More Discussions for this daf
1. Walking More than 2000 Amos within the 2000 Amah Techum of a City 2. Are vegetables good for you? 3. The Bow Shaped city
4. When to apply the Halachas of Techum to Ramat Beit Shemesh 5. Karpaf between two cities 6. יושבי צריפין וכבוד הבריאות

Jeff Ram asked:

Dear Rabbi Kornfeld:

(a) I've been confused on a point for a couple of days now. I was hoping that the gemara on 55a would clear it up, but I'm still a little confused. In addition, I hope I can make my question clear enough to be understood.

I thought that the Shabbos techum was a distance of 2,000 amos in any direction (L'chol ru'ach) that I walk from the edge of town (the 'city limits'). We learned that if I didn't know where the techum ended, that I could measure it by walking 2,000 average sized steps. On daf 55a, in your question #1)(c) we learn a Beraisa that tells us that we do not add corners to a square town - even when the sides of the town do not coincide with the directions of the world. The Shulchan Aruch, siman Shin-Tzadi-Ches; s'if katan gimel says that a city follows the "square of the world -the 'ribu'a shel olam'.

My question is, how do we measure the 2000 amos from my house to my destination, when the 'line' I travel is not be on the 'perpendicular'. That is, 2,000 amos at a 90 degree angle from the perpendicular wall of the city is a shorter distance than the actual steps I'm taking (and thus, the distance I'm traveling from the city) when I'm walking to a shi'ur in the next town, when that town is at a (for example) 30 degree angle from the perpendicular of the city? (according to the following diagram)


| |---------------| (1) 2,000 Amos perpendicular

| |\ (1) from the city limits

| | \ (2) my path, walking from

|________| \(2) my house to the shi'ur

| \ in the next village

| \ a 30 degree angle

| \ (3) my destination

(1) | \

| \

| \

- (3)

I thought that since the "squaring" of the town is done with "imaginary lines" anyway, that the directions of the perpendicular could (and actually would ) change to be perpendicular with the exact direction I would be walking. That would make the Shabbos techum 2,000 amos in every direction that I might walk from the city. However, now it seems that the directions of the lines defining the 'city limits' are fixed according to the North-South compass directions. Therefore, it seems I could remain inside the 2,000 amos techum, but actually walk a much greater distance than 2,000 amos.

(b) If that's correct, then when we learned that the 2,000 amos techum is made up of 2,000 average sized steps in any direction (l'chol ru'ach), we must have been limiting the direction to steps that are only along a perpendicular line from the 'city limits'. Is that the way we have to learn that previous gemara?

I hope I was clear enough in expressing this question and I look forward to your answer in helping me work out this problem.

Warm regards, Jeff Ram, Jerusalem

The Kollel replies:

(a) You are correct that when one lives in a city and has the Techum of that city, one may indeed walk much more than 2000 Amos as long as he stays within the Techum of the city. In the same vein, one could walk circles around his city, walking much more than 2000 Amos, as long as he stays within the Techum of the city, like this :

       /-----------------\           |
      /                   \          |
     |    /-----------\    \         |
     |   /  __________ \    \        |
     |  |   |        |--\----\-------|
     |  |   |        |\  \    \      |
     |  |   |        | \  \    and   |
     |   \  |________|  \  \   so    |
      \   \     |        /  |  on... |
       \   \    |       /   |        |
        \   \---|------/    |        |
         \      |           /        |  /This is the Techum around
          \-----|----------/         | /  the city.
                |                    |/
                |                    |

(b) You are asking an apparent contradiction. On one hand, the Gemara says that a person's Techum can be measured by walking 2000 average sized steps. This clearly implies that one may not walk beyond 2000 Amos from his location. On the other hand, the Gemara says that a city's Techum is measured from the lines of the square that is drawn around the city. Consequently, a person could seemingly walk from his house much more than 2000 Amos, and still remain within his city's Techum.

We do not think that the answer to your question is as you are Mechadesh, that when the Gemara says that a person's Techum is 2000 Amos in any direction from where he, that refers only to when he walks along the same line as the Techum of his city. Rather, the answer is as follows:

When the Gemara says that a person has 2000 Amos in every direction (l'Chol Ru'ach) from where he is (for example, in the Mishnayos or Beraisos on 44b, 45a-b, 47b, 49b, 74a), that is only referring to when a person is not in a city and he does not have the Techum of a city . When he is a private individual who either is traveling or does not live within a city, his Techum is measured from the place in which he is standing at the onset of Shabbos, 2000 Amos in every direction.

When, however, the person lives within a city, nothing is measured from where his home is. The Techum is measured from the boundaries (real or imaginary) of the city, and he may thus walk until the end of that Techum, even if he happens to walk more than 2000 Amos.

(See, for example, Tosfos 47b, DH v'ha'Keilim, who learns from the use of the phrase "2000 Amos in every direction" that the person's Techum is not measured from his city, in this case.)

Be well!

Mordecai Kornfeld