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

Question: Are those who customarily donate a tenth of their monthly income to Tzedakah permitted to deduct the cost of providing for their children still living at home from the sum of this ten percent?

Answer: We have previously discussed that one must donate a certain amount of Tzedakah annually. It is a “middle” level for one to give a tenth of one’s monthly profits every month. Now let us deal with our question regarding those who donate a tenth of their monthly profits to Tze......

Read Halacha

How Much Tzedakah One Must Donate

The Rambam, Tur, and Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch write that the amount one should donate for Tzedakah is, if one can afford it, based on the necessities of the needy people. This means that if one is extremely wealthy and can provide for the needs of poor people in one’s city, one should ind......

Read Halacha

The Mitzvah of Tzedakah

The Tur (Yoreh De’ah, Chapter 247) writes: “There is a positive Torah commandment for one to donate some of one’s money to charity, based on one’s individual capabilities. In addition to the fact that whoever donates charity fulfills a positive Torah commandment, one who abst......

Read Halacha

Who is Obligated in the Mitzvah of Tzedakah?

Every member of the Jewish nation must donate Tzedakah. Even a pauper who receives Tzedakah, has no way of earning a livelihood, and only lives off of what others provide him with must give Tzedakah from what others give him. When the Sages of Israel had control over the Jewish nation, the Jewish co......

Read Halacha


Question: Is one permitted to eat fish with milk or butter?

Answer: The Mishnah in Masechet Chullin (103b) states: “Any meat is forbidden to be cooked with milk, besides for the flesh of fish and grasshoppers.” Clearly then, according to the letter of the law, the prohibition of cooking fish with milk is not included in the prohibition of cooking......

Read Halacha

Foods Cooked by a Non-Jew

Question: We currently employ non-Jewish help in our home. She helps with things around the house including cooking our food. All of the ingredients which enter the house are kosher and we supervise her while she is cooking, such that there is no Kashrut concern with the food. May we eat the food sh......

Read Halacha

Washing Dishes on Shabbat for the Room to Look Clean and Orderly

Question: May one make a bed on Shabbat so that it looks neat although one does not intend to sleep in it on Shabbat? Similarly, is it permissible to wash dishes which are no longer necessary on Shabbat because it is truly unpleasant and causes discomfort due to guests and the like? Answer: Appro......

Read Halacha

Coffee Prepared by a Non-Jew

Question: Is it permissible to drink coffee which was prepared by a non-Jew, such as the coffee served during flights aboard non-Jewish airlines, or does this constitute the prohibition of foods cooked by a non-Jew or any other prohibition? Answer: Clearly, the coffee sold in many places where n......

Read Halacha