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Can one designate any normally muktzeh item for Shabbat/Shabbos or Yom Tov personal use, like rocks, animals, etc, thus making it not muktzeh?

The question essentially is: can one avoid the prohibition of muktzeh through the legal loophole of designating items for actual use, even in cases where all opinions hold it is the highest level of muktzeh or even in a case where the Rabbis made a "lo plug" prohibition on a particular case of muktzeh (e.g. animals according to some Rishonim).

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    IINM, it depends on what type of muktzah it is, but I don't have the laws clear enough to write an answer at this point. Good question though, +1! – Shokhet Oct 15 '14 at 20:38
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Very broad question. There are many types of muktza. From the two you mentioned, rocks should be designated for the use you intend forever. This is how the mishna berurah ruled. Pets are tough. Many huge poskim all come from an answer that the Rosh gave about birds in cages that animals stay muktzah under all circumstances. Chacham Ovadia and the seffer Bitzel Hachachma from the Debertziner' s brother come to mind. Reb Moshe Feinstein is quoted in the newest chelek of the Igros Moshe as being lenient for pets, the muktzah of animals is reserved for non useful farm animals. Pets are specifically designated as useful for fun and companionship.

  • This is nice information, but it doesn't answer the question. My question is: even according to the Rosh that animals are muktzeh (and every other muktzeh case), can one technically designate it before shabbat for use to circumvent the muktzeh prohibition. – Emet v'Shalom Oct 18 '14 at 23:55
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    There are different categories of muktzah. Each category has a different procedure for designating it to be used, if designation is needed at all. Some muktzah are so huktah that they possibly don't have that option of designation to change their muktzah status. Take a kli shemilachto li'issur. This is not a muchtzah chamur and does not even require designation before shabbos. – user6591 Oct 19 '14 at 0:09
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    Some muktzah are so chamur like dirt and money that serve no practical purpose on shabbos that they need special designation to be used. The special designation is that they will from now on and forever they will be used as a doorstop or bottle top or what have you. This designation must occur before shabbos. – user6591 Oct 19 '14 at 0:12
  • This Rosh as he is quoted by these other tshuvos is of the opinion that all animals have a special status of muktzah that they can never be designated for anything else. Pets included. – user6591 Oct 19 '14 at 0:14
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    The first source is siman 308 in shulchan aruch orach chayim for basic muktzah halachos. Mishna Berurah etc. There is a siff that deals with animals. Look in a more modern seffer with maareh mikomos that deals with pets, like piskei tshuvos. What you say about pets is true according to reb Moshe as I mentioned. But according to these other opinions pets are even more chamur and huktzah than even dirt and can never be taken out of that status. – user6591 Oct 19 '14 at 0:22
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Rabbi Howard Jachter, in an excellent article on Halachic Perspectives on Pets (http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/english/halacha/jachter_1.htm), footnote 44, quotes "Rabbi Shmuel David (Sheilot Uteshuvot Meirosh Tzurim 38:6) (http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=22624&st=&pgnum=270) [who] cogently argues that one who is accustomed to move his pets is analogous to someone who prepares a rock prior to Shabbat for use on Shabbat. In such cases the rock is no longer muktza since he has demonstrated that the rock has utility for him on Shabbat (ordinarily, rocks are muktza since they serve no purpose on Shabbat; once one demonstrated his use for a rock then it is no longer classified as muktza). Similarly, one who ordinarily moves his pets demonstrates thereby that they have utility on Shabbat and hence are not muktza". R' Jachter does not say whether he agrees with this statement or not.

So the answer according to Rabbi David is yes. I don't know if anyone else agrees with this.

Also, this quote does not clearly explain how to designate the rock: Is thought or speech enough, or do you have to do an action with the rock which demonstrates its use (e.g. using it as a paper weight, door-stopper, or a toy).

  • You are misquoting the article and taking the footnote out of context. He states both sides of the argument and you make it sound like he only quoted one. Furthermore, although you changed your question to better fit the answer you found, you did a disservice to yourself by completely missing his point about 'using and moving' vs designating. – user6591 Oct 21 '14 at 2:33
  • I don't understand what you mean. I am not misquoting the article. I also added that R Jachter doesn't say whether he agrees with the statement; and that R David is the one with this opinion. I did not use this quote to speak about pets necessarily; but rather for the designation of the ROCK statement. The "MOVING of the pet" part does not necessarily apply to the rock. So yes, according to R Shmuel David, you at most have to do an action to remove the muktzeh status, but he does not talk about whether thought or speech works too, which is why I left that part in question. – Emet v'Shalom Oct 21 '14 at 2:42
  • I quoted R Jachter to avoid plagiarism and to direct people to that article if they are interested. If anybody wants to learn more about pets or the halachik perspectives of whether they are muktzeh, they can read his article. Anyway, he happens to not rule on the matter, by bringing the different opinions (if that is what "argument" you were referring to). I am merely quoting the svara concerning designating items (i.e. rocks in specific and also pets), irregardless of their prior muktzeh status. – Emet v'Shalom Oct 21 '14 at 2:48

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