Thursday, December 28, 2006

Daf Yomi - Rosh Hashana 23 - Techum for the Witnesses

The Halacha on Shabbos is that if one leaves the techum boundary (2000 amos), he is forbidden from taking even one step. Rabban Gamliel instituted that if the witnesses traveled on Shabbos beyond their techum boundary to come to Beis Din, they are still permitted to travel 2000 amos in any direction. This was established in order that the witnesses should be willing to come and testify and not be confined to one specific area the entire Shabbos.

The Minchos Chinuch (24) writes that it is obvious to him that Rabban Gamliel's decree was limited to the Rabbinic techum boundary. If one traveled further than 2000 amos to come to Beis Din he can then walk 2000 amos in any direction. However, if one traveled beyond three parsaos, which is the Biblical techum boundary, he will not be permitted to take even one step. The chachomim are not able to uproot a Biblical prohibition by allowing positive action of walking beyond his boundary. Rabban Gamliel’s decree was still regarded as an accomplishment since most of the witnesses came from within the Rabbinic techum boundary. The Ritva in our Mishna has the same viewpoint as well.

The Ramban in Eruvin (43) disagrees and maintains that Rabban Gamliel’s decree applied even to those that traveled further than the Biblical techum boundary. He proves this from the Mishna which states that the witnesses can travel on Shabbos the entire night and day, providing that they arrive at Beis Din before the conclusion of Shabbos. The Ramban explains that it is only regarded as transgressing the Biblical prohibition if the entire three parsaos was committed illegally, however if this traveling was done with permission, it is not considered as if he left his original resting place. The witnesses who had permission to travel to Beis Din are not regarded as being beyond their boundary and therefore allowing them an additional 2000 amos now is not overriding a Biblical prohibition.