- Question: [Thursday, 17th yar 5781]
We bought a pack of six individual plastic cups of pudding which are attached to each other by the sides and forgot to separate them from each other and open them before Shabbos. Am I allowed to separate them and open them on Shabbos in a time of need such as this?
*Indeed, the answer to this question is debated amongst todays Rabbanim and Sifrei Melaktim, with some allowing everything and some prohibiting everything, and the following represents Rabbi Goldstein’s position and ruling.
The law: It is forbidden for one to break them and separate them from each other on Shabbos due to the prohibition of Tikkun Keli. Likewise, it is best not to open them from their top by peeling away the cover due to the possible Koreia prohibition. The best way to open it is by either cutting/tearing through the top covering with a knife in a way that it will not ruin any letters, and if this is not possible, then one should cut it with a knife from its bottom where there are no letters and eat it from there. One can also give it to a child under age two to open it and eat some of it so long as one does not tell him directly to open it. All in all, from this it is understood how important it is to always make sure to separate the cups from each other before Shabbos and to also open them up before Shabbos in order to avoid all the above issues.
Explanation regarding not separating them from each other on Shabbos: It is clear from the Poskim that included in the prohibition of Tikkun Keli is the tearing or breaking of any item in which the purpose of doing so is to make it fit for a use and that this applies even if it was already fit for use and the action of tearing or breaking is simply making it more fit. Therefore, breaking apart the yogurts for the sake of having individual cups is clearly under the prohibition of Tikkun Keli, as is explicitly written in the Poskim regarding the prohibition to break apart two vessels which are attached. However, regarding the prohibition of Michateich, it does not apply in this case being that one does not care to cut it in an exact dimension and measurement and one only transgresses Michateich when one cuts something to an exact measurement and dimension for a certain purpose.
Explanation regarding not peeling off the top cover from the cup on Shabbos: The prohibition of Koreia applies whenever one tears apart two things that have been glued to each other, and this prohibition applies even when the items are glued to each other only for temporary purpose, although being merely a rabbinical prohibition in such a case. Now, while we do find an allowance to tear items which are only temporarily sewed, this allowance only applies not in the face of an ignoramus and is hence only to be followed by Torah scholars in discrete. Now, while the Poskim do allow one to tear off the leather covering of a barrel, perhaps the permission is only to cut it off or to cut through it and not to peel off the area that is glued together. Vetzaruch Iyun.
Explanation regarding cutting through the bottom of the cup: Cutting through the bottom of the cup were there are no letters does not consist of a Soser prohibition being that the Soser prohibition does not apply by items that are not considered to be of strong structure and are merely there to protect the food until the time arrives for the food to be eaten, and the sages even initially allowed one to break through such structures on Shabbos in order to get to the food that is in them.
Sources: See regarding the prohibition of Tikun Keli: Admur 302:5; 308:54-55; 340:17-18; 508:2; 514:18; Michaber 322:4; Piskeiy Teshuvos 314:3; See regarding the prohibition of Michateich: Admur 314:16; Piskeiy Teshuvos 340:34 footnote 308; Aruch Hashulchan 321:40; Az Nidbaru 1:79; See regarding the Koreia prohibition: See Admur 302:4; 278:1-3; 314:12; 317:7; 340:17; M”A 314:14; Mishneh Berurah 340 Biur Halacha “Eiyn Shovrin”; Shaareiy Teshuvah 314:4; Piskeiy Teshuvos 340:34; 314:7; SSH”K 9 footnote 36; Ketzos Hashulchan 119 footnote 34 that if it is not meant to last it does not contain a tearing prohibition; See regarding the Soser prohibition: Admur 314:1; Michaber 314:1; Beitza 33b; Mishneh Shabbos 146a