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Parshah Halacha – Parshat Terumah

Laws of a “Basis” for a Muktzah Item
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Parsha Halacha is underwritten by a grant from Dr. Stephen and Bella Brenner in loving memory of Stephen’s father, Shmuel Tzvi ben Pinchas, and Bella’s parents, Avraham ben Yitzchak and Leah bas HaRav Sholom Zev HaCohen.
The Torah portion of Terumah is the first in the series of five Torah portions that discuss the building of the Mishkan (temporary sanctuary in the desert).
The Zohar says[1] that Moshe built the physical Mishkan in a manner that corresponded to the supernal Mishkan. Similarly, when King Solomon built the Bait HaMikdash, he built it as a parallel to the supernal Bait HaMikdash.
As such, the various keilim (utensils) of the Mishkan represent spiritual levels. Specifically, the 10 sefirot are represented by the following keilim:[2]
·        The Aron Kodesh (holy ark) represents the Sefirah (Divine attribute) of Chochma (wisdom) as it contained the Luchot (tablets of the law) and the Torah which is G-d’s supernal wisdom.
·        The Menorah (candelabra) represents G-d’s Chessed (kindness). (The Menorah was in the south which represents Chessed while its light is symbolic of the revelation of Divine kindness.)
·        The Shulchan (table for showbread) represents G-d’s Gevurah (strength or severity). (The Shulchan in the north, representing Gevurah, symbolizes parnassah (sustenance) which is meted out by Divine strength.)
·        The Inner Mizbe’ach (altar for incense) represents the Sefirah of Tiferet(beauty).
·        The Mizbe’ach HaChitzon (outer altar) represents Netzach (victory) and Hod (Splendor) as it purifies the good from the bad and the holy from the mundane.
·        The Kiyor (washing laver) and its base represent Yesod (foundation) and Malchut (Divine kingship). Perhaps the Kiyor, which was donated by the women,[3] represents Malchut as it is considered a “feminine” Sefirah. And the base represents Yesod as it connects the Kiyor to the earth just as Yesodconnects the first six sefirot to Malchut, which is compared to the earth.
o   In another source it says that the outer Mizbe’ach represents Malchut(Divine kingship), which is the gateway to Heaven[4] through which all of the Divine beneficence flows.[5]
Beams and Sockets
In addition to the symbolism given above, the beams of the Mishkan, which were 10 amot tall, represented the 10 Middot (G-dly character traits) that every Jewish soul has, which in turn correspond to the above-mentioned 10 sefirot. The silver sockets, which supported the beams, represented the foundation of Divine service – kabalat ol – accepting the Divine yoke. This explains why the donations to the beams were given by each Jew according to his wealth and generosity whereas all Jews contributed equally to the sockets.[6] The reason for this is that the fundamental obligation to accept G-d’s will is equally important to every Jew, whereas regarding other aspects of Divine service (e.g., understanding of Torah, love of G-d, acts of kindness and so on), every Jew has his own unique ability, and each one should have his own distinct achievements.[7]
The rest of this article will discuss the laws of a non muktzah item which supports a muktzah item (a segue from the sockets that support the beams). In some cases it becomes just as muktzah as the item it supports. This is called a basis ledavar ha’asur (a base for a forbidden [i.e. a muktzah] item). In other cases it doesn’t become muktzah. The details of this will be explained presently.
Basis LeDavar Ha’assur – The Concept
The reason why a basis ledavar ha’assur (a base for a muktzah item) is muktzah is because the non-muktzah item is supporting and thus considered secondary to the muktzah item. As such, it can become just as muktzah as the item it is supporting.[8] This status is only achieved if the muktzah item was supported by the non muktzah item throughout the beginning of Shabbos during the time known as bein hashmashot. As such the principle of migo de’itakatai lebein hashamshot itkatza’I lechol HaShabbat kulah applies.[9](When something is set aside from use during bein hashmashot it remains set aside – as muktzah – for the entire Shabbat.)
Six Conditions
There are six conditions for an item to become a Basis ledavar ha’assur. Below is a brief explanation of each of these six with some practical examples:
1)     The item supports the muktzah item. This applies whether it is underneath it, like a table which supports the Shabbat candles (see below) or if it supports it from above like a chest which supports the drawers that are in it (see below for more details of this halacha).
2)     The muktzah item was placed there with intent. If the item was placed there accidentally or one placed it there purposefully but intended to remove it before Shabbat and then forgot to do so, the non muktzeh item doesn’t become a basis.[10] In fact, if one placed a muktzah item on a table before Shabbat the table only becomes muktzah if he specifically intended for it to remain there for the beginning of Shabbat. Whereas if he put it down without any specific intent and ended up leaving it there until after Shabbat began, the table would not be muktzah.[11]
3)     The muktzah item was on the other item throughout the beginning of Shabbat (Bein HaShmashot). If, however it was placed there (somehow) after Shabbat began,[12] or if it was removed (somehow) before Bein HaShmashot was over,[13] the non muktzah item is not considered a basis.
4)     The support item was “serving” the muktzah item. This means that, even if the muktzah item was placed somewhere purposefully, the item beneath it only becomes a basis if it benefits the placement of the muktzahitem. Whereas if it is placed on top of it simply because there was nowhere else to put it, the support item would not become muktzah. For example, if one placed their wallet on a nightstand before Shabbat, that nightstand would become muktzah for Shabbat. If there were other things on the nightstand and one put the wallet on top of them because there was no room to put it directly on the nightstand, the nightstand would be muktzah[14] but the other items would remain non muktzah.[15]
5)     The muktzah item was more expensive than all the other items there. If, however, there are non muktzah items on the table (or other item supporting the muktzah) that are of greater value than the muktzah item, the table does not become muktzah.[16] In this case the table would be considered a basis for both a forbidden and a permissible item (or items) and would not be muktzah. The reason for this is that the table is not considered “secondary” to the muktzah item but rather, to the non muktzah item.[17] It should be pointed out that, if the support item is designated to “serve” the muktzah item, placing a non muktzah item on it would not prevent it from becoming muktzah. For example, a tray that is designated to place under the Shabbat candles would be muktzah even if one place a challah on the tray before Shabbat as well as the Shabbat candles. The reason for this is that the tray is considered “secondary” to the candles more so than to the challah because the candles “belong there” and the challah does not.[18]
6)     Some say that, if the muktzah item is nearly worthless it doesn’t render the table (or other support item) a basis since it is not logical that a table is considered “secondary” to a nearly worthless item. For example, if there are several small coins on a table before Shabbat began, the table would not be considered muktzah.[19]
Shabbat Candles
Practically speaking, if one places their Shabbat candles on their Shabbat table they should also place challah on that table before Shabbat begins in order that the table not be rendered muktzah.[20] A siddur or chumash can also be used for this purpose. In this case, the table remains non muktzaheven after the Challah or Siddur is removed from it (or eaten).[21] If one did not place something else on the table it is rendered muktzah and it remains so for the entire Shabbat, even after the candles go out. If one forgot to place the challah there before Shabbat began but them remembered and did so before it got dark, the table would not be muktzah.
Sitting at the Table
Even if the table is rendered muktzah one may sit there and eat or read as usual since any movement of the table is coincidental and indirect. It is only forbidden to move the table from one place to another.[22]
As mentioned above, a drawer can be rendered into a basis if a muktzah item (such as a wallet or a phone) is purposefully left there from before Shabbat. This would only be true if the muktzah item was more valuable than all of the non muktzah items in the drawer (when added together). In addition, if it is more valuable that all of the items in that dresser, the entire dresser would become muktzah. (The value of the other actual drawers count as non muktzah items.) Even in this case, one may use the other drawers. It is only forbidden to open and close the drawer with the muktzah in it as well as to move the entire dresser.[23]
If one purposefully left money or another muktzah item in one’s pocket before Shabbat, that pocket becomes muktzah. If the garment is an integral part of the pocket (e.g. a shirt pocket in which case the back of the pocket is the shirt itself) the entire garment becomes muktzah. If the pocket is merely sewn into the garment but the garment isn’t an integral part of it (e.g. most pants and jacket pockets) than the rest of the garment is not muktzah. As such, one may shake out the muktzah item and wear the garment.[24]
In the merit of observing Shabbat may we merit to “the day which will be Shabbat and rest for life everlasting.”[25]
[1] Raya Mehemna, Parshat Beshalach, 59b
[2] Toras Chayim by the Mitteler Rebbe (Rabbi Dov Ber Shne’uri), Parshat Vayakhel, 772b and 879b and Ma’amarei Admur Ha’emtza’i, Shemot vol. 2, pg. 409
[3] See Exodus 38:8
[4] Gen. 28:17. See Sifri on Numbers 119 that the ladder is Yaakov’s dream alluding to the outer Mizbe’ach.
[5] I have not been able to find out which keilim represent Binah and Da’at (A.C.). One source seems to indicate that the Kodesh HaKodashim (Holy of Holies) itself represents Binah (see Torat Chaim. VaYakhel pg. 853b). And other sources say that the inner Mizbe’ach represents Da’at or Tiferet.
[6] See Rashi on Exodus 30:15
[7] Likutei Sichot vol. 1, pgs. 165 and 166
[8] Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 277:6
[9] Ibid, 310:11
[10] Ibid, 309:6
[11] Mishnah Berurah, 309:18
[12] Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 279:6
[13] See ibid, 309:11
[14] Mishnah Berurah 309:18
[15] Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 309:9
[16] If they are of equal value, the Mishnah Berurah (310:33) rules that the support item is rendered a basis.
[17] Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 287:6 and 309:4
[18] Ibid 279:4
[19] Mishnah Berurah 310:31 I have not found this is the Shulchan Aruch HaRav and, as such, I’m not sure if he agrees with it (A.C.).
[20] See note 28 in the Dirshu Mishnah Berurah on Siman 287 that the challah is important since one needs it for Shabbat. As such it “saves” the table from being muktzah even if the muktzah items are worth more, monetarily, than it. An example of this would be silver candlesticks which, monetarily, are certainly worth more than a loaf of challah.
[21] Shulchan Aruch HaRav 277:6. But see note 35 on the Dirshu Mishnah Berurah (Siman 277) that the Pri Megadim argues on this.
[22] Mishnah Berurah 309:15
[23] Ibid 310:31 as explained in the Dirshu Mishnah Berurah, notes 41 and 42
[24] Shulchan Aruch HaRav 310:13-15. See there 14 that the reason one should shake out the muktzah item is that one should not forget and carry it outside (if there is no Eiruv). The Mishnah Berurah (310:30) cites the Rambam who says that one should shake out the muktzah in any case.
[25] Text of the Shabbat Birkat HaMazon
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom UMevorach!

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