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Weekly Shabbos Halacha Series
Halachos Series on Hilchos Shabbos

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Published by
Pirchei Shoshanim

A Project of
The Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Written by

Rabbi Dovid
Ostroff, shlita


These Halachos were shown by Rabbi Ostroff to
HaGaon HaRav Moshe Sternbuch, shlita



Questions for the Week of Parshas Shemos


Hilchos Muktze

Chisaron kis


May I slice a tomato with a shechita knife?

A shechita knife is one of the items that are muktze machmas chisaron kis, which means that it belongs in the class of items that are muktze because of their value. The wide-ranging group of muktze items is subdivided into several categories, which differ from one another with regards to their laws. As we go along, we will b'ezras Hashem learn the specific laws for each group.

Items used for purposes that are forbidden to do on Shabbos, and one is very particular about using them for anything but their intended purpose due to their value, are in the category of chisaron kis. See later for some examples.

This category also includes a shechita knife. Besides being an expensive knife, a shochet is extremely careful that his knife does not get nicked or dented. He therefore places it in a secure place out of harms way.

The halacha is that one may not use an item which is muktze machmas chisaron kis for any other use, nor move it from a space one needs that it is occupying. The halachic terminology for this is ltsorech gufo umkomo. [1]

One is therefore forbidden to use a shechita knife to slice a tomato, because this category of muktze is totally forbidden to use or move on Shabbos.

What if I change my mind on Shabbos and from now on want to use the shechita knife as a regular kitchen knife?

The Mishna Berura [2] quotes the Magen Avraham saying that even if the kli broke on Shabbos, thereby causing the owner of the kli to set it aside for another use, since it was muktze when Shabbos came in, it remains muktze for the duration of Shabbos. Therefore, even if one changed his mind and wants to use the kli from now on for a use that would not render it muktze, he may do so for the next Shabbos, but as far as this Shabbos is concerned, the kli remains muktze.

Can you provide examples of muktze chisaron kis?

An expensive camera, because one allocates a safe place for it when not in use and one does not usually permit small children to handle it. An inexpensive camera would not be chisaron kis. It is muktze but of a different category.

An ipod is chisaron kis, because of the reasons above.

A mohel's knife is also chisaron kis.

Expensive writing paper and envelopes, parchment and stamps [3] are chisaron kis.

Stamps can be inexpensive so why are they considered chisaron kis?

One would not do anything with stamps other than stick them onto an envelope, even if they do not cost much. Using a stamp for anything else is throwing away money and people store them in a safe place.

What is the status of a wall picture?

Expensive art [4] is chisaron kis because one is very careful not to handle it unnecessarily. Consequently if it is hanging crooked it may not be straightened on Shabbos. Ordinary art is not muktze. The Chazon Ish learns that items attached or hanging from walls (and are not removed on a regular basis) are muktze because they become part of the fixture. [5]

Is one permitted to move a heavy cupboard on Shabbos?

Even though a heavy cupboard is hardly ever moved, nevertheless it is not branded muktze. [6] If however, the cupboard is not moved for fear that it would get damaged, it is chisaron kis. [7] This is because the definition of chisaron kis is that one is careful not to do anything with a kli that might damage or spoil it. This would also apply to a fragile cupboard.

Is the sign vtein tal umatar muktze on Shabbos?

Even though items that are set aside for safekeeping are considered chisaron kis, this would not apply to a vtein tal umatar livrachah sign. This is because this particular notice is not put there for safekeeping, but rather to enable everyone to see it. Therefore, the sign may be changed on the first day of Pesach.

It is not a matter of "writing" either.

What is the halacha with regards to handling passports, bus tickets etc?

Precious and important documents are chisaron kis because one is careful not to do anything with them other than what they are intended for. It is possible that a "kartisiya" (a bus ticket with 10 or 20 rides and a number is punched at each ride) is chisaron kis because using it for other purposes might destroy it and render it useless. [8] On the other hand people use a kartisiya as a bookmark, so perhaps it is only k'li she'mlachto l'issur (and a rav should be asked), which we will learn about be"H next.

[1] Gufo = its body, in other words for use of the actual kli. Mkomo = the place it is occupying.

[2] Simon 308:35, towards the end.

[3] SS"K 20:19.

[4] SS"K 20:22.

[5] SS"K 20 footnote 67.

[6] Simon 308:2.

[7] MB 308:8.

[8] See SS"K 20:20.


Vort on the Parsha

Moshe Rabeinu was told to remove his shoes . We all too often continue with our habitual rituals without paying too much attention to the beauty of the mitzvos and excitement of prayer and learning Torah.

We should therefore remove our constraints ( locks) from our habits ( habits) and strive to grow and find freshness in our yiddishkeit.


For a printed version, click here.




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Note:  The purpose of this series is intended solely for the clarification of the topics discussed and not to render halachic decisions. It is intended to heighten everyone's awareness of important practical questions which do arise on this topic.  One must consult with a proper halachic authority in order to receive p'sak.