In the previous Halachot, we have explained the sources for the prohibition of moving Muktzeh on Shabbat which refers to certain objects which our Sages have prohibited moving on Shabbat for one of the aforementioned reasons. We shall now discuss some general laws related to the prohibition of Muktzeh so that this matter to be well understood.
The Various Categories of Muktzeh
There are various details regarding the laws of Muktzeh, as well as objects that are not considered Muktzeh at all.
Moving an Object Used for Works Permitted on Shabbat “From Sun to Shade”
Objects which are used for work permitted on Shabbat, such as forks, knives, chairs, and tables, which are primarily used for work permitted on Shabbat, are subject to some prohibitions of Muktzeh. As we have explained in the previous Halacha, one may only move such an object for some kind of purpose. For example, if a dish is lying in the sun and it may get damaged due to the heat, one may move it into the house on Shabbat. This is what is called moving from “sun to shade,” meaning from a place where the sun is shining to a shaded area. Regarding an object used for permissible work on Shabbat, this form of moving is permitted, whereas regarding other forms of Muktzeh objects, one may not move them from sun to shade.
Moving an Object used for Work Permitted on Shabbat for Its Own Use or for Its Space
Certainly, one may move these objects for their own use on Shabbat, for instance, moving a fork in order to use it for eating or a bowl to use for serving. Similarly, if one requires the object’s place, for instance, if one needs to move a table in order to sit in the place where it is currently standing, one may move this kind of object for this purpose. However, one may not move even such an object used for work permissible on Shabbat for no reason whatsoever.
When is it Permissible to Move an Object Used for Forbidden Work on Shabbat?
The laws of a tool used for work forbidden on Shabbat, such as a shovel, rake, or hammer, are more stringent in that one may not move them “from sun to shade” on Shabbat; however, they may be moved for their own use or use of their place.
Moving an Object Used for Work Forbidden on Shabbat for Its Own Use or Use of Its Place
One may move this kind of object for its own use, for instance, one may take a hammer on Shabbat and use it to crack open a walnut. Although a hammer is Muktzeh, nevertheless, using it for work permitted on Shabbat, such as cracking open a walnut, is permissible.
Moving this kind of object for use of its place is likewise permissible, for instance, if a rake is lying in a place where one would like to sit, one may move it and sit there. This law applies to all objects used for work forbidden on Shabbat.
There is another kind of object which is “Innate Muktzeh”, such as dirt, sand, and stones. Since these objects serve no purpose on Shabbat and one did not intend to use them on Shabbat, they may not be moved on Shabbat even for their own use or use of their place.
Therefore, one may not move rocks on Shabbat even if one has a purpose in doing so, such as covering a pit with a large stone (where it is not life- threatening) or if one would like to play with dirt that is designated for building purposes and the like.
Summary: Objects used for permissible works on Shabbat, such as forks and knives, may be moved for any purpose, such as to move them out of the sunlight so they do not get damaged. This is called moving “from sun to shade”.
Regarding tools used for works forbidden on Shabbat, such as a hammer or shovel, although they may not be moved “from sun to shade,” they may still be moved for their own use or the use of their place. This means that a person may move a hammer in order to use it to crack open a walnut or move a shovel in order to sit in its place.
“Innate Muktzeh”, which is an object that has no use on Shabbat, such as ashes and stones, may not be moved on Shabbat even for its own use or use of its place.
In the next Halacha we shall discuss this further, G-d willing.