The three-week period between the fast of the Seventeenth of Tammuz and Tishah b’Av, known as Bein ha-Metzarim, was established by the Rabbis as a period of mourning over the destruction of the two Batei Mikdash. There are certain activities, normally permitted, which are prohibited during this period. The Talmud tells us that only one who has properly mourned the Temple’s destruction will merit seeing its rebuilding. It is important, therefore, to become more knowledgeable about the exact nature of those prohibited activities. Let us review:
There are four forbidden activities, for men and women, that are specific to the Three-Weeks period: 1. Taking a haircut or a shave; 2. Getting married or participating in a wedding; 3. Listening to music and dancing; 4. Reciting shehecheyanu.
Important Note: The Three Weeks period includes another period of mourning, called the Nine Days. The halachos of those days—from Rosh Chodesh Av through midday of the tenth of Av—are more restrictive in several areas. Here we are discussing the laws of the Three Weeks only, not the special, more stringent, halachos of the Nine Days.
Cutting Hair—When is it permitted? When is it prohibited?
Weddings—When are they permitted? When are they prohibited?
Music—When is it permitted? When is it prohibited?
Shehecheyanu —When is it permitted? When is it prohibited?
1. Ta’anis 31b, quoted in Shulchan Aruch, O.C. 554:25.
2. O.C. 551:13.
3. Halichos Shelomo 3:14, Devar Halachah 9; Bein Pesach l’Shavuos, pg. 241, quoting Rav S. Wosner. See Shalmei Moed, pg. 477.
4. Mishnah Berurah 551:79. When necessary, women may shave their legs; Rav M. Feinstein (Moadei Yeshurun, pg. 128, note 9; Kitzur Hilchos Bein ha-Metzorim, pg. 4). See also Igros Moshe, Y.D. 2:137 where he allows women to take haircuts when necessary during the Three Weeks. When necessary, a girl of marriageable age may take a haircut; Rav S.Z. Auerbach (Halichos Shelomo 3:14, Devar Halachah 10).
5. Mishnah Berurah 551:20.
6. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 122:5.
7. Igros Moshe, O.C. 4:102; She’arim Metzuyanim b’Halachah 122:5.
8. Igros Moshe, C.M. 1:93; Halichos Shelomo 3:14-7.
9. Mishnah Berurah 551:87.
10. Sha’ar ha-Tziyun 551:91. Aruch ha-Shulchan 551:31, however, seems to hold that only children above the age of chinuch are prohibited to take a haircut. See also Igros Moshe, Y.D. 1:224 who agrees with this opinion.
11. Chanoch le-Na’ar 22:1.
12. Igros Moshe, O.C. 4:112-2; She’arim Metzuyanim b’Halachah 122:1. Others do not agree with this leniency; see Halichos Shelomo 3:13, Orchos Halchah 1, and Shevet ha-Levi 8:168-8; 10:81-2.
13. Kaf ha-Chayim 551:66. See also Beiur Halachah 551:3, s.v. v’chein, quoting Rav Akiva Eiger.
14. Shemiras Shabbos K’hilchasah 42:52.
15. Or the evening before; Mishnah Berurah 493:13. If the bris is on Shabbos, it is permitted to take a haircut on Friday, ibid. If the bris is on Sunday, most poskim do not permit taking a haircut on Friday; see Kaf ha-Chayim 493:36.
16. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 122:15; Sha’ar ha-Tziyun 551:4, quoting Chasam Sofer; Kaf ha-Chayim 551:10; Pischei Teshuvah 551:1; She’arim Metzuyanim b’Halachah 122:16. See, however, Be’er Heitev 551:3, who is stringent.
17. Rav M. Feinstein, quoted in Moadei Yeshurun, pg. 128.
18. Rav Y.Y. Kanievsky and Rav Y.S. Elyashiv, quoted in Nechamas Yisrael, pg. 32.
19. Igros Moshe, O.C. 1:168.
20. See Halichos Shelomo 3:13, Orchos Halachah 1, Tzitz Eliezer 10:26 and Shevet ha-Levi 8:168-8; 10:81-2.
21. Mishnah Berurah 551:19 and Sha’ar ha-Tziyun 26.
22. Igros Moshe, O.C. 1:166; 3:87; 4:21-4; Minchas Yitzchak 1:111-4; Halichos Shelomo 3:14, Devar Halachah 4; Yechaveh Da’as 3:30.
23. Koveitz Halachos 4:19.
24. Rav M. Feinstein (quoted in Ohalei Yeshurun, pg. 128).
25. Igros Moshe, O.C. 4:21-4.
26. See She’arim Metzuyanim b’Halachah 122:2 and Ohalei Yeshurun, pg. 128.
27. Rav M. Feinstein (Ohalei Yeshurun, pg. 128); Halichos Shelomo 3:14-3; Yechaveh Da’as 6:34.
28. Beiur Halachah 551:2, .s.v., mema’atim; Igros Moshe, O.C. 3:87.
29. Not all poskim prohibit reciting shehecheyanu during the Three Weeks and some conduct themselves according to that view; see Aruch ha-Shulchan 551:38. Our Discussion here is based on the view of the Mishnah Berurah, who does not permit reciting shehecheyanu during the Three Weeks, and this has become the prevalent custom.
30. Mishnah Berurah 551:98. Bein Pesach l’Shavuos, pg. 293, quotes Teshuvos Riva that this is permitted only on Shabbos itself, but new clothing may not be worn for the Minchah service on erev Shabbos.
31. Sha’ar ha-Tziyun 551:99.
32. Halichos Beisah, pg. 371, since clothing may not be bought during the Nine Days.
33. Rama, O.C. 551:17.
34. O.C. 551:17.
35. Koveitz Halachos 5:10.
36. Birkei Yosef 551:12.
37. Sha’arei Teshuvah 551:10, quoting Siddur Ya’avetz.
38. Igros Moshe, O.C. 3:80.
39. See Teshuvos Maharshag, Y.D. 1:95
40. Mishnah Berurah 551:45; Kaf ha-Chayim 551:88; Halichos Shelomo 3:14-1.
Weekly-Halacha, Text Copyright © 2012 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross and Torah.org.
Rabbi Neustadt is the Yoshev Rosh of the Vaad Harabbonim of Detroit and the Av Beis Din of the Beis Din Tzedek of Detroit. He could be reached at [email protected]