SECTION 399 With What Are the Shabbos Limits Measured; the Measurement of [Different Types of] Places; Who May Perform the Measurement (1-15)

סימן שצט בַּמֶּה מוֹדְדִין הַתְּחוּמִין וּמְקוֹם הַמְּדִידָה וּמִי הוּא הַמּוֹדֵד וּבוֹ ט"ו סְעִיפִים:

1 A town’s Shabbos limits may only be measured with a linen1rope 50 cubits [long].2 [A rope] that is shorter [than 50 cubits] should not [be used], because a shorter [rope] will be stretched excessively [when extended], resulting in the Shabbos limits being unnecessarily longer [than the standard measure]. (Similarly, [ropes made from] other substances become stretched excessively.) Nor should a longer [rope] be used, because it will not be extended in a proper manner, for the weight [of the rope] will cause it to sag and become shorter in the middle, thereby reducing the size of the Shabbos limits.3

א אֵין מוֹדְדִים תְּחוּם הָעִיר אֶלָּא בְּחֶבֶל א שֶׁל פִּשְׁתָּןב,1 שֶׁל חֲמִשִּׁים אַמָּה.2 לֹא פָחוֹת,ג,2 מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא נִמְתָּח בְּיוֹתֵרד כְּשֶׁהוּא קָצָר וּמַאֲרִיךְ הַמִּדָּהה לְלֹא צֹרֶךְ (וְכֵן שֶׁל שְׁאָר מִינִים נִמְתָּח בְּיוֹתֵר), וְלֹא אָרֹךְ יוֹתֵר, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵינוֹ נִמְתָּח כָּרָאוּי, שֶׁכָּבְדּוֹ מַכְפִּילוֹ וּמִתְקַצֵּר בְּאֶמְצָעִיתוֹ ו וּמְקַצֵּר מִדַּת הַתְּחוּם:3

2 How should [the measurement be made] when a river more than 25 cubits wide is located towards the end of a 75 cubit [distance] from the city?4 [In such an instance,] it will be impossible to span [the river when measuring with] a rope 50 cubits [long], when one begins measuring after 50 [cubits] from the city, where the first measurement of the rope ends.5 [The following method that should be employed:] After measuring 50 cubits from the city, [the person] should backtrack [at least] 25 cubits6 so that the [next measurement] of 50 cubits will be completed before the river.7

ב אִם יֵשׁ לְפָנָיו לְסוֹף ע"ה אַמָּה מֵהָעִיר נָהָר ז שֶׁהוּא רָחָב יוֹתֵר מִכ"ה אַמָּה,4 שֶׁאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְהַבְלִיעוֹ בְּחֶבֶל שֶׁל נ' אַמָּה כְּשֶׁיִּמְדּוֹד בּוֹ מִסּוֹף חֲמִשִּׁים מֵהָעִיר, מָקוֹם שֶׁנִּסְתַּיֵּם הַחֶבֶל פַּעַם אַחַתח,5 – כֵּיצַד יַעֲשֶׂה? לְאַחַר שֶׁמָּדַד נ' אַמָּה מֵהָעִיר חוֹזֵר לַאֲחוֹרָיו כ"ה אַמָּה,6 כְּדֵי שֶׁיְּהֵא הַחֶבֶל שֶׁל נ' אַמָּה נִשְׁלָם עַד הַנָּהָר:ט,7

3 [The people] measuring should [make sure to hold their ends of the measuring rope] at chest height. Our Sages defined a [specific] place where the ends of the measuring rope should be held, [lest] one person hold [the rope] opposite his neck and the other opposite his feet, thus reducing the rope’s measure8 and diminishing the Shabbos limits.

ג לֹא יִמְדּוֹד אֶלָּא כְּנֶגֶד לִבּוֹ,י,2 שֶׁקָּבְעוּ לוֹ חֲכָמִים מָקוֹם לָשׂוּם כְּנֶגְדּוֹ רֹאשׁ הַחֶבֶל, שֶׁלֹּא יִתֵּן זֶה כְּנֶגֶד צַוָּארוֹ וְזֶה כְּנֶגֶד רַגְלָיו, וְהַחֶבֶל מִתְקַצֵּר8 וְהַתְּחוּמִין מִתְמַעֲטִין:יא

4 One must stretch out the rope with all his strength, because the weight of its middle [section causes the rope to sag, reducing the measurement].9

ד וְצָרִיךְ לִמְתּוֹחַ הַחֶבֶל בְּכָל כֹּחוֹ,יב מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא מַכְבִּיד בְּאֶמְצָעִיתוֹ:יג,9

Alter Rebbe's Shulchan Aruch (Sichos In English)

The new layout – with the original text and the facing translation – provides a unique user-friendly approach to studying the Alter Rebbe’s work. An inclusive commentary provides insightful explanations and guidelines for actual practice.

5 One should only measure [in a line] directly opposite the town. Even if there are hills and valleys [along the line directly] opposite [the town, one] should not [reposition himself] and go to a place on the side [of that line] where [the terrain] is flat and measure there10 and then return and remeasure that distance [on the line] directly opposite the town.11 [Instead, the person] should measure [directly] opposite the city12 so that he will span the hills and the valleys located there, measuring them in the manner that will be explained.13

ה לֹא יִמְדּוֹד אֶלָּא כְּנֶגֶד הָעִיר. אֲפִלּוּ אִם יֵשׁ הָרִים וְגֵיאוֹת כְּנֶגְדָּהּ לֹא יֵלֵךְ מִכְּנֶגְדָּהּ לְצִדָּהּ שֶׁהוּא יָשָׁר וְיִמְדּוֹד שָׁם,10 וְיַחֲזוֹר אַחַר כָּךְ כְּנֶגֶד הָעִיר לְפִי מִדָּה שֶׁמָּדַד שָׁם,11 אֶלָּא יִמְדּוֹד כְּנֶגֶד הָעִיר,יד,12 כְּדֵי לְהַבְלִיעַ הֶהָרִים וְגֵיאוֹת שֶׁכְּנֶגְדָּהּ,טו אוֹ לְמָדְדָהּ בְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר:13

6 [The following rules apply when the people measuring a town’s Shabbos limits] reach a hill:14 If [the incline] is so steep that if a plumb line were lowered from the top [of the incline], it [would descend in a relatively straight line and] would not diverge on an incline at the lower end [of the hill for a distance of] four cubits, [see fig. 131,]15 it is not necessary to measure the ascending or descending slope [of the hill] at all.16 Instead, if [the hill] has a flat area at its top, [that area] should be measured, and if [the hill] does not have a flat area on its top, [the hill] is not measured at all. Rather, [the people taking the measurements] should not include [the hill in the measurement] at all, even though it could be spanned by a 50-cubit [measuring] rope.

If the plumbline [was lowered along the hillside and it] would diverge [at least] four cubits from [the top of the hill], i.e., there would be [an ascent] of ten handbreadths within more than four cubits17 – i.e., when walking more than four cubits on the incline, one will have ascended ten handbreadths in height – one should see18 if there are no more than 50 cubits in a straight line from one edge [of the hill] to the other, i.e., were one to bore through [the bottom of the hill at the beginning of its] incline from edge to edge and measure through that hole, [the distance would be 50 cubits long. In such a situation,] it is necessary to span [the hill] with a 50-cubit measuring rope. One should erect a tall pole on either [side] of [the hill], and stretch the rope from one [side of the hill] to the other. [See fig. 132.]

If [the hill] cannot be spanned with a rope measuring 50 cubits,19 it should be measured with a four-cubit measuring rope. This is what should be done: One person should stand below, at the bottom of the hill, and the other should stand above him [on the hill] at a distance of four cubits. The [one standing] below should hold the [measuring] rope opposite his chest, while the [one standing] above holds it opposite his feet.20 [Then, the person standing] below should ascend to the place where the [other person] stood, and that person should ascend [another] four cubits. They should then measure in the same manner they did before. [The people measuring] should follow this procedure until they measure the entire hill on both of its sides. Thus, [the measure of the hill’s] incline will have been reduced more than half the height of a person over the course of every four cubits, i.e., [the distance] from one’s heart to his feet.21

ו הִגִּיעַ לְהַרטז,14 – אִם הוּא זָקוּף כָּל כָּךְיז שֶׁאִם יוֹרִידוּ חוּט הַמִּשְׁקֹלֶת מֵרֹאשׁוֹ לֹא יִתְרַחֵק מִכְּנֶגְדּוֹיח לְמַטָּה בְּשִׁפּוּלוֹ ד' אַמּוֹת,יט,15 אֵין צָרִיךְ לִמְדּוֹד כְּלָל הַיְרִידָה וְהָעֲלִיָּה,16 אֶלָּא אִם יֵשׁ מִישׁוֹר בְּרֹאשׁוֹ – מוֹדְדוֹ, וְאִם אֵין מִישׁוֹר בְּרֹאשׁוֹ – אֵינוֹ מוֹדְדוֹ כְּלָל אֶלָּא מְדַלְּגוֹ לְגַמְרֵי, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיָּכוֹל לְהַבְלִיעוֹ בְּחֶבֶל שֶׁל נ' אַמָּה. כ

וְאִם חוּט הַמִּשְׁקֹלֶת מִתְרַחֵק מִכְּנֶגְדּוֹ ד' אַמּוֹת, וּמִתְלַקֵּט י' טְפָחִים מִתּוֹךְ יוֹתֵר מִד' אַמּוֹת,17 דְּהַיְנוּ שֶׁבְּהִלּוּךְ יוֹתֵר מִד' אַמּוֹת שֶׁל שִׁפּוּעַ עוֹלֶה י' טְפָחִים בְּגֹבַהּכא – אָז רוֹאִים:18 אִם אֵין מִשְּׂפָתוֹ אֶל שְׂפָתוֹ אֶלָּא חֲמִשִּׁים אַמָּה בְּיֹשֶׁר,כב אִם הָיוּ נוֹקְבִים אוֹתוֹ בְּשִׁפּוּלוֹ אֵצֶל שְׂפָתוֹ וְהָיוּ מוֹדְדִים דֶּרֶךְ הַנֶּקֶב,כג אֲזַי צָרִיךְ לְהַבְלִיעוֹ בְּחֶבֶל שֶׁל נ' אַמָּה, שֶׁזּוֹקֵף עֵץ גָּבוֹהַּ בִּשְׂפָתוֹ מִזֶּה וְעֵץ אַחֵר כְּנֶגְדּוֹ בִּשְׂפָתוֹ מִזֶּה, וּמוֹתֵחַ חֶבֶל מִזֶּה לְזֶה.כד

וְאִם אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְהַבְלִיעוֹ בְּחֶבֶל שֶׁל נ' אַמָּה,כה,19 מוֹדְדוֹ בְּחֶבֶל שֶׁל ד' אַמּוֹת,כו,12 וְכָךְ יַעֲשֶׂה: אֶחָד עוֹמֵד בְּרַגְלֵי הָהָר לְמַטָּה וְאֶחָד לְמַעְלָה מִמֶּנּוּ בְּרִחוּק ד' אַמּוֹת, וְנוֹתֵן הַתַּחְתּוֹן אֶת הַחֶבֶל כְּנֶגֶד לִבּוֹ וְהָעֶלְיוֹן כְּנֶגֶד רַגְלָיו,כז,20 וְעוֹלֶה הַתַּחְתּוֹן לְמָקוֹם שֶׁעוֹמֵד הָעֶלְיוֹן וְהָעֶלְיוֹן עוֹלֶה ד' אַמּוֹת, וּמוֹדְדִים כְּבַתְּחִלָּה, וְכֵן יַעֲשֶׂה עַד שֶׁיִּמְדְּדוּ כָּל הָהָרכח מִב' צְדָדָיו, וְנִמְצָא מִתְמַעֵט מִדְרוֹנוֹ בְּכָל ד' אַמּוֹת יוֹתֵר מִן חֲצִי קוֹמַת אָדָם,כט כְּמוֹ שֶׁמִּלִּבּוֹ וְעַד רַגְלָיו:21


Fig. 131: An instance when the incline of a hill is not included in the Shabbos limits. The plumbline is lowered from a distance of four cubits from the edge of the hillside. Since it does not intersect the incline, the incline is considered too steep to ascend.
Fig. 131: An instance when the incline of a hill is not included in the Shabbos limits. The plumbline is lowered from a distance of four cubits from the edge of the hillside. Since it does not intersect the incline, the incline is considered too steep to ascend.

Fig. 132: The plumbline is lowered down the side of the mound. If it diverges more than 4 cubits within 10 handbreadths and the mound is 50 cubits or less long, the Shabbos limits are measured by erecting poles. The diagram above is scaled according to such a ratio. a) the distance from the pole to the hill 3.2 cubits; b) the distance taken by the incline of the hill, 16.8 cubits; c) the length of the top of the hill 10 cubits; d) the distance taken by the incline of the hill 16.8 cubits; e) the distance from the hill to the pole, 3.2 cubits; f) the length of the slope, 18.7 cubits
Fig. 132: The plumbline is lowered down the side of the mound. If it diverges more than 4 cubits within 10 handbreadths and the mound is 50 cubits or less long, the Shabbos limits are measured by erecting poles. The diagram above is scaled according to such a ratio. a) the distance from the pole to the hill 3.2 cubits; b) the distance taken by the incline of the hill, 16.8 cubits; c) the length of the top of the hill 10 cubits; d) the distance taken by the incline of the hill 16.8 cubits; e) the distance from the hill to the pole, 3.2 cubits; f) the length of the slope, 18.7 cubits

7 If [the] incline [of the hill] is steeper, i.e., it descends [at least] ten handbreadths over the course of four cubits,22 since [the terrain is too] uncomfortable to walk upon,23 and ascending [the hill] and extending a [measuring] rope from a pole at one end to a pole at the other end involves difficulty, our Sages did not require [one] to do so. Instead, [it is sufficient for the people taking the measurements to] estimate how long a rope extended from poles erected at the edges [of the hill] would be and [then] proceed further in the measurement of the Shabbos limits.

[However, different rules apply] if [the people taking the measurements] estimated that [the hill] is more than 50 cubits [wide]. Were [the] gradient [of the hill] not to be so steep, it would be necessary to measure its entire incline with a measuring rope four cubits [long.24 Accordingly,] even when [the hill’s] incline is that steep, [our Sages] did not grant the leniency of estimating the distance the [measuring] rope would be extended. Instead, it is necessary [for the people] to measure the entire [hill] with a four-cubit long rope.

ז וְאִם הוּא מְשֻׁפָּע יוֹתֵר שֶׁמִּתְלַקֵּט י' טְפָחִים מִתּוֹךְ ד' אַמּוֹת,ל,22 כֵּיוָן שֶׁאֵינוֹ נוֹחַ תַּשְׁמִישׁ הֲלִיכָתוֹ,לא,23 וְטֹרַח הוּא לַעֲלוֹת וְלִמְתּוֹחַ חֶבֶל מֵעֵץ שֶׁבִּשְׂפָתוֹ מִזֶּה לְעֵץ שֶׁכְּנֶגְדּוֹ – אֲזַי לֹא הִטְרִיחוּהוּ חֲכָמִים בְּכָךְ,לב אֶלָּא יְשַׁעֵר בְּאֹמֶדלג כַּמָּה יִהְיֶה בְּחֶבֶל שֶׁיִּמְתְּחוּ עָלָיו מֵעֵץ לְעֵץ אִם הָיוּ מַעֲמִידִים אוֹתָם בִּשְׂפָתָיו מִזֶּה וּמִזֶּה,לד וְהוֹלֵךְ לוֹ לִמְדּוֹד לְהַלָּן לְהַשְׁלִים מִדַּת תְּחוּמוֹ.

וְאִם שִׁעֵר בְּדַעְתּוֹ שֶׁיִּהְיֶה בּוֹ יוֹתֵר מִנ' אַמָּה, כֵּיוָן שֶׁאִם לֹא הָיָה מְשֻׁפָּע כָּל כָּךְ הָיָה צָרִיךְ לִמְדּוֹד כָּל שִׁפּוּעוֹ בְּחֶבֶל שֶׁל ד' אַמּוֹת24 – גַּם כְּשֶׁהוּא מְשֻׁפָּע כָּל כָּךְ לֹא הֵקֵלּוּ בְּזֶה לְשַׁעֵר בְּאֹמֶד דַּעְתּוֹ כַּמָּה יִהְיֶה בְּחֶבֶל הַמָּתוּחַ, אֶלָּא צָרִיךְ לִמְדּוֹד כֻּלּוֹ בְּחֶבֶל שֶׁל ד' אַמּוֹת:לה

8 All [the above applies] regarding a hill and similarly, regarding a wall – whether it is standing upright or whether it fell and became like a mound. If, however, [one] reaches a valley, if it is possible to span it with a 50 cubit measuring rope, it must be spanned. An estimation is not sufficient even if the incline [of the valley] descends ten [handbreadths] within four cubits. [The rationale is that] it is easy to span [the valley]; one [person] should stand on one side [of the valley,] and a second [person should stand] on the other [side of the valley]. There is absolutely no need to erect poles.25 For this reason, even if a plumb line [when lowered] would not diverge four cubits [when lowered ten handbreadths] from [the higher end of the valley],26 it should be spanned.

If, however, [the valley] cannot be spanned with a 50-cubit measuring rope and a plumb line would diverge four cubits away [when lowered ten handbreadths from the top of the valley],27 the entire width [of the valley] should be measured with a four-cubit measuring rope, as [is done for] a hill.28

[The above applies] provided [the valley] is not more than 2000 [cubits] deep. If, however, [the valley] is more than 2000 [cubits] deep, the descent and the ascent of the entire slope should be measured thoroughly as flat ground [is measured], even if [the valley] could be spanned with a 50-cubit measuring rope.

If, [when] a plumb line [was lowered], it would not diverge four cubits [or more when lowered ten handbreadths from the higher end], the incline of both the ascending and descending slopes should not be measured. [Instead,] only the flat area at the bottom [of the valley should be measured], if it cannot be spanned.29 [This applies] even when [the valley] is more than 2000 [cubits] deep.

ח וְכָל זֶה בָּהָר, וְכֵן בְּכֹתֶל, בֵּין שֶׁהוּא זָקוּף בֵּין שֶׁנָּפַל וְנַעֲשָׂה כְּהַר.לו,22 אֲבָל אִם הִגִּיעַ לְגַיְא, אִם יָכוֹל לְהַבְלִיעוֹ בְּחֶבֶל שֶׁל נ' אַמָּה – צָרִיךְ לְהַבְלִיעוֹלז,22 וְלֹא לְשַׁעֵר בְּאֹמֶד דַּעְתּוֹ, אֲפִלּוּ מִתְלַקֵּט עֲשָׂרָה מִתּוֹךְ ד' אַמּוֹת, לְפִי שֶׁבְּקַל יָכוֹל לְהַבְלִיעוֹ, שֶׁאֶחָד יַעֲמוֹד מִכַּאן וְאֶחָד מִכַּאן, וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לְהַעֲמִיד עֵצִים כְּלָל.לח,25 וּמִטַּעַם זֶה אֲפִלּוּ אִם אֵין חוּט הַמִּשְׁקֹלֶת מִתְרַחֵק מִכְּנֶגְדּוֹ לְמַטָּה ד' אַמּוֹת צָרִיךְ לְהַבְלִיעוֹ.לט,26

אֲבָל אִם אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְהַבְלִיעוֹ בְּחֶבֶל שֶׁל נ' אַמָּה, אִם חוּט הַמִּשְׁקֹלֶת מִתְרַחֵק מִכְּנֶגְדּוֹ ד' אַמּוֹת27 – מוֹדְדוֹ כֻּלּוֹ בְּחֶבֶל שֶׁל ד' אַמּוֹת כְּמוֹ בְּהַר.מ,28

וְהוּא שֶׁלֹּא יְהֵא עָמֹק יוֹתֵר מֵאַלְפַּיִם. אֲבָל אִם הוּא עָמֹק יוֹתֵר מֵאַלְפַּיִםמא – מוֹדֵד הַיְרִידָה וְהָעֲלִיָּה שֶׁל כָּל הַשִּׁפּוּעַ מְדִידָה יָפָה כְּמוֹ קַרְקַע חֲלָקָה,מב,22 אֲפִלּוּ אִם יָכוֹל לְהַבְלִיעוֹ בְּחֶבֶל שֶׁל נ' אַמָּה.מג

וְאִם אֵין הַחוּט מִתְרַחֵק מִכְּנֶגְדּוֹ ד' אַמּוֹת – אֵינוֹ מוֹדֵד כְּלָל הַשִּׁפּוּעַ שֶׁל יְרִידָה וַעֲלִיָּה, אֶלָּא הַמִּישׁוֹר שֶׁל מַטָּה בִּלְבָדמד אִם אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְהַבְלִיעוֹ,29 וַאֲפִלּוּ אִם עָמֹק יוֹתֵר מֵאַלְפַּיִם:מה,22

9 [The following laws apply when those measuring a town’s Shabbos limits] reached a hill30 or a valley, and the entire [portion of the hill or valley] that is opposite the town is more than 50 cubits wide and [thus] it cannot be spanned, and [the hill or valley] progressively narrows at the side: For example, [the hill or the valley] is [situated] to the east of the town, and [the person measuring] is not able to span [the hill or valley] along the entire length of that side. If [the person] can span [that distance] by proceeding within the 2000 [cubits of the Shabbos limits] to the north or to the south, he should proceed there and span [the hill or the valley. This is permissible] since [the person] is still within the Shabbos limits [of one of the] sides of the town. [The person] should then go back [to where the hill or valley could not be spanned, and establish the Shabbos limits] opposite the town according to measurements that he made [where he was able to span the hill or valley. See fig. 133.] If, however, [the person] cannot span [the hill or the valley] within 2000 [cubits] on the town’s sides, he should not proceed further [away from the town] to span [that area. This is] a restrictive decree lest observers [err and think that the area is permitted, for they] will say, “The measure of the Shabbos limits reach here.”

ט הִגִּיעַ לְהַרמו,30 אוֹ לְגַיְא,מז וְכָל מַה שֶּׁמִּמֶּנּוּ כְּנֶגֶד הָעִיר הוּא רָחָב מֵחֲמִשִּׁים אַמָּה שֶׁאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְהַבְלִיעוֹ,מח,22 וּמִן הַצַּד הוּא מִתְקַצֵּר וְהוֹלֵךְ, כְּגוֹן שֶׁהוּא בְּמִזְרַח הָעִיר וְכָל אֹרֶךְ מִזְרָח אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְהַבְלִיעוֹ – אִם יָכוֹל לְהַבְלִיעוֹ בְּתוֹךְ אַלְפַּיִם שֶׁל צַד צָפוֹן אוֹ דָרוֹם, יֵלֵךְ לְשָׁם וְיַבְלִיעוֹ, כֵּיוָן שֶׁהוּא עֲדַיִן בְּתוֹךְ הַתְּחוּם שֶׁל צַד הָעִיר,מט וְיַחֲזוֹר אַחַר כָּךְ כְּנֶגֶד הָעִיר לְפִי מִדָּה שֶׁמָּדַד שָׁם. אֲבָל אִם אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְהַבְלִיעוֹ בְּתוֹךְ אַלְפַּיִם שֶׁל צַד הָעִיר, לֹא יִתְרַחֵק יוֹתֵר לְהַבְלִיעוֹ, נ גְּזֵרָה שֶׁמָּא יֹאמְרוּ הָרוֹאִים שֶׁמִּדַּת תְּחוּמִין בָּאָה לְכַאן:נא,22


Fig. 133: Measuring the Shabbos limits of a city when there is a deep valley that can be spanned within those limits
Fig. 133: Measuring the Shabbos limits of a city when there is a deep valley that can be spanned within those limits

10 [One may] rely only on a measurement made by an expert who is knowledgeable regarding the measurement of land.31

י אֵין סוֹמְכִין אֶלָּא עַל מְדִידַת אָדָם מֻמְחֶה שֶׁהוּא יוֹדֵעַ מִדַּת הַקַּרְקַע:נב,31

11 [The following laws apply when] the Shabbos limits [of a town] had been established and an expert came and measured [them again], maintaining that [the Shabbos limits] should be increased [in one place] and decreased [in another]: His rulings should be accepted even regarding the limits he increased32 despite the fact that this [ruling] constitutes a leniency. [The rationale is that] we assume that the ones [who] originally [measured the Shabbos limits] did not stretch the measuring rope with all their strength, as is required.33

יא הָיוּ לָנוּ תְּחוּמֵי שַׁבָּת מֻחְזָקִין, וּבָא מֻמְחֶה וּמָדַד, רִבָּה בִּתְחוּם מֵהֶם וּמִעֵט בִּתְחוּםנג מֵהֶם – שׁוֹמְעִים לוֹ אַף בִּתְחוּם שֶׁרִבָּה,32 אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא לְהָקֵל,נד לְפִי שֶׁתּוֹלִין לוֹמַר שֶׁהָרִאשׁוֹנִים לֹא מָתְחוּ הַחֶבֶל כָּל צָרְכּוֹ, שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לְמָתְחוֹ בְּכָל כֹּחוֹ:נה,33

12 If [the expert] measured and found that the measure in the northeast [corner] is larger than the parallel measure in the southeast [corner], he should extend the line of the Shabbos limits from [the northeast corner] to the [southeast corner] on a diagonal. [See fig. 134.] It is not assumed that he erred [in measuring] one of [the sides]. Instead, we assume that the one side was shorter because of the hills and valleys that were there, and hence it was necessary to measure them [using techniques that cause] the measure to be reduced.34

Other authorities maintain that it is assumed that [the person who took the measurements] erred and the more lenient [measure] is followed, for it is assumed that the error occurred on the side he shortened. [That measure] is extended until it is equal to the longer measure. (Fundamentally, [the halachah]follows the first opinion.)

יב מָדַד וּמָצָא מִדָּתוֹ בְּמִזְרָחִית צְפוֹנִית יְתֵרָה עַל שֶׁכְּנֶגְדָּהּ בְּמִזְרָחִית דְּרוֹמִית, מוֹתֵחַ הַחוּט שֶׁל סִמַּן הַתְּחוּם מִזּוֹ לְזוֹנו בַּאֲלַכְסוֹן.נז וְאֵין אוֹמְרִים שֶׁטָּעָה בְּאַחַת מֵהֶן, אֶלָּא תּוֹלִין שֶׁזּוֹ שֶׁנִּתְקַצְּרָה הוּא מֵחֲמַת הָרִים וְגֵיאוֹת שֶׁיֵּשׁ שָׁם, וְהֻצְרַךְ לְמָדְדָן בְּעִנְיָן שֶׁנִּתְקַצֵּר הַתְּחוּם.נח,34

וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםנט שֶׁתּוֹלִין בְּטָעוּתוֹ, וְהוֹלְכִין לְהָקֵל לוֹמַר שֶׁטָּעָה בְּזוֹ שֶׁנִּתְקַצְּרָה אֶצְלוֹ, וּמוֹצִיאִין אוֹתָהּ לְהָלְאָה עַד כְּנֶגֶד הָאֲרֻכָּה (וְהָעִקָּר כִּסְבָרָא הָרִאשׁוֹנָה ס):


Fig. 134: Measuring the Shabbos limits when they are longer on one end of the city than on the other. The residents are granted a larger measure in the northeast corner because of the measuring techniques employed in the southeast corner.
Fig. 134: Measuring the Shabbos limits when they are longer on one end of the city than on the other. The residents are granted a larger measure in the northeast corner because of the measuring techniques employed in the southeast corner.

13 If two experts came and measured [a town’s] Shabbos limits, one [arriving at] a larger measure and the other [arriving at] a smaller one, we [accept the ruling of] the one who arrived at the larger measure, for the more lenient view is followed in matters of Rabbinic Law.35 [The above applies] provided that [the larger measure] does not exceed [the smaller measure by] more than [the difference between the measuring along a diagonal from the corner of the town [and measuring from the perimeter of the town].36

What is implied? It can be said that the larger measure was arrived at [for the following reason]: Perhaps the first [expert]37 measured the 2000 [cubits] diagonally from one corner of the city, [proceeding outward] along the diagonal, and he did the same [when measuring] from the other corner. Therefore, when a [measuring] rope is extended from the end of the Shabbos limits from one corner to the end of those limits [measured] from the other corner, the distance between this line and the city will be less than 2000 [cubits]. The [second expert, however,] measured properly, [i.e., perpendicularly] from the [border] of the city. We do not presume that the first [expert] erred by more than this amount. Therefore, if the second [expert] added a greater distance than this, [his ruling is not heeded].

This measure is the difference between a line that is [perpendicular to the town’s perimeter, and] is 2000 [cubits] long, and one [side] of a square whose diagonal is 2000 [cubits], i.e. [the distance] from the city [when measured perpendicularly] until the [virtual] line extending at the end of the 2000 [cubits measured] diagonally [from the corner of the city] is [the length of] a side of a square whose diagonal is 2000 [cubits long. See fig. 135.]

The length of this line is approximately 1428 cubits according to the reckoning of the Sages of the Talmud who offered an estimate, not an exact figure. [Their estimate is based on the general rule that the] diagonal [of] any [square] is [approximately] 2/5 longer than the length of one of the sides of the square.38

Thus, the additional length of the diagonal of a square whose side is 1428 [cubits] is 2856 fifths of a cubit, which equal 572 cubits minus 4/5 [of a cubit]. When that sum is added to 1428 cubits, the total will be 2000 cubits minus 4/5 [of a cubit]. However, according to the reckoning of the scholars of geometry who were careful to provide a precise figure, for every diagonal [of that length], the additional measure will be approximately 585 cubits.39

יג אִם בָּאוּ ב' מֻמְחִים וּמָדְדוּ אֶת הַתְּחוּם, אֶחָד רִבָּה וְאֶחָד מִעֵט – שׁוֹמְעִין לַמַּרְבֶּה, לְהָקֵל בְּדִבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים,סא,35 וּבִלְבָד שֶׁלֹּא יַרְבֶּה יוֹתֵר מִמִּדַּת אֲלַכְסוֹנָהּסב שֶׁל קֶרֶן הָעִיר.סג,36 כֵּיצַד? בְּעֵת שֶׁיַּרְבֶּה זֶה, נֹאמַר שֶׁמָּא הָא' מִקֶּרֶן אֲלַכְסוֹן שֶׁל עִיר מָדַד הָאַלְפַּיִם גַּם כֵּן בַּאֲלַכְסוֹן, וְכֵן מִקֶּרֶן שֶׁכְּנֶגְדָּהּ, וְנִמְצָא כְּשֶׁמּוֹתְחִים חוּט מִסּוּף תְּחוּם שֶׁמִּקֶּרֶן זוֹ לְסוֹף תְּחוּם שֶׁמִּקֶּרֶן זוֹ יִהְיֶה בֵּין חוּט זֶה לְעִיר פָּחוֹת מֵאַלְפַּיִם, וְהָאַחֲרוֹן מָדַד כַּהֲלָכָה מֵצֶּלַע הָעִיר. וְאֵין מַחֲזִיקִין עַל הָרִאשׁוֹן שֶׁטָּעָה בְּיוֹתֵר מִשִּׁעוּר זֶה. וּלְפִיכָךְ אִם רִבָּה הָאַחֲרוֹן יוֹתֵר מִשִּׁעוּר זֶה, אֵין שׁוֹמְעִים לוֹ.סד

וְשִׁעוּר זֶה הוּא שִׁעוּר עֹדֶף שֶׁיֵּשׁ בְּצֵלָע אָרֹךְ אַלְפַּיִם עַל צֵלָע מְרֻבָּע שֶׁאֲלַכְסוֹנוֹ הוּא אַלְפַּיִם, שֶׁהֲרֵי מִן הָעִיר עַד הַחוּט הַמָּתוּחַ מִסּוֹף הָאַלְפַּיִם שֶׁבַּאֲלַכְסוֹן הוּא צֵלָע מְרֻבָּע שֶׁאֲלַכְסוֹנוֹ אַלְפַּיִם. וְשִׁעוּר צֵלָע זוֹ הוּא אֶלֶף וְתכ"ח אַמָּהסה בְּקֵרוּב, לְפִי הַחֶשְׁבּוֹן שֶׁל חַכְמֵי הַתַּלְמוּד – שֶׁהוּא בְּקֵרוּב וְלֹא בְּצִמְצוּםסו – בְּכָל אֲלַכְסוֹן, שֶׁהוּא עוֹדֵף עַל צַלְעוֹת רִבּוּעוֹ ב' חֳמָשִׁין מֵאֹרֶךְ הַצֵּלָע,סז,38 וְנִמְצָא שֶׁמֵּאֶלֶף וְתכ"ח עוֹדֵף אֲלַכְסוֹנוֹ אַלְפַּיִם וְתתנ"ו חֳמָשִׁין, שֶׁהֵם תקע"ב אַמָּה פָּחוֹת ד' חֳמָשִׁים, תְּנֵם עַל אֶלֶף וְתכ"ח – יִהְיוּ אַלְפַּיִם אַמָּה פָּחוֹת ד' חֳמָשִׁים.סח אֲבָל לְפִי חֶשְׁבּוֹן חַכְמֵי הַמִּדּוֹת, שֶׁדִּקְדְּקוּ וְצִמְצְמוּ הַחֶשְׁבּוֹן בְּכָל אֲלַכְסוֹן, יִהְיֶה עֹדֶף זֶה תקפ"ה אַמָּה בְּקֵרוּב:סט,39


Fig. 135: The difference between whether the 2000 cubits are measured vertically or on a diagonal
Fig. 135: The difference between whether the 2000 cubits are measured vertically or on a diagonal

14 The Shabbos limits around a city are configured like a square tablet,40 i.e., 2000 cubits are measured outward along the entire length of the eastern side of the city and the same is done on its northern side. Afterwards, it is viewed as a square tablet [measuring] 2000 [cubits] by 2000 [cubits] to fill up the corners. Thus, the corner of the Shabbos limits of 2000 cubits on a diagonal will be 280041 [cubits distant from the city]. The same pattern should be followed for all the other corners. [See fig. 136.]

One should not measure 2000 cubits [outward] diagonally from the center of one corner and do the same from the opposite corner, and then extend a [measuring] rope from one to the other. [The rationale is that] were [the person taking the measurements] to do so, he would forfeit 800 [cubits] on the diagonal,42 and moreover, the Shabbos limits from the [edge of the] city would be 1428 [cubits], and according to the scholars of geometry, 1415 [cubits].43

יד עוֹשִׂין הַתְּחוּמִין סָבִיב הָעִיר כְּטַבְלָא מְרֻבַּעַת,ע,40 דְּהַיְנוּ שֶׁמּוֹדֵד עַל פְּנֵי כָּל אֹרֶךְ הָעִיר לְמִזְרָח אַלְפַּיִם אַמָּה לְחוּץ, וְכֵן לְצָפוֹן, וְאַחַר כָּךְ רוֹאִים כְּאִלּוּ הָיְתָה טַבְלָא מְרֻבַּעַת אַלְפַּיִם עַל אַלְפַּיִם בְּקֶרֶן לְמַלֹּאתָהּ, וְנִמְצָא הַתְּחוּם בַּקֶּרֶן אַלְפַּיִם וַאֲלַכְסוֹן, שֶׁהֵם אַלְפַּיִם וְת"ת,41 וְכֵן יַעֲשֶׂה בִּשְׁאָר הַקְּרָנוֹת. אֲבָל לֹא יִמְדּוֹד מֵאֶמְצַע הַקֶּרֶן אַלְפַּיִם בַּאֲלַכְסוֹן וְכֵן בְּקֶרֶן שֶׁכְּנֶגְדָּהּ וְיִתֵּן הַחוּט מִזּוֹ לְזוֹ, שֶׁאִם כֵּן מַפְסִיד הַת"ת שֶׁבְּקֶרֶן,42 וְגַם לֹא יִהְיֶה הַתְּחוּם כְּנֶגֶד הָעִיר אֶלָּא אֶלֶף וְתכ"ח,עא וּלְפִי חֶשְׁבּוֹן חַכְמֵי הַמִּדּוֹת אֶלֶף וְתט"ו:עב,43


Fig. 136: The length of the Shabbos limits when measuring diagonally from one of the corners
Fig. 136: The length of the Shabbos limits when measuring diagonally from one of the corners

15 Even a Canaanite bondman or maidservant44 who accepted the observance of the mitzvos in which women are obligated45 is [considered as] trustworthy46 when [he or she] says: “The Shabbos limits extend until here.” For our Sages did not require stringency regarding [the Shabbos limits]; instead, they advocated leniency.

A minor, by contrast, is not considered as trustworthy [regarding this matter]. Nevertheless, an adult is considered as trustworthy [if] he says, “I remember that when I was a child we would proceed until this point on Shabbos.”47 His testimony is relied upon.

טו אֲפִלּוּ עֶבֶד וְשִׁפְחָהעג כְּנַעֲנִים,44 שֶׁקִּבְּלוּ עֲלֵיהֶם מִצְוֹתעד שֶׁהָאִשָּׁה חַיֶּבֶת בָּהֶן,עה,45 נֶאֱמָנִים46 לוֹמַר "עַד כַּאן תְּחוּם שַׁבָּת", שֶׁלֹּא אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים אֶת הַדָּבָר לְהַחֲמִיר אֶלָּא לְהָקֵל.עו,46

אֲבָל קָטָן אֵינוֹ נֶאֱמָן בְּעוֹדוֹ קָטָן.עז אֲבָל נֶאֱמָן הַגָּדוֹל לוֹמַרעח "זָכוּר אֲנִיעט שֶׁעַד כַּאן הָיִינוּ בָּאִים בְּשַׁבָּת כְּשֶׁהָיִיתִי קָטָן",47 וְסוֹמְכִים עַל עֵדוּתוֹ: