Shabbat 124 - Prophet Nechemia and Shabbat

Prophet Nechemia says, " During those days, I saw people in Judah pressing wine-vats on the Shabbat and bringing in the heaps from the field ." On seeing this, he devoted himself to halting the Shabbat violations and restoring the special character of the Shabbat day. One of the measures that he employed, together with the Sages of the Sanhedrin, was the establishment of the prohibitions of "muktzeh," things set aside and not to be used on Shabbat. When the degree of Shabbat observance improved, the Sages gradually eased the restrictions. Most of the arguments about muktzeh on Shabbat are about how far did this easement go.

The prevailing ruling therefore is that one may move all utensils in order to use them for a permitted purpose, with a few exceptions. However, Rabbi Nechemyah maintains that one can use the utensil only for the same purpose as it was originally designated.

If a utensil broke on Shabbat, its pieces can be used, but only if the remaining piece can be put for some use. For example, fragments of a mixing bowl can be used to form an improvised cover for a jug. Rabbi Yehudah limits it further: this use should be similar to that of the complete utensil, for example, fragments of glass can be used only if you can pour oil in them.

Art: William-Adolphe Bouguereau - The Broken Pitcher