Mishnah Shabbos 10,1 says about מלאכת הוצאה:

"הַמַּצְנִיעַ לְזֶרַע וּלְדֻגְמָא וְלִרְפוּאָה, וְהוֹצִיאוֹ בְּשַׁבָּת, חַיָּב בְּכָל שֶׁהוּא. וְכָל אָדָם אֵין חַיָּב עָלָיו אֶלָּא כְשִׁעוּרוֹ.: "

If one designates a seed for planting before Shabbos, and then carries it out on Shabbos, even though it's less than the amount that makes one liable for a Korban Chatas, he still has to bring a Korban Chatas because he designated it for planting. However, if someone else carries that seed on Shabbos [without that intention], they would not have to bring a Korban Chatas unless he carries a certain amount.

What if the one who designated the seed asked someone else to carry it on Shabbos - would either of them be required to bring a Chatas?

  • 2
    Checkmate, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks for bringing your question here! I hope you get good answers, and that you look around and find other information of interest.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Jul 20, 2018 at 1:48

2 Answers 2


I think it would depend on the agent's intent.

The reason why one becomes liable for carrying when the item was predesignated is that the predesignation shows us that the carrier is carrying the item for the specific purpose (in the case of a seed, to plant it), and that shows that he considers the item "significant". Even though someone else carrying the same item would be exempt because it is "insignificant", by predesignating the item the carrier has made it significant vis-a-vis himself.

Predesignation is just one example of creating "significance". In fact the Talmud immediately asks why the Mishnah spoke of a case of predesignatioon, and not simply a case of someone who took out a seed to plant. The Talmud answers the Mishnah is teaching us that even in a case where the person forgot what he had designated it for, so it is unknown why he is currently carrying the item, he is still liable for carrying any size because we follow his original intent when he designated it and we consider it "significant" vis-a-vis him.

This indicates that the designation is not necessary to make one liable. As long as one clearly carries for a purpose which shows "significance" then he is liable. This is clearly stated by Rashi there:

ודאי מוציא לזריעה חייב ואף על גב דלא אצנעיה מעיקרא ומתניתין דבעי מצניע במוציא סתם קאמר כגון לטלטלו מבית לבית דאינו חייב אלא משום דאחשביה בהצנעתו

This is also clear from Rambam's codification of this law. In Hilchot Shabbat 18:20 he first mentions the case of one who carried the seed in order to plant it, and rules that he is liable, and only in the next halacha does he introduce the idea that predesignation is enough to make him liable when it is unknown why he is carrying it:

במה דברים אמורים שאינו חייב אלא על ההוצאה כשיעור כשהוציא סתם אבל המוציא לזרע או לרפואה או להראות ממנו דוגמא ולכל כיוצא בזה חייב בכל שהוא

When does [the abovementioned rule,] that a person is liable only when he transfers the minimum of a standard measure of a substance, apply? When the person transfers the substance without any specific intent. If, however, a person transfers a [seed] to sow, or a substance for medicinal purposes, to show as an example, or the like, he is liable for the slightest amount. (Chabad.org)

המצניע דבר לזריעה או לרפואה או לדוגמא ושכח למה הצניעו והוציאו סתם חייב עליו בכל שהוא שעל דעת מחשבה ראשונה הוציא. ושאר האדם אין חייבין עליו אלא כשיעורו זרק זה שהוציא כבר לתוך האוצר אע"פ שמקומו ניכר כבר בטלה מחשבתו הראשונה לפיכך אם חזר והכניסו אינו חייב עד שיכניס כשיעור

Should a person who stores a substance to use as seed, or to use for medicinal purposes, or a substance to be shown as a sample, [afterwards,] forget the reason for which he stored the substance, and remove it without any specific intent, he is liable regardless of its size. Another person, by contrast, is not liable [if he transfers this article] unless it is of the prescribed measure.

If after transferring the article [for the intent he originally had], the person throws it into a storeroom, even if it is [set aside] in a distinct place, his original intent is considered to have been nullified. Therefore, if he brings in the article afterwards, he is not liable unless it is of the prescribed measure. (Chabad.org)

From the above we see that predesignation has no inherent effect on Shabbat-violation-liability; it is simply a metric used to determine why the carrier is carrying it. When the carrier is the one who made the designation then the designation is relevant to determining liability (in the backhanded sense that it shows his intent). When the carrier is someone else, however, the designation is completely irrelevant because one person's designation doesn't speak to another person's intent. There could, of course, be other factors that could demonstrate that an agent does consider an item "significant" despite lacking the normal size requirement, but these factors don't necessarily have anything to do with whether the item was predesignated or not.

Thus, to answer your question, the agent would be exempt because there is no indication that he considers the seed "significant". If, however, there was some other indication that the agent does consider the seed "significant" (and one could perhaps argue that accepting the mission is such an indication) then the agent would be liable, but not because of the predesignation.

The sender/designator would be exempt regardless, because he did not violate any Shabbat labors.

  • Good answer, but I'd say the very fact of the designation of a Shaliach automatically turns the seed into something important thus renders him חייב. Like, he's on a mission! Unlike an animal, for example. Don't you think?
    – Al Berko
    Commented Jul 20, 2018 at 10:52
  • @AlBerko You could argue that that would fall under If, however, there was some other indication that the agent does consider the seed "significant" then the agent would be liable, but not because of the predesignation.
    – Alex
    Commented Jul 20, 2018 at 13:36

I recommend looking at Kiddushin 42b-43a. The Gemara there discusses the concept of אין שליח לדבר עבירה, that if Reuven asks Shimon to do an aveirah, Shimon is the one liable while Reuven is entirely exempt. Reuven can tell Shimon דברי הרב ודברי התלמיד דברי מי שומעין - I told you to do X and G-d told you to do Y; who should you listen to?!

There are several exceptions to this rule, as discussed there:

  • Me’ilah - If Reuven tells Shimon to spend certain coins in the marketplace and it turns out that those coins are Hekdesh, Reuven is the one liable, not Shimon.
  • Tevichah u’Mechirah - If Reuven tells Shimon to steal and shecht/sell a cow or sheep, Reuven is the one who pays the four/fivefold payment, not Shimon.
  • Shlichus Yad - According to Beis Hillel only, if Reuven is watching an object and tells Shimon to make use of it, Reuven is the one who is liable, not Shimon.1
  • Murder - According to Shammai in the name of Chagai the Navi, if Reuven tells Shimon to kill someone, Reuven is the one liable, not Shimon.2,3
    • According to the Tanna Kamma in the second explanation of the Gemara, Reuven will bear some level of responsibility, but not the full level of punishment like an actual murderer.

So, to answer your question:

Can a Shli’ach be exempt where the Sender is liable?

Yes, in all of the above cases, and in those cases alone. Therefore, in your case of Hotza’ah, the person who actually carried it is liable, since אין שליח לדבר עבירה.

1 According to Beis Shammai, the general rule applies here as well, and the extra passuk means that even a thought of doing Shlichus Yad makes you liable.

2The Tanna Kamma says that Shimon is the one who is liable, not Reuven. I discuss their argument in more detail here.

3Rava notes that if you learn that Shammai in general holds אין שליח לדבר עבירה, in a case where Shimon gets benefit, such as eating treif or being intimate with a prohibited woman, Shimon would be liable, since in no case will Shimon benefit but Reuven be the one liable.

  • This answer addresses the present title of this post but not the actual question in the body. I'm going to edit the title to be less misleading.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Jul 20, 2018 at 14:51
  • @IsaacMoses I thought I addressed that as well, so I’ll edit to make clearer.
    – DonielF
    Commented Jul 20, 2018 at 14:52
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    The Mishna says that if A designates a seed for planting and B carries it, B is exempt. The question asks about a special case of this, where A asked B to carry the seed. I understand that your answer shows that "אין שליח " prevents B from losing his obligation to A, but it doesn't demonstrate that B should be obligated to begin with, as he isn't in the Mishna's case.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Jul 20, 2018 at 15:00
  • @IsaacMoses A told B to do an aveirah and B did it. Why should it be any different than the general case of אין שליח?
    – DonielF
    Commented Jul 20, 2018 at 15:01
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    @DonielF Because the question here is asking about a case where a regular person would not be liable at all. You have established that the meshalaech wouldn't be liable but how do you know that the shliach would be different from a regular person who would be exempt?
    – Alex
    Commented Jul 20, 2018 at 15:04

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