09. Walking for Non-Shabbat Purposes

Even when one takes a relaxed walk, he may not walk to his fields or factory in order to plan out his workweek. Doing so is included in the category of “your affairs,” which may not be addressed on Shabbat, as it is stated: “if you honor it, and not go in your own way, nor look to your affairs” (Yeshayahu 58:13). However, if it is not obvious that his intention is to plan his work, there is no prohibition. Therefore, one may take a Shabbat walk as long as onlookers cannot tell that he is looking over his fields. It is pious to avoid thinking about business on Shabbat altogether (see SA 306:8).

Similarly, one who is building a house should not check the progress on Shabbat, because it is obvious that he is planning his work, and one who intends to renovate or expand his home may not examine other projects if it is clear that he is planning the renovations. So too, one considering buying an apartment may not check out apartments for sale on Shabbat. In contrast, one considering buying an apartment may walk to a street where new apartments are being built even though his intention is to look them over, as long as it looks like he is just out for a walk and he does not stop and scrutinize them; this way, he does not look like he is planning his purchase. If one is planning to buy an electrical appliance, he may window-shop at appliance stores while walking on the street. However, he should not look at prices (SSK 29:10). In addition, it is pious to avoid thinking about these matters at all on Shabbat.

Toward the end of Shabbat, one may not walk to the edge of the teĥum in order to hire workers as soon after Shabbat as possible. Similarly, one may not go to his field, store, or factory at that time so that he can begin work immediately after Shabbat. Since it is clear that he is going there on Shabbat in order to work afterward, in effect he is dealing with his weekday affairs on Shabbat. However, if it is not clear that this is the reason he is going there, as is the case, for example, if many people take walks there, then he may walk there on Shabbat even if he intends to hire workers or begin his work immediately afterward. This is because the prohibition only applies when it is clear that he is going for a mundane purpose (SA 306:1; MB ad loc. 1; BHL s.v. “she-me’ayen; SA 307:9; MB ad loc. 40).[5]


[5]. The prohibition on walking to the edge of the teĥum on Shabbat applies when going to do something that cannot be done permissibly on Shabbat. However, if his objective is to collect already-picked fruits that are outside the teĥum, or to visit relatives who live outside the teĥum, the walking is permitted, as there is no essential prohibition involved (after all, if there were an eruv, he would be permitted to undertake these activities even on Shabbat). In contrast, one may not walk to the edge of the teĥum on Shabbat with the goal of picking fruits or collecting muktzeh fruits after Shabbat, because the act is fundamentally prohibited (there is no way to undertake these activities permissibly on Shabbat). A similar principle governs the prohibition of speech, as described in the next section. One may speak about an activity if it can be done on Shabbat in a permissible way, such as if there were an eruv. So, one may speak on Shabbat of plans to visit an area the next day in order to collect fruit from there (Shabbat 150b; SA 307:8; MB ad loc. 35. SAH, ad loc. 16 explains the basis of the permission. Orĥot Shabbat ch. 22 n. 7 suggests additional reasons for it).
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