Halacha for Monday 29 Cheshvan 5781 November 16 2020

The Muktzeh Status of Meat or Fish on Shabbat

Question: May one move raw meat or fish on Shabbat?

Answer: In the previous Halachot we have discussed the primary laws of the prohibition of Muktzeh on Shabbat which refers to certain objects that our Sages prohibited moving on Shabbat. Food items which are edible on Shabbat may be moved and are not considered Muktzeh.

The Primary Law Regarding Moving Raw Meat
The Gemara in Masechet Shabbat (128a) states that raw meat may be moved on Shabbat, for although meat is not usually eaten uncooked and we have previously established that foods that are inedible on Shabbat, such as dough and baking powder may not be moved on Shabbat since they are considered “innate Muktzeh” like rocks and dirt, nevertheless, since during the times of our Sages there were certain individuals who would in fact eat raw meat, it is not considered “innate Muktzeh” and it may be moved on Shabbat just like other food items.

Raw, Unsalted Meat is Permissible to Eat
Even if the meat has not yet been salted as prescribed by Halacha and it is full of blood which it has not yet released, nevertheless, it may still be moved on Shabbat, for the letter of the law dictates that one may eat raw meat before it has been salted since blood which is still absorbed inside the meat is not prohibited for consumption. Only through cooking, which causes the blood to exit the meat, will blood be prohibited for consumption; it is for this reason that meat must be salted before cooking it. However, if the meat is raw, as long as it has been washed thoroughly and there is no blood on the outer surface, it may be eaten as is, without any salting necessary.

Nowadays When it is Uncommon to Eat Raw Meat
However, Rabbeinu Yosef Haim writes in his Sefer Ben Ish Hai that nowadays, raw meat should not be moved on Shabbat since no one eats raw meat anymore and it thus retains the halachic status of rocks and dirt which may not be moved even for their own use or use of their space. Many great Acharonim, including as the Aruch Ha’Shulchan, Igrot Moshe, Hagaon Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l, and others, rule likewise.

Nevertheless, Hagaon Harav Yaakov di Buton in his Responsa Edut Be’Yaakov disputes this and writes that since our Sages have ruled that raw meat does not retain a Muktzeh status and it is impossible to say that there is nobody in the world who eats raw meat, it will in fact be permissible to move it on Shabbat, as was the Halacha in the times of the Talmud. Similarly, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes in his Sefer Halichot Olam that the letter of the law follows this more lenient view.

Maran zt”l adds that at least in instances where there can be a possible monetary loss, such as if the raw meat is outside the refrigerator and may spoil, one may indeed act leniently by picking it up and placing it in the refrigerator. This is especially true nowadays when there are people who eat raw meat after it has been soaked in salt and spices which is actually considered a delicacy in many upscale restaurants in Europe; thus, one may surely be lenient regarding this matter and move this meat to the refrigerator.

However, this applies only regarding meat that is edible when it is still raw, however, meat which is completely inedible, for instance, because it is ridden with bacteria and can only be eaten after it is cooked (which some say is the case with all frozen meat), it would seem that one should not act leniently and move this meat on Shabbat. We have been told by the owner of an upscale restaurant who prepares special dishes from raw meat that such dishes are commonly prepared using frozen meat as well; however, this does depend on the type and cut of meat.

Fish
Regarding raw fish which cannot be eaten raw, Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 308, Section 32) rules that raw fish may not be moved on Shabbat since it is inedible. Maran zt”l rules likewise that only salted fish which is edible may be moved on Shabbat; however, raw fish may not be moved. Nevertheless, in our times when it is common to eat salmon and other forms of raw fish in different forms of Asian cuisine (namely Sushi), it will be permissible to move such fish on Shabbat similar to the law regarding raw meat.

Summary: Meat which is somehow edible while it is still raw may be moved on Shabbat according to the letter of the law, especially when there is a pressing need to do so. However, raw fish which is completely inedible may not be moved on Shabbat.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Eating and Washing One’s Self Yom Kippur

Some Laws of Yom Kippur All are obligated to fast on Yom Kippur, including pregnant and nursing women. Any woman whose health is at risk due to the fast should consult a prominent Torah scholar who is well-versed in these laws and he should render his ruling whether or not she must fast. One whose ......

Read Halacha

Motza’ei Yom Kippur

Adding From the Mundane Onto the Holiness One must add some of the mundane weekday onto the holiness of Yom Kippur upon its exit, i.e. one should not end this holy day immediately with nightfall; rather, one should wait another few minutes. Thus, it is prohibited to eat or perform work on Motza&rsq......

Read Halacha

The Obligation to Eat in the Sukkah

Since there is not so much time left to discuss the laws of Sukkot, let us now spend the next few Halachot discussing some pertinent Halachot for the upcoming Sukkot holiday. A Meal of an Established Character Throughout the entire Sukkot holiday, both during the night and day, it is prohibited ......

Read Halacha

Reciting Selichot Alone, Without a Minyan

Question: If one is unable to recite Selichot with a Minyan (quorum of at least ten Jewish men) for whatever reason or if a woman wishes to recite Selichot and she cannot do so with a Minyan, may one recite the Selichot texts alone or should one abstain from doing so? Answer: If one wishes to rec......

Read Halacha


The Laws of Eating a Kezayit of Bread in the Sukkah on the First Night of Sukkot and One who is Uncomfortable in the Sukkah

In the previous Halacha we have discussed that one may not eat an established meal outside of the Sukkah anytime during the Sukkot holiday. One must be aware that the reward for the Mitzvah of Sukkah is that it protects one during turbulent times (see Zohar, Parashat Tetzaveh). The Mitzvah of......

Read Halacha

The Custom of “Tashlich”

Following Mincha services of the first day of Rosh Hashanah, it is customary to go to a seashore, river, well, or pit in order to recite the order of “Tashlich.” If there is no river, lake, or pond in close proximity of one’s vicinity, it is likewise perfectly acceptable to recite ......

Read Halacha

The Proper Behavior for the Days of Rosh Hashanah-The Custom of Maran zt”l

It is customary to eat red meat and sweet foods on the days of Rosh Hashanah, as the verse in Nechemia states, “Go eat fatty foods and drink sweet beverages and sent gifts of food to those who do not have, for the day is sanctified to our Lord.” One may not fast at all on Rosh Hashana......

Read Halacha

Blowing the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah

It is a positive Torah commandment to hear the Shofar blasts on the day of Rosh Hashanah, as the verse states, “It shall be a day of [Shofar] blasts for you.” One may not speak between the various sets of Shofar blasts and certainly not during the blasts themselves. The Poskim disagree r......

Read Halacha