There are four [dimensions] to the [observance of] the Sabbath: two originating in the Torah, and two originating in the words of our Sages, which are given exposition by the Prophets. [The two dimensions originating] in the Torah are the commandments "Remember [the Sabbath day]"1 and "Observe [the Sabbath day]."2
[The two dimensions] given exposition by the Prophets are honor and pleasure3, as [Isaiah 58:13] states: "And you shall call the Sabbath 'A delight, sanctified unto God and honored.'
ארבעה דברים נאמרו בשבת שנים מן התורה ושנים מדברי סופרים והן מפורשין על ידי הנביאים. שבתורה זכור ושמור. ושנתפרשו על ידי הנביאים כבוד ועונג שנאמר וקראת לשבת עונג ולקדוש ה' מכובד:
What is meant by honor? This refers to our Sages' statement that it is a mitzvah4 for a person to wash his face, his hands, and his feet5 in hot water on Friday in honor of the Sabbath. He should wrap himself in tzitzit and sit with proper respect, waiting to receive the Sabbath as one goes out to greet a king.
The Sages6 of the former generations would gather their students together on Friday, wrap themselves [in fine robes] and say, "Come, let us go out and greet the Sabbath, the king.7
איזהו כבוד זה שאמרו חכמים שמצוה על אדם לרחוץ פניו ידיו ורגליו בחמין בערב שבת מפני כבוד השבת ומתעטף בציצית ויושב בכובד ראש מיחל להקבלת פני השבת כמו שהוא יוצא לקראת המלך. וחכמים הראשונים היו מקבצין תלמידיהן בערב שבת ומתעטפים ואומרים בואו ונצא לקראת שבת המלך:
Among the ways of honoring the Sabbath is wearing a clean garment.8 One's Sabbath garments should not resemble one's weekday clothes. A person who does not have a different garment for the Sabbath should allow his robe to hang low,9 so that his [Sabbath] clothing will not resemble the clothes he wears during the week.
Ezra ordained that the people launder their clothes on Thursday10 as an expression of honor for the Sabbath.
ומכבוד השבת שילבש כסות נקיה. ולא יהיה מלבוש החול כמלבוש השבת. ואם אין לו להחליף משלשל טליתו כדי שלא יהא מלבושו כמלבוש החול. ועזרא תיקן שיהו העם מכבסים בחמישי מפני כבוד השבת:
In respect for the Sabbath,11 it is forbidden to plan a meal or a winefest for Friday.12
[According to the letter of the law,] one may eat or drink until nightfall. Nevertheless, as an expression of honor for the Sabbath, a person should refrain from planning a meal13 for [mid]afternoon on,14 so that he will enter the Sabbath with an appetite.
אסור לקבוע סעודה ומשתה בערב שבת מפני כבוד השבת. ומותר לאכול ולשתות עד שתחשך. ואע"פ כן מכבוד השבת שימנע אדם מן המנחה ולמעלה מלקבוע סעודה כדי שיכנס לשבת כשהוא מתאוה לאכול:
A person should prepare his table on Friday, even if he is [to partake] only [of an amount of food] equivalent to the size of an olive.15 Similarly, a person should prepare his table on Saturday night,16 even if he is [to partake] only [of an amount of food] equivalent to the size of an olive. [In this manner,] he shows his respect for the Sabbath when it enters and when it departs.
One should prepare one's house while it is still day as an expression of respect for the Sabbath.17 There should be a lamp burning,18 a table prepared [with food] to eat, and a couch bedecked with spreads.19 All of these are expressions of honor for the Sabbath.20
מסדר אדם שולחנו בערב שבת ואף על פי שאינו צריך אלא לכזית. וכן מסדר שולחנו במוצאי שבת ואף על פי שאינו צריך אלא לכזית. כדי לכבדו בכניסתו וביציאתו. וצריך לתקן ביתו מבעוד יום מפני כבוד השבת. ויהיה נר דלוק ושולחן ערוך לאכול ומטה מוצעת שכל אלו לכבוד שבת הן:
Even a very important person who is unaccustomed to buying items at the marketplace or to doing housework is required to perform tasks to prepare by himself for the Sabbath. This is an expression of his own personal honor.21
The Sages of the former generations22 [would involve themselves in such activities]: There was one who would cook, one who would salt meat, one would braid wicks, and one who would kindle the lamps. Others would go out and purchase food and beverages for the Sabbath, even though this was not their ordinary practice. The more one involves oneself in such activities, the more praiseworthy it is.
אע"פ שהיה אדם חשוב ביותר ואין דרכו ליקח דברים מן השוק ולא להתעסק במלאכות שבבית חייב לעשות דברים שהן לצורך השבת בגופו שזה הוא כבודו. חכמים הראשונים מהם מי שהיה מפצל העצים לבשל בהן. ומהן מי שהיה מבשל או מולח בשר או גודל פתילות או מדליק נרות. ומהן מי שהיה יוצא וקונה דברים שהן לצורך השבת ממאכל ומשקה אף על פי שאין דרכו בכך. וכל המרבה בדבר זה הרי זה משובח.
What is meant by [Sabbath] delight? This refers to our Sages' statement23 that a person must prepare a particularly sumptuous dish and a pleasantly flavored beverage for the Sabbath. All of this must be done within the context of a person's financial status.
The more one spends [both financially,] in expenses undertaken for the Sabbath and [in effort,] in the preparation of many good foods, the more praiseworthy it is.24 If, however, this is not within one's [financial] capacity, even if one merely stews food or the like in honor of the Sabbath, this is considered to be Sabbath delight.
One is not obligated to strain oneself25 or to borrow from others26 in order to prepare more food for the Sabbath. The Sages of the former generations said,27 "Make your Sabbaths as weekdays, but do not depend on others."
איזהו עונג זהו שאמרו חכמים שצריך לתקן תבשיל שמן ביותר ומשקה מבושם לשבת הכל לפי ממונו של אדם. וכל המרבה בהוצאת שבת ובתיקון מאכלים רבים וטובים הרי זה משובח. ואם אין ידו משגת אפילו לא עשה אלא שלק וכיוצא בו משום כבוד שבת הרי זה עונג שבת. ואינו חייב להצר לעצמו ולשאול מאחרים כדי להרבות במאכל בשבת. אמרו חכמים הראשונים עשה שבתך חול ואל תצטרך לבריות:
A person who is indulgent and wealthy and conducts all his days as Sabbaths must also partake of different foods on the Sabbath from those of which he partakes during the week. If [his fare] cannot be changed, he should [at least] change the time at which he eats [his meals]. [For example,] if he usually eats early, he should eat later.28 If he usually eats late, he should eat earlier.
מי שהיה ענוג ועשיר והרי כל ימיו כשבת צריך לשנות מאכל שבת ממאכל החול. ואם אי אפשר לשנות משנה זמן האכילה אם היה רגיל להקדים מאחר ואם היה רגיל לאחר מקדים
A person is obligated to eat three meals on the Sabbath:29 one in the evening, one in the morning, and one in the afternoon.30 One should be extremely careful regarding these three meals, not to eat any less. Even a poor man who derives his livelihood from charity should eat three meals [on the Sabbath].31
[Nevertheless,] a person who is sick from overeating, or one who fasts constantly is not obligated to partake of three meals.32
All these three meals must be significant [sittings] at which wine is served;33 at each,34 one must break bread on two full loaves.35The same applies regarding the holidays.36
חייב אדם לאכול שלש סעודות בשבת אחת ערבית ואחת שחרית ואחת במנחה. וצריך להזהר בשלש סעודות אלו שלא יפחות מהן כלל. ואפילו עני המתפרנס מן הצדקה סועד שלש סעודות. ואם היה חולה מרוב האכילה או שהיה מתענה תמיד פטור משלש סעודות. וצריך לקבוע כל סעודה משלשתן על היין ולבצוע על שתי ככרות. וכן בימים טובים:
Eating meat and drinking wine on the Sabbath is a form of pleasure for a person,37 provided this is within his [financial] capacity.38
On the Sabbaths and holidays, a significant meal at which wine will be served is forbidden to be scheduled for the time the house of study is in session.39 Instead, the practice of the righteous of the former generations would be as follows: A person would recite the morning service and the additional service in the synagogue. Afterwards, he would return home and partake of the second [Sabbath] meal. He would then proceed to the house of study, to read [from the Written Law] and to study [the Oral Law] until the afternoon, at which time he would recite the afternoon service. He would then [partake of] the third [Sabbath] meal, a significant [sitting] at which wine is served, and continue eating and drinking until the Sabbath passed.
אכילת בשר ושתיית יין בשבת עונג הוא לו. והוא שהיתה ידו משגת. ואסור לקבוע סעודה על היין בשבת ובימים טובים בשעת בית המדרש. אלא כך היה מנהג הצדיקים הראשונים מתפלל אדם בשבת שחרית ומוסף בבית הכנסת ויבוא לביתו ויסעוד סעודה שניה וילך לבית המדרש יקרא וישנה עד המנחה ויתפלל מנחה ואחר כך יקבע סעודה שלישית על היין ויאכל וישתה עד מוצאי שבת:
It is forbidden for a person to travel more than three parsa'ot from the beginning of the day on Friday. [This restriction was adopted] so that one will arrive home early in the day and prepare one's Sabbath meals. [One may not rely on] the members of one's household to prepare for him, [for they] do not know that one will arrive on this day.
Needless to say, [this restriction applies] when one is visiting others, since [by arriving unexpectedly,] one will embarrass them, for they will not have made the preparations appropriate for hosting guests.40
אסור לו לאדם שיהלך בערבי שבתות יותר משלש פרסאות מתחלת היום כדי שיגיע לביתו ועוד היום רב ויכין סעודה לשבת. שהרי אין אנשי ביתו יודעין שהיום יבוא כדי להכין לו. ואין צריך לומר אם היה מתארח אצל אחרים שהוא מביישן מפני שלא הכינו להן דבר הראוי לאורחין:
It is forbidden to fast,41 to cry out [to God], to offer supplication, or to entreat [His] mercy on the Sabbath.42 Even when [a community is beset] by a distressing circumstance that would ordinarily require the community to fast and sound the trumpets,43we do not fast or sound the trumpets on the Sabbath or holidays.
[There are, however, exceptions. They include] a city surrounded by gentiles or a [flooding] river, and a ship sinking at sea. We may sound the trumpets on the Sabbath to summon help for them, offer supplications on their behalf, and ask for mercy for them.44
אסור להתענות ולזעוק ולהתחנן ולבקש רחמים בשבת ואפילו בצרה מן הצרות שהצבור מתענין ומתריעין עליהן אין מתענין ולא מתריעין בשבת. ולא בימים טובים. חוץ מעיר שהקיפוה עובדי כוכבים ומזלות או נהר או ספינה המטרפת בים שמתריעין עליהן בשבת לעזרן ומתחננין ומבקשין עליהן רחמים:
We do not lay siege to gentile cities less than three days before the Sabbath, so that the minds of the warriors will become settled and they will not be agitated and preoccupied on the Sabbath.45
For this reason, we may not set sail on a ship less than three days before the Sabbath, so that one's mind will be settled before the Sabbath and one will not suffer excessive discomfort.46 For the sake of a mitzvah, however, one may set out on a sea journey even on Friday. One should enter into an agreement that [the ship] interrupt [its journey] on the Sabbath. [If, however,] this agreement is not kept [it is not of consequence].47
From Tyre to Sidon48 and the like, one may set out on Friday, even if the journey concerns one's personal affairs.49 In places where it is customary not to set out on a journey on Friday at all, one should refrain from travelling.
אין צרין על עיירות של עובדי כוכבים ומזלות פחות משלשה ימים קודם השבת. כדי שתתישב דעת אנשי המלחמה עליהן ולא יהיו מבוהלים וטרודים בשבת. אין מפליגין בספינה פחות משלשה ימים קודם השבת כדי שתתישב דעתו עליו קודם השבת ולא יצטער יותר מדאי. ולדבר מצוה מפליג בים אפילו בערב שבת. ופוסק עמו לשבות ואינו שובת. ומצור לצידן וכיוצא בהן אפילו לדבר הרשות מותר להפליג בערב שבת. ומקום שנהגו שלא יפליג בערב שבת כלל אין מפליגין:
Sexual relations are considered a dimension of Sabbath pleasure.50 Therefore, Torah scholars who are healthy51 set aside Friday night as the night when they fulfill their conjugal duties.52
At the outset, it is permitted to engage in sexual relations with a virgin on the Sabbath. It is not [forbidden because] one is creating a wound,53 nor because of the pain the woman [feels].
תשמיש המטה מעונג שבת הוא. לפיכך עונת תלמידי חכמים הבריאים משמשין מלילי שבת ללילי שבת. ומותר לבעול בתולה לכתחלה בשבת ואין בזה לא משום חובל ולא משום צער לה:
[The observance of] the Sabbath and [the prohibition against] worshiping false deities are each equivalent to [the observance] of all the mitzvot of the Torah.54 And the Sabbath is the eternal sign between the Holy One, blessed be He, and us.55
For this reason, whoever transgresses the other mitzvot is considered to be one of the wicked of Israel, but a person who violates the Sabbath is considered as an idolater. Both of them are considered to be equivalent to gentiles in all regards.56 Therefore, our prophets praise [Sabbath observance], saying [Isaiah 56:2]: "Happy is the man who does the following, and the mortal who holds fast to it, who keeps the Sabbath, without desecrating it...."
It is explicitly stated in our prophetic tradition that whoever observes the Sabbath according to law and honors it and delights in it according to his ability will receive reward in this world in addition to the reward that is preserved for the world to come,57 as [Isaiah 58:14]58 states: "'You will then delight in God. I will cause you to ride on the high places of the earth, and I will nourish you with the heritage of Jacob your ancestor'; thus has the mouth of God spoken."
השבת ועבודת כוכבים ומזלות כל אחת משתיהן שקולה כנגד שאר כל מצות התורה. והשבת היא האות שבין הקב"ה ובינינו לעולם. לפיכך כל העובר על שאר המצות הרי הוא בכלל רשעי ישראל. אבל המחלל שבת בפרהסיא הרי הוא כעובד עבודת כוכבים ומזלות ושניהם כעובדי כוכבים ומזלות לכל דבריהם. לפיכך משבח הנביא ואומר אשרי אנוש יעשה זאת ובן אדם יחזיק בה שומר שבת מחללו וגו'. וכל השומר את השבת כהלכתה ומכבדה ומענגה כפי כחו כבר מפורש בקבלה שכרו בעולם הזה יתר על השכר הצפון לעולם הבא. שנאמר אז תתענג על ה' והרכבתיך על במותי ארץ והאכלתיך נחלת יעקב אביך כי פי ה' דבר
This involves the prohibition against labor on the Sabbath, as reflected in the first 24 chapters of this text.
In the Guide for the Perplexed (Vol. II, Chapter 31), the Rambam explains that the commandment to remember the Sabbath commemorates the Sabbath of creation and the holiness that the Sabbath brings into the world. The commandment to observe the Sabbath reflects the connection to the exodus from Egypt and thus emphasizes the dimension connected with the cessation of labor.
The explanation of these two dimensions is the subject of this final chapter of the Sabbath laws.
The Ramban (in his commentary on Leviticus 23:3) considers the honor of the Sabbath and the delight in it as required by the Torah itself. For the Torah (ibid.) describes the Sabbath as a "holy convocation," and the Sifra explains that that term implies that the day must "be sanctified, honored... and delighted in."
The Rambam's statements are based on Shabbat 25b. Note the Tur (Orach Chayim 260), which mentions that a person should wash his entire body. The Rambam's decision is quoted by the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 260:1), while the Tur's ruling is quoted by the Ramah.
Our text of Shabbat 119a reads "Sabbath, the queen," and indeed, this analogy is employed extremely frequently. From the Maggid Mishneh's commentary, it appears that the Rambam's version of that passage reads, "Sabbath, the king." According to the kabbalah, the feminine term is more appropriate, because the Sabbath is associated with the sefirah of Malchut, which reflects a feminine dimension.
See also the Sefer Chassidim (quoted in the Mishnah Berurah 262:6), which emphasizes that a person must also endeavor to keep his clothes clean. For example, he should not hold a child until he covers his clothes.
I.e., one should not arrange to hold a feast on Friday that one would not hold ordinarily during the week (Maggid Mishneh). This includes even feasts associated with a mitzvah (Shulchan Aruch, loc. cit.). One may, however, hold a feast associated with a mitzvah that should be performed on that day - e.g., a circumcision or the redemption of the first-born (Ramah, loc. cit.). These feasts should be held as early as possible, and by no means should begin later than 3:00 PM (or the equivalent time according to the principle of "seasonal hours"), as will be explained.
Although the Ra'avad differs with the Rambam regarding this prohibition, the explanation offered above is accepted by most authorities.
This refers to an ordinary meal that one might partake of during the week. Although one is not required to refrain from eating, one should preferably not plan to eat a meal at this time (Shulchan Aruch, loc. cit.).
I.e., the prohibition begins nine "seasonal" hours after daybreak. Thus, on a day that begins at 6:00 AM and concludes at 6:00 PM, the time would be 3:00 PM. This time would be later in the summer and earlier in the winter.
Note the Nimukei Maharai, which emphasizes that כבוד ("honor") appears to refer to activities that are performed in preparation for the Sabbath, while ענג ("delight") to the appreciation of pleasure on the Sabbath itself. Note, however, the Ramah's gloss on the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 262:1). There the Ramah emphasizes that one should keep one's table attractively set throughout the entire Sabbath, implying that although honoring the Sabbath begins with preparing for it on Friday, the mitzvah continues throughout the day.
In Talmudic times, people would recline on couches while eating, and this is the intent here. The word מטה also means "bed," and the Mishnah Berurah 262:2 writes that it is appropriate that the beds of the house be made before the commencement of the Sabbath.
Shabbat 119b relates that a person returning home from the synagogue is accompanied by two angels, one with positive tendencies and the other with negative tendencies. When they enter the home and see it prepared for the Sabbath, even the angel with negative tendencies is forced to give his blessing that this setting be repeated in the week to come.
I.e., rather than think that involving himself in such activities will be demeaning, he should appreciate that these deeds will enhance his honor. Even if it is possible to have others perform these tasks for one, it is preferable to carry out certain deeds oneself. For there is nothing more honorable than to give honor to the Sabbath. In this context, Rabbenu Chanan'el refers to Kiddushin 41a, "It is more of a mitzvah [to perform a positive action] oneself, rather than [to charge] an agent [with its performance]."
One should not worry about the expense, for Beitzah 16a teaches that a person's income is fixed at the beginning of the year, with the exception of the money that he spends to honor the Sabbath and the festivals. A person need not be concerned with the cost of "honoring the Sabbath," since he will be recompensed for the expense by an increase in his earnings
See the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 242:1), which states that one should earnestly endeavor to provide generously for the Sabbath and, if necessary, minimize one's expenditures during the week to do so.
Note Shulchan Aruch HaRav 242:3 and the Mishnah Berurah 242:3, which state that if possible - even if this entails pawning property - one should borrow to enhance one's Sabbath meals. One may rest assured that ultimately one will be able to repay these debts. Beitzah 15b states that God promises, "Take a loan on My account. I will repay."
According to this view, the directive "Make your Sabbaths as weekdays..." applies only when a person has no property to pawn and will not be given a loan on any other terms.
In his Commentary on the Mishnah (Pe'ah 8:7), the Rambam cites Shabbat 117b, which states that this obligation stems from the fact that when describing the manna, Exodus 16:25 mentions the word היום, "today," three times. In the verse, "today" refers to the Sabbath, and its threefold repetition indicates that three meals should be eaten on that day.
The Maggid Mishneh explains that with these words, the Rambam is emphasizing that a person who does not eat his meals at these times does not fulfill the mitzvah of eating three Sabbath meals. Although the Halachot Gedolot maintains that the times when one partakes of these meals is not significant, the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 291:1) rules according to the concept explained by the Maggid Mishneh.
Since the obligation to eat stems from the command to delight in the Sabbath, it is not applicable to these individuals, who will suffer discomfort from eating further. Note, however, the wording of the Shulchan Aruch (loc. cit.): "A person who cannot eat at all is not obligated to cause himself discomfort."
Our translation is based on the gloss of the Kessef Mishneh, which differs with the Tur (Orach Chayim 291) in the interpretation of the Rambam's words. The Tur maintains that the Rambam requires the recitation of kiddush before the third meal as well. Almost all the commentaries accept the Kessef Mishneh's view.
The rationale for this ruling is that the obligation to eat three meals is derived from a verse describing the manna, and the manna was described as "bread" (Exodus 16:15).
Although the Shulchan Aruch (loc. cit.:4) quotes the Rambam's ruling, the Ramah adds in his gloss that there are opinions that maintain that a single complete loaf is sufficient. The Shulchan Aruch continues (loc. cit.:5), mentioning other views that allow one to fulfill his obligation by eating foods other than bread. Although the Shulchan Aruch favors the Rambam's ruling, the later authorities agree that a person who is unable to eat a third meal of bread may fulfill his obligation by eating other foods (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 291:7).
This obligation stems from the fact that the manna did not descend on the Sabbath, and a double portion of manna descended on the previous day. To commemorate this lechem mishneh (Exodus 16:22), a double portion of bread is placed on the table on the Sabbath.
Most authorities interpret the Rambam's intent to be that one is obligated to break bread on two complete loaves on the holidays. [The rationale being that the manna did not descend on the holidays as well, and a double portion of manna descended on the previous day (Mechilta).] The Tur, by contrast, interprets the Rambam as requiring one to partake of three meals on the holidays as well.
Note Shulchan Aruch HaRav 242:2 and the Mishnah Berurah 242:1, which state that there is no obligation per se to partake of meat, fish, or wine on the Sabbath. The intent is to eat foods that give one pleasure. It has become customary to serve these foods because most people derive pleasure from them.
This reiterates the theme mentioned in Halachah 7, that one should not overextend oneself financially to provide for the Sabbath. The wording used by the Rambam here also allows us to appreciate the rationale for this ruling: Since the person will be putting himself under undue financial pressure, he will not derive pleasure from this indulgence.
In the present age, when travel and communication have advanced considerably, we need not hold rigidly to this halachah. The principle that it teaches, however - that one should not drop in suddenly on one's family and surely, on others - is definitely a significant ethical point.
Note, however, Shulchan Aruch HaRav 249:4 and the Mishnah Berurah 249:3, which state that at present, since people usually prepare generously for the Sabbath meals, there is no difficulty in coming unexpectedly if this cannot be avoided.
Another related point is also worth keeping in mind. Although long distance travel has been greatly facilitated in the present age, one should always plan to arrive several hours before the Sabbath, lest one be held back by forces beyond one's control.
In one of the Rambam's responsa, he explains that although prayer and supplication are revered media of divine service, on the Sabbath our service of God is channeled through a higher medium: rest and spiritual pleasure. As such, prayer and supplication are not appropriate.
In Hilchot Ta'aniot 1:1, the Rambam writes that one of the Torah's commandments is to cry out to God and sound the trumpets at a time of communal distress. He continues in Halachah 4, stating that our Sages required the community to fast on such occasions. In addition to drought, the Rambam mentions several other situations in Hilchot Ta'aniot, Chapter 3, which are described as times of communal distress.
This is a restatement of a law mentioned previously in Chapter 2, Halachah 24. Chapter 2 involves questions concerning pikuach nefesh, the threat to life, and that is the reason why exceptions are made in these instances.
I.e., the siege must begin no later than Tuesday. (See Shulchan Aruch HaRav 248:1.) Note, however, the Mishnah Berurah 248:4, which cites other views that count the three days as beginning on Thursday. Thus, the siege may begin on Wednesday.
Although the army will still be in a state of war, and agitation will thus not have been eliminated entirely, since three days will have passed since the siege began, we can assume that much of the initial confusion and strain will have passed, and the situation will have settled into a routine.
As mentioned in Chapter 2, Halachah 25, we may wage war against gentiles on the Sabbath. Generally, the commentaries mention two reasons why a siege should not be initiated less than three days before the Sabbath: the reason stated by the Rambam, and also that the three days before the Sabbath are considered to be days of preparation. Hence, at this time, one is forbidden to put oneself in a situation where it will inevitably be necessary to violate the Sabbath laws because of pikuach nefesh, a threat to life. When, however, the siege is begun earlier, the situation will have already become part of the soldiers' functional reality before the preparations for the Sabbath have begun, and they will be permitted to violate the Sabbath laws, if necessary.
By mentioning this law in this context, the Rambam emphasizes that the issue with which he is concerned is ensuring, to the fullest extent possible, the soldiers' peace of mind.
There are many people who get sea-sick on the first days of a journey. After three days have passed, however, they are likely to have grown accustomed to conditions aboard ship.
According to the Rambam, this prohibition applies only to ocean vessels, and not to river-boat traffic. There are, however, different rationales for the requirement to leave three days before the Sabbath. Among them:
a) By traveling on a ship, one goes beyond the Sabbath limits. Although there is an opinion that the Sabbath limits do not apply when one is ten handbreadths above the ground - as a ship usually is above the ocean or river bed - there is, nevertheless, no definitive ruling about the matter. (See Chapter 27, Halachah 3; see Maharik, Responsum 45.)
b) One may be forced to perform forbidden labor on the ship or, at the very least, have a gentile perform forbidden labors on one's behalf. (See Rivash, Responsum 152.)
With regard to both these matters, these follow the alternate view mentioned above: that within three days of the Sabbath, since the Sabbath preparations have begun, one is not allowed to put oneself into a situation where one will inevitably break the Sabbath laws. If, however, one has put oneself into such a situation before the commencement of the Sabbath preparations, the status is different.
In two of his responsa, the Rambam explains that the question of whether or not the Sabbath limits apply above ten handbreadths is relevant on dry land, but does not apply to water travel at all. Hence, it does not present a difficulty in the case at hand. His view is accepted by the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 248:2). Although the Ramah mentions objections, the later authorities (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 248:3-4) follow the Rambam's view.
With regard to the performance of work, the Radbaz writes that, according to the Rambam, one may never put oneself into a situation in which one knows that one will inevitably be forced to perform forbidden labors on the Sabbath. (See Be'ur Halachah 248.) The Ramah (Orach Chayim 248:2) and the subsequent Ashkenazic authorities definitely do not accept this position. Moreover. from the ruling of the Shulchan Aruch (loc. cit.:4), it appears that the Sephardic community also agrees with the other view.
See Chapter 24, Halachah 6 and notes, where this law was originally stated and explained. It is repeated here to emphasize that because there is a mitzvah, the discomfort that will be caused by the journey is overlooked.
Ketubot 62b interprets Psalms 1:3, "who gives its fruit in its season," as referring to a person who engages in sexual relations on Friday night and not on other occasions. This is the practice of Torah scholars, who generally engage in relations only once a week (Hilchot Ishut 14:1).
For the hymenal blood is considered to be a distinct entity enclosed in the membrane, and thus this situation differs from others in which bleeding is caused (Rashi, Ketubot 7a).
Note the Magen Avraham 339:11, which mentions that witnesses should observe the yichud, the entry into a private chamber, of the bride and groom before the commencement of the Sabbath, so that all the contractual aspects of the marriage will have been completed at that time.
The Jerusalem Talmud (Nedarim 3:9) derives the equivalence between the Sabbath and the entire Torah from Nechemiah 9:13-14: "On Mount Sinai You descended.... And You gave them straight judgments... and good statutes and commandments. And You informed them of Your holy Sabbath." The Maggid Mishneh explains that the Sabbath's central importance stems from the fact that it is a sign of God's constant renewal of creation.
Kinat Eliyahu explains the equivalence between the Sabbath and all the other mitzvot as follows: The dynamic spiritual activity of the Sabbath, carried out against a backdrop of rest and material satisfaction, reflects the goal and purpose of the totality of our Torah observance. It is for this reason that our Sages called the Sabbath "a microcosm of the world to come."
This ruling represents more than a moral condemnation. Not only is such a person not acceptable as a witness and ineligible to take an oath in court, but all the restrictions applied with regard to gentiles - e.g., the prohibitions against gentile wine, gentile milk, and gentile bread - are applied to him. Similarly, he may not be counted in a minyan, nor be given any honor in the synagogue. (See Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 72:2.)
Many halachic authorities of the recent era (see Iggerot Moshe, Orach Chayim I, Responsum 33, and other sources) explain that there is room for leniency with regard to certain of these restrictions at present. Nevertheless, the overall attitude must still be one of stringency.
It must, however, be emphasized that the offspring of such Jews have a full portion in their Jewish heritage. Instead of shunning them, we must make every effort to draw them close to their spiritual roots. (See Hilchot Mamrim 3:3.)
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