What is muktzah, where did it come from, and what are it’s ramifications? B’ezras Hashem, throughout the coming weeks we will answer these questions and more as we go through all the relevant halachos of muktzah.
מוקצה literally means “set aside”, i.e. it’s set aside not to be used on Shabbos.
The תורה in פרשת בשלח says,והיה ביום הששי והכינו את אשר יביאו וגו'. There is an opinion in the gemara that from the fact בני ישראל had to “prepare” their food before Shabbos, we learn the concept of muktzah. In other words, anything I want to use on שבת must be “prepared” or set aside (מוכן) beforehand for use on Shabbos. According to this view the איסור of muktzah is מדאוריי'. The חתם סופר however explains that even according to this view the פסוק is only referring to what one eats on שבת (i.e. the food one eats on שבת must be “prepared” before שבת.) Whereas, merely handling i.e. picking up and moving from place to place, something that has not yet been “prepared” for שבת would only be מדרבנן.
The question now is, how does one prepare something for שבת, and is there anything that would not need specific preparation? The גמ' שבת brings a מח' between ר' יהודה and ר' שמעון. R’ Yehuda says nothing is considered prepared unless it is specifically designated for use on שבת, or there is an assumption that this item is normally used on שבת e.g. food that’s not in storage. Whereas, R’ Shimon maintains just the opposite, everything is considered prepared unless one specifically sets it aside not to be used on שבת, or there is an assumption that this object has no שבת use. In this light, R’ Shimon would agree that the categories of מוקצה which are considered set aside not to use on שבת would be a problem of מוקצה.