Beitzah, Daf 33
Shabbat – About Opening Packages
by Susan Suna
The discussion on Beitza Daf 33b impacts opening packages on Shabbat today. Rav Acha Bar Yaccov brings in a stam mishna from Shabbat 146 that states:
“A person may break a barrel to eat dried figs from it, provided that he does not intend to make a vessel” Rashi explains that one should not intend when breaking the vessel to create a nice opening as that would be creating a vessel.
In order to understand Rebbi Eliezer’s opinion in relation to the Stam Mishna, the Gemara then delves into the scenario of breaking off a piece of wood from a larger piece (that is detached from the ground) in order to enjoy its scent. Here we see that Rabanan allow it and Rebbi Eliezer prohibits it. The Gemara understands Rebbi Eliezer’s opinion as based on the fact that since the intent to make a vessel is a violation of a Torah edict, there is a Rabbinic prohibition of breaking off of the wooden piece even if there isn’t an intent to make a vessel. The discussion moves towards picking off a piece of wood to use as a toothpick or key. Rebbi Eliezer views this as a D’Oraita prohibition while Rabbanan state that this act would be a violation of a rabbinic decree as these items are being made by hand in a manner that one does not make a vessel.
Applying Rebbi Eliezer’s opinion to the situation presented by the Mishna, Rebbi Eliezer would not allow one to break the barrel open in order to get the food. Since one who intends to make a nice opening to the vessel encounters a D’Oraita prohibition of making a vessel, there would be a Rabbinic edict prohibiting opening the barrel for food. So how do we reconcile Rebbi Eliezer with our Stam Mishna? Rav Ashi states that according to Rebbi Eliezer the barrel discussed in the Mishna is “Mustaki” – it had previously been broken and was now glued together. In this case there is no concern that one will make a nice opening (Rashi) and even if that was one’s intent according to the R”I in Tosafot it would not be considered making a vessel as it is in poor condition. Once it is broken, it is no longer a viable vessel.
On our daf Rebbi Eliezer’s opinion appears as a minority opinion and this is Rashi’s ruling as well as that of the Rambam and Rif. . However Tosafot (Shabbat 146) states that Rabanan agree with Rebbi Eliezer that the barrel cited in the Mishna is “Mustaki”. Therefore if it was a barrel in good condition – one would not be permitted to break it open. The prohibition would be that of סותר demolishing. Anything that is prohibited due to building, its destruction is also prohibited on a D’Oraita level. Rav Ovadia Yosef (Yechave Daat 2:52)ת who follows Rashi, rules that there is no issue of סותר when opening containers on Shabbat. Rav Moshe (in the Igrot Moshe Orech Chaim a, 122, 3) explains Rashi and the Ran’s permission to open the barrel and states that one can open small packages of candies and clothes as well as metal cans as there is no prohibition of סותר with small vessels. This Heter is only given for the needs of Shabbat.
Teachers: Yehudit Epstein & Dena Rock