Is it permissible for a woman to have her sheitel set during the Nine Days?
During the Nine Days it is forbidden to have a sheitel washed and/or professionally set, but it is permitted for a woman to set (but not to wash) her own sheitel at home.
What are the guidelines for showering and bathing children and adults during the Nine Days?
One of the Nine Days’ restrictions is the prohibition against bathing and showering. Nowadays, people find it most uncomfortable to observe this restriction, since we are all accustomed to bathing or showering daily, unlike in earlier times when people bathed much less frequently.
It is important to distinguish between the two reasons why people bathe: 1) for reasons of hygiene and cleanliness; 2) for pleasure; the hot water soothes them, the cold water cools them — it is a pleasurable experience. It is safe to assume that most people bathe or shower for both reasons — for cleanliness and for pleasure.
It is clearly forbidden to bathe or shower during the Nine Days for pleasure. Thus it is forbidden to take a hot bath, a long, hot, relaxing shower, or to go swimming in a lake or a pool. The primary purpose of these activities is the pleasure derived from them.
But one who became dirty or sweaty and must take a shower in order to rid himself of the odor, dirt or sweat, may take a short, cold or lukewarm shower. If he requires soap or shampoo in order to remove the dirt or sweat, it is permitted as well. If the dirt or sweat cannot be removed unless hot water is used, hot water may be used for those areas where it is needed.
One who needs to take a hot shower or bath or go swimming for medical reasons is permitted to do so.
May one allow his children to swim in a kiddie pool during the Nine Days? What about a sprinkler?
During the Nine Days, when swimming for pleasure is forbidden for adults and older children, it is permitted to allow the younger children to swim in a kiddie pool or use the sprinkler. Once a child is mature enough to understand the concept of mourning over the churban, he should be taught that it is no longer appropriate for him to swim during the Nine Days.
We are in the middle of a renovation. May we continue it during the Three Weeks?
During the Nine Days only renovations which are necessary for actual living space are permitted; construction for beauty or pleasure, such as a vacation home, a patio or planting a garden for beauty or fragrance is forbidden. Similarly, painting, wall-papering and other forms of home decorating are not to take place during the Nine Days. Still, if a non-Jew was contracted before the Nine days to build, paint or decorate a home, and postponing the job will cause one a substantial loss of money, it is permitted to allow the non-Jew to continue working.
Given the fact that we refrain from eating meat during the Nine Days due to mourning, is it permissible to serve milchig or pareve foods that are considered “lavish” or “treats”?
The reason why we refrain from eating meat and drinking one during the Nine days is not only because of mourning but primarily to recall the korbanos of meat and wine which were suspended because of the churban. Dairy or parve foods, as lavish as they may be, are not included in this prohibition, and one may continue to consume them as he does during the rest of the year.
What kinds of trips are not advisable during the Nine Days? While the basic halachah does not specifically forbid taking trips during the Nine Days, it is nevertheless strongly recommended by all poskim that one should limit all long distance travel during this time. Unless one is traveling to Eretz Yisrael or is involved in the performance of some other mitzvah, such as kibbud av v’eim, he should avoid flying by airplane or even take a long car trip. In addition, even short distance trips taken purely for the purpose of pleasure, should be avoided or severely limited during the Nine Days. Still, parents should take into account that children cannot be left alone to entertain themselves, and sometimes it may be necessary to take a trip to occupy the family in a positive way. Since every situation is different, each family should consult their rav for guidance.
Is it an halachic requirement to try on all clothing that will be worn during the Nine Days and how must this be done? Would this halachah apply to children’s clothing as well?
All freshly laundered or dry-cleaned clothes and linens (such as towels, sheets and tablecloths) may not be worn or used during the Nine Days. It has become customary, therefore, that freshly laundered or dry-cleaned clothes are worn or used for a short while — long enough so that the garment loses that special crispness and freshness that one associates with freshly laundered or dry- cleaned clothes — before the onset of the Nine Days, so that the clothes are no longer considered “freshly laundered.” The widespread custom in the United States is that garments that are constantly being changed because of perspiration — like socks and undergarments — are not included in the prohibition of wearing freshly laundered clothes and one need not prepare them before the Nine Days. Once children are old enough to understand the significance of the Nine Days, approximately 8 or 9 years old, they, too, should be encouraged to prepare pre-worn clothing for the Nine Days.
Is it permissible to wash children’s clothing during the Nine Days?
All clothing that will be required by infants, babies or small children who constantly get their clothes dirty may be washed during the Nine Days. There is no requirement to buy additional clothing for a child in order to avoid washing his clothes. When traveling, one is not required to pack all of the children’s clothes in order to avoid doing laundry, if doing so will be very bothersome.
If an adult runs out of clothing, is it permissible to launder his or her clothing? Is it better to purchase new clothing instead?
Adults must prepare enough clothing to last them for the entire Nine Days. Doing laundry, even via a non-Jew, or buying new clothing, is strictly forbidden, including socks and undergarments or other garments that are constantly being changed because of perspiration. In the event that the unexpected happened where they ran out of clothes and have absolutely nothing clean to wear, it is permitted for them to wash the minimum amount of clothes they will need for the duration of the Nine Days. Preferably, their clothes should be washed together with a load of children’s laundry. If possible, a non-Jew should be asked to do the laundry.
If a woman is expecting or ill, is it proper for her to ask a shailah about fasting or is it a given that she must fast on Tishah B’Av?
A woman who is ill, experiencing a difficult pregnancy or nursing an infant without supplementing, must consult a rav about fasting on Tishah b’Av. These women should not decide on their own whether or not to fast, but should do so only after asking a shailah about their particular situation.
From what age must children fast on Tishah B’Av? Children under the age of bar/bas mitzvah should never fast on Tishah b’Av (or any other fast, including Yom Kippur) even if it is the last fast day before their bar/bas mitzvah. They should, however, be encouraged to fast during the night and for a few hours during the day once they are old enough to understand the significance of Tishah b’Av. They should also be taught to limit their food intake to whatever is necessary and not to indulge in candy, etc.
Weekly-Halacha, Text Copyright © 2010 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross and Torah.org.
Rabbi Neustadt is Rav of Young Israel in Cleveland Heights. He may be reached at 216-321-4635.