Shemot 16:29 teaches that 'Shvu ish tachtav’ (every person must sit beneath his place) and al yetze ish mimekomo beyom hashabat (not to go out of his place on Shabbat).

But what to do if you're not living in Eretz Israël and the synagogue is at a large distance. Assembling each Shabbat is a command, but staying in your place also, what to do in such circumstances?

And secondly how to deal with mitzvot (like with a boy that has to get circumcised on a Shabbat because it has to be the eighth day after his birth) that contradict or trouble doing other mitzvot (like the commandments of the Shabbat). Is there a principle for these kind of situations?

  • 1
    Each case is different and handled according to the specific case. For example, a mohel will often arrange to be within walking distance of people needing the bris with the equipment already there. Ignorant people have pretended that one is allowed to drive to shul (even though it is forbidden). Most religious Jews find a home within walking distance of a shul. Many remote communities have a chabad shaliach who can help you with this. Sep 24, 2015 at 1:24
  • The verse should be "bayom hasheviyi (7th) not shishi (6th). Sep 24, 2015 at 6:39
  • "Assembling each shabbat is a command" - really? Where? Sep 24, 2015 at 8:11
  • @DannySchoemann See Ramban Vayikra 23
    – Double AA
    Sep 24, 2015 at 13:02

2 Answers 2


We don't decide practical rules from our own reading of the text of the Pentateuch. There have been millennia of exegesis, expounding, debates, and decisions by those wiser than us in the ways of the Torah to guide us. The rule of not going far has specific parameters, and there has been much ink spilled on that topic. Likewise the requirement to attend synagogue on the sabbath, the other requirements you mention, and their interplay. If you wish to know where to learn more about any one of these topics, please ask about it separately. Or if you have one specific question, please ask that. This answer is just a very brief introduction to how Jewish law works.

  • "This answer is just a very brief introduction to how Jewish law works" then perhaps post it as a comment.
    – mevaqesh
    Sep 25, 2015 at 8:56
  • The question was really too broad as asked and shoulda been closed if the intent was really to ask all the specific questions in it. So I gave the asker the benefit of the doubt and assumed that a general question about how Jewish law works was actually intended.
    – msh210
    Sep 25, 2015 at 13:57

Please read the verse in context: The Jews are leaving the camp every day to gather manna. They're told that there will be no manna on Shabbat, gather double on Friday. "Everyone should stay in their place on Shabbat." I.e. don't gather manna!

The Talmud says this means two things: A.] Don't carry in a public thoroughfare. B.] Don't walk far beyond the inhabited city limits.

Note that you could walk ten miles, with empty pockets, in many big cities today while staying in the inhabited limits, and thus not violating anything.

The rule of thumb is that Shabbat violation is a sufficiently-serious problem that no mitzva overrides it unless explicitly mentioned. Saving a life overrides any issue of Shabbat, and hence the Talmud talks about people leaving the city limits to put out a fire, fight off bad guys, rescue people from a flood or a collapse, or deliver a baby.

But if the only way for me to get to synagogue is to carry or go beyond the inhabited city limits (or drive, for that matter), "don't break Shabbat" comes first. I should pray at home. (Or anywhere else in my town.)

Circumcising a baby is an interesting one as if a baby is born conventionally on Shabbat, his circumcision is held the next Shabbat (even though normally, elective surgery is a prohibited on Shabbat). (The Torah spells out explicitly that the daily sacrifices override Shabbat, and uses similar language regarding circumcision.) Yet the only prohibitions overridden are those that could not in any way (even theoretically) have been done before Shabbat, such as the actual cutting. If the baby is a hundred miles from the nearest mohel, you may not drive or carry the baby on Shabbat as theoretically (even if it was impractical for any sort of reason, e.g. the doctors wouldn't let him out of the hospital) that could have been done on Friday. The circumcision would instead be postponed to Sunday.

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