This first Mishna in Shabbat (2a) describes the transfer of an item from a private domain to a public domain. The Mishna describes the individuals involved in this transfer as

העני עומד בחוץ ובעל הבית בפנים

The poor person stands outside, in the public domain, and the homeowner stands inside, in the private domain.

There are many other labels which could have been used including generic names (eg Reuven and Shimon) labels related to the act (machnis/motzi). Why did the Mishna choose to use the specific labels of poor person and homeowner?

1 Answer 1


Bartenura Shabbat 1:1:

ולהכי נקט הוצאה בלשון עני ועשיר, דאגב אורחיה קמ״ל דמצוה הבאה בעבירה אסורה וחייבין עליה:‏

The reason for discussing carrying between domains in the context of a poor and rich person, is to teach something tangential, namely that a mitzvah performed via an aveirah [i.e. giving charity while carrying on shabbat] is forbidden, and one is liable for it.

  • 1
    The issue with this is that the mishnah starts with a case of the poor person giving something to the rich person.
    – Heshy
    Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 13:28
  • @Heshy Yes. He's giving his basket to the rich person, so that the rich person can fill it with food
    – Joel K
    Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 13:36
  • Cf. Sukkah 3:14
    – Double AA
    Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 13:56
  • 1
    As per Joel K's comment above, the idea in the Bartenura of rich person-poor person in the give-take relationship might have something to do with a custom in some households on Shabbos, where Challah is cut, then either placed in a basket or thrown to each person sitting, to symbolize that a) bread comes from heaven and b) the act of handing someone bread is what one does when dealing with a poor person who doesn't have any food.
    – Rafi Hecht
    Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 14:49
  • Is there a discussion on מצוה הבא בעבירה in the Gemmorah here?
    – Al Berko
    Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 15:46

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