Cases of tearing which do not contain any prohibition

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Cases of tearing which do not contain any prohibition:

1. The conditions needed to be allowed to cut an item on Shabbos:[1]

[Although cutting wood even to big pieces is forbidden due to it being a mundane act, nevertheless] other detached items which cutting is 1) not considered a mundane action are allowed [to be cut] as long as 2) one does not have intent to cut them to a specific size and 3) does not cut them into very small pieces, as well as 4) that it is an item that does not contain [the prohibition of] fixing a vessel in cutting it as will be explained in chapter 340 [Halacha 17][2], [as well as 5) It does not contain the tearing prohibition, as well as 6) It does not contain a destroying prohibition, as well as 7) it does not contain an erasing prohibition].

2. Cutting the strings wrapped or sewed around food:[3]

The string wrapping around a chunk of meat: Based on this it is permitted to cut the knots of a spit which are tied around a lamb or chicken that are roasting on it.

Sewing of stuffed chicken: Similarly, stuffed chickens which are sewed shut one is allowed to cut the string of the sewing.

3. Breaking the rope that secures a cover to its vessel:[4]

Seals that are on vessels, such as a chest of drawers, box and portable tower which have their covering tied to them with a rope, it is permitted to cut the rope even with a knife or undo [the rope even] through taking apart its threads[5], in order to open [the box] to remove its content.

Undoing its knot: It goes without saying that it is allowed to undo the knot as it is not a permanent knot being that it is meant to be constantly removed.

The reason that this does not contain a destroying prohibition: Now, although the rope is made to attach the cover to the vessel, and thus when one cuts it or undoes it he is destroying this attachment, [nevertheless] this does not contain the [prohibition of] destroying as the rope [only gives the cover] a weak attachment [to the vessel] being that it is not that strong, and thus when one destroys it one is destroying an incomplete [non-sturdy] vessel [which is allowed as the] destroying [prohibition] only applies by vessels when destroying a complete [sturdy] vessel.

4. The prohibition to break a lock on Shabbos: [6]

See “The Laws of Building and Destroying” Chapter 2 Halacha 16

5. Breaking through woven palm leaf baskets in order to get the food inside:[7]

Baskets that are used for figs and dates, which are vessels that are made from palm leaves and have placed in them figs or dates that have not [yet] ripened in the sun in order so they completely ripen [in the basket], then if the cover is tied to them with a rope, it is permitted to unravel the rope or cut it as explained [in the] above [Halacha].

[Furthermore] even the actual body of these vessels are permitted to be unraveled and cut, as the structure of these vessels which are made of palm leaves are a week structure which is not made to last long, and [thus] when breaking it, it is only considered as if one is breaking hazelnuts and almonds in order to get the food that is in them.   


6. Breaking the ropes that tie a door to a pit:[8]

Seals that are on the ground, such as the door of a pit which is tied to it with a rope is permitted to be untied being that the knot was not made to last long, as it is meant to be constantly untied. However, if one is unable to undo the knot then it is forbidden to undo the threads of the rope or to cut it due to [the] destroying [prohibition], as every item attached to the ground has [a] building and destroying [prohibition] even if it is not a complete [sturdy] vessel.

The law by a door not made to last: However, this only applies by a door that is made to last [on the pit] and not be removed on Shabbos, and thus when one wants to open the pit he unties the rope and opens the door [and then replaces it] and does not totally remove the door from there, as it is set to be there for some time. However, if [the door] is not made to last at all then there is no destroying [prohibition] involved neither in unraveling the rope or cutting it, and not even in removing the actual door from it, unless it is a case that the door revolves on hinges and [to remove it] one must remove the hinge from its socket as will be explained.

Final Summary

May one cut an item on Shabbos?

It is only permitted to cut an item if all of the following conditions are fulfilled:

1. It is a single entity, such as a piece of leather or [non-Muktzah] wood, as opposed to a cloth. Thus, one may not separate two pieces of paper or plastic that has been intentionally glued or sewn together [even not to last[9]].[10]

2. One is not cutting it to a specific measurement.[11]

3. Doing so is not making it useable now for a new use.[12]

4. One does not cut it to very small pieces.[13]

5. One does not break apart any letters in doing so.[14]

6. The item is not considered a sturdy or complete vessel[15], or is but is not meant to last at all[16].

7. Does not contain a mundane act which is a disgrace to Shabbos.[17]

8. One is doing so for a Shabbos need.[18]


One may cut the following items in order to take out the food or objects that are within them:

A. A piece of leather that is serving as the cap of a bottle.[19]

B. Strings that are tied around food, such as by a stuffed turkey[20], or that are tied around the cover of vessels in order to secure them onto the vessel.[21]

C. A basket made of weak material which is not made to last long and has food inside.[22]

Practical Q&A

May one cut a tablecloth or garbage bag from a role?

No.[23] See the compilation above in chapter 1 under the section of building and destroying.

May one cut a piece of tinfoil?

No. See the compilation above in chapter 1 under the section of building and destroying.


May one tear a piece of cotton from a cotton ball or cotton sheet?

Doing so is forbidden due to the prohibition of “fixing a vessel” [see footnote regarding the tearing prohibition[24]], and if one is particular to cut it to specific measurements then it is also forbidden due to the cutting prohibition.[25] However, there are Poskim[26] who rule that if one is not particular in how large to cut it[27] then it is completely permitted to be done.

May one tear toilet paper?[28]

Doing so is forbidden due to the tearing prohibition [even according to Admur[29]] [as well as the fixing a vessel prohibition[30]], and if it is cut by the perforated lines then it also possibly contains the cutting prohibition.[31] If one has nothing else available, then he should use writing paper [even if Muktzah] to wipe with.[32] If this too is not available, then some Poskim[33] allow one to cut [a larger than needed piece of[34]] toilet paper not on the perforated lines using an irregularity. Others[35] say that one is to wipe with it and without tearing it, place it into the toilet and then flush.

May one separate plastic ware which is attached together, such as two plastic spoons which are attached or two yogurts which are attached?[36]

No. This is forbidden due to the fixing a vessel prohibition. [Seemingly However, according to those opinions that permit opening disposable cans likewise here it would be permitted to separate the above disposable items. See “The Laws of Building and Destroying” Chapter 2 Halacha 9 Q&A!]

May one separate a two-part ices?

No. This is forbidden due to the fixing prohibition. [Seemingly However, according to those opinions that permit opening disposable cans likewise here it would be permitted to separate the above disposable items. See “The Laws of Building and Destroying” Chapter 2 Halacha 9 Q&A!]


May one open an envelope?[37]

It is forbidden to open an envelope on Shabbos.[38] Although there are opinions[39] which allow one to do so in a time of great need if he destroys the envelope in the process. It is permitted according to all to tell a gentile that he cannot read the letter until it is opened and have the gentile understand that he wants him to open it.[40]

May one place a band-aid on a wound on Shabbos?[41]

Doing so may involve the tearing prohibition when opening it and the sewing prohibition when applying it.

Opening the band-aid: Some Poskim[42] rule that the band-aid must have its wrapping as well as its white plastic sheet which covers over the tape, removed from before Shabbos. Removing it on Shabbos involves the tearing prohibition. However, other Poskim[43] hold that the band-aid may even be opened on Shabbos, and doing so involves no suspicion at all of a prohibition. [Seemingly according to Admur it must be removed from before Shabbos.]

Applying the band-aid to the wound: May be done if both sides of the band-aid are fastened to one’s skin[44] as opposed to one’s clothing or to the other end of the band-aid.[45]

May one use diapers on Shabbos which are fastened using a piece of tape or Velcro which is attached to the diaper?

Velcro diapers: May be used in all cases.

Adhesive tape: This matter is disputed amongst Poskim in whether it is allowed. Some are stringent to prohibit using it even if one opened the tape from before Shabbos. Others are lenient even if he forgot to open it from before Shabbos.

Below is a full analysis on the subject:

The following “Sewing” and “Tearing” related questions apply by diapers which are attached using tape: 1) Opening up the tape which involves removing the tape from the plastic covering. 2) Placing the tape onto the diaper when fastening it onto the child. 3) Removing the tape from the fastened diaper upon changing it. The following is the Halachic rulings in the above.

  • Removing the protective covering from the tape: Many Poskim[46] hold that opening the tape is forbidden due to the tearing prohibition[47] and thus may only be done if one had previously opened it before Shabbos. Other Poskim[48] hold that if this was not done then it is allowed to open it on Shabbos.[49]
  • Attaching the diaper to the child: Some Poskim[50] hold that placing the tape on the diaper to fasten it is forbidden due to sewing.[51] Many others[52] However, rule that this is allowed being that it is not made to last at all.
  • Removing the Diaper from the child: Some Poskim[53] hold that removing the tape from the diaper in the process of changing the baby may only be done in private and not in the presence of an ignoramus.[54] Other Poskim[55] rule that one may remove the tape without restriction. According to all one is to avoid re-taping the diaper up after having removed it and then throw it out as is commonly done during the week.

May one cut a piece of tape?[56]

Even according to those which permit in times of need the use of tape to attach a bandage to ones wound, this only applies if the piece of tape was cut from before Shabbos, as cutting it on Shabbos poses a “Cutting” prohibition.[57] [However, the tape may be cut on Shabbos to a larger size than needed, in a case of need, such as for a wound.]

May one cut or tear a bandage to make it a better fit?[58]

Doing so is forbidden due to the “Make Bepatish” prohibition.

May one tear a plastic tablecloth as is accustomed for people to do by a plastic tablecloth when they are bored?

No, due to the destroying prohibition.

For Q&A relating to opening and closing pages of books which have stuck together-See above “Prohibition # 1 Halacha 3


[1] Admur 314:16

[2] See also chapter 308 Halacha 54 and 55

[3] Admur 314:16

[4] Admur 314:17

[5] As opposed to untying the actual knot, which will explained below. 

[6] Admur 314:17

[7] Admur 314:18

[8] Admur 314:19

[9] However, if they were sewn not to last, then they may be torn when not in the presence of an ignoramus.

[10] Otherwise, this is a problem of tearing as explained in Chapter 340 Halacha 17

[11] Otherwise, is a prohibition of “Cutting”. Halacha 16

[12] Otherwise, it is a prohibition of Fixing a vessel. Halacha 16 here and chapter 340 Halacha 17

[13] Otherwise, it is a prohibition of “Grinding”- Halacha 16

[14] Otherwise, is a prohibition of “Erasing” Chapter 340 Halacha 4

[15] Otherwise, it is a prohibition of “Destroying” Halacha 17

[16] Admur 314:19

[17] Otherwise, it is Rabbinically forbidden. Halacha 16

[18] Otherwise, its problematic due to the destroying prohibition. See Ketzos Hashulchan 119 note 34.

[19] Admur 314:9

[20] Admur 314:16

[21] Admur 314:19

[22] Admur 314:18

[23] The reason: This is forbidden due to the prohibition of Tikkun Keli.

[24] According to the M”B and others [in contrast to Admur] it is also forbidden due to the tearing prohibition. [Minchas Yitzchak 4:45; Tzur Yaakov 152]

[25] So rules that it is forbidden: Minchas Yitzchak 4:45; Tzur Yaakov 152

[26] Tzitz Eliezer 13:45; Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbauch in SSH”K 35 footnote 48 

[27] So writes Tzitz Eliezer ibid. As otherwise this would be forbidden to be done due to the fixing a vessel and cutting prohibition. Vetzaruch Iyun from Piskeiy Teshuvos and SSH”K in footnote ibid which do not mention how one is to avoid the Tikkun Keli prohibition, and it seems they learn it never applies to begin with. Vetzaruch Iyun Gadol.

[28] Piskeiy Teshuvos 340:28

[29] As the toilet paper is made up of many different pieces. [Nishmas Adam, Az Nidbaru 2:31, as opposed to Chelkas Yaakov 3:123 which stated that according to Admur there is no tearing prohibition involved with paper.]

[30] Pashut

[31] Chelkas Yaakov ibid; Sheivet Halevy 1:115

[32] SSH”K 23:16; Piskeiy Teshuvos 340:28

[33] Chelkas Yaakov ibid; SSH”K 23:16

[34] To avoid the fixing a vessel prohibition. [See Tzitz Eliezer ibid]

[35] Az Nidbaru 2:79

[36] Piskeiy Teshuvos 314:3

[37] Piskeiy Teshuvos 340:29

[38] Ketzos Hashulchan 119 note 34 as although the envelope is considered an un-sturdy structure, nevertheless since there is no Shabbos need involved in opening it, meaning that reading the letter is not a Shabbos necessity, therefore it is forbidden, as destroying a non-sturdy vessel was only allowed in order to remove what is inside for a Shabbos need, as explained in 314:1. So rules M”B 340:41 in name of different Poskim. The Peri Chadash holds that it contains a Biblical prohibition while the Chacham Tzevi maintains that it contains a Rabbinical prohibition.

[39] Chazon Ish, and so leans to rule Rav SZ”A in SSH”K 28 footnote 15; Shut Even Yisrael 16

[40] So rules M”B ibid

[41] Piskeiy Teshuvos 328:21

[42] Minchas Yitzchak 5:39

[43] Beir Moshe 1:36; See Beir Moshe 2:29:2 that it only applies when a third item is sticking two items together.

[44] As there is no sewing prohibition relevant to sticking something to ones skin.

[45] Beir Moshe 1:36

[46] Tzitz Eliezer 16:6; see Minchas Yitzchak 5:39 regarding removing the plastic cover from a band aid in which he rules it is forbidden; Shemiras Shabbos K’hilchoso 15:81; Az Nidberu 13:25; Sheivet Ha’Levi 5:78; Yechaveh Da’as 6:24; Machzei Eliyahu 71; Be’er Moshe 6:14; Chut Shuni Shabbos 1:17 page 137

[47] As it is meant to be attached to the plastic part so long as it is not used. It is thus an attachment that is meant to last some time.

[48] Az Nidbaru 7:34; Yechaveh Daas 6:25

[49] As they hold that if one were to buy the diaper that day then it would be meant to be opened that same day, and thus the attachment of the tape to the plastic part is not really meant to last.

[50] Minchas Yitzchak 8:31; 9:41; Mishneh Halachos 8:60; Kinyan Torah 5:26; Lehoros Nasan brought in Piskeiy Teshuvos 340 footnote 101

[51] As a) The attachment is at the very least considered temporary which is also forbidden in the laws of sewing. [Minchas Yitzchak ibid]. b) Because the tape never gets removed from the diaper as it tears part of the diaper off with it upon opening the tape, and thus regarding that part which gets removed with the tape it is considered a permanent attachment. [Lehoros Nasan, and so ruled to me Rav Asher Lemel Kohen]

[52] Sheivet Halevy 5:31; Az Nidbaru 6:31; Yechaveh Daas 6:25, Tzitz Eliezer 16:6; Beir Moshe 6:14; SSH”K 15:81

[53] Minchas Yitzchak ibid

[54] As rules Rama and Admur in 317 regarding tearing the sewn stitches of the collar done by the laundry mat to keep it temporarily in place.

[55] Sheivet Halevy 5:31; Az Nidbaru 6:31; Yechaveh Daas 6:25; Tzitz Eliezer 16:6; Beir Moshe 6:14; SSH”K 15:81

[56] Piskeiy Teshuvos 328:21

[57] Tzitz Eliezer 8:15-14-6

[58] Piskeiy Teshuvos 328:21

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