|If a rock or a piece of
glass pose as a hazard to the public, what may be done to remove it?
Any object that poses a threat to the public may be moved out of
harms way.1 This is because handling muktze is a rabbinical
prohibition and where public health is at stake, Chazal waved aside their
restriction. Accordingly, if there is an open pit or manhole in the street one may cover
it up, even if it involves handling muktze. Also, if a rock or piece of metal is
lying in the road in such a way that they are likely to cause harm, if there is an eiruv
or it is in a carmelis, 2 they may be carried to the side; if they are
in a reshus harabim, 3 they may be moved less than four amos
put down 4 less than four amos put down etc. until moved
out of harms way.
We find though that if a rock is easily noticed and thereby
the chance of it causing harm is remote, it may not be moved out of the way in the
normal manner, rather one should move it out of the way with ones foot or any other
abnormal manner. 5
I would like to crack open a nut with a
rock on Shabbos, may I?
This and the following questions deal with the setting
aside of objects which are not a kli. Sticks and stones are categorized as muktze
machmas gufo, which is a severe muktze in a way that it may not be moved even ltsorech
gufo umkomo for example, to use a stone as a doorstopper.
However, their status can be altered. If one were to
- Set the item aside before Shabbos for permanent use. This
can be done either verbally or mentally.
- Use it on a regular basis during the week, even without
having mentally set it aside for permanent use.
- Physically modify the item. In such a case it will be
sufficient to set it aside even for one Shabbos.
In the above cases a stone or a stick may be used and
handled on Shabbos.
As we see, setting aside an item for one Shabbos only is
insufficient. However, there is an opinion that holds that setting aside for one Shabbos
items regularly used for specific purposes is sufficient. Accordingly, where it is
common to use a stone for a nutcracker, it would suffice to prepare it before Shabbos as
The Mishna Berura 7 rules that when
necessary one may rely on this opinion. Seeing that in developed regions a manufactured
nutcracker is used and not stones, if one wished to use a stone as a nutcracker, he would
be required to adhere to one of the three points mentioned previously.
What about the using of a rock as a
The same rule applies to the using of a rock or brick as a
doorstopper. In todays specialized world a rock is not commonly used as such.
Therefore, if one would like to use a rock as a doorstopper, it would be preferable to
adhere to one of the above three points.
When walking in the forest, may I plop
down onto any stone?
Obviously, the stones in the forest were not prepared by
you to be used as benches. Therefore, you may not move them around in order to make them
comfortable for sitting on. However, sitting on them does not require you to physically
handle them, and therefore you may sit on them, 8 even though they might move
when sat upon. This is permitted because it is called tiltul bgufo
handling muktze through ones body and not with ones hands.
 Simon 308:18.
 A public domain, where the prohibition of carrying is only a rabbinical one.
 A public domain, where carrying is forbidden from the Torah.
 Standing still is equivalent to putting it down. MB simon 266:18.
 MB 308:75. See also the Biur Halacha kotz.
 Simon 308:21-22.
 Simon 308:97.
 MB 308:82,88. In MB 82 he brings a Meiri
which says (in a case when the rock will move when sat upon) that if not necessary, it is
preferable to abstain from it. However, in simon 308:13 the MB did not
mention this clause. The solution may be that sitting on muktze is using it, which
is more severe than the plain moving of muktze.
Food For Thought
Are bones fit for dogs muktze?
Does it make a difference if I personally do not own a dog?
If shells and peels which I
understand are muktze are on the table, what is the permitted way for removing
I heard that if they are amassed on the
table they may be removed, is it only hearsay?
If I own an ostrich, may I handle
Answers coming next week.
Vort For Shavuot
We are told that before Hashem approached us to
accept the Torah, he first approached the nations and offered them the Torah. They
declined. Yet the question is that part of their refusal came about because they were not
prepared to adhere to the commandments not to kill, not to steal etc. and yet part
of the seven mitzvos non-Jews must keep are those very mitzvos?
The answer briefly is that the do not steal of
the 613 mitzvos is essentially geared for the welfare and well being of others,
whereas do not steal of the seven mitzvos is to prevent anarchy. We are
commanded to think about the other person, whether it is helping him load or unload his
animal/car, not to embarrass him etc.
We must therefore contemplate, upon the renewed acceptance
of the Torah, as to how we can change the other persons life for the good, and as
Rabeinu Yonah says, to constantly work on methods as to how we can benefit the other