Is it permitted to tear a plastic cover off a magazine or book on Shabbat? Someone told me it’s permitted if the plastic cover was partially torn from before Shabbat – does this make a difference?
I tried to look it up in the hilchos shabbos book by Rabbi Ribiat. It said that it’s permitted to tear destructively on Shabbos for food or physical needs. A book doesn’t seem like either a food or physical need. However Rabbi Ribiat then gave examples and said you could even tear the wrapper off a toy. This confused me because a toy doesn’t seem like a food or physical need. Do you understand this?
Thank you very much
Thank you for your question.
It is permitted to rip the plastic cover of the magazine. This is a very cheap plastic cover which is meant to be removed before using it and is only there to protect the magazine until you want to read it. The reason why it is permitted to rip the wrapping is because the wrapper is not meant to be a vessel, therefore it isn’t considered to be destructing, when ripping it during removal. This applies to one-time wrappers, for food or even other items that will be used for Shabbos. Therefore, you are allowed to remove the wrapper, however as with all bottles etc. it is preferred to open them before Shabbos. R’ Ribiat’s terminology is “for food or Shabbos needs”,meaning that the ripping is for a purpose needed for something on Shabbos. It doesn’t specifically have to be for food, and the rationale is because it is a destructive act, meant to ruin the plastic, and it was only intended for a one time use, therfore it was never a real vessel, therefore it is permitted on Shabbos.