Laws of Muktzeh on Shabbos
1. [The following items are NOT "muktzeh" (1) and thus may be moved on
i) Articles that a person had made up his mind not to use on Shabbos
("muktzeh mida'as"), such as food which one didn't intend to eat on
Shabbos, either because it would not generally be considered edible except
in pressing circumstances, or because one had set it aside to be sold; this
applies even if it had been placed in storage.
ii) An item that, on Shabbos, became suitable for dog food, even though on
Friday [its owner] had not intended to use it for this purpose, for
example, a mammal or bird that died on Shabbos without being slaughtered in
the manner prescribed by the Torah (2).
iii) Articles whose state has changed on Shabbos from what it had been
before Shabbos, but which can still be used for a particular purpose; for
example, utensils that broke on Shabbos, but still retain, to a certain
extent, their initial capability to hold food or drink (3).
iv) Bones which are stripped of their meat on Shabbos, and thus become fit
to be given to dogs (or other animals).
All the aforementioned articles may be moved ("tiltul") on Shabbos (4).
Only arcticles that one has actively and definitively rejected [for use on
Shabbos] ("docho be'yadayim"), such as figs and raisins that were set out
to dry, are considered muktzeh (5).
(1) The word "muktzeh" literally means "set apart;"when applied to Shabbos,
this term refers to items which, due to a rabbinical enactment, one may not
move. Two main reasons have been proposed to explain why such an enactment
a) As a safeguard against the performance of a Biblical prohibition; in
other words, if moving a pen is prohibited, then the probability of one
accidently writing on Shabbos is greatly minimized.
b) In order to differentiate Shabbos from a regular weekday. Limiting the
items one can move on Shabbos, limits the amount of "weekday" activity that
one can be involved in.
There are many different criteria which one must apply in order to
determine whether an item is muktzeh or not, and there are many disputes
among the authorities as to what exactly those criteria are. Thus, although
I will attempt to cite the disagreements, and the final practical ruling in
many of the halachos of this chapter, to do so in every case is beyond the
scope of this email class. For the final practical ruling ("halacha
le'ma'aseh"), please consult either your local Rabbi or one of the many
books detailing the laws of muktzeh.
(2) There are those who rule that where the animal was in good health
before Shabbos and then died unexpectedly on Shabbos, it is muktzeh (See
Shulchan Aruch 324:7).
(3) There are those who rule that if the broken item is no longer fit for
its original use, it is muktzeh, even though it is fit for a different use.
This aspect of the muktzeh prohibition is called "nolad," which literally
means "came into existence." There are two types of "nolad:"
a) Items that were not in existence at all before Shabbos or Yom Tov, for
example, newly laid eggs. All items in this category are muktzeh.
b) Items that were in existence before Shabbos, but changed and assumed a
new form on Shabbos; most items in this category are not considered muktzeh.
(4) But they are all muktzeh on Yom Tov: in general, the muktzeh
prohibition is more stringent on Yom Tov (Mishna Berura 495:17).
(5) People have no intention of using drying dates and raisins until the
drying process is absolutely complete. Additionally, during one stage in
the process, they are repulsive and unfit for eating. These two factors
render them muktzeh (Shulchan Aruch 310:2).