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One is opening a bottle of relish which has already been opened and closed many times before Shabbos. When he screws off the cap of the bottle, the letters that are on the cap are destroyed, as the cap is opened at precisely the spot where the letters are. And when he screws the cap back on, the letters are "recreated" again, which may also be a prohibited form of "writing."

Although it has been written by R' Neustadt here

Contemporary poskim agree that it is forbidden to open bottle caps which are stamped with the date of production, etc., and the letter formation will be broken or erased when unscrewing the bottle cap

I believe he is referring to a case where one is opening the bottle for the first time. Is the case different where the bottle has been opened and closed before, or does it make no difference?

  • Before Shabbat, if you covered up the letters with black permanent marker, would this be a halachically valid way to prevent the problem completely? Or not? – unforgettableid Dec 26 '18 at 16:43
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The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch in 80:64 - סימן פ - קצת ממלאכות האסורות בשבת - writes:

סעיף סד' סְפָרִים, שֶׁעַל חֻדֵּי הַגִּלְיוֹנוֹת מִבַּחוּץ נִכְתְּבוּ אוֹתִיּוֹת, יֵשׁ אוֹסְרִין לְפָתְחָן אוֹ לְסָגְרָן בַּשַׁבָּת וְיֵשׁ מַתִּירִין, וְכֵן נוֹהֲגִים‏

Regarding books that have writing on their edge - (so when you open the book the letters are broken, when you close the book the letters are recreated) - some Poskim forbid one from opening and closing these books.

Other Poskim allow it - and this is our custom.

So it would seem that breaking and matching up letters when opening and closing books or bottles would be permitted.

The Kitzur does end with this caveat - וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם מֵאַחַר שֶׁיֵּשׁ אוֹסְרִין יֵשׁ לִמְנוֹעַ מִלִּכְתּוֹב כֵּן - since there are those who forbid it, it's best not to write on books this way.

So it would seem best to try to prevent the problem before Shabbat, when possible.

  • IIRC the MB sounded like he held it was good to be machmir for this opinion. I would think that's relevant. – robev Jul 8 '18 at 13:40
  • Can you explain why this is permitted but cutting a cake that has writing by cutting between the letters is forbidden according to majority? (I am unaware of an opinion that allows it.) – DanF Jul 9 '18 at 1:47
  • @DanF - the Kitzur (ibid 63) says אוֹתָן עוּגוֹת שֶׁעָשׂוּ עֲלֵיהֶן אוֹתִיּוֹת וְצִיּוּרִים, מֻתָּר לְשַׁבְּרָן וּלְאָכְלָן בַּשַׁבָּת. אַךְ אִם נַעֲשׂוּ כֵּן לִסְגֻלָּה לִקְטַנִּים, יֵשׁ לְהַחְמִיר בָּהֶם - i.e. it's OK unless it's done for a Segula for kids; then one should be stringent. No idea what Segula for kids means. – Danny Schoemann Jul 9 '18 at 9:52
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I think this is a double safek (sfeik sfeika), maybe a triple safek, therefore permitted, but CYLOR before doing it in practice

  • maybe opening bottle caps on writing is allowed - this was the opinion of R Ovadia Yosef (quoted here and here with further sources) and R Yitzchak Abadi (quoted here)
  • maybe the writing you are "destroying" is not really writing since it was already destroyed once
  • and possibly, since when closing a cap, one normally doesn't close it exactly in the same place, then maybe the writing is not even there to start with.

Again CYLOR before trusting anything you read on the Internet.

  • What's the difference between # one and two? Also what if he checks the bottle and sees that the letters line up. Maybe he must check? – robev Jul 8 '18 at 13:39
  • @robev Thanks for the comment. #1 is also valid if the bottle is new and there is writing which you break. #2 is in the case of this specific question where the writing is not real - it has already been broken at least once. If #3 is not true you end with a double safek (sfeik sfeika) which is also allowed but I will edit to clarify. – mbloch Jul 8 '18 at 13:58

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