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23 – Muktzeh

01. The Basis of the Prohibition

The Sages prohibited moving things that are not fitting for Shabbat and that one puts out of his mind (maktzeh mi-da’ato). There are two fundamental reasons for this prohibition: 1) to preserve the atmosphere of Shabbat as a day of holiness and rest. The idea of rest applies to one’s hands as well; they should not move objects or be involved with activities that are not connected to Shabbat; 2) to set up a safeguard so that one will not come to do melakha on Shabbat. We will begin by explaining the first reason.

In addition to the melakhot that are prohibited on Shabbat, the Torah commands us to rest and relax on Shabbat, as it states: “but on the seventh day you shall cease, so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your maidservant and the stranger may be refreshed” (Shemot 23:12). Similarly, we read: “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be a Shabbat of complete rest, holy to the Lord” (Shemot 31:15). In order to fulfill the Torah commandment to rest and relax on Shabbat, the Sages established several ordinances meant to protect the spirit of Shabbat as a day of sanctity and rest. One of them is the prohibition of muktzeh.

If moving items unnecessary for Shabbat were permitted, people might well spend all of Shabbat cleaning and arranging their homes and belongings, thus negating the mitzva to rest. Additionally, the prophets instructed the people that the atmosphere of Shabbat should be different from that of the weekday – one should walk and talk differently. Following this line of thought, the Sages decreed that people should not handle objects and implements on Shabbat in the same way as during the week. This way Shabbat is truly felt by all, including those whose weekday activities do not normally involve any forbidden melakhot. We see that the prohibition of muktzeh is rooted in the words of the Torah and the prophets, while its precise parameters and details are rabbinic (AHS 308:4-5; above, 22:1).

As we said, the second reason is so that one will not end up doing melakha on Shabbat. As with all mitzvot, the Sages instituted safeguards in order to distance people from sin. The prohibition of muktzeh makes it less likely that people will carry objects in the public domain or use muktzeh items to perform melakha (Rambam and Raavad, MT 24:12-13).[1]

The prohibition of muktzeh synchronizes the mind and the hands. Any item that one knows is not fit for use on Shabbat will not be touched by his hands either.

[1]. AHS 308:4-5 suggests that the prohibitions of muktzeh date back to the time of our teacher Moshe. Additionally, the Gemara mentions that in the days of Kings David and Shlomo, the prohibition of muktzeh maĥmat gufo was already in effect (Shabbat 30b). During the time of Neĥemia, the Sages saw that Shabbat desecration was widespread, and they decreed that all implements (kelim) would be considered muktzeh. There were only three kelim, considered necessary for eating, exempted from the prohibition. When the situation improved and people were once again careful about Shabbat laws, the Sages once again permitted the movement of most kelim, though a small number remained banned (Shabbat 123b; SAH 308:17; sections 7-9 below). Rashi and She’iltot maintain that the prohibition of muktzeh is by Torah law, since Rabba’s statement that one must prepare before Shabbat what he needs for Shabbat is based on the verse: “But on the sixth day, they shall prepare what they have brought in” (Shemot 16:5). The implication of the verse is that anything that has not been prepared is muktzeh (Pesaĥim 47b; Beitza 2b). However, almost all Rishonim maintain that Rabba changed his mind and would agree that the prohibition of muktzeh is rabbinic. This is the opinion of Tosafot, Rambam, Ramban, and Rashba. One interpretation of Rashi is that only the most serious types of muktzeh are prohibited by Torah law, while the rest are rabbinic (Pnei Yehoshu’a, Beitza 2b). Alternatively, Ĥatam Sofer explains that Rashi means that muktzeh is prohibited by Torah law only in the case of food items, as we are commanded to prepare food for Shabbat; in contrast, all other muktzeh prohibitions are rabbinic (OĤ 79). In any case, as we wrote in 22:1 based on Ramban, all the laws connected to the spirit of Shabbat are rooted in the Torah, while the Sages established the details of their observance. This is also implied by Rambam. See Harĥavot there.

02. Principles of Muktzeh

As a rule, the Sages forbade moving things on Shabbat that are not fitting for use on Shabbat and that one puts out of his mind (section 10 below). There are several types of muktzeh:

1) Muktzeh maĥmat gufo (inherently muktzeh) – items that are not fitting for any use on Shabbat, such as rocks, trees, sand, animals, and inedible food (as explained below, section 3).

2) Muktzeh maĥmat ĥesron kis (muktzeh because of monetary loss) – valuable objects that one takes care not to handle except for their sole designated use, out of concern that they will be ruined. Since they have no use on Shabbat, one puts them out of his mind (section 4 below).

3) Basis le-davar ha-asur (a base for a forbidden object) – refers to a case where one places a muktzeh item on an object that is not itself muktzeh; since he intends for it to remain there on Shabbat, he puts the “base” out of his mind as well, and it too becomes muktzeh (sections 5-6 below).

4) Kelim she-melakhtam le-isur (implements whose usage is forbidden) – have a special status. Since they are designed to perform forbidden activities, one puts them out of his mind. On the other hand, sometimes they are used for permitted purposes. Therefore, one may not move them for their own sake (e.g., to protect them, le-tzorekh atzmam), but one may move them to use them permissibly (le-tzorekh gufam) or because one needs the space they occupy (le-tzorekh mekomam) (sections 7-9 below).

If a muktzeh item is painfully unpleasant, like a chamber pot (graf shel re’i), the Sages permitted removing it (section 12 below).

The prohibition is to move a muktzeh object manually, but one may touch a muktzeh item without moving it. Therefore, one may spread a cover over a computer, telephone, or other muktzeh items on Shabbat. One may also move muktzeh “from the side” (min ha-tzad). For example, if one needs to pick up an object or food, and in so doing a muktzeh item that is next to the object or food will be moved indirectly, as long as he does not touch the muktzeh item with his hands, it is not prohibited. However, if the muktzeh item needs to be moved for its own protection, one may not move it even min ha-tzad. As long as he is using his hands, even if they have no direct contact with the muktzeh item (for example, if he is using a broom), it is prohibited. However, one may use any other part of the body (be-gufo); for example, one may move an object that is muktzeh using his foot or elbow (section 14 below).

Sometimes it is unclear whether or not a particular item is muktzeh because we lack facts about the situation. For example, if one found fruit under a tree and it is uncertain whether they fell before Shabbat (and are permitted) or on Shabbat (and are muktzeh), we are stringent and consider it muktzeh (Beitza 24b; SA 325:5). In contrast, if there is a halakhic disagreement about whether an item is muktzeh, the law follows the lenient position (Beit Yosef 279:4; SHT 309:24).

03. Muktzeh Maĥmat Gufo

Any item that is unfit for any use on Shabbat is muktzeh maĥmat gufo. This means that it is inherently muktzeh; because it is of no use on Shabbat, it is put out of one’s mind, muktzeh. This category includes rocks, animals, coins, straw, dust, trees, leaves, all types of waste, and corpses.

This type of muktzeh may not be moved even if one wants to use the item for a permissible purpose. For example, one may not pick up a rock to use as a door stopper or nutcracker. If one wants to prevent the rock from becoming muktzeh, he must either mentally designate it for the desired purpose before Shabbat or use it for that purpose at least once during the week (SA 308:20, 22).

Sand is muktzeh and may not be used to cover up something disgusting. If the sand has been put in a particular place specifically for this purpose, it is not muktzeh (SA 308:38). Similarly, sand in a sandbox for children is not muktzeh (above, 15:2).

Food that may not currently be eaten, but that one intends to make permissible after Shabbat – such as food from which teruma and ma’aser or ĥalla have not yet been separated – are muktzeh on Shabbat (MT 25:19). However, non-kosher meat that one intends to give to a non-Jew or feed to a dog is not muktzeh (SA 324:7).

Foods that can be eaten under pressing circumstances are not muktzeh. However, if they are not edible at all without being cooked or baked – such as flour, potatoes, beans, raw meat, and raw fish – they are muktzeh. Even though animals can eat them, they are still muktzeh, since normally animals are not given food meant for people.

In pressing circumstances, such as if a freezer has stopped working and the meat and fish inside are likely to spoil, we rely on the opinion that since a dog would eat these foods raw, they are not muktzeh. Accordingly, one may move them into a working freezer.[2]

Animals are muktzeh since they serve no purpose on Shabbat. In a time of need, one may take hold of them and drag them in order to feed or protect them, but one may not pick them up (above 20:3). House pets, which are normally played with and picked up, are not muktzeh (above 20:5).

Food scraps that dogs or cats can eat are not muktzeh. Even if one does not own a cat or dog, there are cats and dogs in town that would be happy to have them. Similarly, bones are not muktzeh, since dogs and cats eat them. However, food scraps that neither man nor animal will eat – such as the nutshells, husks, and fish bones – are muktzeh. Additionally, if food scraps would be eaten by some animals but not by any found locally, they are muktzeh (SA 308:29). Apricot pits that children play with and that were extracted on Shabbat are not muktzeh (see SSK ch. 16 n. 33).

[2]. SA 308:31-32 explains that raw meat is not muktzeh since some people eat meat that way. In contrast, raw fish that people generally do not eat is muktzeh. According to MA and others, raw meat that is soft (such as chicken) is not muktzeh, but raw meat that is hard and inedible is muktzeh. According to Taz (ad loc. 20), if fish is edible by dogs, then even if in practice we do not feed such fish to dogs, it is not muktzeh. See MB and BHL, which incline toward the position of SA. It would seem that nowadays, when there are people who feed dogs meat and fish that people would eat as well, under pressing circumstances one may rely on Taz. This is the opinion of Yalkut Yosef vol. 2, p. 359 and Orĥot Shabbat 19:108.

04. Muktzeh Maĥmat Ĥesron Kis

Valuable items that have no use on Shabbat and that people always take care not to move except for the specific purpose for which they are designed (to ensure the items do not get damaged or lost) are muktzeh maĥmat ĥesron kis. For example, knives designed for ritual slaughter or for leatherworking are muktzeh. Even if one wants to cut his food with them, he may not pick them up (Shabbat 123b, 157a; SA 308:1).

Included in this category of muktzeh are: musical instruments, smartphones, radios, tape recorders, expensive or fragile music players, cameras, and mixers. These may not be used even for a permissible purpose, for example, as a paperweight. Similarly, one may not wrap himself in an expensive piece of fabric that has been set aside for sewing. In contrast, a valuable or fragile item that is frequently used on Shabbat, such as a gold watch, eyeglasses, or a magnifying glass for reading, is not muktzeh.

Other examples of muktzeh maĥmat ĥesron kis are paper money, important business documents, identity cards, credit cards, stamps, bus tickets, parchment to be used by a scribe, and stationery paper that is not used for any other purpose (SSK 20:20).

Wall clocks and valuable pictures, which people are careful not to move so as to avoid possible damage, are included in this category of muktzeh (MB 308:168). Also included are large free-standing closets that people are careful not to move without a good reason, for fear that they will fall apart (MB 308:8). The prohibition here is limited to moving the entire closet; one may open its doors and drawers, as they are meant to be used regularly.

Cups, plates, and clothes that are meant to be sold are muktzeh maĥmat ĥesron kis, since sellers usually insist that no one use them. If a seller does not insist upon this, his wares are not muktzeh. People who sell food generally do not insist that no one eat from their merchandise, and therefore the food in stores and warehouses is not muktzeh (Beit Yosef and Rema 308:1; MB ad loc. 6-7; SA 310:2; MB ad loc. 4).

05. Basis Le-davar Ha-asur and Conscious Placement

If a muktzeh item was placed atop a non-muktzeh item with the intention that it stay there all of Shabbat, then the permitted item becomes muktzeh, as it serves as a basis (base) for a forbidden object. For example, if one placed money on a table, then even though the table is not in itself muktzeh, since he placed muktzeh money on it, the table becomes muktzeh because it is now a basis le-davar ha-asur. In other words, the decision to place money on the table implies consent not to use the table on Shabbat, making the table muktzeh just like the money on it. Even if the money were to fall off during Shabbat, it would not matter; since the table was muktzeh during bein ha-shmashot, it remains muktzeh all of Shabbat (SA 310:7).

In contrast, if one did not intend for the money to stay on the table over Shabbat but simply left it there by mistake, then the table does not become muktzeh, since he did not decide to make it a basis for something muktzeh. Nevertheless, le-khatĥila one should still not move the table while the muktzeh item is on it. Rather, he should tilt the table so that the money falls off and then move the table wherever he wants. However, if the muktzeh item would be damaged if it slid offupon falling to the floor, then one may move the table along with the muktzeh item to a place where the latter can safely be slid off without being damaged. For example, if the muktzeh item is a smartphone, which would likely break if dropped, one may move the table elsewhere. Similarly, if the muktzeh item is a stone, and next to the table are fragile glass items that would likely break if the stone were to fall on them, one may move the table elsewhere (Shabbat 142b; SA 309:4; SA 277:3; section 14 below).

The same applies to a laptop left on top of a book, valuable candlesticks left on a tray, valuable knives left in a case, raw potatoes left in a drawer, or a tzedaka box left on the bima. If these items were intentionally placed there, then whatever they are resting upon becomes a basis le-davar ha-asur and is muktzeh. If they were forgotten there, the base does not become muktzeh.

Sometimes, during the week, one wishes to place something muktzeh in a closet, but because there is no space he puts it on top of clothing in the closet. There is a disagreement whether such a placement renders the clothing muktzeh. Some say that since ultimately the muktzeh was consciously placed atop the clothing, the clothing becomes a basis (Taz). Others maintain that since the person did not intend for the muktzeh to be there specifically, but it simply ended up there, the item of clothing does not become a basis (MA). In practice, when necessary one may be lenient (MB 309:18).[3]

If one finds money or other muktzeh items in his pocket, he may assume they were forgotten there, so his clothes do not become a basis. However, in order that he not continue to carry around muktzeh in his pocket, he should try to shake it out. If he is embarrassed to do so in public, or if he is worried that the muktzeh item will get lost, he may continue to wear this item of clothing until he reaches a place where he can shake out the muktzeh without fear of losing it or embarrassing himself.[4]

[3]. If one intended to place the muktzeh item on a permitted item for only part of Shabbat, according to Rabbeinu Tam it does not become a basis, while according to Rashi it does. SA 309:4 is inclined to be stringent, but in times of necessity one may be lenient (MB ad loc. 21). There is a similar disagreement about the law if the muktzeh item was placed atop an item in the middle of Shabbat (by the owner or with his consent). According to Tosafot, as long as the muktzeh item is there, the base is muktzeh; according to Or Zaru’a, however, it is not muktzeh. According to Rashba and Ran, if one’s intention is that the muktzeh remain there until Shabbat is over, then as long as the muktzeh item is there, the base is muktzeh as well. MB 266:26 follows those who are lenient. See BHL 310:7 s.v. “mateh.”The base becomes a prohibited basis only when it serves the muktzeh upon it; but when the muktzeh item serves the base, it does not become prohibited. Therefore, if one places a rock on a barrel to weigh down its cover and prevent it from opening, or if he places pieces of muktzeh wool on a pot to keep it warm, the barrel or pot does not become muktzeh (SA 259:1; MB ad loc. 9).

[4]. If one intended to leave money in his pocket but decided on Shabbat that he would like to wear the clothing, what is the status of the clothing? If the garment itself is one of the sides of the pocket, as is generally the case with a shirt pocket, then the garment becomes a basis and may not be moved. In contrast, if the pocket is part of a separate lining sewn onto the clothing, as is the case with most pants pockets, the clothing does not become a basis, because the pocket is secondary to the whole garment. Thus, the pants may be moved. However, when possible, one should first shake the muktzeh item out of the pocket, taking care not to put one’s hand in the pocket or touch it from outside in order to shake the muktzeh item out. This is because the pocket itself is muktzeh (Rema 310:7; MB ad loc. 29-30; see SSK ch. 20 n. 275). If a money pouch is tied to an item of clothing, since the pouch is not sewn on, it is not secondary to the clothing, and thus the clothing becomes a basis.

06. More on Basis Le-davar Ha-asur

If an assortment of items have been placed on a tray or table, some muktzeh and some not, the muktzeh status of the tray depends upon which items one considers to be more important. If the muktzeh items are more important, then the tray becomes a basis. If the non-muktzeh items are more important, the tray does not become a basis and is not muktzeh (SA 310:8). For example, let us say the Shabbat candles and the challahs are on the table. If the candlesticks are made of clay, the challahs are more important, and the table may be moved. However, if the candlesticks are silver (which makes them muktzeh maĥmat ĥesron kis), they are more important than the challahs; the table becomes a basis and may not be moved.[5]

If one left a muktzeh item on top of something belonging to his friend, he has not rendered it a basis; as a general rule, one cannot render someone else’s possession forbidden without permission. However, if he acted at his friend’s behest or he knows that his friend wished it to be done, then he has rendered it a basis (Rema 309:4; MB ad loc. 27).

Even when the basis is much more expensive than the muktzeh item placed upon it, it still takes on its muktzeh status, since it serves as its base. However, when the muktzeh item is of no importance compared to the basis on which it was placed, the basis does not become muktzeh. Therefore, if one left small change on a table or bones on a plate, since the muktzeh item is negligible vis-à-vis the table or plate, they do not become a basis. Similarly, if the main function of the basis is not to be a basis – for example, if the door of a closet or refrigerator is attached to drawers that contain muktzeh objects – since the main function of the door is to open the closet or refrigerator and not to be a basis for what is in the drawers, the door does not become a basis (MB 310:31, 277:7; SSK 20:77).

A table that has become a basis may not be moved, but it may be used for eating or studying, as long as it is not moved. One may also expand the table or shorten it, as long as he does not use his hands to move the part of the table that has the muktzeh item on it. If the table has drawers, they may be used as well, as long as the table itself is not moved (Tehila Le-David 310:7; SSK 20:61).

[5]. Some are lenient even if the candlesticks are silver because, in their opinion, candlesticks are merely kelim she-melakhtam le-isur (R. Akiva Eger). One should not rely on this opinion, because silver candlesticks are very expensive and therefore are muktzeh maĥmat ĥesron kis (Ĥazon Ish 44:13; Yalkut Yosef vol. 2, p. 334; Piskei Teshuvot 279:1). Also see SSK 20:61 with n. 242.There is a dispute about the status of the basis of a kli she-melakhto le-isur. Some maintain that the base of a kli she-melakhto le-isur assumes the same status as the kli itself. Therefore, one may move it letzorekh gufo or letzorekh mekomo (Tehila Le-David 308:1). Others maintain that since a kli she-melakhto le-isur is not completely muktzeh, it does not render the base supporting it a basis at all (Yeshu’ot Yaakov; see SSK 20:50). Since muktzeh is a rabbinic law, the halakha follows the more lenient position.

If a desk or table has a drawer that contains muktzeh items of significance, then if the drawer can be completely removed from the table, the desk becomes a basis for the drawer and may not be moved (similar to the case in the previous note of a money pouch tied to clothing). If the drawer cannot be removed from the desk, then it is secondary to it (as a pants pocket is secondary to the pants), and the muktzeh items in the drawer do not render the desk muktzeh. In any case, the drawer itself is muktzeh because it is a basis (MB 310:31).

07. Kelim She-melakhtam Le-isur

Kelim she-melakhtam le-isur are objects normally used for activities that are prohibited on Shabbat. Some examples are hammers, scissors, needles, pliers, and phone books. Since they are designed for things that are prohibited on Shabbat, they are muktzeh. Nevertheless, since they can be used for permissible activities as well, one does not put them out of his mind completely over Shabbat. Therefore, the Sages established an intermediate category for such items. On the one hand, they are muktzeh, and one may not move them even if they were left in a place where they are likely to be damaged or stolen. On the other hand, one may move them in two cases: le-tzorekh gufam or le-tzorekh mekomam (SA 308:3).

Le-tzorekh gufo (pl. “gufam”) means using the kli she-melakhto le-isur to do something permissible, like using a hammer to crack nuts, scissors to open a milk bag, a needle to remove a thorn, pliers to open and shut a faucet whose handle is missing, and a telephone book to look up an address. If the same goal can be attained without using a kli she-melakhto le-isur, it should not be used (MB 308:12).

Le-tzorekh mekomo (pl. “mekomam”) means moving the kli she-melakhto le-isur to use the space it occupies. Thus, if such an object was left on the table one wishes to eat at, the bed he wishes to lie in, or a chair he wishes to sit upon, he may move it. Similarly, if such an item was left on the floor in a spot where people will likely trip over it, one may move it. If the door of a washing machine was left open and is getting in the way, it may be closed. If a kli she-melakhto le-isur makes it difficult to open or close a window, it may be moved.

Once the kli she-melakhto le-isur has been picked up, whether le-tzorekh gufo or le-tzorekh mekomo, one may move it to where it will be safe (SA 308:3; section 15 below).[6]

Other examples of kelim she-melakhtam le-isur are: pens, pencils, pencil sharpeners, paintbrushes, lined paper, accounting forms, sandpaper, carbon paper, candles, matches, nails, and cigarettes.[7]

Some kelim she-melakhtam le-isur, such as an artist’s knives or a diamond cutter’s tools, are considered muktzeh maĥmat ĥesron kis, since their owners are careful not to use them for other purposes. The laws pertaining to them are stricter – they may not be moved even le-tzorekh gufam or le-tzorekh mekomam (see section 4 above).

Electrical appliances such as fans, washing machines, refrigerators, and other appliances with no incandescent filament are considered kelim she-melakhtam le-isur. Electrical appliances with a heating element or incandescent filament, such as light bulbs, heaters, radiators, and warming trays (platas) that were on during bein ha-shmashot on Friday (when Shabbat started) are considered muktzeh maĥmat gufam and may not be moved during Shabbat even le-tzorekh gufam or le-tzorekh mekomam. In contrast, if they were off throughout bein ha-shmashot, they are considered kelim she-melakhtam le-isur and may be moved le-tzorekh gufam or le-tzorekh mekomam.[8]

[6]. Even though one may not move a kli she-melakhto le-isur to prevent it from being damaged or stolen, one may use a halakhic loophole (ha’arama) to accomplish this goal indirectly. In other words, one may pick up the kli initially le-tzorekh gufo or le-tzorekh mekomo and then put it down where it is protected from the elements and from theft (MB 308:16; Yalkut Yosef vol. 2, p. 412).

[7]. In contrast, any item that is not a kli but is used for an activity prohibited on Shabbat, such as firewood, kerosene, bar soap, thick liquid soap, laundry detergent, and shoe polish – is considered muktzeh maĥmat gufo, and thus may not be moved even le-tzorekh gufo or le-tzorekh mekomo (MB 308:34; Orĥot Shabbat 19:7).

[8]. An incandescent filament that was on throughout bein ha-shmashot has the same status as a flame that was lit throughout bein ha-shmashot – it is absolutely muktzeh, as explained in SA 279:1. However, some maintain that an incandescent filament differs from a flame, because flames are not normally moved, whereas devices with incandescent filaments are normally moved. Therefore, according to them, the status of the appliance is that of a kli she-melakhto le-isur (Ĥazon Ish 41:16; Igrot Moshe, OĤ 3:50). Nevertheless, according to most poskim an incandescent filament has the same status as a flame, and the entire appliance is considered secondary and a basis to the filament and thus completely muktzeh (SSK 20:15*; Minĥat Yitzĥak 3:43; Yalkut Yosef vol. 2, pp. 425-426; Orĥot Shabbat 19:181-184). See Harĥavot.

08. Kelim with Both Permitted and Prohibited Uses

The status of kelim used for both permissible and forbidden activities is determined by the majority of their use (Pri Megadim; MB 308:10). Therefore, a pocket knife with scissors is not muktzeh, because most of its blades can be used as cutlery for eating and are not muktzeh, and it is only the scissors that are used primarily for a forbidden activity. Similarly, a wristwatch with a built-in calculator is not muktzeh, because its primary use – telling time – is permitted on Shabbat. In contrast, a cell phone (that is not a smart phone) that displays the time is a keli she-melakhto le-isur, since its main use – as a telephone – is prohibited on Shabbat. Therefore, it may not be moved for its own sake, but it may be moved le-tzorekh gufo – in order to see what time it is (however, he should not carry it around in his pocket for that purpose). It may also be moved le-tzorekh mekomo. Thus, if one wants to use the place where the phone is resting, it may be moved. Similarly, if the phone’s alarm goes off, and the owner wants to move it so the ringing will not disturb his rest, he may do so.

A pot is a kli she-melakhto le-isur, since its primary purpose is for cooking. Nevertheless, when there is food in it, the pot is secondary to the food, and therefore may be moved. Once the food has been removed from the pot, one may remove the pot from the table, even if one does not need the space it is occupying. The reason is that the food waste at the bottom of the pot renders it disgusting, and a disgusting item (graf shel re’i) may be moved (MB 308:20; BHL s.v. “kli”; see section 12 below).

Even if an oven is used to store baking pans and baked goods, since its primary purpose is baking, it is a kli she-melakhto le-isur. Nevertheless, one may open its door to remove food, since this is moving it le-tzorekh mekomo. If one wishes to put food in the oven and keep it there on Shabbat, he may open the door and close it, because this is le-tzorekh gufo (SSK 20:79).

Tefilin are considered a kli she-melakhto le-isur, since one may not wear them on Shabbat and Yom Tov (SA 31:1). Therefore, they may be moved only le-tzorekh gufam or le-tzorekh mekomam. Le-tzorekh gufam would apply if one wishes to put the tefilin on, in the hope that they will protect him from danger. Le-tzorekh mekomam would apply if they are sitting in their bag together with a talit, and one wishes to remove the tefilin in order to get to the talit on Shabbat (Taz; MA). Under pressing circumstances, if the tefilin are in danger of being damaged, they may be moved (MB 31:2; BHL ad loc.).

A flower pot is a kli she-melakhto le-isur, since it is associated with several melakhot – planting, watering, and picking. Thus, it may be moved le-tzorekh gufo – to decorate the table – or le-tzorekh mekomo – to use the place where the flower pot is sitting (see above 19:10).

09. Kelim She-melakhtam Le-heter, Food, and Books

Kelim that are used for permitted purposes (kelim she-melakhtam le-heter), a category that includes tables, chairs, beds, pillows, thermoses, clocks, and brooms, may be moved for any reason, though one may not move them for no reason at all. In Neĥemia’s time, when people failed to observe Shabbat, the Sages decreed that no kelim should be moved at all. When meticulous observance was restored, they permitted moving kelim she-melakhtam le-heter but left the decree in place for moving them for no reason. The idea was for people to pay attention to what they do with their hands on Shabbat. Making sure not to move kelim without a reason keeps people aware of Shabbat and makes it more likely that they will not end up transgressing any Shabbat prohibitions. Furthermore, on Shabbat one aspires to inner peace and restfulness. This includes one’s hands as well – they should be at rest, not busy moving and carrying things unnecessarily.

In contrast, no decree ever limited the movement of food, books, clothes, or jewelry. Because they make Shabbat enjoyable, one may move them even without a reason.

The poskim disagree regarding kelim that are used very frequently, such as cutlery, plates, and cups. According to some, these kelim possess the same halakhic status as food and may thus be moved for no reason. Others maintain that they have the same status as kelim she-melakhtam le-heter, which may not be moved without a reason. Since muktzeh is itself a rabbinic law, the lenient position is the primary one. Le-khatĥila, though, since many poskim are inclined to be stringent, it is preferable to take their opinion into account and to avoid moving cutlery and dishes for no reason.[9]

[9]. According to a beraita in Shabbat 123b, in the time of Neĥemia, when many failed to keep Shabbat, the Sages decreed that all kelim are considered muktzeh (except for three; see below). Once the people returned to meticulous observance, the Sages again permitted moving kelim in a three-step process. Rava explains that the Sages permitted moving a kli she-melakhto le-isur only le-tzorekh gufo and le-tzorekh mekomo, but kelim she-melakhtam le-heter could be moved even in order to prevent their being damaged. According to most Rishonim, this permission to move kelim used for permissible things is limited to situations where there is a reason to move them (such as “from the sun to the shade” to protect them), but one may not move them unnecessarily. This is the opinion of Ran and Magid Mishneh (which derives this position from Rambam), and Rashba is inclined to be stringent as well. Tur and SA 308:4 rule accordingly. However, according to Ra’ah and Ritva, when the Sages permitted moving kelim from the sun to the shade, they also permitted moving them for no reason at all. Aĥaronim recommend being stringent here, following SA.In contrast, all agree that food and books were never decreed muktzeh at all and may be moved even for no reason. This is also the case regarding clothing and jewelry (Ketzot Ha-shulĥan §105, Badei Ha-shulĥan §7 as cited in SSK 20:83).

There is a disagreement about kelim that are regularly used during meals. The first position is that of Rambam (MT 25:1-3), Shlah, Ĥayei Adam 66:3, and Ben Ish Ĥai, Year 2, Miketz 1. According to them, as stated in the Mishna (Shabbat 123b), three kelim were not included in the decree of muktzeh because they were necessary for eating. These three are: a tool for cutting pressed-fig cakes, a spoon to remove scum from the surface of soup, and a small knife left on the table to cut bread and meat. However, other kelim used for eating may not be moved without a reason. The second approach is that of Tosafot (Shabbat 123b, s.v. “miktzo’a”), Rosh, Shiltei Giborim, Tehila Le-David 308:4, Ĥesed La-alafim, and MB 308:23. According to them, the three kelim mentioned in the mishna are only examples of kelim used frequently at meals. In fact, all tableware – cutlery, cups, and plates – have the same status and are not muktzeh at all. R. Ovadia Yosef rules stringently, even forbidding a nervous person from fidgeting with such items in order to calm his nerves (Yalkut Yosef vol. 2, pp. 452-457). Some who are generally stringent about kelim are lenient in this last case. This is the implication of AHS 308:15. SSK 20:83 agrees: “It is permitted for one to move an item if he finds pleasure in occupying himself with it, even if there is no practical purpose.” Orĥot Shabbat ch. 19 n. 108 records a similar ruling in the name of Ĥazon Ish. mia man sis for it, and therefore, is absolutely muktza (SSK 20:15*; Minhat Yitzhak 43: Yalkut

10. An Item that was Muktzeh Throughout Bein Ha-shmashot

If an item was muktzeh throughout bein ha-shmashot on Friday, it remains muktzeh throughout Shabbat, even if the reason it was considered muktzeh no longer applies. Therefore, if one left money on a table before Shabbat, the table becomes muktzeh as a basis le-davar ha-asur. Even if the money falls off the table at some point on Shabbat, the table remains muktzeh, since it was muktzeh during bein ha-shmashot (SA 310:7; section 5 above). Similarly, if an oil lamp or a candle was lit before Shabbat, it may not be moved on Shabbat even after it has burned out, and its leftover oil or wax may not be used. Since it was muktzeh during bein ha-shmashot, it is muktzeh for the whole day (SA 279:1; MB ad loc. 1). So too, if a valuable item that was muktzeh maĥmat ĥesron kis broke into usable pieces during Shabbat, the pieces remain muktzeh, since the item was muktzeh during bein ha-shmashot (MB 308:35 following MA 308:19).

Nothing is muktzeh unless it meets two conditions:

1) The object was not fit for use during bein ha-shmashot on Friday.

2) One has put the idea of using it out of his mind.

The Talmud’s classic example is figs and grapes that were left to dry on the muktzeh (an open space in a back yard). During the drying process, they are inedible because they are fermenting, so one puts them out of his mind. Even if the drying process is completed on Shabbat and they become edible, since they were muktzeh at bein ha-shmashot, they remain muktzeh for all of Shabbat.

However, if only one of these conditions is met, the item is not muktzeh for all of Shabbat. For example, one may have left wheat on the ground to take root, and has put it out of his mind. Since in fact the wheat was still edible during bein ha-shmashot, it does not become muktzeh, and may be picked up on Shabbat and eaten (SA 310:2).

Similarly, if one knows that an item that was unusable during bein ha-shmashot will become usable on Shabbat, he does not truly put it out of his mind. Therefore, it does not become muktzeh. For example, if a pot is on the plata when Shabbat starts, even if the food is inedible at that point, nevertheless since one knows that it will be ready to eat later, he does not put it out of his mind. Similarly, if damp clothes were hung out to dry before Shabbat, even though they are not wearable during bein ha-shmashot, as long as the climate is such that they will definitely dry over the course of Shabbat, one does not put them out of his mind. Therefore, one may move them once they are dry (Levushei Serad; SSK 22:11).[10]

[10]. Why are a cooking pot and a burning lamp treated differently? A pot does not become muktzeh, because one does not especially want the food to cook during bein ha-shmashot. He would be happy if it had finished cooking beforehand. In contrast, a lamp remains muktzeh throughout Shabbat because one does want it to give off light during bein ha-shmashot. Since he puts the lamp out of his mind during that time, it stays muktzeh all of Shabbat (SA 279:1). Interestingly, if one has in mind to use the leftover oil after the lamp burns out, then since it is clear that the candle will go out, the remaining oil is not muktzeh (SA 279:4). However, according to Rema, once the lamp became muktzeh during bein ha-shmashot, it may not be moved all day, and one’s intentions are irrelevant.MB 308:63 states that clothes that were wet during bein ha-shmashot are muktzeh for all of Shabbat. Many explain that he is referring to a case where it is not certain that they will dry over the course of Shabbat. In contrast, if it is clear that they will dry, MB would agree that they are not muktzeh (Minĥat Shlomo 1:10:2, n. 4; Minĥat Yitzĥak 1:81). Alternatively, some explain that the clothes remain muktzeh because there is a concern that people will end up wringing out the clothes to dry them, which is prohibited on Shabbat (Az Nidberu 1:5). In any case, in practice if it is clear that the clothes will dry on Shabbat, they may be moved (Livyat Ĥen §37; Orĥot Shabbat ch. 19 n. 563 in the name of Ĥazon Ish). See Harĥavot.

If pieces of fruit were still attached to their tree during bein ha-shmashot, and then fell off during Shabbat, they are muktzeh for all of Shabbat because they were not fit for use during bein ha-shmashot. It is assumed that one puts them out of his mind; had he wanted to use them on Shabbat, he would have picked them before Shabbat began (SA 322:3; MB ad loc. 7). Additionally, the Sages made a special decree against eating fruits that fall off on Shabbat, to ensure that no one would end up picking them on Shabbat (Beitza 3a; MB 325:22). Therefore, even if it is known before Shabbat that a non-Jew is planning to pick the fruit on Shabbat, in which case they are not muktzeh, they nevertheless may not be eaten because of this decree (SHT ad loc. 26).

In contrast, if a kosher animal was alive during bein ha-shmashot, and was slaughtered on Shabbat to feed a dangerously sick person, a healthy person may eat from the fresh meat. We do not say that it was muktzeh during bein ha-shmashot, as we do with the fruit. The difference is that while anyone can pick fruit (and would have done so before Shabbat if they were interested), not everyone knows how to slaughter. Thus, even though the owner did not slaughter the animal, that does not mean he put it out of his mind (SA 318:2; MB ad loc. 8).

11. Making an Item Unsuitable for Its Normal Usage on Shabbat

One may not cause an object to become unsuitable for its normal usage (levatel kli me-heikhano) on Shabbat. Doing so is akin to demolishing something (Soter) on Shabbat. Therefore, if oil is dripping from a lamp, one may not put a container underneath it to collect the oil. Since the lamp and its oil are muktzeh, the container will become forbidden to move, and thus it will no longer be fit for normal use on Shabbat. If one wants to ensure that the dripping oil does not make a mess, he should put something under it before Shabbat. Similarly, one may not put a container under a chicken in which it can lay its eggs. Since an egg laid on Shabbat is muktzeh, the container with an egg in it will become forbidden to move (Shabbat 42b; SA 310:6, 265:3).

However, there is a way around this problem. Before placing the receptacle beneath the lamp or the chicken, one may place an item that is more important than the oil or egg. One may then move the container for the sake of that non-muktzeh item (MB 265:6).

If one is worried about sparks flying from a lamp, he may put a kli underneath it to collect the sparks. Because sparks are insubstantial and go out almost immediately, the kli may subsequently be moved. It is not rendered unsuitable for its normal use. However, he should not put water into the kli, because that will extinguish the sparks more quickly (Shabbat 47b; SA 265:4).

Making pillows and blankets wet is forbidden, because doing so makes them unsuitable for their normal use (SA 305:19). It is also forbidden to make an item of clothing so dirty that it is no longer wearable without washing. If liquid spilled on the floor, one may not use clothing to mop it up; by doing so, one is making the clothing unfit to wear. However, one may use a rag to mop up the spill, since this is the intended use of the rag. It is also permissible for many people to dry their hands on a towel, even if it will eventually become too wet to use any longer. This is because they are not making it unusable; rather, they are using it for its intended purpose. Similarly, one may put a garbage bag into a garbage can on Shabbat and put garbage in it, even though doing so gives the bag the muktzeh status of the garbage inside it. This is not considered rendering it unusable, as holding garbage is the purpose of the garbage bag (Levush 265:3; Shulĥan Shlomo 308:17:7; Yalkut Yosef vol. 2, p. 480; Orĥot Shabbat 2:19:329).

One may place a box in front of chicks as a step stool so that they can go back and forth from their coop. Even though animals are muktzeh, this is not considered making the box unusable, since he can shoo the chicks away from it whenever he wants. However, while they are on the box, he may not move it (Shabbat 128b; SA 308:39).

12. The Permissibility of Removing Filthy Items – “Graf Shel Re’i

Even though a truly disgusting item – such as a graf shel re’i (a receptacle that contains excrement), a dead mouse, or food scraps – is muktzeh maĥmat gufo, the Sages permitted removing it for the sake of human dignity. They did not encumber this removal by requiring that it be done with a shinui or min ha-tzad. Rather, one may remove it directly. This is all on condition that the item is in a place where it is disturbing people. However, if it is in a place where it is not bothering anyone, it may not be moved (Beitza 36b; Shabbat 121b; SA 308:34).

The details of this law depend on how disgusting the item is and where it is located. Inside one’s home, even if an item is only slightly dirty – such as a pot with food remnants, a cup with a little wine left over, or an oil lamp covered in soot – as long as it causes discomfort, it is considered a graf shel re’i and may be removed. This is also the case in a yard if people are sitting nearby. However, if there are no people nearby, one may not remove it. If there is excrement in the street or in a yard where people walk, since it is truly repulsive, it may be removed even if no one is sitting nearby. However, if it is in a backyard that almost no one walks through, removing it is forbidden. If there is a dead animal giving off a horrible stench, then even if no one walks by it may be removed (MB 308:131; BHL 308:4 s.v. “keli”; Rema 279:2; MB ad loc. 5).

Even though shells and pits are muktzeh, one may clear them from the table with one’s hands and throw them in the garbage. This may even be done in two steps: first piling them on the side of the table, then collecting them to deposit in the trash (some say that this is the basis for permission to sweep on Shabbat; see n. 14 below).

One who is cracking seeds with his mouth may remove each shell from his mouth by hand and either throw it away or pile it on a plate and then dispose of it later. However, he should not keep them in his hands in order to throw them out later (SSK 20:26). Similarly, one may empty out the refuse that accumulates in a sink strainer.

A garbage can that has garbage in it is muktzeh. However, if it is unpleasant to have a full garbage can, it may be taken out (on condition that there is an eruv). If one lives somewhere that has a dumpster (as opposed to private garbage cans), the garbage pail may be emptied into the dumpster and then brought back inside (SSK 22:48).[11]

[11]. One may not turn something into a graf shel re’i in order to make it permissible to move. If he did so, however, be-di’avad it may be moved. For a great need or to prevent loss, one may to turn something into a graf shel re’i in order to be permitted to move it (SA 308:36-37). Therefore, if a roof is leaking dirty water (which is muktzeh as it is unusable even for washing), or if an air conditioner is dripping clean water (which is muktzeh as it is nolad, a new creation), one may not set out a bucket to collect the water. Doing so would make the bucket unusable, since one may not move an item that contains a muktzeh item within it. While it is true that one may remove the dirty water because it is a graf shel re’i, as we said, le-khatĥila we do not turn something into a graf shel re’i to make an item disgusting for this purpose (Rambam; SA 338:8; MA ad loc. 12). Nevertheless, in a case of great need, in order to prevent dirtiness or damage, one may rely on those who permit placing a bucket to collect the water. Since the water is leaking in any case, and since one may dump the water out of the bucket because of graf shel re’i, the bucket has not become unusable. Therefore, one may pour the water out of the bucket before it fills up, in order to avoid dirtying the floor (Tur §338, Taz ad loc. 4; Ĥayei Adam; BHL ad loc., s.v. “asur”).

13. Broken Kelim and Worn-Out Clothing

As we have seen (section 3), any item that is not suitable for Shabbat use is muktzeh maĥmat gufo. We must now clarify at what point an item is considered unusable and therefore muktzeh. As a rule, there are two factors that affect the status of such an object: its objective state, and the owner’s subjective attitude toward it. We will now explain.

If one threw out perfectly good clothes or kelim before Shabbat, they do not become muktzeh even though he is their owner. Since his personal attitude differs from that of most people, it is disregarded by halakha. Nevertheless, if before Shabbat he threw out used clothing and kelim, they become muktzeh even if some people would use such items. Since the owner threw them out, and they are used, they become muktzeh (SA 308:12; MB ad loc. 51; Rema 308:7). But if he threw them out on Shabbat, they do not become muktzeh. Since they were not muktzeh when Shabbat began (as they were still somewhat fit for use), they do not lose their status over the course of Shabbat (MB 308:32).

If a kli breaks on Shabbat and the broken parts are still usable, the parts are not muktzeh. The broken pieces are only muktzeh if there is no possibility of using them. Nevertheless, if there is a danger that people may be hurt by the broken pieces, one may even use his hands to clear them away. If a kli broke before Shabbat and the owner threw away the broken pieces, then even if they could be used on Shabbat, they are muktzeh (SA 308:6-7; MB ad loc. 48; SSK 20:42).

If one part of a kli fell off (whether on Shabbat or before Shabbat) but it can be reattached, then even though it is not usable over Shabbat, it is not muktzeh. Just as one may move the kli, one may move the part that broke off, because it is still considered part of the kli. Therefore, if a beaded necklace broke, since one intends to restring the beads, they are not muktzeh (on condition that there is no concern that a knot will be tied on Shabbat to hold the necklace together). Similarly, false teeth or crowns that fall out are not muktzeh, since one intends to put them back. A button that falls off an item of clothing is not muktzeh either, since it will be replaced. Even though a new button is muktzeh since there is no use for it on Shabbat, in this case the button is not muktzeh, since it has already been part of the item of clothing.[12]

In contrast, if an item was attached to the ground and then broke on Shabbat, it is muktzeh because nobody plans to move something attached to the ground. Therefore, if a door in a house falls off on Shabbat, one may not move it (Shabbat 122b; SA 308:8-10; MB ad loc. 35).[13]

If disposable dishes have been used but could still be reused, they are not muktzeh. However, once they have been thrown into a filthy garbage can, they are muktzeh. Even if they have not been thrown away, they are muktzeh if they are so dirty that they would generally not be reused. However, if they are in a place where their filthiness disturbs people, they may be cleared away, as they are considered a graf shel re’i (as explained in section 12; SSK 20:42).

If one dried his hands with paper towels and then put them into the paper recycling bin, they are still not muktzeh if people sometimes reuse them to wipe up spills. However, if the paper towels were deposited in a regular dirty garbage can, from which people generally would not retrieve them, they are muktzeh.

[12]. This is the approach of Minĥat Shabbat 88:2; Az Nidberu 7:46; Menuĥat Ahava 1:12:40; and Orĥot Shabbat 19:167. SSK 15:72 and Yalkut Yosef vol. 2, p. 394, agree, but conclude that it is good to be stringent and avoid carrying a button that fell off because there are Rishonim (Me’iri, R. Yonatan of Lunel) who maintain that the only reason that one may move the detached door of a kli is that it can still be used (to cover something), not that it retains its status of part of the kli. If so, a button that cannot be used at all on Shabbat is muktzeh.We should add that if there is a concern that one might end up taking the part of the kli that fell off on Shabbat and reattaching it in a permanent way, thus transgressing Boneh, the Sages forbade moving the broken part. For example, if the leg of a bench fell off, one may not move the broken bench on Shabbat in order to rest it on a different bench, because he may end up fixing it. However, if it would be difficult to fix the kli, or if it has already been used in its broken state before Shabbat, we are not concerned that anyone will forget and fix it on Shabbat, so one may move it, as explained in SA 313:8 and Rema 308:16; above, 15:6.

[13]. Other similar examples include a door handle, a faucet handle, or a toilet seat that fell off. In each of these cases, the item may only be used on Shabbat if two conditions are fulfilled: first, it must be possible to replace the broken part in a clearly temporary way, so that it can still be used for its designated purpose; and second, there must be no reason to be concerned that one will reattach it properly on Shabbat. Some further details about a door handle are explained in 15:3 above. See also Ĥut Shani, 2:36:4:7, 9.

Another example is if the door of a cabinet or closet fell off. If the cabinet is small (its volume is less than forty se’ah, which is an ama by an ama by three amot), then if the door will eventually be reattached, it is not muktzeh (Rema 314:1; SSK 20:45 and n. 164). However, if the cabinet or closet is larger than forty se’ah, its door is considered the same as the door of a house, and it is muktzeh. Orĥot Shabbat ch. 19 n. 236 suggests that if a piece of furniture is larger than forty se’ah but is occasionally moved (like the bima on which the Torah scroll is read), when it comes to muktzeh it is considered a kli (rather than a house).

14. The Permissibility of Moving Muktzeh Indirectly or with the Body

The main prohibition of muktzeh consists of taking a muktzeh item in one’s hand, the way it is normally moved. The more one deviates from the normal manner of taking an object, the more lenient the law becomes. There are two types of change (shinui) that can be used: min ha-tzad (indirectly, literally “from the side”) and be-gufo (using a part of the body besides the hand. One may move a muktzeh item indirectly, but only for a permitted activity. One may move a muktzeh item with his body even for the sake of the muktzeh item or a prohibited activity. We will now explain:

Min ha-tzad is accomplished by hand, but indirectly. For example, one may pick up fruit covered in straw or dirt in a way that causes them to move. Since the muktzeh items are moved indirectly, through the permitted action of moving the fruit, and the purpose is a permitted activity – eating the fruit – there is no prohibition (Shabbat 123a; SA 311:8-9). Similarly, if one wants to study Torah from a book that has a pen lying on it (assuming the pen was forgotten there, so the book is not a basis; see section 5 above), he may pick up the book even though the pen will then fall off. Likewise, if one accidentally left coins on a pillow and he now wants to sleep on it, he may lift up the pillow so that the coins will fall off. If one accidentally left a rock on top of a barrel and now wants wine from the barrel, he may tip the barrel and cause the rock to fall off. If the barrel was packed tightly among other barrels so that it cannot be tipped over, or if tipping it would break the barrel next to it, he may lift up the barrel while the rock is on top of it and move it to where he can slide the rock off without causing damage (Shabbat 142b; SA 309:4).

One may pick up a broom and use it to sweep up dust or leaves, which are muktzeh. This is because one is doing it indirectly, not with his hands but with a broom, for a permitted purpose – so that the place will be clean. Similarly, if one wants to use a table, he may use a knife to move away shells (that do not have the status of graf she re’i) that have been left on the table (Taz 308:18; MB ad loc. 115).[14]

If one wants to move the muktzeh item for its own sake, to protect it, one may not move it even indirectly. For example, if money was left on a chair and one is concerned that the money will be stolen, he may not tip the chair so that the money will fall off and become hidden.

In contrast, one may use part of his body to move the money and conceal it. For the entire prohibition of moving muktzeh on Shabbat is to do so in the normal manner, with one’s hand. The Sages did not prohibit moving muktzeh with the body. This includes moving with one’s foot, his arm, his breath, or any other limb other than the hand (SA 311:8; Rema 308:3). Therefore, if money is lying on the ground, one may move it with his foot to conceal it. Similarly, if an item is lying on the ground and is at risk of being stepped on and broken, he may use his foot to move it out of harm’s way. So, too, if a drawer has become a basis but has an item in it which one needs, he may open the drawer with part of his body and remove the necessary item. One may sit on a stone or on the wood of a construction site even though sitting down causes it to move (MB 308:82). Similarly, one may lean on a car, on condition that doing so will not set off the alarm.

[14]. It is true that some are stringent, maintaining that since a broom is taken in order to move muktzeh objects, moving with a broom is considered direct, not min ha-tzad (SAH 308:60; Ĥayei Adam §67 and Nishmat Adam ad loc. 6; Ĥazon Ish 47:14). Nevertheless, since muktzeh is a rabbinic law, the lenient ruling is primary. This is the approach of SSK 22:37-38 and Yalkut Yosef vol. 2, pp. 326-327. Besides, there are additional reasons to justify leniency in the case of sweeping – e.g., because what is being swept is considered a graf shel re’i or because it is insignificant. See Harĥavot.The Aĥaronim disagree whether one may indirectly move something muktzeh in order to use the muktzeh object itself for a permitted activity. For example, may one move a tray with a burning lamp on it in order to benefit from the lamplight (assuming that the tray also has a non-muktzeh item on it that is more important than the lamp, and thus the tray is not a basis, as we explained in section 6)? Beit Meir 276:3 and Pri Megadim (Mishbetzot Zahav 308:18) are lenient; it is indirect movement for a permitted activity. However, SAH 376:10 is stringent; since the primary purpose of moving the tray is to use the lamp, the activity is not permitted, as it constitutes moving min ha-tzad for the purpose of something forbidden. SSK ch. 20 n. 194 states that one who wishes to be lenient has an opinion on which to rely.

One may move part of a muktzeh item for a permitted activity. For example, one may adjust the vents of an air conditioner or the dials on a wall clock, even though the clock is muktzeh maĥmat ĥesron kis, according to SSK 28:26, n. 55. Orĥot Shabbat ch. 19 n. 466, disagrees and prohibits doing so.

15. If One Picked up Muktzeh Permissibly or Mistakenly, and the Status of a Minor

As we have seen, one may move a kli she-melakhto le-isur for a permitted purpose (le-tzorekh gufo) or for its space (le-tzorekh mekomo). Thus, one may take a hammer to crack nuts. After use, one is not required to drop it. Rather, he may return the hammer to its proper place. If there were scissors on the table where one now wants to eat, he need not drop them as close to the table as possible, but may put them away. Since he picked them up in a permitted fashion, he may carry them to their proper place.

Similarly, if one finished eating fruit and is left holding peels or pits that are muktzeh maĥmat gufo, he does not need to drop them. Since they reached his hand permissibly, he may take them where he wants.

In contrast, once one has already put down a muktzeh item that he had been permitted to hold, it resumes its muktzeh status. At that point, even if it is not in its proper place, he may no longer move it (SA 308:3; MB 506:29). Similarly, if one forgot that an item is muktzeh and picked it up, he must put it down immediately (MB 308:13).

If one is carrying a muktzeh item that he had been permitted to hold, le-khatĥila he should not shift the object from one hand to the other. This is because some maintain that moving the item to his other hand is like putting it down, in which case he may no longer move it. Be-di’avad, if he did shift the muktzeh item to his other hand, he may continue going to the place where he wants to put it down.[15]

If a child is younger than the age of ĥinukh (see ch. 24), one may hold his hand and walk with him, even if he is holding something muktzeh in his other hand. As long as the adult is not carrying the child, the adult is not considered carrying the muktzeh item. However, one may not pick up a child who is holding something muktzeh. Rather, the adult should first shake the muktzeh item out of the child’s hand, and then pick him up. This shaking is permitted, because it is min ha-tzad for a permitted purpose, i.e., to pick up the child. If the child is crying hysterically and will not calm down unless someone picks him up along with the muktzeh item he is holding, one may pick him up. As we will see (24:6), the Sages permitted transgressing rabbinic enactments for the sake of a sick child, and a child who is crying hysterically is liable to become weak like a sick person. However, if the object the child is holding is valuable, one may not pick him up, because we are concerned that if the object falls, the adult will end up picking it up and carrying it (Shabbat 141b; SA 309:1).[16]

[15]. Those who prohibit continuing to carry after shifting a muktzeh object from one hand to the other include Tosefet Shabbat, introduction to §308; Ben Ish Ĥai, Year 2, Miketz 3; Kaf Ha-ĥayim 308:27; Az Nidberu 9:33; Menuĥat Ahava 1:13:2. Those who permit include Pri Megadim, Mishbetzot Zahav 446:2; Torat Shabbat 308:4; SSK ch. 20 n. 27 is inclined this way as well.According to MA 308:7, if one mistakenly picked up a kli she-melakhto le-isur, he may put it down wherever he wants. According to most poskim, though, the status of a kli she-melakhto le-isur is the same as that of other types of muktzeh – he should put it down immediately, wherever he is (Bi’ur Ha-Gra 266:12; MB ad loc. 13; SSK 22:34).

[16]. Some say that one may not even hold the hand of a child and walk with him if the child is carrying an expensive muktzeh item in his other hand. Others maintain that as long as one does not carry the child, it is permitted (Ramban). Under pressing circumstances, one may be lenient (BHL 309:1).

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