Muktze: Permissible Kelim

The Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 308:4) discusses a type of Muktze which is known as Keli Shemelachto LeHeter, or a vessel whose act is permissible. This refers to objects whose primary purpose does not involve a violation of the forbidden labors on Shabbat. One is allowed to move such objects, even if it is for the sake of the object not breaking or being stolen. This is in contrast to a Keli Shemelachto LeIsur, a vessel whose act is forbidden, which is only allowed to be moved for a permitted act or to liberate a needed place. The Shulhan Aruch adds that if there is no purpose to moving a Keli Shemelachto LeHeter, then it is forbidden to move it. Furthermore, holy writings, such as a Torah scroll or Megillat Esther,  and food are allowed to be moved even for no particular purpose. It should be noted that a Megillat Esther is not allowed to be moved if Purim falls on Shabbat.

Regarding cutlery, there is a question as to whether it is considered a regular Keli Shemelachto LeHeter or if, as accessories to food, they have the same dispensation as food itself. The Mishna Berura (M.B., O.H. 308:23) writes that indeed, cutlery, bowls, cups and plates have the same status as food itself and thus could be moved for no purpose, but also mentions a stringent dissenting opinion. The Sha’ar Hatziyun (ibid:21) cites the Rambam in his Pirush HaMishnayot, who forbids moving such objects for no reason, as does the Ben Ish Hai (Miketz, 1).

Nevertheless, Rabbi Baruch Toledano (Kitzur Shulhan Aruch, 286:22), citing the aforementioned Mishna Berura, writes that the strict opinion is a novel interpretation and is not to be relied upon. Additionally, the Aruch Hashulhan writes that playing with a utensil to calm one’s nerves or as a type of distraction is considered enough of a purpose even for the strict approach and would be permitted. 

Regarding foods which are not permitted, Rabbi Baruch Toledano (ibid.) takes a strict approach. For example, he decries different Jewish groups who would distribute Matza in Morocco on Shabbat when Pesach falls on Motzae Shabbat. Since one is not allowed to eat Matza on Erev Pesach, he distinguishes Matza from other foods, and considers it a Muktze Mahmat Hisaron Kis, and therefore forbids moving it at all on such a Shabbat.  

Summary:    A Keli Shemelachto LeHeter is an object with a permissible use and can be moved for its use or for its place, but cannot be moved for no reason. Holy writings and food can be moved even for no reason. Cutlery, cups and the like are treated as food and can also be moved for no particular purpose. Matzah should not be moved on Erev Pesach that falls on Shabbat.