Question: What is the procedure for doing ‘zimun’ (explicit designation) before Yom Tov on animals that would otherwise be considered muktzah?
Answer: We will explain the procedure by first giving 3 possible alternatives, then stating which are acceptable by halacha. Let’s take the example of birds (see previous lesson for which type are not precluded because of trapping):
One could do ‘zimun’ before Yom Tov by:
Method #1) Physical lifting (Heb. ‘na-a-nua’) those birds he would like to slaughter and eat on Yom Tov.
Method #2) Verbally saying (while looking at specific birds from among the group): “This one and this one I will take!” (Heb. ‘zeh va-zeh ani notel’) Method #3) Verbally saying: “I will take from this general area.” (Heb. ‘mi-kahn ani notel’)
Question: Which method(s) should one use?
The first method is the “deluxe” method which works and is actually required by Beis Shamai. However, Beis Hillel does not require this method and their opinion is the accepted one in halacha.
The second method works and is the method of choice. Practically, it may be difficult to execute, because one must eye and select a particular bird (or birds) and take a mental picture of that bird, so that when he comes to gather it, he will be sure to take the one(s) that was/were ‘mezuman’ (pre-designated!) None of the other birds are ‘muchan’ (prepared) - they are all muktzah! Are we concerned that when he goes to pick up his ‘muchan’ bird, he might see that it is not so plump and reach for another one instead, thereby violating muktzah? No, because since he chose method #2, he has demonstrated that he is not so particular and is satisfied with selecting one from sight distance.
That leads us to the third method, which does not work. Indeed, there is a concept in halacha called ‘B’reira’ (retroactive designation), whereby a person can confer a status on a specific object now, even though the identity of that object will be determined at a later time. According to the B’raira concept, it would theoretically be acceptable for him to do ‘zimun’ on Erev Yom Tov by verbalizing: “I will take, from this general area, tomorrow “x” number of birds.” Then, on Yom Tov, he would go over to the group of birds, select and pick up the number of birds he wants, and retroactively, those birds are the ‘mezuman’ ones from yesterday! Practically, however, halacha does not allow for this method. Why not? Because we are concerned that he will pick up one bird, and put it back down, thinking that it isn’t plump enough. By the time he finally makes his selections, he will have handled more than the number of birds that were ‘mezuman’, thereby violating muktzah! (Ed. Do you see why we are concerned about a person who would choose method #3 more than one who would choose method #2? If you can, then you have a Gemara kup – Mazel Tov!)