SECTION 396 The Laws Governing the “Four Cubits” Granted to Each Person on Shabbos (1-4)

סימן שצו דִּין אַרְבַּע אַמּוֹת שֶׁיֵּשׁ לְכָל אָדָם בְּשַׁבָּת וּבוֹ ד' סְעִיפִים:

1 There are authorities1 who interpret the verse,2 “Let every man abide in his place; no man should leave his place on the seventh day,” as a warning3 against [a person] departing beyond his Shabbos limits. According to Scriptural Law, the extent of these Shabbos limits is twelve mil;4this was [the length and width of] the encampment of the Jewish people [in the desert], which was twelve mil by twelve mil.5The Sages [extended that restriction], forbidding anyone from going beyond 2000 cubits,6 which is one mil.

Other authorities maintain that there is no Scriptural basis at all for the Shabbos limits. [Their perspective is that] according to Scriptural Law, even going beyond twelve mil is not prohibited at all.7 [These authorities maintain that] the phrase, “No man should leave his place,” is an injunction prohibiting the transfer of [articles].

Moshe commanded [the Jewish people] not to go out carrying a container from a private domain to the public domain to gather manna.8 [Furthermore, these authorities maintain that] the Sages received the tradition that the phrase, “Let every man abide in his place,” is an injunction not to carry in a public domain more than the measure [of the space] a person’s body [occupies],9 i.e., four cubits, as explained in sec. 349[:1].

Nevertheless, the Sages10 employed the verse, “No man should leave his place,” as an allusion11 to [the Rabbinic prohibition] of the Shabbos limits, [stating that] a person should not go more than 2000 [cubits] from the place where he is located at the commencement of the Shabbos. [The Sages determined that any distance up to] 2000 [cubits] is considered as a person’s place, [arriving at that figure in the following manner: The term makom, “place,”] is used with regard to the cities of refuge, as it is written:12 “I shall designate a makom [place] for you….” [The cities of refuge] provided sanctuary for a person even when he was outside their [perimeters], as indicated by [the association of] the verses,13 “[The avenger of the blood] finds him outside the border of his city of refuge,” and “You shall measure from outside the city 2000 cubits on its eastern side.”14 Just as the term “outside” [in the latter verse] means 2000 [cubits], so too [the term], “outside” [in the former verse] means 2000 [cubits].15

[Thus the phrase,] “Let every man abide in his place,” [is understood as referring to] the measure of the space a person occupies. Hence, the Sages employed it as an allusion [to the concept] that every person [is granted] four cubits wherever he [presently finds himself]. Even if [a person transgresses and] goes outside his Shabbos limits, he may walk [within a square of] four cubits [by four cubits]16 and he may also carry in that space.17 Similarly, when 2000 cubits are measured beyond the place where [one] is located at the commencement of the Shabbos, the measurement begins outside this four-cubit space, which is the measure of the space [a person] occupies (and may carry within.18 Therefore,) if at the commencement of the Shabbos, i.e., when the holiness of the day begins, [the person] is located in a place that is enclosed by walls in a manner that permits [one] to carry throughout that entire [enclosure], that entire [enclosure] is considered as [the person’s] four cubits. [In addition, the person] is granted 2000 cubits [walking distance beyond the boundaries of] this enclosure19 in the manner to be explained in sec. 399[:14. This applies] even if the enclosure is several mil [in area].20

[The above privilege applies] provided [the enclosure] was originally enclosed for the purpose of human habitation.21 [If that condition is met, the privilege remains in effect] even though there are presently no residents in [the enclosure],22 and [the enclosure] is not used at all, as will be explained in sec. 408.23 Alternatively, [the privilege is granted] if the enclosure is less than beis sasayim, even if it was not enclosed for the purpose of human habitation.24If, however, [the enclosure] is more than beis sasayim [and not enclosed for human habitation], just as its walls are not effective in allowing carrying to be permitted within the confines [of the enclosure],25 so too, they are not effective in enabling [the enclosure] to be considered as [only] four cubits with regard to one’s Shabbos limits.26

א "שְׁבוּ אִישׁ תַּחְתָּיו אַל יֵצֵא אִישׁ מִמְּקֹמוֹ בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי".א,2 יֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםב,1 שֶׁזּוֹ אַזְהָרָהג,3 לְיוֹצֵא חוּץ לַתְּחוּם, וְשִׁעוּר תְּחוּם שֶׁל תּוֹרָה הוּא י"ב מִיל,4 כְּשִׁעוּר מַחֲנֵה יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁהָיְתָה י"ב מִיל עַל י"ב מִיל.ד,5 וַחֲכָמִים אָסְרוּ לָצֵאת יוֹתֵר מֵאַלְפַּיִם אַמּוֹת,6 שֶׁהֵן מִיל א'.

וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים ה שֶׁאֵין לִתְחוּמִין עִקָּר מִן הַתּוֹרָה כְּלָל, אֶלָּא אֲפִלּוּ יוֹתֵר מִי"ב מִיל אֵינוֹ אָסוּר מִן הַתּוֹרָה כְּלָל.7 וְזֶה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר "אַל יֵצֵא אִישׁ מִמְּקֹמוֹ" – זוֹ הִיא אַזְהָרָה עַל הוֹצָאָה, ו שֶׁהִזְהִיר מֹשֶׁה שֶׁלֹּא לָצֵאת עִם הַכְּלִי מֵרְשׁוּת הַיָּחִיד לִרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים לִלְקוֹט הַמָּן.ז,8 וּ"שְׁבוּ אִישׁ תַּחְתָּיו" – קִבְּלוּ חֲכָמִים שֶׁזּוֹ אַזְהָרָה שֶׁלֹּא לְטַלְטֵל בִּרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים אֶלָּא כְּשִׁעוּר תַּחְתָּיו שֶׁל אָדָם, שֶׁהוּא ד' אַמּוֹת,ח,9 כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִמָּן שמ"ט. ט

אֶלָּא שֶׁחֲכָמִים10 סָמְכוּ11 אִסּוּר הַתְּחוּמִין שֶׁל דִּבְרֵיהֶם לְמִקְרָא זֶה י "אַל יֵצֵא אִישׁ מִמְּקֹמוֹ", שֶׁלֹּא יֵצֵא יוֹתֵר מֵאַלְפַּיִם מֵהַמָּקוֹם שֶׁשָּׁבַת בּוֹ, כִּי עַד אַלְפַּיִם נִקְרָא מְקוֹמוֹ, כְּמוֹ שֶׁמָּצִינוּ בְּעָרֵי מִקְלָט, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַריא,12 "וְשַׂמְתִּי לְךָ מָקוֹם וְגוֹ'", וְהֵן קוֹלְטוֹת אוֹתוֹ גַּם כְּשֶׁהוּא חוּצָה לָהֶן,יב שֶׁנֶּאֱמַריג,13 "וּמָצָא אוֹתוֹ מִחוּץ לִגְבוּל עִיר מִקְלָטוֹ", וְנֶאֱמַר לְהַלָּןיד,14 "וּמַדֹּתֶם מִחוּץ לָעִיר אֶת פְּאַת קֵדְמָה אַלְפַּיִם בָּאַמָּה וְגוֹ'". מַה "חוּץ" הָאָמוּר לְהַלָּן – אַלְפַּיִם, אַף "חוּץ" הָאָמוּר כַּאן – אַלְפַּיִם.15

וּ"שְׁבוּ אִישׁ תַּחְתָּיו" – כְּשִׁעוּר תַּחְתָּיו. מִכַּאן סָמְכוּ11 חֲכָמִים שֶׁכָּל אָדָם יֵשׁ לוֹ ד' אַמּוֹתטו בְּכָל מָקוֹם שֶׁהוּא, אֲפִלּוּ יָצָא חוּץ לַתְּחוּם – יָכוֹל לְהַלֵּךְ שָׁם ד' אַמּוֹת,טז,16 וְכֵן יָכוֹל לְטַלְטֵל בָּהֶן.יז,17 וְכֵן כְּשֶׁמּוֹדְדִים אַלְפַּיִם מִמְּקוֹם שְׁבִיתָתוֹ – מוֹדְדִים חוּץ מִד' אַמּוֹת אֵלּוּ, שֶׁהֵן כְּשִׁעוּר תַּחְתָּיויח (וְיָכוֹל לְטַלְטֵל בָּהֶן.יט,18 לְפִיכָךְ) אִם שָׁבַת, כ דְּהַיְנוּ שֶׁקִּדֵּשׁ עָלָיו הַיּוֹם,כא בְּמָקוֹם הַמֻּקָּף מְחִצּוֹת בְּעִנְיָן שֶׁמֻּתָּר לְטַלְטֵל בְּכֻלּוֹ – הֲרֵי כֻּלּוֹ נֶחְשָׁב לוֹ כְּד' אַמּוֹת, וְנוֹתְנִים לוֹ אַלְפַּיִם סָבִיב לְהֶקֵּף זֶה,כב,19 עַל דֶּרֶךְ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִמָּן שצ"ט,כג אֲפִלּוּ יֵשׁ בּוֹ כַּמָּה מִילִין.כד,20

וְהוּא שֶׁיְּהֵא מֻקָּף לְדִירָתוֹ מִתְּחִלָּתוֹ,כה,21 אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין בּוֹ עַתָּה דִּיּוּרִיןכו,22 וְאֵין מִשְׁתַּמְּשִׁין בּוֹ כְּלָל, כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִמָּן ת"ח,כז,23 אוֹ אֲפִלּוּ אֵינוֹ מֻקָּף לְדִירָה אֶלָּא שֶׁאֵין בּוֹ יוֹתֵר מִבֵּית סָאתַיִם.24 אֲבָל אִם יֵשׁ בּוֹ יוֹתֵר מִבֵּית סָאתַיִם – כְּשֵׁם שֶׁאֵין מְחִצּוֹתֶיהָ מוֹעִילוֹת שֶׁיְּהֵא מֻתָּר לְטַלְטֵל בְּכֻלּוֹכח,25 כָּךְ אֵינָן מוֹעִילוֹת שֶׁיְּהֵא כֻלּוֹ נֶחְשָׁב כְּד' אַמּוֹת לְעִנְיַן תְּחוּמִין:כט,26

2 There are authorities who maintain that these four cubits [that are granted a person] with regard to [his Shabbos]limits – both the four cubits of the place where he is located at the commencement of Shabbos, as well as the four cubits he is granted when he [transgresses and] goes beyond his Shabbos limits27 – are analogous to the four cubits28 in which one may carry in the public domain.29 Hence, a person may choose four cubits in any direction he desires, [but] once he goes four cubits in one direction, he may not go back and go even the slightest distance in the (opposite)30 direction if he is outside his Shabbos limits, just as he may not carry an article more than four cubits. [However, the person] is not granted the diagonal [of these four cubits, for he is granted the diagonal]31 with regard to carrying only because [– and when –] he is not granted a square [of four cubits in all directions],32 as explained in sec. 349[:2. See fig. 109.]

Similarly, with regard to the [person’s] location at the commencement of the Shabbos:If [the person] walked 2004 cubits in one direction, he may not walk more than 2000 cubits in the (opposite) direction. If, however, [the person] did not take all of the four cubits in one direction, he may take the remainder [of these four cubits when walking] in the (opposite) direction.

Other authorities33 maintain that the determination of these four cubits with regard to the Shabbos limits is not analogous to the determination of four cubits with regard to carrying. Instead, [a person] is granted four cubits in all directions, i.e., a square [measuring] eight [cubits] by eight [cubits, see fig. 110], both with regards to the four cubits of the place where he is located at the commencement of Shabbos and those [he is granted] when he [transgresses and] goes beyond his Shabbos limits. (According to this opinion, [the person] is certainly not granted four cubits and their diagonals in every direction. [The rationale is that] since [the person] is given a square [measuring] eight [cubits] by eight [cubits], he has [already] been granted the diagonal of four cubits in every direction, i.e., from the center [of the square] to all four corners. In contrast, with regard to the four cubits [the person] is granted with regard to carrying, he is granted four cubits in a straight line in front of him, in whichever direction he desires. Since it is not appropriate to speak of a diagonal in this context,34 [besides the four cubits,] he is given [the addition of] the diagonal [of a virtual square of that length],35 as stated in sec. 349[:2].) One may rely on their words and take this leniency [since] the matter is of Rabbinic [origin].

ב ד' אַמּוֹת אֵלּוּ שֶׁלְּעִנְיַן תְּחוּמִין – בֵּין ד' אַמּוֹת שֶׁבִּמְקוֹם שְׁבִיתָתוֹ, בֵּין ד' אַמּוֹת שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ כְּשֶׁיָּצָא חוּץ לַתְּחוּם27 – יֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםל,28 שֶׁהֵן כְּד' אַמּוֹת שֶׁבִּרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים שֶׁלְּעִנְיַן טִלְטוּל,לא,29 שֶׁהוּא בּוֹרֵר לוֹ ד' אַמּוֹת לְאֵיזוֹ רוּחַ שֶׁיִּרְצֶה, וּכְשֶׁהָלַךְ לְרוּחַ אַחַת ד' אַמּוֹת – שׁוּב אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לַחֲזוֹרלב וְלֵילֵךְ לְרוּחַ הַשֵּׁנִית30 (שֶׁכְּנֶגְדָּהּלג)25 אֲפִלּוּ כָּל שֶׁהוּא אִם הוּא חוּץ לַתְּחוּם, כְּמוֹ שֶׁאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְטַלְטֵל חֵפֶץ אֶחָד יוֹתֵר מִד' אַמּוֹת, שֶׁאֵין נוֹתְנִים אֲלַכְסוֹן31 לְעִנְיַן טִלְטוּל אֶלָּא מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵין שָׁם רִבּוּעַ,לד,32 כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִמָּן שמ"ט.לה וְכֵן בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁשָּׁבַת בּוֹ, אִם הָלַךְ לְרוּחַ אַחַת ד' אַמּוֹת וְאַלְפַּיִם – שׁוּב אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לֵילֵךְ לְרוּחַ הַשֵּׁנִית (שֶׁכְּנֶגְדָּהּ) אֶלָּא אַלְפַּיִם. וְאִם לֹא נָטַל לוֹ כָּל ד' אַמּוֹת לְרוּחַ אַחַת, יָכוֹל לְהַשְׁלִימָן בְּרוּחַ הַב'לו (שֶׁכְּנֶגְדָּהּ).

וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםלז,33 שֶׁד' אַמּוֹת אֵלּוּ שֶׁלְּעִנְיַן תְּחוּמִין אֵינוֹ כְּד' אַמּוֹת שֶׁלְּעִנְיַן טִלְטוּל, אֶלָּא הֵן ד' אַמּוֹת לְכָל רוּחַ, שֶׁהֵן ח' עַל ח' מְרֻבָּעוֹת, בֵּין בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁשָּׁבַת בּוֹ בֵּין כְּשֶׁיָּצָא חוּץ לַתְּחוּם (וּלְפִי סְבָרָא זוֹ כָּל שֶׁכֵּן שֶׁאֵין מוֹדְדִים לוֹ ד' אַמּוֹת עִם אֲלַכְסוֹנָם לְכָל רוּחַ, שֶׁכֵּיוָן שֶׁנּוֹתְנִים לוֹ ח' עַל ח' מְרֻבָּעוֹת – הֲרֵי יֵשׁ בָּהֶן אֲלַכְסוֹן מַמָּשׁ שֶׁל ד' אַמּוֹת לְכָל רוּחַ, דְּהַיְנוּ מֵאֶמְצָעִיתוֹ לְאַרְבַּע הַזָּוִיּוֹת. מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן בְּד' אַמּוֹת שֶׁלְּעִנְיַן טִלְטוּל, שֶׁמּוֹדְדִים לוֹ ד' אַמּוֹת בְּיֹשֶׁר אֶל עֵבֶר פָּנָיו לְאֵיזוֹ רוּחַ שֶׁיִּרְצֶה, וְכֵיוָן שֶׁלֹּא שַׁיָּךְ בָּהֶן אֲלַכְסוֹן מַמָּשׁ34 – צָרִיךְ לִתֵּן לוֹ הֵן וַאֲלַכְסוֹנָם,31 כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִמָּן שמ"ט). וְיֵשׁ לִסְמוֹךְ עַל דִּבְרֵיהֶם לְהָקֵל בְּדִבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים:לח


Fig. 109: The difference between the space a person is allowed to walk in the public domain while carrying an object and the 4 cubits he is granted for his Shabbos limits. a) The person’s location; b) The end of the 4 cubits he is granted for his Shabbos limits; c) The end of the space he is allowed to walk in the public domain while carrying an object
Fig. 109: The difference between the space a person is allowed to walk in the public domain while carrying an object and the 4 cubits he is granted for his Shabbos limits. a) The person’s location; b) The end of the 4 cubits he is granted for his Shabbos limits; c) The end of the space he is allowed to walk in the public domain while carrying an object

Fig. 110: The 8 cubit square granted to a person as his Shabbos limits
Fig. 110: The 8 cubit square granted to a person as his Shabbos limits

3 The four cubits that are granted in every direction, which are the measure of the space a person’s body [occupies], are measured for each person [individually], based on [the size of] his cubit.36 If [a person’s] limbs are abnormally short [in comparison to his trunk], i.e., his body is tall while his forearm is short, he is granted the four cubits of an average person, each one of them being six handbreadths, as explained in sec. 349[:1].

It was already explained in that source that these four cubits should be measured precisely.37 There are other authorities38 who maintain that these [cubits] are measured generously.39 One may rely on their words with regard to these four cubits in relation to the Shabbos limits, because fundamentally, [the restriction] involves a point of Rabbinic Law.40

ג ד' אַמּוֹת אֵלּוּ שֶׁלְּכָל רוּחַ וְרוּחַ, שֶׁהֵן שִׁעוּר תַּחְתָּיו שֶׁל אָדָם – מוֹדְדִים אוֹתוֹ לְכָל אָדָם35 בְּאַמָּה שֶׁלּוֹ.לט,36 וְאִם הוּא נַנָּס בְּאֵבָרִים, שֶׁגּוּפוֹ גָדוֹל וְאַמָּתוֹ קְטַנָּה מ – נוֹתְנִים לוֹ ד' אַמּוֹת בֵּינוֹנִית שֶׁל כָּל אָדָם, שֶׁכָּל אַחַת מֵהֶן ו' טְפָחִים, כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִמָּן שמ"ט.מא

וּכְבָר נִתְבָּאֵר שָׁם שֶׁד' אַמּוֹת אֵלּוּ מוֹדְדִים אוֹתָן מְצֻמְצָמוֹת.37 וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםמב,38 שֶׁמּוֹדְדִים אוֹתָן מְרֻוָּחוֹת,39 וְיֵשׁ לִסְמוֹךְ עַל דִּבְרֵיהֶם בְּד' אַמּוֹת אֵלּוּ שֶׁלְּעִנְיַן תְּחוּמִין, שֶׁעִקָּרָן אֵינָן אֶלָּא מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים:מג,40

4 If a person [was] on a mound ten handbreadths high and beis sasayim [or lessin area] at the commencement of the Shabbos, the entire [mound] is considered as four cubits41 for him [and he may carry on it]; it is as if [the mound] is enclosed by walls from above, as explained in sec. 345[:1].42 Nevertheless, [this ruling does not apply when the mound is larger than beis sasayim, since] it is not considered as enclosed for the purpose of habitation.43

Similar laws apply if, at the commencement of the Shabbos, [a person] was [located] in a field whose grain was cut, and there were sheaves ten handbreadths high enclosing [the field], provided [the person] tied the sheaves together in a manner that an ordinary wind would not cause them to move,44 for any partition that the wind causes to move is not a valid partition, as stated in sec. 362[:2].

If, however, [a person] was [located] in a city at the commencement of the Shabbos, the entire city is considered as [his] four cubits even if it is not surrounded by halachically valid walls, e.g., it has many places that are [either] open entirely or [open] for more than ten cubits.45 [The rationale is that since] the houses of the city are all located within a bit more than 70 cubits of each other,46 they are all considered as one dwelling [in the context of Shabbos limits], as will be explained in sec. 398[:2, 6].

ד שָׁבַת בְּתֵל גָּבוֹהַּ י' טְפָחִים, אִם אֵין בּוֹ אֶלָּא בֵּית סָאתַיִם – הֲרֵי כֻּלּוֹ נֶחְשָׁב לוֹ כְּד' אַמּוֹת,מד,41 מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא כְּמֻקָּף מְחִצּוֹת מִלְמַעְלָה,מה כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִמָּן שמ"ה,מו,42 אֶלָּא שֶׁאֵינָן מֻקָּפוֹת לְדִירָה.מז,43

וְכֵן אִם שָׁבַת בְּקָמָה קְצוּרָה וְשִׁבֳּלִים גְּבוֹהִים י' טְפָחִים מַקִּיפִים אוֹתָהּ.מח וְהוּא שֶׁקָּשַׁר הַשִּׁבֳּלִים יַחַד בְּעִנְיָן שֶׁאֵין רוּחַ הַמְּצוּיָה מְנִידָה אוֹתָן,מט,44 שֶׁכָּל מְחִצָּה שֶׁהָרוּחַ מְנִידָהּ – אֵינָהּ מְחִצָּה, כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִמָּן שס"ב. נ

אֲבָל הַשּׁוֹבֵת בְּעִיר – כָּל הָעִיר נֶחְשֶׁבֶת כְּד' אַמּוֹת,נא,45 אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינָהּ מֻקֶּפֶת מְחִצּוֹת כְּהִלְכָתָן,נב כְּגוֹן שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהּ פְּרָצוֹת הַרְבֵּה בְּמִלּוּאָן וּבְיוֹתֵר מֵעֶשֶׂר, דְּהוֹאִיל וּבָתֵּי הָעִיר מֻבְלָעִים בְּתוֹךְ שִׁבְעִים אַמָּה וְשִׁירַיִם שֶׁל זֶה46 – הֲרֵי כֻּלָּם כְּדִירָה אַחַת, כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִמָּן שצ"ח:נג