Thursday, December 29, 2005

Tearing Toilet Paper on Shabbos

This post here led to some interesting comments and questions both online and off. One of the questions that garnered some attention was this one.
"Um? Could someone please explain the tearing of toilet paper comments to me?"
As an answer someone provided this link which I reviewed as I do all links that come across my blog. Now I find a lot of this to be interesting, but I have to admit that trying to explain somethings such as this and the reason that they are encouraged or discouraged to be tough.

Let's look at this section:
What about tearing toilet paper when there is no option?
Obviously one must prepare toilet paper before Shabbos. The problem arises when one has depleted the supply of tissues, torn toilet paper etc. or one is in a place where there is no pre-torn paper.
For obvious reasons we will not discuss the various technical options that are on hand when there is no toilet paper available, but when those options are exhausted and/or one’s only practical option is uncut toilet paper, the following is the correct procedure:
One should tear the toilet paper by resting one’s elbows on the sheet of toilet paper and tear it with one’s elbows. This is called tearing kilachar yad – in a backhanded manner, and is only an issur d’rabanan. [6]
This is one of those things that I cannot explain without shrugging myshoulders repeatedly because it just doesn't make sense to me. Now perhaps I am missing something but this is a necessity that you cannot do without, unless you are in the woods and all you have are pinecones in which case you are in big trouble.

Ultimately what I find is that there are areas such as this in which I cannot provide a reasonable explanation as to why they are necessary. Some of these things are acceptable to me and some are not. Yes, I am picking and choosing but that is part of life and when it comes to matters of faith I think that we often reach places in which we are forced to use our gut instinct instead of our heads.

That is not a value judgement but an observation.
(Crossposted on Jack's Shack)

15 comments:

The real me said...

From my learning's in Shulchan Aruch, and from talking to a rov, there is NO problem in tearing toilet paper on shabbos, as long as you don't tear on the perforated line, or measure the amount which you are tearing.

MissShona said...

Ah I was going to post the same thing! (you beat me to it!)

Stacey said...

there is NO problem in tearing toilet paper on shabbos, as long as you don't tear on the perforated line, or measure the amount which you are tearing

I cannot believe what I am reading. I cannot believe that G-d would give 2 shits whether toilet paper is torn or not. And in what manner.

The real me said...

The fact that god cares if we tear toilet paper on shabbos or not, just shows how great he is. The biggest and the smallest things are equal.

In his eyes me you and the toilet paper are essentially the same, compared with his glory.

PsychoToddler said...

See Stacey, you are equivalent to toilet paper. I always said so.

Stacey said...

Thanks Elizagirth.

PsychoToddler said...

Whoa...I'm making progress...

Anshel's Wife said...

I'm still pretty new to the observant world, but this is how I understand it: Some people choose to be more machmeer (strict/careful) than others. It doesn't make them better. Just makes them stricter. There are just certain things we don't do on Shabbos. Ripping paper is one of them. My father sells toilets and he has told us many times not to use tissue paper instead of toilet paper. My husband cuts up many rolls of toilet paper at a time so we always have a ton of it. We also shlep it with us when we go to Chabad House or anyone else's house. But I have never been told not to tear the toilet paper. Just as other commenters have said, to do it in a different manner than I normally would. It's kind of like finding a crayon on the floor that you just know your two year old is going to want to color with on Shabbos. Because we don't touch writing utensils on Shabbos, I really shouldn't pick it up. But I could kick it under the couch.

my bald sheitel said...

is it that hard to have tissues? i leave extra packs of tissues and extra rolls of tp in all bathrooms in our place at all times.

side note - the gravity in this scenario also depends a lot on if this is a man or woman. for a man, there is only one reason he is using tp!

Jack's Shack said...

You ask if it is that hard to have tissues and I have a couple of responses.

First, some septic systems are not able to handle anything but specific types of toilet tissue/paper what have you. Use other items and they clog.

Secondly, we really need to wipe out the misunderstanding on what the reasons are for tearing/not tearing.

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lee woo said...

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