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D2. Leaving Our Homes to Work on the Sabbath.    [Make a Comment]

We are not to leave our homes with the intention of doing work on the Sabbath.

This precept is derived from His Word (blessed be He):

Key Scriptures

Exodus 16:29 (Maimonides RN321; Meir MN7; Chinuch C24)
Look, ADONAI has given you the Shabbat. This is why he is providing bread for two days on the sixth day. Each of you, stay where you are; no one is to leave his place on the seventh day.

Hebrews 4:10-11
For the one who has entered God's rest has also rested from his own works, as God did from his. Therefore, let us do our best to enter that rest; so that no one will fall short because of the same kind of disobedience.


The commandment in Exodus 16:29 that is reflected in this Mitzvah was given to the Israelites after they tried to gather manna on the Sabbath despite God having provided a double portion for them the day before. In today's context, it calls for us to trust that God will provide sufficiently for us six days of the week, so that we should not even contemplate leaving our homes in order to work on the Sabbath. In my opinion, this is not a requirement that we stay in our house or limit the distance that we may travel, but rather it is a requirement that we examine why we are leaving our house, lest it be to go to work.

In addition to other considerations, it is important to remember that God first established the seventh day as holy prior to the Mosaic Covenant, and at a time when there was, as of yet, no Israel (Genesis 2:2-3). Later, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, God said that non-Jews who keep His Sabbaths will receive blessings for doing so (Isaiah 56:1-7). Further confirmation for this is found in Hebrews 4:1-11 which compares Sabbath rest with spiritual rest that comes from faith in Messiah. This is not to say that keeping the seventh day Sabbath is required for Gentile believers in this age. We again note the clearly stated passages in Romans 14, Galatians 5, Colossians 2, and others, that relieve Gentiles of Sabbath responsibility.

Classical Commentators

Maimonides interprets his mitzvah so as to prohibit travel on the Sabbath, further than from one's home to across an Israelite's campsite in the desert. Meir's concept in his mitzvah is similar, but he describes the maximum permissible travel as the distance across a small town. HaChinuch says the Sabbath limit is three parasangs away from the city, and he explains the prohibition against traveling further by his understanding that, after God created the world, He rested in the vicinity of His creation; HaChinuch's opinion is that we should, therefore, rest in our place as well.


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