Halacha Date: 9 Kislev 5781 November 25 2020
Yesterday, we discussed the most stringent form of Muktzeh, that of Muktzeh due to monetary loss, which cannot be moved on Shabbat even if one wishes to use such an object for a permissible purpose. Included in this form of Muktzeh is a ritual slaughter or circumcision knife, expensive discs, and the like which people are usually quite careful with not to move from their designated place.
It seems based on this that expensive silver items, such as a silver fragrance box, or expensive pieces of artwork like paintings hanging on the wall which people are careful not to use for any other purpose so as not to ruin or break them retain the law of Muktzeh due to monetary loss.
Nevertheless, the Poskim discuss this matter and write that the classification of Muktzeh due to monetary loss applies only to objects whose regular use involves some sort of prohibition. For instance, a slaughterer’s knife is used for slaughtering which is prohibited on Shabbat. A disc is used to play music which is prohibited on Shabbat. Similarly, all of the examples of this type of Muktzeh the Gemara and Poskim use for this form of Muktzeh are objects whose regular use entails some form of prohibition in addition to being extremely careful with the object.
However, if the object is permissible for use on Shabbat, such as an expensive painting, artwork, silver vessels, and the like, it is not clear at all this these items fall under the category of Muktzeh due to monetary loss.
We do find, however, that the Meiri (Shabbat 121b) writes that if the vessel has a designated location and it is never moved, such as a very heavy ladder, it is Muktzeh on Shabbat since one has designated a place for it and does not intend to carry it at any time. Hagaon Harav Ben- Zion Abba Shaul zt”l rules likewise.
On the other hand, Rashi and Tosafot (Eruvin 77b and 78a) write explicitly that even a very heavy ladder that is never moved (as was commonly used in those days to climb from floor to floor in their homes) may be moved on Shabbat when the need arises. One may infer from their words that the fact that any given object has a designated place does not give it Muktzeh status unless the object is expensive and the usual usage of this object entails a forbidden action on Shabbat.
Indeed, Hagaon Harav Meir Bransdorfer zt”l writes (in his Responsa Kenei Bosem, Volume 1, Chapter 18) that it is not make sense to say that an object used for a permissible action on Shabbat should be categorized as Muktzeh due to monetary loss. Furthermore, Maran zt”l discusses this matter lengthily (in his Chazon Ovadia- Shabbat, Volume 3, page 261) and concludes that this category of Muktzeh applies only to objects used for actions prohibited on Shabbat and are quite expensive, such as a slaughterer’s knife, a camera, an electric shaver, and the like. Indeed, such great Poskim as Hagaon Rabbeinu Shneur Zalman of Liadi (author of the Tanya) and Hagaon Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l concur. When Maran zt”l would discuss this matter, he would quote verbatim the words of the Kenei Bosem since he considered his rationale regarding this topic very correct.
Clothing designated to be sold as merchandise in a store is likewise Muktzeh on Shabbat since the owner is very careful that they not get ruined and they are designated for a use that is prohibited on Shabbat. However, expensive silver vessels meant to adorn the house are permitted to be moved. Similarly, a picture or painting hanging on the wall that falls off on Shabbat may be moved since it is not used for a prohibited purpose.
Summary: An expensive object designated for a use that is prohibited on Shabbat, such as clothing meant for sale, a camera, a ritual slaughterer’s knife, and the like may not be moved on Shabbat even for its own innate use or the use of its space. However, expensive objects not used for prohibited purposes, such as silver vessels, portraits, and the like may be moved on Shabbat although one is very careful that they do not get ruined.