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Stopping Just Short of the Techum

Eiruvin (4:11) | Yisrael Bankier | 7 days ago

The Mishnah (4:11) teaches that if one was travelling towards a city and he finds himself just outside the techum of the city as Shabbat begins, then he may only walk four amot. Normally, when one dwells in a city, they can walk the entire city and a distance of two thousand amot outside the city (the techum). In normal circumstance, if one walks outside the techum then they can only walk a distance of four amot. If however they were located outside a city and decided to dwell there when Shabbat began, then they would be able to walk a distance of two thousand amot from that location. Why is this case different? Why in the case, when he stops just short of the techum is he limited to four amot?

The Bartenura explains that his shevita is not the place he is located since he has demonstrated the he does not want that to be his shevita – he wants it be in the city. His shevita however cannot be in the city as it is too far away. Consequently, it is considered as if he walk beyond the techum of the city and he can only walk four amot.

The Tosfot Yom Tov however finds the explanation of the Bartenura lacking. He therefore cites the explanation of R’ Yehonatan who explain that in this case, the person declared that he wanted his shevita to be in the city. It is this declaration specifically that demonstrated he does not want his shevita to be in his current location.

The Tosfot Yom Tov however finds it difficult to explain that the Mishnah is discussing the specific case where one made that declaration. He suggests that it is for this reason why the Bartenura omits this declaration from his explanation. This too however is difficult. We learnt previously that a personal travelling does not need to specifically declare that his shevita is in his current location. That being so, in our case, why is his shevita not in his current location.

The Tosfot Yom Tov therefore suggest that perhaps the Bartenura understands that in this case the person resided at the location as Shabbat came in, thinking he was in the techum of the city. It was only later he learned that he was in fact too far away. The issue then is that he intended for his shevita to be in the city which was too far away. The difficulty however is that the Bartenura wrote that the issue was that he “demonstrated” he wanted his shevita to be in the city, and not that he “intended” to dwell in the city.

The Tosfot Yom Tov explains that the Rambam’s explanation of the case avoids all these question. The Rambam explains that when the Mishnah states the traveller “may not enter” it does not mean that he is limited to four amot, but rather he can only walk as far into the city as the two thousand amot from his current location allows him. In other words, according to the Rambam the Mishnah rules that he does indeed acquired his shevita at the current location. The Tifferet Yisrael also adopts this interpretation.

The Chidushei Mahariach however defends the Bartenura. He explains that the Bartenura found the term “hechshich” difficult. The term does not imply that he simply ran out of time, otherwise the term “chascha” would have been used. The term hechshich suggest that he deliberately stopped at the location despite the fact he had time to travel further. The fact that he deliberately stopped there, despite the fact that had he walked a few steps further he would have been considered part of the city and profited greatly, demonstrates his error of thinking he was already within the techum of the city.

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