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Peninei Halakha > Festivals > 06 - Hotza’ah and Muktzeh

06 – Hotza’ah and Muktzeh

01. The Melakha of Hotza’ah

Hotza’ah is one of the 39 categories of forbidden labor on Shabbat. It prohibits transporting an object from a private domain (reshut ha-yaḥid) to a public domain (reshut ha-rabim) or vice versa, or transporting an object more than four amot in a public domain. In contrast, on Yom Tov, Hotza’ah is included in the melakhot permitted for food preparation. When preparing a Yom Tov meal, it is very useful to be able to carry food, cutlery, and dishes from one home to another (MT, Laws of Yom Tov 1:6).

We have already seen (3:3 above) that once a melakha is permitted (“mitokh”) for purposes of food preparation (le-tzorekh okhel nefesh), it is also permitted for other purposes that bring joy or benefit on Yom Tov. Thus, one may go for a walk in the public domain while pushing a baby carriage, and one may carry a Torah scroll or lulav in the public domain (Beitza 12a, following the opinion of Beit Hillel).

Nevertheless, it is forbidden to carry rocks or other objects that are not needed for the enjoyment of Yom Tov. Therefore, one who enters the public domain must first make certain that there is nothing unnecessary in his pockets. Although some permit carrying on Yom Tov even when no purpose is served (Rashi), the halakha follows most poskim, who maintain that there is a Torah prohibition upon carrying on Yom Tov in such cases (3:3 above and n. 2). It is also forbidden to carry something on Yom Tov for a non-Jew, for an animal, or for weekday purposes, because all of the melakhot that are permitted on Yom Tov are permitted only in order to increase our enjoyment of the day. Accordingly, one may not carry something for someone or something that has no mitzva to enjoy Yom Tov (3:5 above).

If an object may not be carried on Yom Tov, it may also not be carried in a karmelit (a semipublic domain, rabbinically defined as a public domain; Tosafot, Ketubot 7a s.v. “mitokh”; MB 518:8). Nevertheless, an eruv is effective on Yom Tov just as it is on Shabbat, so in a place enclosed by an eruv, objects may be carried even if they are unnecessary on Yom Tov or are meant for the use of a non-Jew or an animal.[1]

[1]. In order for carrying to be permitted in public, the area must be surrounded by a wall or gate (if the area is a reshut ha-rabim, a public domain according to Torah law), or by tzurot ha-petaḥ (if the area is a karmelit), as explained in Peninei Halakha: Shabbat 21:8. In addition to the area being enclosed, an eruv ḥatzerot is required as well. This involves setting aside two meals’ worth of food for all the area’s residents, turning them all into partners, as is explained in Peninei Halakha: Shabbat 29:5. However, there is a disagreement as to whether this is necessary for Yom Tov. According to Rif, Rambam, Rosh, and SA 528:1, one need not set aside food for the eruv. According to Rashba and Rema 518:1, one is required to set aside food, but one does not recite the blessing when doing so, since there is a doubt as to whether the action is required (SHT 528:1). Nowadays, the common practice is to set aside the food for the eruv ḥatzerot on the Shabbat before Pesaḥ and leave it in the same place throughout the year. The person setting it aside states that it is to serve as an eruv for “all upcoming Shabbatot and holidays.” In this way, the doubt is avoided (MB 518:10, 528:1).

02. Permissible Carrying

As we have seen, even in a place with no eruv, one may carry items needed for food preparation from one domain to another. Once carrying is permitted for okhel nefesh, it is permitted for other reasons as well, as long as it contributes to the enjoyment of Yom Tov. Thus, one may carry a watch in his pocket so that he will know what time it is or sunglasses in his pocket so he will have them if necessary. A woman may go out to the public domain wearing jewelry that she plans to show her friends.

Carrying is also permitted if it will contribute to spiritual enjoyment. One may carry a lulav in order to fulfill the mitzva of shaking it. He may even carry in order to enhance a mitzva. For example, one who already shook his lulav before praying may still carry it to the synagogue in order to shake it during the recitation of Hallel. One may also carry a shofar on Rosh Ha-shana or a lulav on Sukkot to allow women to fulfill these mitzvot (SAH 589:2; SSK ch. 20 n. 5, disagreeing with Sha’agat Aryeh §§106-107).

Those going on an outing with a baby may put the baby in a carriage and take along a bottle, a pacifier, and toys that the child enjoys. They may also take clothing that the baby might need, such as a sweater in case it gets cold out, or a change of clothing in case the baby gets dirty.

An adult may also carry an item of clothing that he might need, such as a sweater. But he may not take clothing that he will not need. One may also take tissues that might be needed.

The poskim disagree about the case where one needs a particular key which is on a key ring with other keys that serve no Yom Tov need. Some maintain that he must detach the needed key, as it is the only one he is permitted to carry. Others say he may carry the entire key ring. Since this disagreement pertains to a rabbinic law, the halakha follows the lenient position.[2]

[2]. We said above that when there is a chance that an item will be needed on Yom Tov, it may be carried, but if there is no chance it will be needed, it may not (MB 518:10; SSK 19:2). Does marbeh be-shi’urim apply? May one increase quantities? As we have seen, it is permissible to add extra water to a pot before placing it on the fire (3:4 above). Similarly, one who needs three tissues may slip an extra one into his pocket. It could be argued that the case of one key needed from a key ring is similar. In fact, some do maintain this and thus permit taking the whole key ring. Nevertheless, others argue that this is not comparable to the case in which marbeh be-shi’urim is permitted: water which is being heated up could be used on Yom Tov, while the additional keys on the key ring will definitely not be used on Yom Tov (Igrot Moshe OḤ 5:35; Hilkhot Mo’adim 5:9). A middle position maintains that while one may not add unnecessary keys to a key ring (just as one may not add water to the pot once it is on the fire), as long as they are already on the key ring, one may take the whole ring without removing the extra keys (SSK ch. 20 n. 14; this position is also attributed to R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and R. Yosef Shalom Elyashiv). The halakha follows the lenient position. There are a number of reasons for this. First, the rationale seems correct. Second, the disagreement is on the rabbinic level; the Hotza’ah in this case is a melakha she-eina tzerikha le-gufa, which according to most poskim is rabbinic. Third, according to Rashi and others (see next note), unnecessary carrying is not prohibited at all (or is prohibited only rabbinically). Fourth, many maintain that nowadays there is no such thing as a reshut ha-rabim as defined by Torah law (and thus an eruv is sufficient to permit carrying). Since most of our communities have an eruv, even the stringent position would admit that the prohibition is rabbinic (Peninei Halakha: Shabbat 21:9 and n. 9). See Harḥavot 6:2:2-3. A car key is muktzeh, so the leniency to carry extra keys would apply only if the other keys on the ring are more significant than the car key.

Let us say one needs to carry a diaper bag or any bag that contains baby paraphernalia as well as muktzeh items. According to the lenient position he may do so, even though he will also be moving the muktzeh, as long as the non-muktzeh items are more important. Since the items were not placed in the bag on Yom Tov, it is considered marbeh be-shi’urim and permitted.

03. House Keys and Safe Keys

Let us say that somebody is going on an outing on Yom Tov and is worried that were he to leave his home unlocked, thieves would come and steal his Yom Tov food. Under these circumstances, he may lock the door and take the keys with him, as this carrying is for a Yom Tov need. Similarly, one may carry the keys for rooms that contain clothing or jewelry which could be worn on Yom Tov.

However, poskim disagree as to whether one who leaves his home may take the key to his safe, if he is afraid that while he is away thieves will steal his money. Some maintain that this is prohibited, as carrying is permitted only for the enjoyment of Yom Tov, but not in order to avoid monetary loss (Rosh; Maharil). Others maintain that alleviating a concern is also considered a Yom Tov need, and therefore one is permitted to carry his safe key (Hagahot Smak; Rema 518:1). In practice, one who wishes to be lenient has an opinion on which to rely. Le-khatḥila, it is better to leave the key with neighbors. If he still wishes to take the key with him, it is preferable to carry it with a shinui, for example in his sock or hat.[3]

In contrast, one may not carry something in the public domain for a non-Jew, even if the non-Jew promises him food in return for his service. This is because there is no direct link between the carrying and the food preparation. Even if the non-Jew threatens to steal his food if the Jew refuses to carry something for him through the public domain, he still may not desecrate Yom Tov for this. This is because doing melakha that is necessary to prepare food or that directly contributes to Yom Tov enjoyment is permissible, but doing a melakha that has an indirect link to acquiring or safeguarding food is not (R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach in SSK ch. 19 n. 17).

[3]. The permissibility of carrying a safe key if necessary is based on the fact that according to many, nowadays there is no such thing as a reshut ha-rabim as defined by Torah law (see Peninei Halakha: Shabbat 21:8-9). Thus, the uncertainty pertains to a case of rabbinic law. When there is a doubt concerning a rabbinic law, the halakha follows the lenient position. Additionally, Rashi, Rif, and Rambam maintain that carrying unnecessarily on Yom Tov is not prohibited (or at worst is prohibited rabbinically; see above ch. 3 n. 2). When there is an eruv, even those who do not rely on the eruv on Shabbat (because of the opinion that a highway 16 amot wide qualifies as a public domain by Torah law) can be lenient here, as this is a case of a twofold doubt. First, it is possible that the halakha follows the opinion that nowadays there is no such thing as a reshut ha-rabim as defined by Torah law, so the eruv is effective. Second, it is possible that the halakha follows the opinion that on Yom Tov one may carry even without a need. If he then carries the key with a shinui, then it is a case of a twofold doubt on the rabbinic level.

04. Teḥumin

The prohibitions relating to boundaries (teḥumin) apply on Yom Tov just as they do on Shabbat. The idea behind these holy days is to let the Jews rest from their travails and worries and enable them to engage in Torah study and mitzva-oriented simḥa. Therefore, the Sages ordained that a person should not go outside his teḥum, which is defined as wherever he is at the start of Shabbat or Yom Tov (mekom shevita), plus 2,000 amot in each direction (approximately 0.57 mi or 912 m). If one is spending Shabbat or Yom Tov in a field (i.e., not in a city or town), his mekom shevita is four amot plus 2,000 amot in each direction. If he is spending Shabbat or Yom Tov in a city or town, the entire settled area (or area enclosed by an eruv) is considered his mekom shevita. He may travel 2,000 amot in each direction beyond that area. These laws are explained in detail in Peninei Halakha: Shabbat, vol. 2, ch. 30.

Even though on Yom Tov it is permitted to do melakha necessary for food preparation, one may not go beyond the teḥum even for this. The permission to engage in food preparation on Yom Tov is limited to food already in one’s possession. However, just as one may not harvest grain or hunt animals on Yom Tov, so too he may not go outside the teḥum to get food (Ramban, Milḥamot Hashem, Beitza 23b; Rashba, Avodat Ha-kodesh 1:1). Furthermore, the prohibition of teḥumin is not one of the 39 categories of forbidden melakha, and therefore it is not included in the permission to engage in melakha for food preparation (Ḥatam Sofer, OḤ §149).[4]

If a non-Jew brought fruit from outside the teḥum, then according to Torah law, as long as he brought the fruit for himself or for another non-Jew, any Jew may eat them. However, the Sages declared that teḥumin apply even to objects belonging to non-Jews (SA 401:1). Since the fruits that the non-Jew brought have left their teḥum, a Jew may not carry them more than four amot. If the non-Jew brought them into a home or a site that is enclosed by a fence or an eruv, a Jew may carry them within the enclosed area.

If the non-Jew brought the fruit for a Jew, the Sages forbade the intended recipient and the members of his household from eating them until enough time has passed after Shabbat for the fruit to have been brought then. However, other Jews may enjoy the fruit even on Shabbat, as long as they do not carry the fruit more than four amot (SA 325:8).[5]

If a Jew brought food from outside the teḥum knowing full well that doing so was forbidden, no Jew may enjoy the food on Yom Tov.[6]

[4]. According to Rambam and Smag, teḥum Shabbat restrictions are based on Torah law, though the Torah prohibition only forbids one to travel more than twelve mil (24,000 amot, which is 6.8 mi or 10.944 km) from his mekom shevita. This is based on the size of the Israelite camp in the wilderness, as the Torah states: “Let everyone remain where he is; let no man leave his place on the seventh day” (Shemot 16:29). However, according to most Rishonim, including Ramban, Rosh, and Rashba, this verse does not refer to the laws of teḥumin but rather to those of carrying in a reshut ha-rabim; all boundary restrictions (even beyond twelve mil) are rabbinic law. See Peninei Halakha: Shabbat 30:1.

[5]. Just as one may not go beyond the teḥum for food, so too one may not go beyond the teḥum for mitzva items such as a lulav or shofar. However, one may ask a non-Jew to bring him such an object to enable him to fulfill the mitzva. As we have already seen, the Sages permitted transgressing a shvut di-shvut (double rabbinic prohibition) for the sake of a mitzva or for a great need. Since, according to most Rishonim, teḥumin is rabbinic, asking a non-Jew to bring the object renders it a shvut di-shvut, and thus permitted for the sake of a mitzva. Although the Sages declared that it is forbidden to benefit from something that a non-Jew brought from outside the teḥum, which would seem to render such an object forbidden, there is a principle that “mitzvot were not given for benefit,” so the Sages’ enactment does not apply to mitzvot (SA 555:1: MB ad loc. 3; Peninei Halakha: Shabbat 9:11).

[6]. See Peninei Halakha: Shabbat 26:2, where we explain that if a Jew knowingly performs a melakha, then even though the prohibition is rabbinic, it is forbidden for any Jew to benefit from it. If he brought the food unknowingly in a way that violated Torah law (such as by driving), according to most poskim it is forbidden to benefit from it (SA 318:1). Others maintain that in pressing circumstances one may benefit (MB 318:7). If he brought the food unknowingly in such a way that there was no violation of a Torah law, such as if he came by foot from outside the teḥum, it is permitted to benefit from it (BHL 318:1 s.v. “ha-mevashel”; Peninei Halakha: Shabbat 26:3).

05. Muktzeh

The Sages forbade moving things that are not fit for use on Shabbat or Yom Tov, and that one therefore puts out of his mind (maktzeh mi-da’ato). There are two fundamental reasons for this prohibition: 1) To preserve the atmosphere of these holy times as days of rest dedicated to holiness and peacefulness. 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 or Yom Tov. If moving items unnecessary for these holy days were permitted, people might well spend the whole time cleaning and arranging their homes and belongings, thus negating the mitzva to rest. 2) To set up a safeguard so that one will not come to do melakha on Shabbat or Yom Tov, for if one carries an unnecessary item on Yom Tov, there is a concern that he will use it to do a forbidden melakha or that he will end up carrying it from one domain to another. As we have seen, one who carries an unnecessary item transgresses a Torah prohibition (section 3 and n. 2 above, in accordance with the majority of poskim).

As a general rule, muktzeh prohibitions on Shabbat and Yom Tov are the same, so it is unnecessary to repeat the laws which are already spelled out in Peninei Halakha: Shabbat (ch. 23). However, there are three areas in which there are differences between the two days. In two of the areas, Yom Tov laws are more lenient than those of Shabbat, while in one area, they are more stringent than those of Shabbat.

The first difference is that on Shabbat, some food items are muktzeh because they cannot be eaten in their current state. These include flour, raw chicken, raw meat, and raw potatoes (Peninei Halakha: Shabbat 23:3). In contrast, on Yom Tov cooking is permitted, so these items are not muktzeh. Some objects are muktzeh on Shabbat because they are used in food preparation, such as burners and pots (ibid. 23:7-8). These items are not muktzeh on Yom Tov because cooking is permitted. Similarly, desk lamps and electrical appliances with a heating element or incandescent filament are muktzeh meḥamat gufam on Shabbat because they contain fire, which may not be lit on Shabbat (ibid. 23:7). On Yom Tov, however, these appliances are not muktzeh because one may transfer a flame then (SSK 13:46).

The second difference is that on Yom Tov, all types of muktzeh may be moved le-tzorekh okhel nefesh. For example, if plaster fell into an oven, it may be removed so that the food for the Yom Tov meal is not charred, even though the plaster is muktzeh (SA 507:4; Rema 509:7; 518:3). Similarly, let us say there are rocks resting on top of fruit. Since the rocks are muktzeh, they may not be moved on Shabbat even if one wishes to take the fruit (although he may use his leg or any body part other than his hands, to take them). In contrast, on Yom Tov the rocks may be moved. Just as the Sages permitted melakha le-tzorekh okhel nefesh, so too they permitted moving muktzeh rocks to enable people to eat the fruit (MB 509:31; 518:23). If a key that would allow access to food is in a purse, on Shabbat it may not be removed, since the purse is muktzeh. In contrast, on Yom Tov the purse may be opened and the key removed, because the purse is being moved le-tzorekh okhel nefesh (MB 518:24). However, if a different key is readily available, and using it would avoid the need to move muktzeh, the alternative key should be used.

This entire leniency is limited to cases in which the muktzeh is being moved in order to access items that are necessary for food preparation. In contrast, it is forbidden to eat or use items that are themselves muktzeh. For example, one may not eat fruit that a non-Jew picked on Yom Tov or fish or fowl that a non-Jew caught on Yom Tov. Since it is forbidden for a Jew to pick fruit or trap animals on Yom Tov, we assume that he had put them out of his mind (SA 515:1; MB ad loc. 5). Similarly, valuable wood designated for construction may not be used to fuel a fire for cooking on Yom Tov, since it is muktzeh meḥamat ḥesron kis (SA 502:3).[7]

[7]. An egg that was laid on Yom Tov is muktzeh because any egg laid was prepared inside the hen the previous day. This means that when Yom Tov is on Sunday, the egg laid on Yom Tov was prepared on Shabbat. This is a problem, because halakha mandates that while a weekday may be used to prepare for Yom Tov, Shabbat may not. Since the egg was prepared on Shabbat, the Torah prohibits its use on Yom Tov. In order to avoid any mistake, the Sages decreed that an egg laid on a Yom Tov is muktzeh, regardless of what day of the week it is (Rabba’s opinion in Beitza 2b; SA 513:1). In contrast, if a hen was slaughtered on Yom Tov and eggs were found inside, the eggs may be eaten. Since they were not laid, the preparation of the previous day did not reach its full expression (SA 513:7; MB ad loc. 35).

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.

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