Shabbat, Chapter Eleven, Mishnah Two



This mishnah explicates yesterday’s mishnah in which we learned that one who throws something from one private domain to another private domain and there lies a public domain in the middle, is exempt.


Mishnah Two

How so?  

1)      If there are two balconies facing each other in the public domain, he who reaches over or throws [an article] from one to the other is exempt.

2)      If both are on the same row, he who reaches over is liable, while he who throws is exempt, for thus was the service of the Levites.

3)      Two wagons, this one behind this one in the public domain, [and] they reached over the boards from one to another, but they did not throw.

4)      [As for] he borders of a cistern, and a rock, which are ten [handbreadths] high and four in breath, if one removes [something] from them or places [something] upon them, his is liable; 

a)      If less than this, he is exempt.



Section one:  In this case two balconies are on opposite sides of the public domain.  One who throws from one balcony to the other, or one who reaches something over from one to the other is exempt (according to the sages, see yesterday’s mishnah).  As we shall see below, the reason is that this type of labor was not performed in the construction of the Tabernacle. 

Sections two and three:  Here the two balconies are on the same side of the street, lying adjacent to one another. In this case the sages agree that one who reaches something over from one balcony to the other is liable, for this is how the Levites worked in the construction and deconstruction of the Tabernacle in the desert.  As we learn in the next section, the Levites had wagons which were placed one behind the other and they would pass boards from one to the other.  The wagons are considered to be private domains and that which lay in between them is the public domain.  Therefore, you have a case of people passing things from one public domain to another and a private domain lying in between.  However, the Levites did not throw the boards for that would not have been respectful of the inherent holiness of the parts of the Tabernacle.  Again, the principle is that anything that Levites did in the building of the Tabernacle is considered forbidden on Shabbat.   Since they didn’t throw, today people are not liable for throwing from one domain to another.  And since they only passed from wagons which were placed one behind the other, today people are not liable if they pass things across the public domain, as we learned in the previous section.

Section four:  If the border of a cistern is ten handbreadths high and four handbreadths wide, it is considered to be a private domain and one who takes something from the public domain and puts it on this border or vice versa is liable.  If the borders are smaller than this measure, one who does so is exempt.   The same would be true if there was a rock in the public domain.  If it is four handbreadths wide and ten tall, then one who puts something on it or takes something off is liable.  If not he is exempt.