Halacha for Tuesday 23 Cheshvan 5781 November 10 2020

Introduction to the Laws of Muktzeh

In the following Halachot, we shall discuss some of the laws regarding Muktzeh on Shabbat. Let us first start off by explaining the reasons for the prohibition of Muktzeh as well as the essence of the prohibition (based on the teachings of Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l).

The Rambam (Chapter 24 of Hilchot Shabbat) writes: “Our Sages prohibited moving certain objects on Shabbat the way one generally would during the rest of the week. The reason for this prohibition is because the Sages said that if the prophets commanded one to make sure the way one walks and speaks on Shabbat does not resemble the way one walks and speaks during the rest of the week as the verse states, ‘Or to speak your [mundane] words’. Certainly then, the objects one carries on Shabbat should not be the same as the objects one carries during the rest of the week so that Shabbat should not appear as a regular weekday in one’s eyes, lest one come to pick up and fix different items from corner to corner and from house to house or hide rocks and the like, for as one sits idly in one’s house, one will surely look for something to do and one will then not have rested on Shabbat and he will have transgressed the Torah’s commandment of, ‘In order that [you] should rest.’”

It is clear from the words of the Rambam that the prohibition of Muktzeh is a rabbinic decree, for the Sages understood that if one would be permitted to carry any object on Shabbat, this would lead to an extreme disrespect of Shabbat in that one will exert much effort in arranging one’s possessions on Shabbat and there will be no distinction between Shabbat and the rest of the week, thereby causing one not to fulfill the Mitzvah of resting on Shabbat as the verse states, “In order that you should rest.” Thus, our Sages decided to forbid moving Muktzeh objects on Shabbat.

The Rambam writes an additional reason for this enactment is that if one were to move tools used for forbidden work on Shabbat (such as a rake or  shovel which are tools used for types of  works that are  forbidden on Shabbat), one might come to use them slightly and perform a forbidden type of work on Shabbat. The prohibition of performing forbidden work on Shabbat is very grave indeed and it is thus proper to distance the public from doing so. The Rambam writes other reasons for the prohibition of Muktzeh as well. The Ra’avad disagrees and writes a different reason for the prohibition of Muktzeh. However, this is not the place to go into detail about all of the different reasons behind this issue.

There are several types of Muktzeh objects which are categorized based on the given object. Each category of Muktzeh objects possesses its own set of laws. We will begin by explaining the category called “an object used for permissible work” meaning an object which is usually used for a purpose that is permitted on Shabbat, such as a fork which is surely permitted to be used for eating on Shabbat and this is categorized as “an object used for permissible work” (as opposed to “a tool which is used for forbidden work”, such as a rake or a shovel, which is usually used for work that is prohibited on Shabbat).

In the next Halacha we will, G-d willing, explain when it is permissible to move “an object used for permissible work” and when it is prohibited.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Sucking On a Fruit

Question: If one sucks on an orange or a grapefruit but does not chew it with one’s teeth, must one recite the “Boreh Peri Ha’etz” like on other fruits or should one recite the “Shehakol” blessing like one would when drinking other fruit juices? Answer: Indeed,......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Precedence Regarding Blessings (Continued)

In the previous Halacha we have explained that there are instances that priority is given to recite a blessing upon a certain food over another because of the innate significance of the given food, for instance, because it is a fruit that belongs to the Seven Species of fruits that the Land of Israe......

Read Halacha

Making Toast on a Hotplate on Shabbat

Question: May one place a pita or a slice of bread on a hotplate on Shabbat in order to turn it into hard and crunchy toast? Answer: There are two prohibitions we must discuss with regards to our question of making toast on Shabbat out of bread that was already baked before Shabbat. The first ......

Read Halacha

Precedence Regarding the Order of Blessings (Continued)

Summary of the Laws Explained Thus Far In the previous Halachot we have explained that there is an order of priority regarding blessings, sometimes because of the innate importance of the food and sometimes due to the importance of the blessing. Priority of “Boreh Peri Ha’etz”......

Read Halacha


The Laws of the Blessing on Fruits

In the previous Halachot we have explained that there is an order of priority regarding blessings. Thus, if one wishes to partake of apples and dates, one must recite the blessing on the dates, for they are one of the Seven Species. Precedence Regarding Blessing-Only Preferable Maran Ha’Be......

Read Halacha

Sitting on Food Items

Question: Is it correct that one may not sit on top of a box containing food or beverages? Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Berachot (50b) states that it is forbidden to act in a degrading manner towards food. Thus, one may not, for instance, use a piece of cake to wipe up a drink that spilled on t......

Read Halacha

Salting Cucumbers on Shabbat

Question: Is it correct that one may not put salt on cucumbers on Shabbat? Answer: The root of this question lies in the fact that with regards to many Torah laws, we rule that “pickling is tantamount to cooking” meaning that a pickled food is considered like a cooked food. Thus, just......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Precedence Regarding Blessings

On the night of Tu Bishvat, which will fall out this coming Wednesday night, it is customary to eat a variety of fruits. We shall therefore learn the proper order of the Blessings of Enjoyment during the coming days. We should point out that these laws are fairly simple but we will need to discus......

Read Halacha