Shabbat 96a-b - Throwing from one domain to another

January 07, 2013


Although previous chapters of tractate Shabbat dealt with the laws of carrying out, the discussion is completed in Chapter 11, which begins on today’s daf (=page), not only with regard to details but also with regard to many fundamental questions. Until this point, two aspects of carrying out were distinguished: Carrying out an object from one domain to another, and transporting an object more than four cubits in the public domain. In this chapter, an additional group of halakhot is discussed: The laws of throwing and extending an object from one domain to another via an intervening domain.
Although the laws of throwing and extending are closely related to other details of carrying out, they nevertheless have a certain unique quality. A biblical decree [gezeirat hakatuv] distinguishes between throwing and extending, on the one hand, and the more common methods of carrying out, on the other. This distinction carries with it some implications that are lenient and others that are stringent.
There is another question that is intrinsic to the very essence of throwing. While transporting an object is an action that is continuous over a period of time, throwing is one instantaneous act. The labor category of carrying out is contingent upon the transportation of an object from one point to another, based on lifting up [akira] and placing down [hanaha]. As a result, questions arise with regard to the connection between the act of throwing and the landing of the object in its place. Additionally, it is necessary to determine the extent to which the intention of the thrower is significant at each point in the flight of the object.

In the course of the clarification of these particularly unique halakhot, an explication of basic principles is reached. A fundamental scriptural basis for all of the laws of carrying out is discovered, the underlying foundations of which are the flags in the wilderness, the configuration of the children of Israel as they made their way through the desert, and the method by which they transported the utensils of the Tabernacle and its walls. Based on this underlying foundation, it then becomes necessary to determine what can be derived from the biblical verses, which conclusions can be reached using a logical approach, and which matters we must accept on the basis of the traditions of the Oral Law.

This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger. To learn more about the Steinsaltz Daf Yomi initiative, click here.
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