The Three Weeks of Mourning begin Saturday evening, July 16th. It is a time of mournful reflection on the destroyed Bais HaMikdash and subsequent tragedies. In order to instill within ourselves a sense of loss, our Sages instituted numerous restrictions to create a feeling of sadness. The Talmud writes that one who mourns the destroyed Jerusalem will merit to see it rebuilt.
It is customary not to say the blessing of She’hechiyanu during the Three Weeks. Therefore, one should avoid eating fruits that they have not eaten for a year, as this would necessitate saying the blessing. In addition, one should not wear new clothing that requires making the blessing of She’hechiyanu. This includes new suits and new coats. One may purchase these items during the Three Weeks as it is wearing them for the first time that is a problem. One may purchase and wear any other type of clothing during the Three Weeks.
One may not cut hair during the Three Weeks. Waxing and eyebrow care are permitted.
One may not listen to lively music during the Three Weeks. This is true for live music as well as recorded music. Most have the tradition to not listen to any music, even if it is not lively.
A Capella music is a matter of debate but there is what to rely upon to listen to such music.
Listening to music as a way of staying awake in a car, to help one concentrate, or something of that nature is permitted.
The custom is to refrain from doing anything that can even be remotely dangerous during the Three Weeks because of the bad track record the Jewish People have during this time period.Traditionally, this has included swimming in lakes or rivers and getting elective surgery.
Laws of the Nine Days
The ‘9 Days’ begin Thursday evening, July 28th. In a very general sense, what is forbidden to be done during this period is: Home improvements, laundering, buying or wearing new clothes, eating meat, drinking wine, and bathing for pleasure. We will discuss the details of all these restrictions below.
Home Improvement and Gardening: It is forbidden to do any home improvements such as painting, building, adding extensions. One may not hire a non-Jew to do this type of work either. Light housework, such as sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, and basic cleaning is permitted. In terms of gardening, basic upkeep such as mowing the lawn, watering plants and flowers is permitted. Planting new seeds or flowers is not allowed.
Laundering: Included in the prohibition of laundering during the Nine Days is ironing, or sending any clothes to the dry cleaners (even if they will be ready after the Nine Days).
One may wash clothing for children aged six and under.
If one has no clean clothing for Shabbos one may wash clothing on Thursday and Friday so that they will have clean clothing for Shabbos.
Spot cleaning is permitted.
During the first days of mourning for a loved one, one may not wear freshly laundered clothing. The same holds true for the Nine Days when we all mourn the destruction of the Batei Mikdash. The definition of freshly laundered clothing is clothing that has not been worn since it has been laundered. This does not mean that one must wear dirty clothing. Rather, once clothing has been worn for a half hour [prior to the Nine Days] it can be worn during the Nine Days. The prohibition of wearing freshly laundered clothing is limited to outer garments as opposed to undergarments and pajamas.
One is allowed to wear freshly-laundered clothing on Shabbos.
[For all you clever people out there, this may seem to indicate a loophole of sorts. If one can wear new clothing on Shabbos then perhaps one need not wear clothing before the nine days in order to take away their freshness. Instead one can wear them for the first time on Shabbos and ‘break them in’ that way. The problem with this idea is that it violates another prohibition – one may not prepare on Shabbos for the week to come. Therefore one would not be able to ‘prepare’ clothing that they only want to wear during the week by wearing them on Shabbos. Instead,]
If one runs out of clothing that was pre-worn before the Nine Days, one may cause the clothing to be considered not fresh by putting them on a floor that is dusty, removing the creases by stepping on the clothing, or by placing the clothing in a laundry basket with dirty laundry. All of these methods are only to be used post-facto. Ideally, one should prepare clothing before the Nine Days by wearing any outer garment that will be worn for at least a half hour.
As opposed to the Three Weeks when buying clothing of significance is forbidden, during the Nine Days buying any article of clothing is prohibited. (As a practical tip – before going Nine Days without laundry, it’s worth double checking that you have enough clothing! Also, don’t forget to buy non-leather shoes before Tisha B’av.) If there is a major sale that will be over before the Nine Days have passed it is permitted to buy a new article of clothing.
It is forbidden to make any new clothing (sewing, weaving, knitting, etc.) but it is permitted to sew up a tear or a button etc.
It is forbidden to eat meat/poultry or drink wine through the Nine Days. There are two reasons why this is so – 1) meat and wine increase happiness 2) it serves as a reminder of the meat of the sacrifices and the wine libations that are no longer.
One may use meat utensils but may not eat food that was cooked with meat (like eating a potato from a meat chulent).
There are no restrictions of meat and wine on Shabbos.
Included in the prohibition of drinking wine is drinking grape juice. However, any other alcoholic beverage is permitted. Wine that is used for cooking is allowed provided that there is no distinct taste of wine in the food.
Drinking wine/ grape juice on Shabbos is permitted. Havdallah poses a challenge as it is after Shabbos. For Havdallah, one should not use beer in place of wine. Rather, if there is a child between the age of 6 and 9 available they should drink the wine/ grape juice. If not, the one who made Havdallah should drink it. As is the case every Saturday night, one should ideally drink a r’viis which measures approximately 3.8 fl. oz.
A few final laws and customs that pertain to the Nine Days:
During the Nine Days, it is forbidden to swim, be it for pleasure or for exercise. If one must swim for medical reasons, please feel free to contact me to discuss further.
One should try not to be involved in a court case during the Nine Days if possible.
The custom is to push off saying Kiddush Levana until after Tisha B’Av because Kiddush Levana is supposed to be said in a state of joy.