06. Muktzeh Stringencies on Yom Tov

There are certain cases where the Sages were more stringent about muktzeh on Yom Tov than on Shabbat. They worried that permission to do melakha for okhel nefesh might lead people to unwarranted leniency on Yom Tov. To counterbalance this, they enacted certain stringencies regarding muktzeh, in the hope that this would encourage people to be careful, clarify each law, and determine which actions are forbidden on Yom Tov and which are permitted.

It is generally agreed upon in practice that for nolad (a new creation), we are more stringent on Yom Tov than on Shabbat. Items that are entirely new, such as ashes formed by wood that burned on Shabbat, are muktzeh on both Shabbat and Yom Tov (SA 498:15; MB ad loc. 77). However, if the nolad is not entirely new – for example, if one has bones, which are fit to feed animals, left on his plate after eating meat – it is not muktzeh on Shabbat. On Yom Tov, however, they are muktzeh because they are nolad in a certain sense: when the meat was prepared for human consumption, the bones were incorporated into the meat and secondary to it. But by the time the person finished eating, something new had been “created” – bones that are fit for animal consumption (MB 495:17). Therefore, on Shabbat one may clear off the bones left after eating, and many people even give them to their dogs or cats. However, on Yom Tov these bones are considered muktzeh and may not be given to animals. Nevertheless, they may be cleared from the table and thrown out, as they fall into the same category as shells, pits, and anything else that people find repugnant.[8]

The poskim disagree as to how far the muktzeh stringency extends on Yom Tov. Some say this stringency applies only to nolad (Rosh; Rema). Others maintain that it includes items which a person did not entirely put out of his mind, but which he also did not intend to use. On Shabbat such items are not muktzeh, as he did not put them out of his mind. On Yom Tov, though, these poskim are more stringent and rule that such ambiguous items are muktzeh, since one did not explicitly plan to use them (Rif; Rambam; SA 495:4).

For example, let us say one has a dairy cow or a laying hen which he decides on Yom Tov that he wants to slaughter. According to the lenient position, they are not muktzeh, because the owner did not explicitly put them out of his mind. According to those who are stringent, they are muktzeh, since before Yom Tov he was not planning to slaughter them (Shabbat 19b; MB 495:15). If a cow becomes dangerously ill, and all the meat will be lost if it is not slaughtered on Yom Tov (because the meat of an animal that died a natural death is not kosher), then even those who are usually stringent may rely on the lenient opinion and slaughter the cow on Yom Tov, since this is a case of pressing need (Ḥazon Ovadia, p. 19).

The same applies to a wholesaler who has food in his warehouse that he was not planning to use on Shabbat or Yom Tov. If a need arises on Shabbat to take from this food, it is not muktzeh, since he did not explicitly put it out of his mind. Those who are lenient would apply this ruling to Yom Tov as well. However, according to those who are stringent, since he was not explicitly planning to use this food, it is muktzeh on Yom Tov. Nevertheless, if a storekeeper frequently takes products from his store on Shabbat, he may do so on Yom Tov as well, since in this situation the products are not considered muktzeh at all (MB 495:15; BHL ad loc. s.v. “sagi”; SA 517:1).[9]


[8]. The permissibility of clearing off the table is based on the principle of graf shel re’i. Once the items are already being removed, they may be given to animals (Peninei Halakha: Shabbat 23:12). However, if the bones have other unwanted items mixed in with them, one may not separate the parts. All of it needs either to be thrown in the garbage or placed in the yard.

According to several Aḥaronim, one should be careful not to place bones on a plate, because doing so makes the plate unsuitable for its normal use (mevatel kli me-heikhano). They recommend that something more important than the bones be left on the plate, in which case the plate may certainly be moved (Hilkhot Mo’adim 6:21; Ḥazon Ovadia, p. 27). This is a problematic claim, though, because we have seen that it is permitted to move muktzeh when it is le-tzorekh okhel nefesh. Thus, if one needs the plate, he may remove the bones, in which case he has not made it unsuitable for its normal use. This accords with what Tehila Le-David states in the context of Shabbat (266:7). It permits placing a kli she-melakhto le-isur on top of a regular kli, stating that doing so does not make it unsuitable for its normal use.

[9]. In the Gemara, R. Yehuda and R. Shimon disagree about certain laws of muktzeh. R. Yehuda maintains that the only items that a person may move are those which he thought he would want to use on Shabbat. Items that he did not explicitly think about are muktzeh, even though he did not specifically put them out of his mind. In contrast, R. Shimon maintains that the only items that are muktzeh are those which one explicitly decided not to use. Items that he did not specifically think he would use on Shabbat are not muktzeh. With regard to the laws of Shabbat, it is generally accepted that we rule in accordance with R. Shimon. Thus, food items designated for sale are not muktzeh, since one did not put them out of his mind explicitly (SA 310:2). However, Yom Tov is different. Beit Hillel says in the Mishna (Beitza 2a) that “An egg laid on Yom Tov may not be eaten,” and the Gemara suggests a number of possible reasons for this. One of them, R. Naḥman’s explanation, is that the prohibition is on account of muktzeh. Specifically, even though on Shabbat we are lenient and follow R. Shimon, this is because the laws of Shabbat are stricter, so we are less concerned that people will belittle Shabbat. In contrast, on Yom Tov melakha is permitted le-tzorekh okhel nefesh, so the Sages decided to follow R. Yehuda’s stricter opinion for muktzeh (ibid. 2b). There are other explanations in the Gemara for Beit Hillel’s statement. In practice, there is a disagreement among the Rishonim and Aḥaronim. According to one approach, on Yom Tov the halakha follows R. Yehuda and is stringent concerning muktzeh (Rif; Rambam; Ramban; Rashba: Ra’ah; SA 505:4). According to the other approach, even on Yom Tov the halakha follows R. Shimon and is permissive (Behag; Ri; Rabbeinu Tam; Rosh; Rema). When it comes to nolad, however, Rema agrees that we are more stringent on Yom Tov than on Shabbat, in accordance with the opinion of Rabbeinu Ḥananel and Rosh (Beitza 5:14). The Aḥaronim who follow Rema’s approach to muktzeh agree with this as well.