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Weekly Halacha

Selected Halachos relating to Parshas Devarim- Chazon

By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt

The following is a discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the week. For final rulings, consult your Rav.


The ninth day in Av, the day on which both Batei Mikdash were destroyed, is also our national day of mourning for all of the tragedies and calamities that have befallen the Jewish people since the destruction of the first Temple. This sorrowful fast day, on which "The Three Weeks" period of mourning culminates, is replete with special Halachos. In this discussion, we will attempt to review the special restrictions that apply to Tishah B'av as well as the circumstances under which these restrictions do not apply.

The following are forbidden:



EATING AND DRINKING are permitted for...

A person who is sick, or an old or weak person who may become ill if he does not eat or drink, even if his illness will not endanger his life (1). He may eat as much food as he usually does (2), but he should not indulge himself (3).

A woman up to thirty days after giving birth (4), even if the baby was stillborn (5);

Boys under the age of 13 and girls under the age of 12 (6);

A medical condition. It is permitted, therefore, to swallow a bit of water along with a prescribed medication if the medicine cannot be swallowed otherwise (7).

WASHING is permitted for...

Dirty or soiled hands or other parts of the body. Any substance or discharge (e.g., a glutinous gel in the eye) may be rinsed off (8). [If soap is needed, it may be used. (9)]

Awakening in the morning: Three times on each hand (10), but only until the knuckles (11). After the hands are wiped but remain slightly damp, they may be passed over the face or the eyes (12).

After using the bathroom and/or after touching a part of the body that is normally covered--until the knuckles (13);

Rinsing the mouth, but only in case of great discomfort (14). Care must be taken not to swallow the water. Mouthwash should not be used (15).

Cooking needs (16). If warm water is necessary, it may be used (17).

Medical needs (18). Hot water may be used when needed (19).

Preparation for davening (20). Some say that only the tips of the fingers [until the first joint (21)] should be washed (22).

Dishes [after midday], if leaving them unwashed will attract bugs (23), etc.

Eating bread, for those who are allowed to eat on Tishah B'av. The hands should be washed to the wrists in the usual manner (24). Several poskim mention that one may also wash mayim acharonim if he is always particular to do so (25).

A baby who is bathed daily (26).

A bride, who is allowed to wash her face up to 30 days after her wedding (27).

ANOINTING is permitted for...

Medical needs. It is permitted, therefore, to apply ointment to a skin rash (28).

A bad odor (29). Deodorant, therefore, may be applied (30).

A bride up to 30 days after her wedding (31).

LEATHER SHOES are permitted for...

A person who has to walk a long distance over stones or mud, and no other suitable footwear is available (32).

Medical needs (33).

Children who are too young to understand about the destruction of the Batei Mikdash (34).


Learning which pertains to the story of the destruction of Jerusalem and/or the Batei Mikdash, e.g., Eichah, its midrashim and commentaries; parts of Jeremiah; Gitin 56-58; Sanhedrin 104; Yerushalmi end of Ta'anis; Josephus.

The Book of Job with commentaries.

The relevant halachos of Tishah B'av and mourning. In depth study should be avoided (35).

Sifrei Mussar (36) (moralistic instruction and ethics).

To prepare the Torah reading for either Shacharis or Minchah of Tishah B'av (37).

It is questionable if it is permitted to recite Tehilim for a sick person (38).


Greeting another person, which includes saying hello, good night, good morning, etc., is permitted only if one was greeted first. The response should be uttered in a serious tone (39).

Sitting on any type of chair is permitted only after midday (40).

Unless it will result in a major and irretrievable loss, business should not be conducted until midday (41).

Sending a gift is permitted only if the recipient is a needy person (42).


1 Mishnah Berurah 554:11. See also Chayei Adam 135:2. A mere headache or minor discomfort, however, does not allow one to break his fast.

2 Although some poskim (Maharam Shick O.C. 289; Sdei Chemed, Bein ha-Metzarim 2:3; Biur Halachah 554:6 quoting Pischei Olam; Marcheshes 1:14) hold that one should try to eat less than a shiur (like a person who must break his fast on Yom Kippur), the majority of the poskim do not mention this stringency--see Aruch ha-Shulchan 554:7; Kaf ha-Chayim 554:31. This is also the custom--Nitei Gavriel, pg. 80, quoting Poppa Rav.

3 Mishnah Berurah 550:5.

4 Aruch ha-Shulchan 550:8. Although the Mishnah Berurah's view seems to be that after seven days from the birth it is proper to be stringent, contemporary poskim agree that nowadays women are weak and they may be lenient.

5 Biur Halachah 617:4, quoting Sdei Chemed.

6 Some have the custom that children before these ages fast for a few hours to accustom themselves to fasting. Not all communities share this custom.

7 Harav S.Z. Auerbach (Nishmas Avrohom 5:46).

8 O.C. 554:9, 11.

9 Nitei Gavriel, pg. 82.

10 Those who usually wash four times (see Mishnah Berurah 4:10), may do so on Tishah B'av also--Kitzur Hilchos Moadim, pg. 109.

11 O.C. 554:10.

12 Mishnah Berurah 554:22.

13 O.C. 613:3 and Mishnah Berurah 4,5,6. See also Aruch ha-Shulchan 6. [See Kaf ha-Chayim 554:73 who quotes Ben Ish Chai that one who touches shoes made of material other than leather should wash his hands.]

14 Mishnah Berurah 567:11; Minchas Yitzchak 4:109. Aruch ha-Shulchan 567:3 is more stringent.

15 Because of the prohibition of "washing"--Harav M. Feinstein (oral ruling quoted in Halachos of the Three Weeks, pg. 19).

16 Mishnah Berurah 554:19,

17 Kaf ha-Chayim 554:46.

18 Mishnah Berurah 554:26.

19 Kaf ha-Chayim 554:63.

20 Mishnah Berurah 554:21.

21 Harav M. Feinstein (oral ruling quoted in Moadei Yeshurun, pg. 140).

22 Sha'arei Teshuvah 554:9. See also Aruch ha-Shulchan 554:10.

23 The poskim debate if it is permissible to wash dishes on Tishah B'av. Clearly, though, if the dirty dishes will bring bugs, one may be lenient--see Pischei Teshuvah 554:22; Moadei Yeshurun, pg. 140; Nitei Gavriel, pg. 83.

24 Sheorim Metzuyanim B'halachah 133:16 quoting Levushei Mordechai Y.D. 2:11; Kaf ha-Chayim 554:53 quoting Tosfos Chayim 155:10.

25 Teharas ha-Shulchan 557. See, however, Moadei Yeshurun, pg. 141.

26 Chanoch l'Na'ar, pg. 57.

27 Mishnah Berurah 554:29.

28 O.C. 554:15.

29 Biur Halachah 554:15.

30 Harav M. Feinstein (oral ruling quoted in Moadei Yeshurun, pg. 141); Halachos of The Three Weeks, pg. 22. Note, however, that on Yom Kippur deodorant is prohibited.

31 Mishnah Berurah 554:29.

32 Mishnah Berurah 554:32.

33 O.C. 614:3.

34 See Chochmas Adam 152:17 who holds that even children above this age may wear leather shoes. See, however, Igros Moshe Y.D. 1:124 who rules that once a child reaches the age of chinuch, he is forbidden to wear leather shoes. See also Shaar ha-Tziyon 551:91.

35 Mishnah Berurah 554:4.

36 Tosfos Chaim on Chayei Adam 135:2. See also Meiri Moed Katan 21 who allows a mourner to learn seforim that bring a person to repentance.

37 Mishnah Berurah 554:8.

38 Nitei Gavriel, pg. 91 quotes Divrei Malkiel 6:9 as permitting the recitation of Tehilim, while Moadei Yeshurun, pg. 145 quotes Harav M. Feinstein as prohibiting it.

39 O.C. 554:20.

40 O.C. 559:3.

41 O.C. 554:24.

42 Kaf ha-Chayim 554:91.

Weekly-Halacha, Copyright © 1997 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross and Project Genesis, Inc. Rabbi Neustadt is the principal of Yavne Teachers' College in Cleveland, Ohio. He is also the Magid Shiur of a daily Mishna Berurah class at Congregation Shomre Shabbos.

The Weekly-Halacha Series is distributed L'zchus Hayeled Doniel Meir ben Hinda. Weekly sponsorships are available--please send email to the moderator, Dr. Jeffrey Gross

The series is distributed by the Harbotzas Torah Division of Congregation Shomre Shabbos, 1801 South Taylor Road, Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118--HaRav Yisroel Grumer, Marah D'Asra



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