‘A City Is Given A Karpif’
If house stands less than 70 and 2/3 amos outside a city, it is considered an extension of the city and the techum – the 2,000 amos perimeter around a city beyond which one may not walk on Shabbos – is measured from that house.
R. Meir in our mishnah says that the techum of a city is not measured from the last house in a city, but rather from the city’s outskirts – its karpif – which is a perimeter of 70 and 2/3 amos of open space around the city and considered part of the city. Thus, one may walk a total of 2,070 and 2/3 amos outside a city on Shabbos.
A Matter of Continuity
The Sages disagree and maintain that the legal application of a karpif applies only in the instance of two neighboring cities. If two cities are within 70 and 2/3 amos of each other, they are considered one contiguous city and the residents of city A may walk 2,000 amos beyond city B (and vice versa). The halacha follows R. Huna who explains that each city is granted a space of 70 and 2/3 amos outside it. Thus, if the open space between the cities is no more than 141 and 1/3 amos – i.e. 2 x 70 and 2/3 amos – the two cities are considered one extended city.
The Rash (to our daf, 57a) cites the Maharam of Rothenberg who rules in accordance with R. Meir that the 2,000-amah techum of a city starts after its karpif (meaning that city residents are allowed to walk 2,000 amos plus an additional 70 and 2/3 amos beyond the city on Shabbos).
The Ritva (novella 57a) states that R. Meir only grants an extra 70 and 2/3 amos beyond the city itself, not beyond any isolated house standing outside the city. We measure from the city, not from the isolated house.
The Chazon Ish (110:19) draws a distinction between an occupied house and an abandoned house. He suggests that the Ritva is referring to an abandoned house. An occupied house, however, that stands within 70 and 2/3 amos of a city is considered part of the city proper and not merely an extension. Accordingly, we measure the techum starting 70 and 2/3 amos past any occupied house outside the city.
A Modern Application
Today many jurisdictions contain groups of continuous cities – each separately administered, with the open space between them measuring no more than 141 and 1/3 amos. In these jurisdictions, the halacha follows R. Huna and the residents of each city may walk 2,000 amos beyond the farthest city in each direction.Rabbi Yaakov Klass and Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum
About the Author: RABBI YAAKOV KLASS, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. RABBI GERSHON TANNENBAUM, rav of Congregation Bnai Israel of Linden Heights, Boro Park, Brooklyn, is the Director of Igud HaRabbanim – The Rabbinical Alliance of America.
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