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.. 

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