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Thought for the Day: When Muktza Is Not Muktza

One of the frustrations with learning physics is that physics uses words that have common meanings for very precise concepts.  For example, in physics we have the concept of "work".  According to the physics definition, a person who picks up a 16 lb bowling ball in the morning, carries it around all day, and finally puts it back exactly where it started has done no work.  You and I know he is exhausted, of course, and it seems nonsensical to say that he has done no work.  That is because you and I (well, you, anyway) use the word "work" to mean one thing and physicists use it to me something else.  The word was chosen as the best possible one for the concept, but pitting a precise concept against a common (ie, sloppy) usage will always lead to some frustration.

I read a fascinating piece in Shulchan Shlomo on muktza (Vol 2, "b'gidrei muktza", right at the beginning).  The word "muktza" comes from "muktza mi'da'as" -- put out of one's thoughts.  For example, I put grapes on the roof to dry into raisins.  From the time they start to wither until they are completed raisins, they are pretty disgusting and no one would want to eat them -- they are muktza.  There is a general rule that something which is muktza "bein hashmashos" (twilight) will remain muktza the entire Shabbos.  So if those grapes go up on the roof Friday afternoon, even though they may be raisins by Saturday afternoon, they will remain unavailable to me (muktza) until after Shabbos.  On the other hand, suppose I taste the chicken late friday afternoon, so I cannot not have milchigs throughout the entire twilight period.  Milchigs is certainly "muktza mi'da'ati", but they are not muktza.  Another example is that I can put raw meat into the cholent pot just before candle lighting specifically to take my mind of that cholent all Friday night, but the cholent will not be muktza for the Shabbos day meal.  The Shulchan Shlomo even brings of the idea of a suit that I am saving for Shabbos morning and therefore actively "maktze mi'da'ati" -- put it out of my mind -- for Friday night.  Again, just because did something to put it out of my mind, doesn't make it muktza.  Rather, those things that Chazal gave the name "muktza" are muktza; and anything else isn't muktza even though the adjective is apropos.


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