Opening Cans, etc. for Others on Shabbos
Courtesy of Ohr Olam Mishnah Berurah
Question: May one who does not open cans or bottles on Shabbos ask another person who does do so to open a can or soda bottle on his behalf?
Discussion: The answer will depend upon the reason why the first person does not open cans or bottles on Shabbos. One who does not do so because he adheres to the halachic opinion that forbids it,98 may not ask another person to open a can on his behalf. This is because he is asking the other person to do something which is not halachically permitted. If, however, it is only a personal stringency but in theory he agrees that it is permissible, he is allowed to ask another person who opens soda cans to open one for him as well. In this case, the other person is not performing a halachically forbidden action.
The same principle applies in other areas of halachah. We will mention two common Shabbos situations:
May one who does not use the city eiruv (for carrying on Shabbos) ask another person who does use the eiruv to carry on his behalf? If, in his opinion or in the opinion of his halachic authority, the eiruv is not valid and may not be used at all, then he may not ask another person to carry for him either. But if, in his opinion or in the opinion of his halachic authority, the eiruv is valid, yet he chooses to be stringent and not use the eiruv, it is permitted to ask another person to carry on his behalf.
May a person who keeps Shabbos until seventy-two minutes past sunset ask another person who waits less than seventy-two minutes to perform a forbidden Shabbos Labor for him before seventy-two minutes are up? Again, it will depend on the previously mentioned principle. If waiting seventy-two minutes is based on a strict halachic interpretation, then asking someone else to do a forbidden Labor is like asking him to violate Shabbos. If, however, keeping seventy-two minutes is a personal stringency or a family custom, it is permitted to ask another person who does not have this stringency or custom to “transgress” Shabbos on one’s behalf.99
98. This could be because he himself has studied the subject and has concluded that it is definitely forbidden to open a soda can or bottle on Shabbos, or even if he didn’t come to his own conclusion, but he accepts the opinion of the halachic authorities who forbid doing so as absolute and binding, not merely as a stringency due to his lack of familiarity with the sources and intricacies of the subject.
99. Entire discussion based on the following sources: Darchei Teshuvah, Y.D. 119:58 quoting Kesav Sofer; Igros Moshe, O.C. 1:186; Harav S.Z. Auerbach (Peninei ha-Ma’or, letter 3-8 and letter 22-1; Shulchan Shelomo 318:57 and footnote); Shevet ha-Levi 1:53; Minchas Asher 1:11.