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Relying on tearing shinui


Rabbi David Sperling

Av 15, 5777
"If one does not have toilet paper ready for Shabbat it may be torn with a "shinui" that is in a way in which normally he would not do so." Does tearing toilet paper with shinui constitute a rabbinic prohibition which is only to be broken in a case of need? Or is it OK to always rely on the lenient option of tearing toilet paper with a "shinui" and to stop pretearing toilet paper for Shabbat? The latter seem to be the norm amongst an increasing number of people nowadays and I was wondering whether this stance is as halachichally acceptable as taking precautions in advance not to tear toilet paper on Shabbos. A sheynem dank.
Shalom, Thank you for your question. Tearing toilet paper on Shabbat is forbidden, and when done with a “shinui” (using an unusual way of tearing) it becomes a Rabbinic prohibition. Being so it is still forbidden on Shabbat. However, for the sake of the honour of a person, if they find themselves in a bathroom with no precut paper, and they have no other choice, then they may employ a shinui to rip the paper. This is based on the Rabbinic rule that Rabbinic prohibitions may be (sometimes) put aside for the sake of personal dignity. This leniency though cannot be turned into a reason to not prepare precut paper. One may not rely on an after the fact leniency before the fact. Blessings.
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