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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 Mishpatim


Muktze continued

Are bones that are fit for dogs muktze? Does it make a difference if I personally do not own a dog?

The Shulchan Aruch says [1] that bones suitable for dogs and peels suitable for cattle are not muktze and may be removed from one’s table, providing one either owns such animals or these animals are common in one’s vicinity. Consequently one need not personally own such an animal for the bones not to be muktze; as such bones are identified as animal food. [2]

However, hard bones unsuitable even for dogs are muktze. [3]

Incidentally, if the bones were not completely picked of their meat they are not muktze, regardless whether dogs are common in one’s area or not.

If shells and peels – which I understand are muktze – are on the table, what is the permitted way to remove them?

Certain shells and peels are muktze even if animals are common in one’s vicinity, for example egg peels and nutshells, as these are unsuitable for animals.

The halacha is that when one needs to use a permitted item or to move it from one place to another, and something muktze is placed on it, one is required to tip the muktze off and only then carry the plate. [4] See the footnote. [5] If one cannot tip the muktze, either because it will damage the muktze (e.g. candlesticks on a table) or because one requires the space the plate is occupying, one may carry the plate with its muktze to a different location where it can be tipped off.

Accordingly, if peels are on a plate and one either wants to clean the plate or clear the table, since tipping the peels onto the table or floor is impractical, one may carry the plate to the garbage can and tip the contents into the garbage. It is forbidden to carry the garbage can to the table and tip the contents of the plate into it, because a garbage can is usually muktze. [6]

Is one permitted to use a knife or napkin to push peels onto a plate?

The Taz says that using a knife (or napkin) to push muktze is called tiltul min hatsad (indirect tiltul) and may be done for a permitted cause, i.e. to clear the table. The Mishna Berura reiterates his p’sak [7] and also permits it. The Rav Shulchan Aruch [8] and the Chazon Ish disagree with the Taz saying that such a tiltul is considered direct moving of the muktze because the knife is an extension of one’s hand and is forbidden under all regular circumstances. This is not like carrying a plate with muktze on top, where the plate is not considered an extension of one’s hand, and hence is tiltul min hatsad. One must refer to one’s Rav as to which opinion to follow.

I heard that if peels and shells are amassed on the table one may remove them. Is  this true?

The halacha is that when something unpleasant or disgusting is in one’s immediate surroundings, it may be removed. [9] Even though that particular item is muktze, Chazal permitted its removal because of human dignity; this heter is known as âřó ůě řňé. The Mishna Berura says [10] that in the event that the peels are piled up on the table to the point that causes unpleasantness, one may remove them from the table.

Must one use a plate or may one remove them by hand?

We find in the gemora [11] that Rav Ashi told his servant to lift a dead mouse by its tail and remove it from the house. This was to emphasize that anything sickening or unpleasant in one’s surroundings may be handled directly and removed, despite it being muktze.

Chazal permitted the handling of muktze items in order to save one from unpleasantness. Rav Moshe Feinstein ztz”l [12] is quoted saying that even something that will cause unpleasantness , for example, if guests are arriving and a muktze item is lying in the living room. The Mishna Berura writes [13] that a pile of shells and peels may be removed from the table with one’s hands, even though they are muktze, because one is disgusted by it. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ztz”l is quoted saying [14] that if guests are arriving and the housewife is greatly embarrassed lest the guests would see even a small amount of shells and peels, then they too may be removed.

One must not take this leniency too lightly and include everything into “unpleasantness”, because after all we are dealing with muktze.

If I own an ostrich, may I handle broken glass?

The Shulchan Aruch tells us [15] that items fit for animals are not muktze, provided that those animals are common. Items fit for animals that are not common, even though the wealthy raise those particular animals (Bengalese tigers?) the items remain muktze, unless you yourself raise such animals. Therefore, if you own a pet ostrich, since ostriches eat broken glass; [16] broken glass for you would not be muktze.

[1] Simon 308:27.

[2] Simon 308:29.

[3] M”B 308:114.

[4] Simon 308:27

[5] Provided that the plate, tray etc is not a basis l’davar ha’assur, i.e. that the muktze was not placed on the heter before Shabbos so as the heter will serve the muktze. There are many particulars to this halacha, which we will be”H learn another time.

[6] If garbage was in the can before Shabbos, the can becomes a basis l’davar ha’assur and is muktze.

[7] Simon 308:115.

[8] Simon 308:60.

[9] Simon 308:34.

[10] Simon 308:115.

[11] Shabbos 121b.

[12] In the back of the sefer written by Rav Pinchas Bodner called “Muktze”.

[13] Simon 308:115.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Simon 308:29

[16] B’raisso Shabbos 128a.


Vort on the Parsha

The Torah calls the festival of Sukkos the festival of gathering and only in Devarim (16:13) is it called Sukkos. The Meshech Chochma (23:16) explains that when the "second" luchos were given to B'nei Yisroel and Moshe descended from the mountain, the clouds of glory returned to protect B'nei Yisroel, and then they were given the festival of Sukkos. Before then it was merely the festival of gathering.


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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.