1) THROWING AN ITEM INTO THE GARBAGE BEFORE SHABBOS
QUESTION: The Beraisa says that if a person throws the top of a broken barrel into the garbage, it becomes Muktzah and forbidden to be handled. It loses its status as a usable utensil by virtue of having been discarded. The Gemara questions this statement from the fact that "a cloak that is thrown into the garbage on Shabbos certainly does not lose its status of a usable cloak." The Gemara answers that the Beraisa refers to a case in which the barrel lid is thrown away before Shabbos. In such a case, the barrel lid loses its status of a usable utensil and may not be handled when Shabbos enters.
Does this imply that a cloak that is thrown into the garbage before Shabbos is Muktzah on Shabbos?
ANSWER: TOSFOS and the RITVA explain that an article of clothing does not lose its status as a utensil ("Kli") even when it is thrown into the garbage before Shabbos. Rather, when the Gemara compares a broken vessel to a cloak, it is giving merely a loose comparison in order to prove its point.
If a broken vessel is thrown into the garbage on Shabbos, it is not logical that it should be worse than a cloak thrown into the garbage on Shabbos, because both items were fully usable utensils at the onset of Shabbos. If, however, it is thrown away before Shabbos, it is logical that the broken vessel should lose its status as a usable item, because it had a low level of significant use to begin with. A cloak, on the other hand, has a high level of significant use, and therefore it does not lose its status of a usable utensil even when it is thrown into the garbage before Shabbos.
2) THE BROKEN PIECES OF AN OLD OVEN
QUESTION: The Gemara cites a Tosefta in which Rebbi Meir and Rebbi Yehudah argue whether or not the broken pieces of an old oven are considered Muktzah on Shabbos. Rava says that the argument is based on another argument between Rebbi Meir and Rebbi Yehudah, concerning whether or not an oven that was fired while resting over a pit and not fully attached to the ground surrounding the pit can become Tamei. The issue there is whether an oven which is not attached to the ground is called an "oven" with regard to the ability to become Tamei or not. Similarly, Rebbi Meir and Rebbi Yehudah argue whether broken pieces of an oven, which are no longer attached to the ground, retain their status of a "usable utensil."
Why does Rava compare the laws of Muktzah on Shabbos with the laws of Tum'ah? A specific verse teaches that an oven must be attached to the ground in order to become Tamei. The ability to become Tamei is unrelated to Shabbos. In order to be considered Muktzah on Shabbos, it must have no common usage. If this oven (or each of its shards) is still usable, it should not be Muktzah!
(a) The RAMBAN says that the normal manner of usage of this type of oven is only when it is attached to the ground. Since that is the normal manner of usage of the oven, when it is not attached it is not considered a usable utensil with regard to Shabbos.
The verse in the Torah teaches that since the normal manner is never to use the oven when it is not attached, it is not considered a utensil in that state and cannot become Tamei. Similarly, with regard to Shabbos, it is not considered a utensil when it is not attached. (It seems that the reasoning behind this is that since a person intends to attach the oven to the ground after Shabbos, he has no intention to use it for any other purpose on Shabbos, and thus it is not considered a usable utensil.)
(b) The RAMBAN and RASHBA offer a second answer. The argument with regard to the broken pieces of an oven does not involve a whole oven which is not attached, but rather a piece that broke off from such an oven. Since the whole oven itself is less valuable than an ordinary, attached oven (as we see from the argument with regard to whether a detached oven can become Tamei), a broken piece from such an oven is not considered a significant utensil at all.
Rava compares the Tum'ah-status of a detached oven with the utensil-status of a broken piece from such an oven. (Rav Ashi, who challenges Rava's comparison, does not agree with the reasoning of Rava in this matter. According to Rav Ashi, if the oven is considered a utensil, then a broken piece from such an oven is also considered a utensil.)
3) "MUKTZAH" WITH REGARD TO OBJECTS THAT ARE ATTACHED TO THE GROUND
QUESTION: According to the Mishnah, one may draw water with a jug while it hangs from the end of a branch only when the jug was tied there before Shabbos. If the jug was not tied to the branch before Shabbos, the branch is Muktzah. Rav Sheshes asserts that the Mishnah discusses a branch that is still attached to the ground (and is lower than three Tefachim off the ground). If a jug is tied to it before Shabbos it is not Muktzah, since it was "prepared" for drawing water before Shabbos.
It seems clear from the Gemara that even vegetation that is attached to the ground can be considered Muktzah. Why, then, is one permitted to walk on grass on Shabbos? Since the grass is Muktzah (since it is attached and cannot be used on Shabbos; see Shabbos 121a), when a person walks on it he moves an object of Muktzah!
(a) The PRI MEGADIM (Mishbetzos Zahav OC 336:4) explains that one is permitted to walk on grass since one may move Muktzah objects with one's feet (see Insights to Shabbos 127a and 141a, where we discuss the various opinions on this matter).
(b) HA'GA'ON RAV SHLOMO ZALMAN AUERBACH zt'l (Minchas Shlomo 10:1, fn. 2) explains that since grass returns to its former position by itself after one walks on it, it is not comparable to moving Muktzah.
(c) According to some opinions, moving part of an item that is Muktzah is not prohibited (as ha'Gaon Rav Yisrael Zev Gustman zt'l explained to me; see also Insights to Shabbos 120:3:a). Accordingly, it cannot be prohibited to move Muktzah which is attached to the ground, because one moves only part of the entire Muktzah object (since the ground itself is not being moved).
Why, then, should one be prohibited to move the branch in order to draw water from the well when the branch was not prepared before Shabbos?
The Gemara explains that one not only moves the branch, but he also uses it (to draw water). Perhaps one is prohibited only to use Muktzah that is attached to the ground. One is permitted to trample grass while he walks, since he does not use the grass, but rather he walks upon it. (See Rashba to Shabbos 29a, cited in Insights to Shabbos 28:3:a, who discusses the possibility that using Muktzah while one touches it is worse than merely touching it). (M. KORNFELD)