October 7, 2021

Beitzah 37

A fascinating principle relating to ‘techumin’ (boundaries) is taught in the Mishna (Beitzah 5:4) found in today’s daf (Beitzah 37a) – from which we can learn much about sharing & caring.

As we’ve previously learnt in Massechet Eruvin, a person is limited in walking 2,000 amot on Shabbat and Yom Tov based on their location at the onset of Shabbat and Yom Tov. Yet while this is generally understood to be a rule relating to people, we are taught in our Mishna that it also applies to possessions (i.e. the items in a person’s possession on the onset of Shabbat and Yom Tov are also bound by the 2,000 amot rule). Consequently, if one lends an item to someone before Shabbat and Yom Tov, then the 2,000 amot is measured based on the location of the borrower at the onset of Shabbat and Yom Tov.

But what happens, asks the Mishna, when items are borrowed on Shabbat and Yom Tov? The answer is that their movement remains restricted to a 2,000 amot radius as measured from the location of the owner at the onset of Shabbat and Yom Tov – notwithstanding the fact that the borrower, who may live up to 2,000 amot away from the owner, may be permitted to walk a distance exceeding 2,000 amot from the location of the owner at the onset of Shabbat.

What this means is that by lending and borrowing items, a shared space is created between owner and borrower (i.e. the overlap of ‘techumin’ shared between the owner and the borrower), which determines how far the borrowed item may stray.

An oft-quoted saying is that ‘sharing is caring’. However, while this is so true, the lesson from today’s Mishna is also that ‘sharing is sharing’ – because by sharing items, we create a shared space and a shared moment between people. Rather than living separate and disconnected lives, by sharing with others we create a sharing of space and an overlap of lives, and in doing so, we are reassured that we are not alone when we are in need, and that someone is prepared to give of their own in order to help us with what we lack.

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