For the first time in my life I was assigned the task of cutting toilet paper for shabbos. In my modern orthodox youth we used tissues and it wasn’t until years later that I heard of cutting toilet paper on erev shabbos. It’s a strange way to prepare for shabbos, strange because it usually involves thinking about who your guests are and how much toilet paper they will use that shabbos. Will there be ladies who need it for both kinds of bathroom duties? Will there be cholent? Kale Salad? Matzo? So many factors can dictate amounts of toilet paper and this in turn can have a far reaching effect on your erev shabbos preparations. Did you ever realize that cutting toilet paper for shabbos is a mitzvah? Does that mean that you should do it outside of the bathroom?
There are 3 main shabbos toilet paper styles. Tissues, pre cut toilet paper, and the old “don’t rip on the seems”.
Tissues are controversial because some hold that when pulling a tissue there may be some tearing involved to release it from other tissues, hence the reason that in really frum households you tend to see pre-cut toilet paper.
Pre-cut toilet paper is definitely the most frum of the bunch, you can typically stereotype families based on pre-cut toilet paper alone. Basically, if someone has a stack of pre-cut toilet paper, you can probably trust their kashrus.
When there is no shabbos toilet paper left, or in sight, you may notice that someone has been tearing the toilet paper, but not on the perforation. The various shabbos melacha books mention this, but of course it’s not recommended, because your non-religious friends may come to tear toilet paper on the dotted line and this is worse than driving on shabbos according to some opinions. It also happens to be that if you don’t see any shabbos toilet paper and notice that the previous bathroom user did use the perforated lines, this may be a sign of the lack of frumkeit in the household. Typically, these sorts of people are not God fearing, have a lack of mesiras nefesh when it comes to shabbos preparations and cannot be trusted.
This is one of the reasons I use people’s bathrooms before I sit down for kiddush, I have to make sure their shabbos toilet paper is kosher, they have a negel vaasser cup, and that their reading material is appropriate for a frum household.
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