From the Rav’s Desk: May one play with seashells on Shabbos or are they Muktzah?

  1. Question: [Thursday 1st Marcheshvan 5782]

When my children go to the beach they love to collect seashells as many children do. Are they allowed to play with them on Shabbos or are they considered Muktzah?



Seashells which have been collected before Shabbos and are kept for personal use to serve as a collection, are not considered Muktzah and be moved on Shabbos regularly. Random seashells that are on the beach floor and have not been collected before Shabbos, are considered Muktzah on Shabbos and may not be collected until after Shabbos.

Explanation: Seashells are considered similar to any other raw material, similar to pieces of wood and stone, which are considered Muktzah on Shabbos unless they were predesignated before Shabbos. Now, although we find in certain cases, such as a rock or stone, that pre-designation is not enough and one must actually modify the item to show its purpose, this only applies if the use that one is designating it for is not a common use. If, however, it is a common use, then pre-designation suffices and it does not require any modification. Furthermore, even by a noncommon use, if a designated for this use forever, it does not require a modification. Accordingly, it is clear that seashells which were collected before Shabbos and designated by the individual to be part of his collection to enjoy, and they are considered designated for the sake of a use, and are no longer considered Muktzah. Now, although one could argue that a collection is not considered a use at all, in truth we find that designating an item for memorabilia purposes is considered a use according to Halacha, aside from the fact that kids play with the seashells to put by their ear and listen to the “waves,” and it is no different than any other toy, such as apricot pits and sand that are predesignated for children’s playing and are not considered Muktzah.

Sources: See regarding pre-designating Muktzah items before Shabbos: Admur 308:36, 50-53; Michaber 308:10, 20, 22; Biur Halacha 308:22 “Beyichud”; Ketzos Hashulchan 110:5 See regarding apricot pits: SSH”K 16:10; Piskeiy Teshuvos 308:43  See regarding sand: SSH”K 16:4; See regarding memorabilia items: Tehila Ledavid 336:6; Toras Shabbos 308:2; Ketzos Hashulchan 121 footnote 4; Rav SZ”A in SSH”K 20 footnote 214

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