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According to Halacha, is it permissible to open a bag of chips on Shabbat? Does it depend on if it is a small one time bag vs a family sized bag? If not, which melacha would it fall into?

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    Why would the size matter?
    – Lo ani
    Jan 29 at 19:59
  • According to some it's problematic if sealed with glue: asktherav.com/…
    – shmosel
    Jan 29 at 20:21
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    @Loani Creating a permanent vessel may be more problematic than creating a temporary vessel, and if you intend to reuse the item you are more likely to open it carefully to make a good opening instead of haphazardly because who cares.
    – Double AA
    Jan 29 at 20:22
  • Tangentially related:judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/92129/… Jan 30 at 9:19

1 Answer 1

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It is not a problem either way.

Rabbi Ribiat's The 39 Melochos (Vol III) writes extensively about food wrappings.

As a background, the potential issues would be any of the following:

  • Koraya (Tearing)
  • Mechateich (Measured cutting)
  • Mochaik (Erasing)
  • Boneh (Building)
  • Makeh B'Patish (Final hammer blow)

However, in the case of wrappings it very much depends on the type of wrapping.

Potato chips come in thin wrapping. He writes p.833 accordingly:

Paper or plastic wrapping around food or other items that are required for food or physical needs on Shabbos present minimal Halachic problems with regard to tearing and opening them on Shabbos. The wrapping material is ordinarily thin and flimsy and summarily discarded after opening. They may therefore be ripped or opened, providing that no letters or designs will be torn.

As a result, on p.835 he notes that bags of food that are made from thin/flimsy disposable material can be opened in any manner (even non-destructive). As they are only essentially protective coverings, they are not subject to Koraya or Makeh B'Patish. Moreover, opening them in the normal way (e.g. at the top for a one-time use) is also neither makeh b'patish or Boneh or any melocho due to the flimsy material from which these bags are made.

Thus...

One may open a bag of potato chips, candy (even if the cellophane is stapled shut). One may also tear open a sealed plastic bag containing new stockings, plastic cutlery, paper cups, bowls etc. because all of these types of bags are too flimsy to be reusable and are summarily discarded after use...

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  • Must he immediately discard the bag, or can he use it to keep the chips in?
    – אילפא
    Jan 30 at 13:33
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    @manassehkatz-Moving2Codidact I mentioned that - "They may therefore be ripped or opened, providing that no letters or designs will be torn"
    – Dov
    Jan 30 at 16:45
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    I did outline it when I listed the associated melachos - Mochaik
    – Dov
    Jan 30 at 16:59
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    Yes, but in your discussion you say "or any melocho" implying that the full list you have at the top does not apply in this instance. But as I understand it (but I am not a Rabbi), Mochaik is an issue halachipedia.com/index.php?title=Mochek#Letters_on_a_Package Others reading this may not be aware that it is (at least according to Ashkenazim) a concern. Jan 30 at 17:51
  • relevant: torahmusings.com/2024/02/…
    – mbloch
    Feb 25 at 12:14

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