shabbos candles

The Shabbos Weekly
Halachos Series on Hilchos Shabbos

shabbos candles

Published by
Pirchei Shoshanim

A Project of
The Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Based on the Shiurim Given by

Rabbi Dovid
Ostroff, shlita

developed from the Chabura of the
Pirchei Shoshanim Shulchan Aruch Learning Project

These Halachos were shown by Rabbi Ostroff to
HaGaon HaRav Moshe Sternbuch, shlita


Questions for the Week of Parshas Shemos

May one tear a piece of glad-wrap from the roll on Shabbos?

Destructive tearing on Shabbos is merely an issur drabanan but constructive tearing on Shabbos is an issur doraisso (a biblical violation). [1]

The MB writes [2] that tearing paper in order to use the torn pieces is a beneficial tearing and hence it would be an issur doraisso. [3]

Accordingly, tearing a piece of Glad Wrap or aluminum foil from the roll infringes on an issur doraisso and may not be done on Shabbos for any reason. [4] However, tearing open the glad wrap that is covering a bowl of salad is totally permitted as one is destructing the glad wrap and it is being done in order to be able to attain the contents of the bowl and not for the sake of tearing the wrapping.

This latter halacha is learned from a Tosefta [5] that teaches us that one may rip the leather covering a barrel in order to reach the wine.

What about tearing toilet paper when there is no option?

Obviously one must prepare toilet paper before Shabbos. The problem arises when one has depleted the supply of tissues, torn toilet paper etc. or one is in a place where there is no pre-torn paper.

For obvious reasons we will not discuss the various technical options that are on hand when there is no toilet paper available, but when those options are exhausted and/or ones only practical option is uncut toilet paper, the following is the correct procedure:

One should tear the toilet paper by resting ones elbows on the sheet of toilet paper and tear it with ones elbows. This is called tearing kilachar yad in a backhanded manner, and is only an issur drabanan. [6]

Where do we find that one may violate an issur drabanan in such a case?

There are two sources. The Rama says [7] that one may carry stones (olden day toilet paper) from a reshus hayachid (a private domain) into a karmelis even though one is violating an issur drabanan. The basis for this heter is that Chazal did not institute their prohibition when it confronts a persons dignity - 'kavod habriyus'.

The other source is the Mechaber [8] who permits one to raise a stone that has moss growing on it even though raising it from the ground is a violation of an issur drabanan.

This therefore is the basis for this heter.

Does it make a difference whether toilet paper is torn on the dotted line?

In order to answer this question we must, in a few words, familiarize ourselves with the melacha called Mechatech tearing or cutting to an exact size or measurement.

'Mechatech' is the melacha of cutting or tearing an item for a specific purpose or size. An example of this is a gemora which says that one who purposely breaks the feather between the soft part and hard part has violated Mechatech. The soft part would be used for down and pillows and the hard part would be used for hat manufacturing. Since one is particular about breaking the feather at that exact point, it is mechatech.

Based on this and many other proofs we can determine that although tearing toilet paper involves Koreah and maybe even making a kli, tearing on the dotted line is probably not Mechatech. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach explains [9] that since one only tears on the dotted line because it is a convenient manner of tearing the paper but not because one is particular about the exact size of the paper. Proof of that is that each paper company has a different size paper and nobody buys paper because company A has paper size B.

This means that one may only tear paper backhandedly, as mentioned above, when there is no other feasible option, but one need not be particular about not cutting on the perforated line.

However, we do not find this opinion mentioned in other poskim and therefore, if possible, one should avoid tearing on the perforated line.

[1] Rambam Hilchos Shabbos 10:10.

[2] MB simon 340:41, based on simon 340 seif 14.

[3] The Shulchan Aruch HaRav simon 340:17 has a different definition of the melacha of Koreah, see inside.

[4] See the SSK 23 footnote 46 in the name of Rav Shlomo Zalman.

[5] See MB 314:25.

[6] SSK 23:16.

[7] Simon 312:1 and MB 8.

[8] Simon 312:3 and MB 12.

[9] " ".

Food For Thought

May an adult hand a child food that is not kosher?

May an adult instruct a child to turn on the lights?

If a child turned on the lights may adults benefit from them?

If one forgot to turn out the refrigerator light may one ask a child to open the refrigerator door?

Answers coming next week.

Vort on the Parsha

Hashem tells Moshe Rabeinu that not only will Aharon your brother not be upset with you for being appointed the redeemer of Israel, he will be happy in his heart for you.

Rav Sternbuch shlita heard in the name of Rav Chaim of Brisk, that when a rav declares that an animal is treif and it must be discarded, a person might be disheartened by the monetary loss but manages to get on with life, but when the same rav rules that ones litigant is correct and one must pay him, anger builds up inside and the same person finds it hard to come to terms with the verdict.

The reason is because one is more concerned when the other party gets credit then oneself not getting credited.

Aharon, although being Moshes older brother, and he was the one who suffered all the hardships in Egypt together with the People of Israel all the while Moshe was in Midyan (and according to the Midrash he was away for many years), nevertheless he was truly happy about Moshes appointment.

For a printed version, click here.


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Note:  The purpose of this series is intended solely for the clarification of the topics discussed and not to render halachic decisions. It is intended to heighten everyone's awareness of important practical questions which do arise on this topic.  One must consult with a proper halachic authority in order to receive p'sak.