What is the halacha regarding opening soda cans on shabbos?

I have heard that according to the ones who hold that you can open it, if I would ask that person to open it for me, I would need him to drink some of it so that he is opening it really for himself.

I assume the problem according to the people who hold that you can't open a can is that you are making a kli (vessel) by opening the can. - but isn't it tzaruch ochel (for the purpose of eating)? Don't we say that for tzaruch ochel you can make a kli?

Why is a can different from a soda bottle?


4 Answers 4

  1. What is the halacha regarding opening soda cans on shabbos?

First and foremost in order to satisfy the opinions of all the poskim, it is recommended that all bottles and containers be opened before Shabbos.

Rav Moshe Feinstein says one should not open cans even though people throw them out and hence do not create a Kli (vessel) .This is because people don't grasp the distinction between the status of cans that may be opened and those that may not. He brings the Gemara Shabbat (Daf,139) where the Gemara forbids certain permissible activities for communities where the people aren't learned as a reason for this prohibition. Rav Moshe quotes the prevalence of Chillul Shabbat in our generation as a reason for refraining from issuing a lenient ruling which will lead to more Chillul Shabbas.However, in the case of someone who made a sheva berachos or who invited guests and finds, to his embarrassment, that he does not have enough food to serve, he permits having a gentile open the cans and other containers on Shabbos (Shu”t Igros Moshe 1:122; for a similar approach, see Shu”t Chelkas Yaakov 3:8).

Chazon Ish,says that opening a can is creating a Kli, and therefore one should not open cans as the person violates a Torah prohibition of creating Kelim (Orach Chayim 51:13).

Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach(Shmiras Shabbat Kehilchata 9: footnote 10) Rav Ovadia Yosef (Teshuvot Yechave Daat 2:42) Both allow opening cans on Shabbos since cans are thrown out after use.But even they do not allow opening of a can if he intends to use it afterwards.

2.Can I ask a person to open it for me?

Even someone who does not open cans on Shabbos may use a can that was opened on Shabbos even if they were opened for him (Iggres Moshe: O"C Chelek Daled Siman Kuf Yud Tes Ois Heh) and does not require the person who opened it to drink from it. Non the less he may not ask someone to open it for him(Kuntres Yad Dodi, Harav Dovid Feinstein,pg. 31).

  • 2
    Another Source books.google.com/… Jun 17, 2010 at 3:15
  • I just saw last week that Rav Elyashiv Zt"l also forbade it. I'll try to find the source...
    – Shraga
    Jan 31, 2013 at 17:47

(I will try to edit in more details later, but here is a preliminary.)

The difference between a soda can and a soda bottle is that to open the can, you are transforming a continuous and closed piece of metal (the can) into a receptacle. You accomplish this by puncturing a hole in the top (even though the lines along which you puncture it are pre-scored). When opening a standard soda bottle, no such transformation takes place. The plastic bottle starts and ends as a receptacle with you doing nothing but removing an already-detached covering from it.

(When the covering (the bottle cap) is made of metal and attached to that little ring, the detachment from which is a necessary step toward making the bottle cap itself a viable receptacle for small amounts of liquid, some hold that it becomes the equivalent of the soda can problem. In either case. . .)

. . .metal is considered by many one of the defining features of a "vessel" and therefore plastic ones are less problematic.

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    Friendly reminder.
    – Double AA
    Jun 17, 2012 at 3:23

What about "Tzaruch Ochel"? I belive you are CONFUSING Hilchos Shabbos with Hilchos Yom Tov where there is a Heter for "ochel Nefesh" which does NOT apply on Shabbos!!!

The questioner is borrowing this language to refer to a tosefta brought by the Mishna Berura (314) that allows tearing the skin on a wine barrel to get to the contents. Although tearing constructively is a Torah prohibition and destructively is Rabbinic, this destructive tearing to obtain the inner contents is not catagorized as "korea". (Note that benefiting from the contents does not make the tear constructive.)

  • I still maintain my point,(but I removed it for now)there is something similar in Aruch Hashulchan but iyy is misunderstood but if you could say exactly where in the Mishnah Berurah it would be very helpful Jun 17, 2010 at 21:59
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    YS, I apologize if it seemed I was attacking your point. Soda cans involve other issues besides koreh, as you yourself brought. I was merely trying to clarify the questioners point. The MB is in S-314 sk-25.
    – YDK
    Jun 18, 2010 at 6:39

What about opening the soda can in a similar fashion as other cans i.e. such as a tuna can. Why not puncture the bottom and then open the can. Other concerns areas are cereal boxes and larger chip bags where it appears as if you can open them (food items) in a regular fashion on shabbat. I believe Artscroll mentions to open them differently, in a destructive manner by slicing open along the long side of a bag or tearing off the box top. Afterall, they will be used to store the remaining foods. Smaller packaging as single serve chips or candy bars are truely disposable and not special precautions (besides tearing words/letters) are needed. As mentioned, plan ahead. It is easier to open items before shabbat to avoid all these difficulties.

  • 2
    Hi Ron and welcome to Mi Yodeya. I look forward to seeing you around. What you've written is interesting but doesn't address the question, which is about the halacha of opening the soda can. It's better to avoid the question, but what if you didn't? Can you edit your answer to address that? Sep 23, 2012 at 1:39

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