Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Waiting at the Edge of T'chum Shabbos To Do Your Stuff

One of the earliest life lessons I remember being taught by my father, alav hashalom, was regarding hypothetical situations.  He had a cute expression to make his point.  As I got older the expression morphed into things less cute, but more "colorful"; yet that first is what made the deepest impression.  When I would ask, "but what if...", my dad would reply, "If a frog had six shooters and a ten gallon hat he would be a Texas ranger."  The implied "but he doesn't, so he isn't" was the answer to my question.  After many years, I did learn that lesson.  Torah, however, has a way of forcing one to unlearn previously learned lessons; sometimes to modify, sometimes to toss out completely.

Siman 306 (Shulchan Aruch, O.Ch.) discusses things you are an are not allowed to say on Shabbos.  (Even though, as R' Fuerst often notes, it's a free country; sometime that freedom means the freedom to just say no.)  As background, we need to review a bit about the requirement for your animal to also participate in Shabbos and how t'chumim work.  You are responsible to ensure that your animal also ceases to work on Shabbos.  For that reason, there are big problems with even renting an animal to an non-Jew if he is going to have it over the weekend.  As to t'chumim, you are not allowed to leave your area of residence -- 2000 amos in each direction from the city boundary -- on Shabbos.  All of the is based on the pasuk in Y'shaya "mimtzoh cheftzecha" -- refrain from your own activities that are not part of the Shabbos celebration.  Now to the main point.

You are not allowed to sneak out to the edge of the t'chum ("machshich al ha't'chum, for your lamdanim) and wait there so that as soon as Shabbos is over, you can run off to execute your nefarious plans.  The overarching principle is that if an activity is forbidden on Shabbos -- even those activities forbidden by our holy sages with HaShem's imprimatur, then it is also forbidden to machshich al ha'tchum for that activity.  (Mishna Brura sk 2.)  On the other hand, if your animal has wandered outside the t'chum, then you are allowed to machshich al ha't'chum in order to be able to run to save her as quickly as possible after Shabbos.  Ayy... (imagine me making two or three hitchhiking motions with my thumb)... you'll ask me, "But didn't you just say that that if an activity is forbidden even... then I can't machshich al ha't'chum!?"  Yes, but if there were little huts less than 70 amos apart stretching from the edge of the city to you animal, then your t'chum would be extended and you could walk straight to her.   Ayyy.... (you know the drill)... "But there aren't any huts!"  Right; but there could be.  And for mimtzo cheftzecha, says the Mishna Brura (sk 3), an activity is only included if there is no way it could be made permissible.  Since this could be permissible if there were huts, even though there aren't, it is.

Note, by the way, that ensuring that your animal ceases its work on Shabbos does not mean that you have to prevent the animal from doing any of the 39 m'lachos.  It is perfectly appropriate to allow you animal to graze on Shabbos, for example.  The prohibition is on you, not the animal.  Not allowing the animal to graze would be quite unpleasant for him, so of course you would let her do that.  The Reform Jewish Religion (a modern religion, akin to Christianity in having it's roots in Judaism, but more distant theologically) likes to celebrate their sabbath (aka Shobot) as a day of rest and relaxation.  Meaning to say, if it makes you feel happy and serene, it's an appropriate activity.  Cooking (bishul, lash, borer, etc), gardening (zorei'ah, kotzer, choresh, etc), taking a drive (hotza'ah, mavir, m'chabeh, etc) are all appropriate activities for them.  If we were animals, that would certainly be an appropriate way for us to enjoy Shabbos; but we aren't, so it isn't.

If you are suspicious that I wrote this TftD only to make that last point.  First of all, nuh-uh; I thought the idea that if it could be permissible, then that's enough for mimtzo cheftzecha.  Second of all, I am certainly not above suspicion.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Sometimes a Food Loses Its Identity When It Loses Its Bracha; Sometimes It Doesn't

Let's start with a question: Why are We Allowed to Drink Coffee and Whiskey Made by Non-Jews?  Before you ask,"Why would I think that I shouldn't be able to drink whiskey and coffee made by non-Jews?", I'll tell you. Simple, we all know that Chazal made a decree -- known as בישול עכו''ם/bishul akim -- that particular foods cooked by non-Jews are forbidden.  There are basically two criteria that determines if a dish falls into this category:
Is not consumed raw.Fit for a royal banquet. Cooked carrots, therefore, are not a problem since they can be eaten raw (I actually prefer them that way).  Baked beans are find because the are not prestigious enough.  (For great synopsis of the laws, see the article on the Star-K site, FOOD FIT FOR A KING, by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita.)  There are lots of cool questions and details (baked potatoes are prestigious, does that make even potato chips and issue?) which are for another time.  Clearly, though, both coffee an…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…