum Shabbat” is the command not to leave the camp to search for manna on Shabbat, it follows that according to this view, this Biblical prohibition applies on Yom Tov, as well.