Question: Is one permitted to move Muktzeh on Shabbat by pushing it with one’s feet? For instance, if one finds a wallet on Shabbat, may one push it aside with one’s feet so that one does not incur a monetary loss?
A Wallet Containing Money is Muktzeh on Shabbat
Answer: Indeed, a wallet containing money is Muktzeh on Shabbat for money is considered “innate Muktzeh” similar to wood and stones which may not be moved on Shabbat since they are not a utensil and are not usable for any purpose on Shabbat. Let us now quote the words of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch, after which we shall explain their meaning.
The Ruling of Maran HaShulchan Aruch Regarding Moving Muktzeh with One’s Body
Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 311, Section 8) rules as follows: “Moving Muktzeh with one’s body is permitted even for the purpose of a forbidden object. Thus, if there is straw, which is usually designated for burning, on one’s bed, one may shake it off using one’s body.” This means that straw is Muktzeh on Shabbat since the common usage of straw in those times was to fuel fires used for heat and cooking. Therefore, straw is Muktzeh on Shabbat since it is designated for something prohibited on Shabbat. Nevertheless, if one wishes to lie down on top of the straw (as was likewise common in those days) and the straw is strewn about in a manner that would be uncomfortable to lie on, one may push the straw with one’s feet or with any other part of one’s body in order to smooth out the bedding so that it will be comfortable to lie on.
The reason for this is because moving [Muktzeh] with one’s “body”, meaning any part of one’s body besides for one’s hands, is not considered moving Muktzeh on Shabbat, for our Sages only forbade moving Muktzeh with one’s hands on Shabbat; however, there is no prohibition involved when one does so using one’s feet or any other body part.
The Status of Straw on Shabbat
We should mention that what we have mentioned above that straw is Muktzeh on Shabbat because it is designated for burning was only applicable in earlier times when straw would be used for fueling fires. However, if the straw is designated as animal feed and one would like to move it in order to feed one’s animals, one may do so and it is not considered Muktzeh. When the straw is not designated for any particular purpose, it retains its Muktzeh status, similar to wood and stones.
The Opinion of the Mishnah Berura Regarding Moving a Wallet
Based on the aforementioned words of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch, the Mishnah Berura (end of Chapter 266) writes that although one who finds a wallet on Shabbat may not move it [with one’s hands] to any place, nevertheless, one may kick it aside to a more discreet place so that another person does not come along and snatch it. Although Hagaon Chazon Ish disagrees with the Mishnah Berura, Maran zt”l sides with the opinion of the Mishnah Berura and writes that moving Muktzeh with one’s body is permissible on Shabbat even if one does so intentionally. Hagaon Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l and others rule likewise.
Based on this, we can infer a law regarding the prohibition to move bags of flour and the like on Shabbat. If one wishes to take something out of the freezer on Shabbat and there is a bag of flour blocking that specific item, one may not move the bag of flour, for it is considered “innate Muktzeh”. Nevertheless, one may move the bag of flour with one’s elbow for this is likewise considered “moving Muktzeh with one’s body” which is permissible on Shabbat.
Summary: One may move Muktzeh on Shabbat using different parts of one’s body besides for one’s hands. Thus, if one finds a wallet on Shabbat, one may push it aside with one’s feet to a more unobtrusive place so that someone else does not pass by and take it.