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D2. Leaving Our Homes to Work on the Sabbath.    [Make a Comment]

We are not to leave our homes with the intention of doing work on the Sabbath.

This precept is derived from His Word (blessed is He):

Exodus 16:29 (Maimonides RN321; Meir MN7; Chinuch C24)
Look, ADONAI has given you the Shabbat. This is why he is providing bread for two days on the sixth day. Each of you, stay where you are; no one is to leave his place on the seventh day.

This Mitzvah #D2 is a companion to Mitzvah # D1, which states that no work is to be done on the Sabbath. The commandment in Exodus 16:29 and reflected in this Mitzvah was given to the Israelites after they tried to gather manna on the Sabbath despite God having provided a double portion for them the day before. In today's context, it calls for us to trust that God will provide sufficiently for us six days of the week, so that we should not even contemplate leaving our homes in order to work on the Sabbath. In my opinion, this is not a requirement that we stay in our house or limit the distance that we may travel, but rather it is a requirement that we examine why we are leaving our house, lest it be to go to work.

This Mitzvah is applicable to K'rov Yisrael Gentiles and other Gentiles in the same ways and for the same reasons as Mitzvah D1, so the reader is referred to it for an expanded discussion of the subject. In addition to other considerations, it is important to remember that God first established the seventh day as holy prior to the Mosaic Covenant, and at a time when there was yet no Israel (Genesis 2:2-3). Later, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, God said that non-Jews who keep His Sabbaths will receive blessings for doing so (Isaiah 56:1-7). Further confirmation for this is found in Hebrews 4:1-11 which compares Sabbath rest with spiritual rest that comes from faith in Messiah. This is not to say that keeping the seventh day Sabbath is incumbent upon Gentile believers in this age. This was presented in the above reference, and we again note the clearly stated passages that relieve Gentiles of that responsibility in Romans 14, Galatians 5, Colossians 2 and others.

Maimonides interprets his Mitzvah so as to prohibit travel on the Sabbath, further than from one's home to across an Israelite's campsite in the desert. Meir's concept in his Mitzvah is similar, but he describes the maximum permissible travel as the distance across a small town. HaChinuch says the Sabbath limit is three parasangs away from the city, and he explains the prohibition against traveling further by his understanding that, after God created the world, He rested in the vicinity of His creation; HaChinuch's opinion is that we should, therefore, rest in our place as well. Maimonides and Meir describe the Sabbath limit for travel as 2000 cubits.


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