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    Jailed on Shabbos

    The posuk in Bamidbar 15:32,33 says, “While Bnei Yisroel were in the midbar they found a person gathering wood on Shabbos. Moshe and Aaron did not know what to do with him so they put him in a lockdown until Hashem was going to tell them what to do with him.” The Bais Yosef in Orach Chaim 263 says that if a person did an aveirah and they are in the midst of Shabbos and there is a fear that he might escape; the din is that we are not allowed to lock him up on Shabbos and/or on Yom Tov since this would be considered “din” and one does not carry out a “din” on Shabbos. How were Moshe and Aharon able to lock up the person who was gathering wood? There are a number of answers to the above question. The first answer is that locking up someone on Shabbos is only an issur d’Rabbonon; therefore, we can’t ask a question on the posuk which was in the Torah. The question is how were the Rabbonon able to make this gezeirah which seems to be the opposite of the Torah? The answer is that the chachamim had a koach to make a gezeirah that is “shev ve’al taaseh;” just like a person may fast upon having a bad dream on Shabbos, he may do so as long as he is acting passively and not doing an activity. The second tirutz could be that in the posuk mentioned above they did not lock him up as a punishment, but rather to stop him from continuing to do melacha on Shabbos. That is why the posuk repeats that the witnesses brought the mekoshesh eitzim. We already established what he did; the posuk is explaining why they had him arrested – to stop him from continuing. The third tirutz tells us the reason we don’t arrest someone on Shabbos is so as not to take away his menuchas Shabbos. In the event the person is not keeping Shabbos, we can arrest him. The fourth answer is that the mekoshesh eitzim was an extreme case. They did not want others to learn from him and follow in his footsteps. The Rabbeinu Bachya says they did not arrest him on Shabbos, they actually arrested him on Motzai Shabbos. Another tirutz could be that to physically lock someone up on Shabbos would be forbidden. In this case, they just put a bunch of people around him so he could not run away. The last answer could be based in the gemara that teaches us that the mekoshesh eitzim did the aveira lishma, so people should keep Shabbos. By arresting him, they were carrying out what his ultimate goal was, so there therefore was no problem of messing up his menuchas Shabbos. May we be zocheh to be keep the Shabbos the correct way!