On Peninei Halakha halachot shabath about Hotza’ah it's written:

Many maintain that as long as one did not stop walking while in the reshut ha-rabim, the prohibition is only rabbinic, because as long as he is walking he has not performed a hanaĥa in the reshut ha-rabim (Rashba and Ritva, Eruvin 33a; Taz 346:2). Indeed, practical halakha follows this position (SAH 347:9; R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach cited in SSK ch. 30 n. 134). Therefore, where there is uncertainty about the validity of the local eruv, one may carry while walking nonstop from a reshut ha-yaĥid to another reshut ha-yaĥid via a reshut ha-rabim.

But further on, it's written:

We have seen in the previous sections that the prohibition of Hotza’ah includes transporting an object more than four amot in a public domain, since one’s personal space within the public domain is defined as four amot. If he transports an object further, he is deemed to have moved it to a different domain and transgressed Torah law. But within a square of four amot by four amot one may carry. Therefore, only one who carries something a distance greater than the diagonal of a four-amot square (2.58 m) has violated a Torah prohibition, because only then is it clear that he carried outside the permissible area. By Torah law, one who wants to transport an object within a reshut ha-rabim may carry it a bit less than four amot, stand still in order to establish a new location for the object, then walk again for less than four amot. He can continue in this way – starting and stopping – until he has transported the object wherever he wants it. However, the Sages forbade this lest one end up carrying more than four amot and thus violate Torah law.

I'm confused: theoretically, to transgress only the melacha derabanan and not mdeoraita, should one never stop at all (like the first source says) or should one stop every 4 tefachim (like the second source says)

  • 2
    Maybe either way works? I don't see the contradiction
    – Double AA
    Dec 17, 2018 at 19:45
  • if you carry nonstop you did carried for more than 4 tefachim long (melacha mdeoraita according to source 2).
    – Jonhz
    Dec 17, 2018 at 19:48
  • 1
    "Many maintain that as long as one did not stop walking while in the reshut ha-rabim, the prohibition is only rabbinic, because as long as he is walking he has not performed a hanaĥa in the reshut ha-rabim" if you did stop after carrying 4 ammot then indeed that's a problem
    – Double AA
    Dec 17, 2018 at 20:02

2 Answers 2


There are two different laws at play here: transporting from private to public space, and moving something four paces through a public space.

Transporting from private to public means you start in your house, walk into the street carrying the item, and then stop. If, instead, you move continuously from origin house to destination house, without ever stopping in-between, then you don't have the start-stop pattern that's the Biblical definition of "from private to public."

Moving four paces in public means you start standing in the street, take four paces, and then stop in the street. If, instead, I start, take one step, and then stop, I haven't violated this one. ("Four paces" is your personal space; so moving it four paces gets the item from what had been its "personal" space, into what was not its personal space.)

(I'm loosely translating ama as a "pace" here; it's between 1.5 and 2 feet, depending on who you ask. A tefach is a smaller measurement, 3--4 inches.)

Therefore: if I walked out my front door and then realized I had stuff in my pockets: I won't be liable for "moving in public" as I didn't start in the street. The concern, instead, is stopping in the street and thus transporting from private to public. Instead, stay in motion until I am safely in another building.

Okay, suppose instead my 2-year-old and I walk out of synagogue together into the street; she then stops, has a tantrum on the ground, and insists on being carried the rest of the way home. I wasn't carrying anything when I left the synagogue, so that's not the issue. The question is how to get this kid from the middle of the street, to the street right in front of the house (at which point she can hopefully be coaxed to walk inside herself). If I start carrying her, walk four paces, and stop (all in the public space), that's "moving"; so instead I start, walk two paces, stop. Repeat.

(Yes I know this example is actually entirely rabbinic because of chai nosei es atzmo ... but one thing at a time.)

  • Excellent answer! So if I left my house holding something but stopped every 4 steps, i would still have committed an avera mdeoraita, right? I think this should be a little more explicit on the second part of pnenei halacha, he should have stated that this about 4 steps is only is someone catches something that's already on the street...
    – Jonhz
    Dec 18, 2018 at 17:24
  • @Jonhz yes that's correct. If you start in the house and stop in the street, game over. Sorry if their wording was confusing.
    – Shalom
    Dec 18, 2018 at 22:29

Hotsaa and maavir 4 amot in reshut horabim are two separate concepts. The first needs hanacha, but needs a one step way. The second needs a first step extracting an object from one reshut and a last step releasing it on a different reshut.

For maavir 4 amot see eruvin 97b

A clause is wanting in our Mishnah, the proper reading being as follows: This applies to danger from idolaters but in the case of danger from highwaymen he carries them in small stages each of less than four cubits

and Shabbat 96b.

how do we know that he who throws [an article] four cubits in the street is culpable?..... ...... Rather the whole [law of transporting] four cubits in the street is known by tradition

For hotsaa we need hanacha. See shabbat 153b

He may only run, but not walk leisurely. What is the reason? - Since he has nothing to mark a distinction, he will come to perform removing and depositing. Yet after all, when he arrives at the house it is impossible that he shall not stop for a moment, and so he carries it from public to private ground? - He throws it in a 'back-handed manner.

  • Correct answer, I attempted to explain it to those with less background.
    – Shalom
    Dec 17, 2018 at 21:26

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