is dripping from an oil lamp, is it permitted to place a plate beneath the lamp to catch
the dripping oil?
This involves a concept called mevatel kli
meheichano, which means that one is forbidden to cause a utensil to become muktze.
By doing so, Rashi 1 says that it is as if he has cemented the utensil
in its place, and is similar to the melacha of Boneh.
Since the oil is muktze, by placing a utensil below
the oil once the oil falls in, the utensil becomes muktze, and it is as if
he has cemented it in its place. 2
Then if water is dripping from an air
conditioning unit, is it permitted to place something beneath it to catch the water?
It is a big problem because that water is muktze.
The Mishna Berura says 3 that the water dripping from the trees in the
month of Nisan is muktze because of Nolad. 4 The
explanation being that condensed water, which came about through condensation is a new
existence, unlike rainwater, which the gemora says is already in the clouds.
Hence the condensed water dripping from an air-condition
unit is also Nolad and therefore muktze. By placing a bowl to catch the
dripping water you are revoking use of the bowl, which is mevatel kli
So what is one supposed to do?
Obviously, place a bowl before Shabbos. If one forgot, and
the water is dripping in a living room or bedroom, a Rav should be consulted as to
the halacha of carrying a graf shel rei, a special heter
to carry a muktze which is repulsive.
Is one permitted to soak up water with
This will fall into the same category. The gemora 6
brings a case of an animal that fell into a water canal, and the way to get her out was to
place pillows and quilts into the water, enabling the animal to stand on higher ground and
thus climb out of the water. The Mechaber 7 says that the reason one is
permitted to be mevatel kli meheichano is because of tsaar
baalei chayim animal suffering. We see that wetting linen or
clothing, thereby revoking its use, is mevatel kli meheichano.
So if water spills on the floor, one may not soak it up
with clothing, to the extent that the clothing will become unusable, rather one may use
rags and such which is normal for them to get wet, and hence it is not mevatel
If making something unusable is mevatel
kli meheichano, how is one permitted to use a tissue or a napkin, after
all it becomes unusable and probably muktze?
One of the answers to this question 8 is that
since these items are intended for that purpose, it is not considered annulling the
utensil. For that reason it is permitted to put garbage inside a new garbage bag even
though the garbage is muktze, and one is now causing the bag to be muktze as
well. The essence of mevatel kli meheichano is making a movable
item halachikally immobile, but if the utensil is made for that purpose, one cannot say
that the utensil has digressed from its original intention and is now grounded.
 Rashi Shabbos 42b.
 Simon 265:3
 Simon 310:32
 A halachik term describing a new existence; it is also muktze
but is more severe than the regular muktze.
 See simon 338:8.
 Shabbos 128
 Simon 305:19
 Shvus Yitschak Chap.20. SSK 22 footnote 47.
Food For Thought
If a non-Jew switched a light on for me, may I
benefit from it?
What if he was prepaid before Shabbos
to do so?
What if the non-Jew switched the light
on for his own benefit?
What if he switched it on for both of
Chazal tell us that Tu Bishvat is the New Year for
trees because it is at this time that the resin begins entering the trees and from hence
the fruit shall grow.
Harav Shamshon Rafael Hirsh Ztzl asks that would it
not be more suitable for the new year to be around Nissan, when the trees are already in
the beautiful stage of blossoming, instead of in the middle of winter when nothing is yet
noticeable on the trees?
He answers that Chazzal always looked at the cause and the
core of the matter, not at the result. In his time, it looked as if there nothing would be
left of Jewry. The Neologism was taking a very firm hold, and its poisonous teachings were
taking a firm foothold. Rav Hirsh said that the roots of Judaism are too strong to be
pushed over by some passing phase, and even though the times were as black as night, the
true Judaism will prevail.
Chazzal saw that in the dark of winter a new future is in
store. One should not be fooled by the dark of winter and despair; a new beginning is in