Muktze: Kelim with forbidden uses

A third type of Muktze is known as Kli Shemelachto LeIsur, or a vessel whose primary function is for a forbidden act on Shabbat. The Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 308:3) rules that such an object may be used for a permitted function. The examples given by the Shulhan Aruch are using a smith’s hammer, which is normally used to strike gold or other metals, to crack open nuts or a hoe, which is normally used to till the ground, to cut open a fig. The Shulhan Aruch says that such Muktze may be moved if one needs the spot on which it is laying, such as if one needs to move a pair of scissors from one’s chair if one needs to sit down. One may not, however, move this type of Muktze so that the item itself does not get damaged or stolen. 

The Pri Megadim (§ 338) and Rabbi Avraham Buchach (Eshel Avraham ibid:3), who quotes the Levush, discuss objects that are typically not used on Shabbat because of a stringency and not because of the letter of the law. They write that such objects do not have the status of a Kli Shemelachto LeIsur but rather a Kli Shemelachto LeHeter. In other words, an object’s primary purpose has to be forbidden on Shabbat by the letter of the law in order to be considered a Kli Shemelachto LeIsur and not because a stringency has been accepted to not use this object on Shabbat. One example is a scooter, which strictly speaking, is not forbidden to ride on Shabbat but rather there is an accepted custom to be strict not to ride them on Shabbat. Rabbi Ben Zion Abba Shaul (Or LeZion, vol. II, ch. 26, §11) discusses the Muktze status of a mercury thermometer on Shabbat. He writes that thermometers are usually used by those who are ill and ill people are allowed to check their temperature with such a thermometer on Shabbat. As such, he rules that a thermometer would be considered Kli Shemelachto LeHeter. 

The Rama (ibid.) adds that although moving Muktze in certain situations is forbidden, touching it is not. Some interpret the Rama as meaning that one can only touch Muktze if it is not one’s primary intent, such as if one walks by and grazes it. Rabbi Avraham HaKohen (Yukah Na), however, writes that even if one specifically wishes to touch Muktze for its own sake, it would be permitted so long as one does not move it. Therefore, one may touch or even lean on a car on Shabbat. Rabbi Shalom Messas (Tevuot Shamesh Orah Haim, §57) appears to agree with this approach as he writes that regarding a timer, one may specifically touch it on Shabbat. 

Summary:    An object whose main function is forbidden on Shabbat may be used for a permitted purpose and may be moved if one needs that spot. One may touch Muktze as long as one does not move it.