Sunday, 23 February 2014

Opening Bottles and Cans on Shabbos

Question: I’ve always opened cans and bottles on Shabbos, though my husband is particular to open them before Shabbos. Is this necessary?
Answer: The Mishna (Shabbos 146a) allows one to break a barrel to access a food container on Shabbos providing that one isn’t intending to make a useful container in the process.
Thus, R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 9:17) writes that one mustn't open new bottles with metal screw lids, as doing so will make the lid into a kli. One may puncture the lid first, thus rendering it useless and then open the bottle as usual (See Emes L’yaakov OC 314:8). R’ Ribiat (39 Melochos p841) writes that if one has a spare lid, one may open the bottle and discard the lid.
R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yechave Daas 2:42), R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 14:45) and R’ Moshe Stern (Baer Moshe 3:90) permit opening such bottles, writing that even if the lid is being changed, one isn’t intending on creating a usable kli. R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 3:267; 4:96; 6:212) however, writes that most poskim forbid opening such bottles.
R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yalkut Yosef, Shabbos 314:19) writes that one may open a bottle even if there is writing printed on the lid which will get broken, though R’ Neuwirth and others forbid it.
Others follow R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Shulchan Shlomo 314:9:9) who permits opening plastic lids though not metal ones.
One who doesn’t open bottles and cans on Shabbos shouldn't ask someone who usually does to do so for them, though if someone else opened it, they may drink from it (Igros Moshe OC 4:119:5).
The Chazon Ish (OC 51:11) writes that by opening a tin, one is creating a kli which is an issur deoraisa. Nonetheless, R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Minchas Shlomo 2:12, Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 9:n10) and R’ Ovadia Yosef allow one to open them on Shabbos providing the tins are disposed of immediately after use (See Igros Moshe OC 1:122).
In conclusion, while many sefardim open all bottles on Shabbos, ashkenazim generally avoid opening metal lids on Shabbos. Before opening tins, it is best to puncture them on the side. While many poskim allow opening plastic bottles on Shabbos, some are particular to open them beforehand.. 

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Animals First!

The Gemara (Berachos 40a, Gittin 62a) writes that one mustn't eat before feeding one’s animals. Thus, if one said a Beracha Hamotzi and realised that they hadn't fed their animal, it wouldn't be considered a hefsek to ask another to do so before eating.
Interestingly, Rambam (Avadim 9:8) writes that this issue is midas chasidus (See Chayei Adam 5:11 n11) and other poskim (Aruch Hashulchan 167:13, Biur Halacha 167:6) hold that it is derabanan. The Magen Avraham (OC 271:12), however, holds that it is mideoraisa.
While the Taz (OC 167:7) allows one to have a snack or taste food before feeding one’s animals, most poskim (Rosh Berachos 6:22, Magen Avraham 167:18, Mishna Berura 167:40) don’t even allow that, though the Mishna Berura concedes that one may drink first.
R’ Yaakov Emden (She’elas Yaavetz 1:17) writes that birds and fish are included (See Piskei Teshuvos OC 167:15). One away from home must arrange for another to feed one’s pets before eating.
R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 2:52) writes that the issur only applies to eating before one’s own animals and not to a stray and as important as this Halacha is, it does not take precedence over feeding one’s young children.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Making Tea on Shabbos

Question: A friend just told me that I shouldn’t be making tea on Shabbos with regular tea bags. I have always used a kli sheni. Is that not okay?
Answer: Tosafos (Shabbos 40b) writes that once water has been poured from the kettle (kli rishon) into a kli sheni, the water begins to slowly cool down and so cannot be considered bishul. There are some foods, however, that are cooked so easily (kalei habishul), that one must not add water to them even in a kli sheni.
The Mishna (Shabbos 3:5) writes that one may place spices into water in a kli sheni, as they won’t get properly cooked. The Mishna Berura (318:39), however, writes that tea is not included and must not be made in a kli sheni. R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (quoted in Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 1:n152) explains that the spices and tea nowadays are finely ground and cook far more easily than the coarse spices typical of the Mishnaic era.

The Mishna Berura and Aruch Hashulchan (OC 318:28) don’t allow one to make tea in a kli shlishi (i.e. pouring the water into a kli sheni and then into another cup) though R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 4:74 Bishul 15) allows it as he holds that a kli shlishi cannot cook kalei habishul.
The Mishna Berura writes that it is ideal to prepare tea essence before Shabbos while others use instant tea. One preparing such tea should still use a kli sheni to pour into a kli shlishi (See Igros Moshe OC 4:74 Bishul 16).

Although tzoveya, dyeing, does not apply to food, it is best to place the tea in the cup before the water so as not to colour the water in the cup (Sha’ar Hatziyon 318:65). 
Those relying on R’ Moshe must leave the teabag in their cup or remove it with a spoon as straining the teabag would be borer (Minchas Yitzchak 4:99:2).