Toilet Paper and Shabbat

Actually, of course, the toilet paper thing starts with the principle of not tearing. Tearing is (although sounding destructive) inherent in the construction process. Thus, tearing is not done on Shabbat.

There are exceptions, primarily with the permissibility of tearing food. Food packages may be torn open. On a related principle, toilet paper may be torn if there is no alternative. Human dignity is paramount. For example, one may tear toilet paper in a public facility (say, a hotel) while attending a conference on Shabbat if no alternative exists.

Nevertheless, for love of the Shabbat, we endeavor to prepare alternatives. Most use tissue boxes. However, facial tissue is wasteful, not ideal for plumbing. Hence the new Shabbos Bathroom Tissues.

My expression is: “It’s a thing.” And this is a thing that expands a consciousness that today is different, not unlike the Passover Seder. “Q: Why the different toilet paper? A: Because today is different. Today we avoid tearing.” And, while we avoid tearing construction material for building purposes, we maintain the mindset.

That’s all it is, really.

It is sad when people get frenetic and miss the underlying message. So it is in everything. How many people – on both sides of the political aisle – miss the message of what the American experiment in freedom and democracy is meant to be? Spending July 4 setting off fire crackers without contemplating freedom from tyranny? Slaving to prepare a Thanksgiving turkey dinner with cranberry sauce and yams and pumpkin pie without contemplating the loneliness of Roanoke or Jamestown, the fear of meeting the first Native Americans in a New World where King George, from whom they fled, was not nearby to protect them?

So it is. But the rituals at least offer some hope that at least some will contemplate.