Monday, November 13, 2006

Envelopes on Shabbos

As always, posts here should not be relied upon for practical Halachah.

I've seen some contemporary Sefarim (Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen's Practical Guide to Muktzah, Ketzos HaShabbos, and others) that say that envelopes are in the category of being Muktzeh Machamas Chisaron Kis. Generally speaking, this category of Muktzeh is for things that have a primary prohibited use, and any potential permitted use is not under consideration due to the particularized nature of that thing, and, hence, there is an unwillingness to use it for that permitted use.

A classic example is a Shechita knife, which is primarily for Shechita, and one would not consider using to, say, slice bread, due to the specialized and delicate nature of the knife.

The item need not be expensive - a sheet of high quality paper would also presumably not be used for any kind of permitted activity on Shabbos, and may therefore fall under this category as well.

Regarding envelopes, though, at least personally, I don't see it. I use envelopes to store things which are not Muktza all the time. I realize, however, that these Halachos are subjective.

The question arises regarding pledge envelopes given in Shul after Aliyos. Presumably, there are used solely for the insertion of money/checks and sending it over to the Shul, an action prohibited on Shabbos. Indeed, I recently saw a responsa from Rav Ovadia Yosef who says that these envelopes are Muktza for this reason. He recommends that the Shul insert a Dvar Torah/ Halachah in the envelope, so that it serves that purpose as well and will not be Muktzah.

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