MBY 497:1-2 Which foods are considered “prepared” (i.e. non-muktzah) for Yom Tov (Part 1)
Intro: The title of this siman suggests that the issue at hand is one of muktzah. I suggest that you review the lesson from MBY 495, particularly section #5 regarding muktzah on Yom Tov. Actually, our current siman discusses more than just muktzah; it is also about one of the Melachos: trapping (‘tzod’). Therefore, I suggest that you also review section #1 (of MBY 495) regarding M’leches Ochel Nefesh (the melachos that relate to food preparation)… Now that you have reviewed these principles, I will let you in on a secret: The issue of muktzah and the issue of melacha are closely related, as we will soon see!
Question: Is it permissible to trap animals on Yom Tov?
Answer: No, as this is one of the melachos that “is typically done much in advance and in large quantities, and the food is then generally stored away for future use.” Furthermore, “(It) can also be done a day or two in advance and the food will not suffer in freshness or in taste…” (Quotes are from MBY 495.)
Question: So, how is trapping related to muktzah?
Answer: If an un-trapped animal is inaccessible to me on Yom Tov because it is not permissible for me to trap it, then the animal is muktzah! (Ed: This kind of muktzah is not disputed, neither on Shabbos nor on Yom Tov.) Furthermore, if the animal is muktzah, then even if somehow I managed to get a hold of it without having to trap it (e.g. it jumped into my lap!) the animal would still be muktzah, because I had no control over that access (at least in a halachically permissible way.) Make sense?
[Summary: This un-trapped animal is forbidden to me for two reasons: 1) I may not do the melacha necessary to trap it. 2) It is muktzah, since I have no controlled access to it.]
Question: It is it permissible to feed animals that are considered un-trapped or muktzah?
Answer: Halacha normally permits me to feed my animals on Shabbos and Yom Tov. However, they made a fence when it comes to animals I may not trap or eat on YomTov. The Rabbis were concerned that were the owner to come close and feed it, he may just decide to grab it and eat it (after slaughtering and preparing it, of course), thus violating both prohibitions: 1) The prohibition against the melacha of trapping and 2) The prohibition against eating muktzah. Of course, the Sages did not intend for the animal to starve; rather they required the owner to place the food a distance away from the animal and have the animal bring itself to the food. By veering from normal practice, the owner would thereby remember not to take it and eat it.
[Note: Let’s say an animal is muktzah but taking it would not require trapping – e.g. a domesticated cow, which had heretofore been used solely for milking, but now the owner decides on Yom Tov to slaughter it. (This case was disputed between the Mechaber and the Rama in siman 495, so we speak now according to the Mechaber who holds it to be muktzah.) Would the owner still be prohibited from feeding it, since there is only one prohibition preventing him from taking it? That is a matter of dispute and is discussed in the Mishnah Berura - not for now!]
Question: What is considered ‘trapping’ an animal? Catching fish from a large pond or river is certainly trapping and is forbidden. Catching fish from a small area like a small stocked pond is not considered to be trapping according to the Torah, but it is, according to the Rabbis. Unlike land animals, which are more easily trapped in a small pen, fish have the added challenge in that: 1) They are underwater, and 2) They swim and squirm around very rapidly avoiding being trapped. In general, animals which are not forbidden to be trapped are not muktzah!