Opening Food Packages With Words On Shabbat

The Daily Halacha Moment - Opening Food Packages On Shabbat 🌯


״כל השונה הלכות בכל יום - מובטח לו שהוא בן העולם הבא״ (נידה עג ע״א, מגילה כח:)


“Anyone who studies Halachot every day is guaranteed that he is destined for the world-to-come” (Megilla 28b, Niddah 73a)


Question:

May one rip open packages of food on Shabbat if one will be ripping letters/words as a result?


Answer:

According to the Sephardic custom, It is permitted to tear open a packaging of food even though one will inevitably rip some letters that are printed on the packaging. However, if possible, it is preferable to rip around the letters. [1] Similarly, it is permitted as well to open bags of milk (in Israel milk is typically packaged in bags), or other beverages packaged in foil packets, especially if one destroys the package as one opens it (some Ashkenazim are lenient as well, one should follow ones custom). [2] According to the Ashkenazic custom when cutting open a food wrapper, it is forbidden to destroy any letters or pictures on the wrapper. Similarly, when cutting food that has a sticker attached to it (e.g. Name-brand sticker on fruit, bakery sticker on challah), it is forbidden to destroy any letters that are on the sticker. [3]


Sources:

[1]. Yalkut Yosef, Shabbat, vol. 2, p. 519; vol. 4, p. 132; vol. 5, p. 117; Ohr LeTzion, vol. 2, 27:7. Since one is not erasing in order to write, this kind of erasing constitutes only a rabbinic prohibition. One also does not destroy the letters entirely. Furthermore, since one does not intend to perform this forbidden work and one does not care about that outcome that ensues as a result of it, there is not prohibition to perform such a work.

[2]. See Chazon Ovadia, Shabbat, vol. 5, pp. 365-367; Mishneh Halachot, 10:59; Tzitz Eliezer, vol. 14, 45:5; Or Letzion, vol. 2, p. 221.

[3]. See The Shabbos Home, vol. 1, p. 51.


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