shabbos candles

Weekly Shabbos Halacha Series
Halachos Series on Hilchos Shabbos

shabbos candles

Published by
Pirchei Shoshanim

A Project of
The Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Written by

Rabbi Dovid
Ostroff, shlita


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



Questions for the Week of Chayei Sarah


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 Mishna Berura 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 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 carmelis 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 .

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 perforated line?

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

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 one only tears on the perforated 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. [10]

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

            In three different cases the gemora in Yevamos 114a [11] teaches us that an adult may not hand a child an issur, regardless of the childs age. [12]

The first case deals with handing a child something forbidden to eat. The possuk in Vayikra (11:42) says , and the gemora teaches that the Torah is telling us we must not feed a child an issur. This has nothing to do with the mitzvah of chinuch educating a child to perform and heed the mitzvos, rather it is a negative commandment prohibiting adults from feeding a child an issur.

The second case refers to the issur of drinking blood. The possuk in Vayikra (17:12) says , and since this issur was written previously, the gemora understands that it is teaching us that an adult may not feed blood to a child.

The last case deals with impurity. The possuk in Vayikra (21:1) says , from the seemingly superfluous word you shall say to, the gemora understands that we are prohibited from handing a child-Cohen something that will cause him to be defiled.

The poskim learn [13] that these three halachos teach us that one may not hand a child any issur, even if it is only an issur drabanan.

            What if I am merely placing it is his hand, or placing him next to the issur or the issur next to the child?

            The gemora Shabbos at the end of the 9th perek says that one may not hand a child a non-kosher grasshopper, lest it dies and the child will eat it. (I suppose that this exact scene would not take place nowadays but the ramifications of this case are definitely pertinent). Rashi there explains that placing the issur in the childs hand is akin to feeding him the issur. It follows that placing the issur in front of the child, in a way that the child will certainly take it, is similar to handing it to him and if through ones action the child can partake of the issur, one may not do it.

[1] Rambam Hilchos Shabbos 10:10.

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

[3] The Shulchan Aruch HaRav siman 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] " ".

[10] Hagaon HaRav Sternbuch shlita.

[11] 6 lines from the bottom of the amud.

[12] Shulchan Aruch HaRav 343:5, MB 343:3 and Shaar Hatsiun 6.

[13] MB 343:4 and Shaar Hatsiun 12.


Orchos Chaim LaRosh

            , spread your money according to His will, because He can replace your loss and feed your household.

We must not think that by giving charity our finances will be depleted, and by doing chessed (obviously within halachic limits) that our families and children will lose out. A king assists those that help his children.


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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.