new tin of Nescafe is sealed with a piece of aluminum foil. Am I
permitted to rip it open on shabbos or is it called Tearing?
There is a famous Tosefta in Shabbos
17:9 which says the following: "One is permitted to rip the leather
covering a barrel's opening provided that he does not intend making a
spout". This means that it is permitted to tear the leather, or any
covering for that matter, covering a barrel in order to retrieve the
The question is though that we know that tearing
paper or leather is forbidden on Shabbos; if done in a constructive
manner it involves a Biblical transgression and if done in a destructive
manner it involves a rabbinical transgression.
The Rambam says (10:10) that, one who tears
in order to destruct is exempt (from a biblical punishment), but
nevertheless is forbidden to do so, so why should it be permitted when
fixed to a barrel?
The sefer Sh'visas HaShabbos explains
that rags or leather wrapping food or drink become part of the food just
a nutshell is part of the nut, and just as one is permitted to crack
open a nut, so too one is permitted to tear the paper or leather
The Sh'visas HaShabbos adds that "it becomes
like other detached materials where Kore'ah Tearing is not
applicable". We will soon explain this.
Accordingly it is permitted to tear the aluminum foil sealing the
was presented on Shabbos with a piece of veal tied in a net and did not
know how to proceed. Was I permitted to slice the string?
The Shulchan Aruch
says that one is permitted to cut through string tying roast veal or
fowl to the spit. The explanation being, as the poskim
put it, that string is not a k'li and when not cut to size or for a
constructive purpose it is outright permitted.
the string encasing the meat is not cut to size nor cut for a
constructive purpose (
as far as the string is concerned, it is
immaterial that I benefit from the cutting), it is permitted.
then, does the Rambam quoted previously say that one is forbidden to rip
or tear something destructively?
The P'ri Megadim
answered this question saying that a garment, leather or paper are
considered keilim and tearing them is akin to destroying a
k'li which is a rabbinical prohibition. Conversely, a piece of
string or rope is not considered a k'li and therefore its tearing
for no purpose is not an issur at all.
We can now understand the above-mentioned
Sh'visas HaShabbos which said that the leather becomes like any
other detached item and as such Tearing does not apply.
Correct, because the cellophane wrapper becomes
part of the contents and is not looked at as a separate entity, thereby
enabling its tearing to retrieve the contents.
Shlomo Zalman Auerbach Ztz"l
learns from this Sh'visas HaShabbos that one may open any
packaging that is not reused after its contents have been emptied (the
Rav holds that one need not empty the contents upon opening, nor must
the packaging be opened in a destroying manner, but that is a separate
issue) because of this very reason. The Rav did not restrict this rule
to food wrappings, because this reason applies to clothes and toys as
Would this rule apply to opening tin cans as well?
Not exactly, because a barrel with a
piece of leather at its mouth does not change the actual barrel, being
that the leather does not fuse with the barrel. Even after the leather
is attached to the barrel we still call it a barrel with a covering.
Not so a tin can which, after being sealed becomes one entity. It
therefore is not identical to leather on a barrel.
Nevertheless there factors are involved
in issue of tin cans and one should seek rabbinical advice as to
whether one may open tin cans on Shabbos.
Food For Thought
If a lock on a drawer or jewelry box jammed, is one permitted to
break it open?
If I cannot open the string tying a latch, am I permitted to
slash the string?
If a bathroom door jammed, and the only way out is to break the
lock, is one permitted to do so on Shabbos?
Answers coming next week.
Vort on the Parsha
The possuk tells that Hashem said
that he would create a partner for Adam Ezer k'negdo,
which literally means a help against him. Chazal tell us that
when one is fortunate, his wife assists him, and if he is not fortunate
she is against him.
The K'sav Sofer explains that when one looks for the
perfect woman looks, money etc then the possuk "I find the
wife (the perfect one) bitterer than death" applies. If on the other
hand one seeks a wife suited for him then the possuk "One who
finds a wife finds good (fortune)".
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