Sponsored by Yaakov Yitzchak (Jay) and Paula Novetsky on the occasion of the Yahrtzeit, 23 Shevat, of Jay’s Zeideh, Yaakov Yitzchak Novetsky. May all the chessed and learning of his family and the learning of this readership bring about an aliyah for his neshama.

Parshah Halacha – Parshat Mishpatim

Shabbat Mevarchim Adar I
Laws of Moving Muktzah on Shabbat and Yom Tov
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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 Mishpatim includes the commandment to keep the Shabbat, as it says,[1] “Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest, in order that your ox and your donkey shall rest, and your maidservant’s son and the stranger shall be refreshed.”
As mentioned last week, the Seforno explains that one should arrange all of one’s affairs during the six work days so that Shabbat can be a day of true rest – both from physical labor as well as from stress about work. If one succeeds in doing this, he can experience his Shabbat in the best way, as a day of cleaving to G-d.
One of the ways that the sages worked to ensure that Shabbat is a day of rest is by enacting the muktzah laws – to forbid moving of certain objects, as the Shulchan Aruch HaRav states,[2] “[By fulfilling the restrictions of muktzah], one will not regard Shabbat as an ordinary weekday, and consequently will not come to pick up and organize his utensils, moving them from corner to corner or from room to room, or move stones and the like to hide them. These restrictions are necessary since on Shabbat a person is idle and sitting at home and is likely to seek something with which to occupy himself. In that case he will not have ceased his weekday activity and thus will have negated the motivating principle for the Torah’s commandment: ‘So that you will rest.’[3]”
Additional Reasons for Muktzah
There are several other reasons given for why the sages enacted the muktzahlaws. Here are some of them.
·        To minimize the possibility that one will carry an item out into the public domain. Although, based on this reason, the sages should have forbidden to move all objects, they didn’t make this decree as it would be impossible for people to observe it.[4]
·        To ensure that even the Shabbat of people who do not go to work on a regular basis will be recognizably different from the rest of the days of the week.[5]
·        If one were to carry articles that are used for a forbidden activity, it is possible that one might forget and perform a forbidden labor with them.[6](This reason only applies to certain categories of muktzah.)
Severity of the Muktzah Laws
The Midrash says[7] that the city of Tur Shimon was a city that would provide 300 baskets of bread for the poor every Friday. Yet because they played ball on Shabbos they were “uprooted” (i.e., wiped out). Some say[8] that ball playing is prohibited on Shabbat because the ball is considered muktzah on Shabbat.[9] This would mean, that although the members of that town kept Shabbat in other respects, they were punished severely for not observing the muktzah laws.[10]
Muktzah on Yom Tov
There is an opinion in the Talmud[11] that the muktzah laws are stricter on Yom Tov than on Shabbat. The reason is that since the laws of Yom Tov are generally more lenient than those of Shabbat, the sages wanted to ensure that people not treat Yom Tov lightly. They were therefore stricter with the muktzahlaws on Yom Tov. The Mechaber (Rabbi Yosef Karro, author of the Shulchan Aruch) accepts this view as the halacha[12] and this is therefore the halacha for Sefardim.[13]
Here are some practical examples where items would be muktzah on Yom Tov (for Sefardim) although they are not muktzah on Shabbat.
·        A person who has food merchandise which he plans to sell in bulk (after Yom Tov) and on Yom Tov he decides that he would like to eat it himself instead, may not do so because those items are considered muktzah.[14] (The food stuffs of a storekeeper who sells in small quantities are not considered muktzah; since it is permissible to sell on Yom Tov (under certain conditions), these items are considered available for use on Yom Tov.[15])
·        An item that was placed in storage because the owner wasn’t planning to use it in the near future.[16]
Ashkenazi Custom
The Rama[17] cites the opinion[18] which rules that the laws of muktzahremain the same on Yom Tov as on Shabbat. The custom of Ashenazi Jewry is to be lenient[19] – based on this opinion. However, one who is strict regarding this matter will be blessed.[20]
Nolad on Yom Tov
Even Ashkanzim are stricter on Yom Tov than on Shabbos regarding an item which is nolad (literally, “born”; i.e., an object that first comes into a different kind of existence on Yom Tov), and they consider such an item muktzah although on Shabbat nolad isn’t considered muktzeh.[21] The reason for this is that there are opinions that are strict regarding nolad even on Shabbat. Since some are strict regarding all muktzah on Yom Tov, we should, at the very least, be strict regarding nolad which some always consider muktzah.[22]
In practice, here are several examples where even Ashkenazim must consider the items muktzah on Yom Tov.
·        If one peeled fruits on Yom Tov and the peels are fit to feed to animals but are no longer edible for human beings, those peels are muktzah on Yom Tov although they would not be considered muktzah on Shabbat. As such, one who is eating fruit whose peels fall into this category on Yom Tov should place a non muktzah item on the plate which contains such peels before clearing it from the table.[23]
·        The same halacha applies to bones which before Yom Tov were attached to meat but become detached on Yom Tov and are now only fit for the consumption of dogs.[24]
·        A utensil that broke on Yom Tov and is now only fit to use in a different way than its original use is muktzah on Yom Tov.[25]
Yom Tov and Shabbat Coincide
When Shabbat and Yom Tov coincide there is an argument between halachic authorities as to whether the stricter laws of muktzah be observed (as they are on Yom Tov) or not (as is the law regarding Shabbat). Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef rules leniently in this matter.[26]
Yom Tov Leniency
Although, as mentioned, the laws of muktzah are stricter on Yom Tov than on Shabbat, there is a case where we are more lenient regarding muktzah on Yom Tov, i.e., if it is necessary to move a muktzah item in order to reach food that one wishes to cook or eat, one may do so. This follows the general principle that on Yom Tov one may do work for the sake of eating. Since this is true regarding Torah level labors, how much more so is it true regarding muktzah which is of Rabbinic origin. For example, if there are stones (or any other muktzah items) blocking one’s access to food on Yom Tov, one may move those stones in order to reach the food.
However, one may not eat muktzah food nor use a muktzah item in any way which gives a person benefit. For example, one may not burn muktzah wood in a fireplace or in a wood oven on Yom Tov.[27]
For Children
The Lubavitcher Rebbe recommended[28] that before Shabbat children should arrange their belongings in such a way that the muktzah items are out of reach. This will ensure that they are not mistakenly moved on Shabbat. In this regard, the Tzedaka pushka should be placed in a higher area where it cannot be reached. Yet it should not be out of the children’s sight as seeing it will remind them of the important mitzvah of giving Tzedaka.
When Moshiach Comes
It is possible that when Moshiach comes the Rabbinic enactments will be repealed. As such, muktzah will no longer be forbidden.[29] May this happen speedily in our times!
[1] Exodus 23:12
[2] 308:1 based on Rambam, Laws of Shabbat, 24:12
[3] A paraphrase of Deut. 5:14
[4] Shulchan Aruch HaRav, ibid, based on Ravad on Laws of Shabbat, ibid
[5] Ibid, based on Rambam ibid, Halacha 13
[6] Rambam, ibid
[7] Eichah Rabbah 4:2
[8] Agur, cited in Bait Yosef, 308, D.H. Katuv Ba’Agur (page 318 in the Tur) Shulchan Aruch HaRav 308:83
[9] See Beit Yosef, ibid that the Tosfot (Beitzah 12b D.H. Hachi Garsisnan) mentions that people would play with cloth balls on Yom Tov even in public area (and, on Shabbat, even in private areas).
According to this opinion, the reason Tur Shimon was destroyed is that they consistently wasted their precious time on the holy day of Shabbat by playing ball (Ketzot HaShulchan 110, Badei HaShulchan 16).
Please note that playing ball on Shabbat has an additional issue – that one may not play ball on the ground as this can lead to one smoothing out the surface of the playing field (Mishnah Berurah 308:158). (This seems to only be a problem with soccer or other games in which the ball is rolled on the floor.)
The Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata (16:6 in the new edition) adds that one may not even play soccer on a paved surface that is outside of a building as this can lead to playing on an unpaved surface which could, in turn, lead to smooth out of the ground.
[10] Ketzot HaShulchan, ibid
But see the Etz Yosef (and in the source he quotes) who says that the people of Tur Shimon must have also sinned in more severe ways.
[11] See the opinion of Rebbi in Beitzah 2b
[12] 495:4. This is also the ruling of the Rif (end of Tractate Beitzah) and the Rambam, Laws of Yom Tov, 1:17
[13] See Kaf HaChaim 495:31
[14] Yalkut Yosef, Moadim, Melachot Ha’assurot BeShabbat UveMoadim, 5
[15] Kaf HaChaim 495:33
[16] Mishnah Berurah 495:15
[17] 495:4
[18] Rosh, end of Tractate Beitzah, based on the Ri and Rabbeinu Tam
[19] Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 495, end of Se’if 13
[20] Ibid. Indeed the Levush (se’if 4) seems to rule strictly regarding this matter.
[21] Shulchan Aruch HaRav 308: 23
[22] Ibid, 495:13
[23] Yalkut Yosef ibid, 4
[24] Nitei Gavriel, Hilchot Yom Tov, Vol. 1, 24:1
[25] Ibid
[26] Yalkut Yosef, ibid 6. See the sources quoted there.
[27] Shulchan Aruch HaRav 509:16
[28] Torat Menachm 5749 vol. 4 pg. 215
[29] Torat Menachem, 5748 vol. 4 page 377
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom UMevorach and a Chodesh Tov!

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