Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Mitzvah 24: Techum Shabbat


The Torah's twenty-fourth mitzvah (per the count in the Sefer haChinuch) instructs us to stay within a certain boundary (Techum) on Shabbat; we don’t travel more than 2000 amot – approximately one kilometer – from the edge of town. We measure from the last house in town, beyond which there are no houses. If two towns are contiguous, they are considered as one town for this law.

The Talmud (Eruvin 35b) debates whether techum is actually a biblical law or a rabbinic law. See also Tosafot Sotah 30b, and Ramban Shabbat 2a and Shabbat 87b, among many other sources. In addition, there is debate regarding the actual distance included within the techum; see Yerushalmi Eruvin 5:4, among other sources.

The Sefer haChinuch explains that this mitzvah is part of the Torah’s legislation preventing non-Shabbat-oriented activities, enabling us to focus on Shabbat as testimony to Divine Creation.

Have a great day,

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