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Shabbat: Opening Packages

Beitzah, Daf 33

Shabbat – About Opening Packages

by Susan Suna

聽The discussion on Beitza Daf 33b impacts聽 opening packages on Shabbat today. Rav Acha Bar Yaccov brings in a stam mishna from Shabbat 146 that states:聽

鈥淎 person may break a barrel to eat dried figs from it, provided that he does not intend to make a vessel鈥 Rashi explains that one should not intend when breaking the vessel to create a nice opening as that would be creating a vessel.聽聽

In order to understand Rebbi Eliezer鈥檚 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鈥檚 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鈥檛 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鈥橭raita 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.聽

Applying Rebbi Eliezer鈥檚 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鈥橭raita 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 鈥淢ustaki鈥 – 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鈥檚 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鈥檚 opinion appears as a minority opinion and this is Rashi鈥檚 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 鈥淢ustaki鈥.聽 Therefore if it was a barrel in good condition – one would not be permitted to break it open. The prohibition would be that of 住讜转专 demolishing. Anything that is prohibited due to building, its destruction is also prohibited on a D鈥橭raita level. Rav Ovadia Yosef (Yechave Daat 2:52)转 who follows Rashi, rules that there is no issue of 住讜转专 when opening containers on Shabbat. Rav Moshe (in the Igrot Moshe Orech Chaim a, 122, 3) explains Rashi and the Ran鈥檚 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 住讜转专 with small vessels. This Heter is only given for the needs of Shabbat.

Teachers: Yehudit Epstein & Dena Rock

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