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Thought for the Day: מוקצה is an All Day Affair

I know the title is more cutesy than usual.  In this case, the cutesiness is just gravy because the title expresses precisely what I want to express.  Deal.

There are several misconception about מוקצה, but a few stand out.  For example, people think it is forbidden touch מוקצה.  Nope; it is only forbidden to move מוקצה.  Note, however, that if the movement is a פסיק רישא/inevitable consequence and that itself could cause a violation of Shabbos (such as touching a hanging oil lamp), then the touching itself is also forbidden.  Other than that, go ahead and touch that hammer and pricey Lladro.

Here's another one: no problem moving the מוקצה item if you need it's place (hey!  I want to sit there!) or the item itself for something permissible (Honey, if you can't find that darn nutcracker again... just use the hammer. ).  Well... not so fast there Quicksdraw!  That rule is only true for a כלי שמלאכתו לאיסור/a tool/utensil whose main function is for a labor forbidden on Shabbos/Yom Tov but which can also be used for permissible stuff.  (See how much more precise and compact the Holy Tongue is?)  So you certainly may move a hammer, but not a coin.  Even if you want to crack a nut with that silver dollar (good luck, by the way), you still can't use money, because money is not a utensil nor tool, it is therefore in the category of מוקצה מחמת גופו/intrinsically מוקצה.

Now to today's core topic.  There is a general rule that something that was מוקצה from before and throughout the onset of Shabbos remains מוקצה for the entire Shabbos.  Classic example of this is Shabbos candelabra; since the candles were burning throughout twilight and the candelabra is supporting the candles that are supporting a flame -- which is מוקצה מחמת גופו -- therefore the candelabra is מוקצה for the entire Shabbos.  Correspondingly, if something was perfectly fine before and during the onset of Shabbos, but then became מוקצה on Shabbos, and then whatever attribute made it מוקצה was also removed on Shabbos, then the item itself is also no longer מוקצה.  Whew... the classic example of this is a towel that gets sopping wet on Shabbos (left in yard and it rained overnight, מוקצה because of fear or wringing it which is either a problem of laundering or squeezing), then becomes dry again; that towel can now be used for drying dishes and babies in the late afternoon heat once it becomes dry.

Now you'll ask me: That being the case, smart guy, why does the Taz (Yoreh Dei'ah, 266, sk 1) say that the mohel must be very careful after a bris on Shabbos to only move the איזמל/bris knife to one secure place -- because after the bris the איזמל is מוקצה!  Isn't that a case of מוקצה for only part of Shabbos?  I'll answer you... just give me a minute... or a day... hmm... interesting... ah!

No, that case does not violate the rule that we don't have partial מוקצה days.  The issue here is that the איזמל is מוקצה all day.  (WHAT?! But the mohel moved it around to do the bris!! .)  Yes, the word מוקצה means "set aside", not "immovable".  The איזמל is הוקצה למצוותו/set aside for its mitzvah.  Of course you can move the איזמל to do the bris -- and nothing else -- because it is precisely for that purpose that it was set aside.

Oh, by the way... the Taz adds that the mohel is allowed to move the איזמל after the bris because if here were not allowed to secure his precious (and expensive) איזמל, then he would not want to do the bris at all.  When Chazal created an exception out of concern that without the exception people would be really stuck is a topic all of its own.


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