What do we consider a 'dwelling-place' for this purpose? A house? A city/within an eruv?

By this logic, if I were outside a defined 'dwelling-place' on Shabbat (say, out in the wilderness and not on any land owned by a Jew), could I kindle a fire? Or since I am a Jew, does where-ever I am at the time count and as place that I am 'dwelling'?

Edit: I am not referring to the exception of fires in the temple, nor to a case of pikuach nefesh. I am enquiring about lighting a normal fire for preferential purposes in an area arguably not considered a defined 'dwelling-place'.

  • This is not the only place in the Torah that it says that a mitzvah applies in מושבתיכם. See Vayikra 23;14 and 23;17. But each each time it says it, does need to be explained. May 11, 2023 at 8:31

2 Answers 2


It comes to exclude the temple, where fire was required for the sacrifices (Shabbos 20a)

It also comes to include capital punishment, which is done in court, which is referred to as “your sitting quarters” in Numbers 35:29 (Sanhedrin 35b)

  • Apologies, was aware of the temple exception, and I have now edited the question accordingly. I'm referring to lighting a normal fire, but in an area that might be argued as not being a 'dwelling' (unless we take 'dwelling' to literally be 'anywhere you as a Jew are presently'. I was initially thinking about public bonfires taking place either in a city square or out in a park/forest when I wrote this question, plus the fact that we can't (for example) press the button of a public crossing-light.
    – ANH
    May 3, 2023 at 8:32

Maybe another pshat [ remember ע' פנים לתורה Bamidbar Rabbah 13:15-16 ] is that it means within the techum Shabbos. Of course if someone goes out of the techum whether by mistake or on purpose they still have to keep Shabbos. But the only two mitzvos of Shabbos that the Torah writes openly is to not go out of the techum - אל יצא איש ממקומו [Shemos, 16, 29] and to not light a fire. So the Torah is saying that on this day that you have to stay in place, you are not allowed to light a fire.

Also, if someone is in civilization and needs a fire to warm himself up in the winter, he can go to a neighbor if his fire got extinguished on Shabbos. However if he is in the wilderness it might be pikuach nefesh. He can freeze to death. So it can sometimes be permitted. That might be part of the reason why we are not allowed to leave the techum Shabbos. So that we can be near the things we need. So that we can enjoy the day. And not be forced to do melachah.

  • Thankyou. So what about if rather than 'going outside' the techum, I am already outside the techum when Shabbat begins? Say, I have been travelling in the wilderness and didn't reach civilisation in time? Technically, why can I not kindle a fire just for light or preferable warmth? I understand that pikuach nefesh allows a fire strictly to avert risk of death, but why specify 'a fire with your dwellings' if I am still supposed to keep Shabbat when OUT of the dwelling (again, not having actually left any dwelling on Shabbat)? Or is a spot in the wilderness counted as a dwelling?
    – ANH
    May 3, 2023 at 8:28
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    It's not possible to already be outside the techum when Shabbos begins. Wherever you are when Shabbos begins, you have 2,000 amos to move around in. Unless you are in a city, then the city is not counted for the 2,000 amos. May 3, 2023 at 16:40
  • So for that purpose, then 'yes, wherever I am is effectively a dwelling-place', correct? If the techum is the area around where I have stopped for the day - even if that place is just a spot on the ground - since I shouldn't move from it except for lethal danger. Because the only evidence I've seen contrary to that is citing that if you are in the desert when Shabbat begins, travelling to keep up with a caravan constitutes Pikuach Nefesh.
    – ANH
    May 5, 2023 at 11:12
  • Since you are not allowed to go out of the techum, it is very rare to find a Jew in the wilderness on Shabbos. So maybe it can mean civilization. And the reason why it's significant is because of the techum Shabbos. May 11, 2023 at 8:41
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    Three possible answers were mentioned above to that question. 1 Anywhere besides for the Beis Hamikdash. 2 Civilization. 3 Techum Shabbos. As I mentioned above there are many explanations to every pasuk. There is no one definite answer. Jul 24, 2023 at 17:49

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