In Background to the Daf, Berachos 41 (#8) is the following:
"It is a capital offense to transfer objects from a Reshus ha'Rabim (public domain) to a Reshus ha'Yachid (private domain) or vice versa."
Is there any type of rational understand of the gravity of the above or is it just a "Chok?"
Richard Wolberg, Tiverton, RI
Our Rabbis deduced from the Torah's description of the building of the Mishkan that there are 39 prohibited Melachos on Shabbos. The number 39 is very significant -- it equals in Gemartiya "Hash-m Echad," G-d is One. In the olden days, the sanctity of Shabbos was understood clearly to be of cardinal importance to the existence and fabric of the Jewish nation. To desecrate it was a treasonable offence, as it endangered our very existence. Even the most secular of Jews admitted that it is not the Jews who keep Shabbos, but Shabbos which keeps the Jews.
The punishment for treason has always been death, both to eradicate the offender who has committed such a serious crime against humanity, and to protect the rest of society. For Shabbos, the most serious of death penalties -- stoning -- was prescribed because violation of the Shabbos was tantamount to idolatry, immorality and spiritual murder.
Flagellation was prescribed for lesser offences and it also consisted of 39 lashes, to remind the offender that he has insulted the unity of Hash-m. That is also why the loops of the Tzitzis total 39 (7+8+11+13), to remind us of Hash-m's overall Hashgachah.
Although Hotza'ah (removing an object from a private to a public domain and vice versa) is called a "Melachah Geru'ah" (less potent Melachah), it is nonetheless one of the 39 and its purpose is clearly to ensure the sanctity of Shabbos by remaining at home and avoiding travel. (Compare this with the effects of the suggested traffic free days advocated in present day Europe). Today (for the last 2000 years) capital punishment has not been in force as we have fallen below the requisite level to appreciate Shabbos properly.
The Melachos of Shabbos are learned both from the creative acts that were necessary to produce the Mishkan, and from Hash-m's creation of the world. The former is actually a sequel to the latter: with the creation of the world, Hash-m made it possible for man to live and perform His will. With the building of the Mishkan man accepted that mission, inviting Hash-m to dictate how we should lead our lives in this world.
Our Rabbis teach that Hash-m created the world with "ten utterances" (Pirkei Avos, 5:1). The first of the ten, though, was different from the others. It did not begin "And Hash-m said...," as did the others; rather, that utterance comprised the word "Bereishis." The very word is considered the beginning of Creation (Rosh Hashanah 31a).
This demonstrates that the beginning of Creation was qualitatively different from the rest of Creation. Why is that so? When we say "Hash-m is One," it means not only that there is only one of Him, but that Hash-m is all there is -- there is no other existence at all. To begin Creation, Hash-m "withdrew" His manifestation, in a certain sense, in order to allow for the existence of a physical world and thinking beings that seem to be independent of Him. This is the creation of "Bereishis." (Kabbalistic works refer to this as "Tzimtzum.") It is to this part of Creation that the Melachah of Hotza'ah corresponds. Hotza'ah involves removing from the private domain ("Hash-m is One") and bringing into the public domain ("the heavens and the earth...").
As mentioned above, the building of the Mishkan complemented the Creation of the world. By building the Mishkan, man re-unified the physical world with its Creator, taking what was in the "public domain" and returning it to the "private domain" of Hash-m. This is the precursor of "Hachnasah," the twin Melachah of Hotza'ah.
See also Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch's commentary to this Melachah.