A friend sent me a link to this new product for the Shabbat-observant: Kosher Innovations Shabbos Bathroom Tissue, “pre-cut 2-ply toilet paper in a unique box.”
The manufacturer explains:
The Shabbos Bathroom Tissue from Kosher Innovations avoids the prohibited melacha of Mechatech on Shabbos.* It does not tear because each sheet is individually pre-cut and folded. And since each sheet is the size of two toilet paper squares, you only take what you need, reducing wasted paper and saving you money. Most importantly, when you replace the regular toilet paper roll with Kosher Innovations Shabbos Bathroom Tissue your are preventing other people from accidentally tearing on Shabbos. This is true especially for children and any guests you may have who are unaware of the prohibition.
* For an explanation of the relevant Jewish law, go here, and scroll down to “Toilet Paper.” — ASC
I come not to bury Kosher Innovations Shabbos Bathroom Tissue, nor to praise it. But I think it is worth noting how products like this serve as a Rorschach test among Jews. For some such products are a blessing; others simply admire the ingenuity of the manufacturers — or are disinterestedly fascinated about the sociological implications. (I think that’s me.)
And then there are those who mock such innovations — secular Jews who find them at best quaint and at worst primitive; frum, or formerly frum, Jews who think they reflect increasingly stringent or decadent tendencies within Orthodoxy; Jews who disdain the laws in the first place (“Can you tell me how ripping a piece of toilet paper can be considered ’work’?”); Jews who are offended by innovations that seem to salvage convenience from prohibitions (“Doesn’t a Shabbos elevator violate the spirit of the law?”); Jews who are embarrassed that their fellow Jews spend time thinking about such things in the first place.
Did I miss anybody?