Parshas Beshalach 5768

Techum Shabbos
By Rabbi Shlomoh Lagoviyer

Towards the end of the parsha the Torah records the following incident. Moshe informed the Jews that the mann, which had been coming down from the heaven every morning will not come down on Shabbos, instead the Friday’s portion will be double the regular daily amount. Some of the people did not believe him and went out on Shabbos to look for the mann evoking Hashem’s rebuke for their lack of faith.

What was their sin? The simple understanding is that they were prepared to collect the mann on Shabbos and bring it back to their tents thus transgressing the prohibition of carrying on Shabbos. Chazal, however, learn from the words of Hashem’s admonition “shvu ish tachtav, al yetzu ish mimekomo- each man should stay and not come out of his place” a new issur – issur techumim, the prohibition of walking outside 2000 amos of the city on Shabbos and Yom Tov. This issur is discussed in meseches Eiruvin and according to most Tanaim is rabbinic in nature with the pasuk being merely an “asmachta” a supportive verse that the Chazal found for the issur that they themselves established. Indeed the mann gatherers most likely did not leave the 2000 amah radius of the camp and did not transgress the issur techumim.

The Maharal, however, in his sefer “Beer Hagolah” explains that “asmachta” is not just a play on words which attributes a rabbinic law to a sentence of the Torah which means something completely different; rather the Chazal saw in these words a concept which is not strong enough to warrant a Torah law but is nevertheless a true concept. Based on this concept they established a rabbinic law which is by default tied to the pasuk.

According to the Maharal there must be a connection between the words of G-d’s rebuke to the mann-gatherers and the law of Techum Shabbos. It can be understood based on what I once heard in the name of the sefer “Bnei Yisoschar”. The lesson of Techumin, he explains, is that unlike the weekdays when a man has to search for his livelihood, on Shabbos he can stay in his place, Hashem will provide for him where he is. This was precisely Hashem’s message to the man-gatherers, “shvu ish tachtav” – stay in your place, do not go out to gather mann, your Shabbos sustenance has been already given to you on erev Shabbos. Thus the lesson of Techumin is one of the most fundamental principles of Shabbos, that on this day the Jew’s livelihood is provided to him in his place, without having to work extra for it; this day is “on Hashem”, may we be zochim to properly enjoy it and honor it!

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