Friday, 24 July 2015

Tisha B’av on Motzaei Shabbos

The Rema (OC 553:2) writes that when Tisha B’av is on (or pushed onto) motzaei Shabbos, one must wait until after saying barchu before changing into one’s non-leather shoes. One should undo them before maariv, and then slip them off, ideally without handling them (Mishna Berura 553:6). Only the chazzan should change them before maariv. R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichos Shlomo, Tisha B'Av 15:n15) wrote that when one goes to a Shul that is davening after nacht, they should change their shoes before maariv.
R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 1:380:2) writes that one shouldn’t come to shul on Shabbos wearing non-leather shoes because one isn’t allowed to display mourning on Shabbos. Likewise, one can’t carry them on Shabbos, as that would be hachana, preparing for after Shabbos. Thus, one should bring them to shul before Shabbos. (ibid 3:356; 3:606:7).
The berachos on havdala are split up. One doesn’t say hagefen until Sunday night when one can drink wine as it is no longer the nine days (See Mishna Berura 556:3). One doesn’t smell the besamim or say the pesukim at the beginning. While most people say the beracha over the candle in shul before eicha, R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichos Shlomo, Tisha B'Av 15:n22) suggests that husbands wait until they get home and say it for their wives, too. One who isn’t fasting should ensure that they say havdala (with drinking wine / chamar medinah) before eating (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 62:46).

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Fresh Clothes in the Nine Days

Question: I forgot to prepare shirts and polish my shoes before the nine days. What can I do?
Answer: The Gemara (Taanis 26b; 29b) writes that one mustn’t clean or iron one’s clothes during the week of Tisha B’av. The Rema (OC 551:3) writes that the custom (for ashkenazim) is not to do so for the nine days from Rosh Chodesh Av. The Rema (OC 551:14) writes that one may wash a child’s clothes, especially if they regularly get them dirty. Some (Piskei Teshuvos 551:n232) write that this only applies to younger children’s clothes and the Mishna Berura (551:82) writes that one shouldn’t wash their clothes in the week of Tisha B’av.
Additionally, one isn’t supposed to wear freshly washed clothing. The poskim write that this doesn’t apply to clothing that are worn on the skin and changed daily. Thus, while most poskim write that this prohibition applies also to shirts, R’ Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg (quoted in Divrei Chachamim OC:459) held that one can wear fresh shirts, too. One who is particularly bothered by not changing their shirt may do so (Piskei Teshuvos 551:17).
While the Rema (OC 551:1) writes that one shouldn’t even wear one’s Shabbos clothes on Shabbos Chazon, most people follow the Vilna Gaon (OC 551:3) who allows wearing fresh clothing even when Tisha B’av itself falls on Shabbos (See Aruch Hashulchan OC 551:11). The Mishna Berura (551:33) writes that one shouldn’t change one’s bedding though.
Similarly, one is allowed to polish one’s shoes for Shabbos (Igros Moshe 3:80; Rivevos Ephraim 1:375).
The Kaf Hachaim (OC 551:91) and Piskei Teshuvos (551:17) write that it is advisable to prepare for the nine days by wearing one’s fresh shirts for a while (See Shach YD 389:4).
R’ Betzalel Stern (Betzel Hachachma 4:138) writes that if one forgot to prepare shirts before Rosh Chodesh, one can change shirts a few times on Shabbos, thereby having almost fresh shirts to wear after Shabbos (See Kaf Hachaim ibid).

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Children in the Three Weeks

Question: Can my child have a haircut during the three weeks or eat meat during the nine days?
Answer: The  Shulchan Aruch (OC 551:14) rules that adults may not cut children’s hair during the nine days. The Mishna Berura (551:81 quoting the Elya Rabba) writes that this applies for the three weeks (between 17th Tammuz and 9th Av). While the Mishna Berura (Shaar Hatziyun 551:91) discusses whether young children can have a haircut, depending on the reason behind this prohibition, the Aruch Hashulchan (OC 551:31) and R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe YD 1:224) allow children younger than six to get a haircut if necessary. R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 1:336:2; 2:155:19) writes that one who has the minhag to give their son an upsherin shouldn’t schedule the haircut during the three weeks. Certainly, if a child has lice, one doesn’t need to wait to cut their hair (Nitei Gavriel, Bein Hametzarim 19:8).
The Magen Avraham (OC 551:31) writes that so long as children are too young to comprehend what we’re mourning about they don’t need to mourn and so can eat meat during the nine days. Nonetheless, the Mishna Berura (551:70 and Shaar Hatziyun 551:76) writes that most poskim disagree and children are not allowed to eat meat or drink wine unless it is for a mitzva (such as havadala wine) or for health reasons (See Aruch Hashulchan OC 551:26). Nonetheless, R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 1:371; 2:155:22; 3:473:18) writes that one should not be strict with children, especially if they are weak.
R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 4:21:4) and R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 3:338) write that children who normally don’t stay up on Friday night and eat earlier may be given meat before Shabbos.
In conclusion, when children are old enough to understand what Tisha B’av is about they should begin keeping the relevant halachos. Ideally, young children should not be given meat either.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Brushing Teeth on a Fast Day

Question: Can one brush one’s teeth on a fast day?
Answer: The Gemara (Berachos 14a) relates that there were amoraim who would taste some food while fasting. The rishonim debate whether this applies only to a private ta’anis or even a public one (See Tosafos; Rosh).
The Shulchan Aruch (OC 567:1) writes that one who’s really hungry on the four minor fast days (i.e. not on Tisha B’av or Yom Kippur) may taste some food and spit it out. The Rema doesn’t allow it on any ta’anis.
While the Shulchan Aruch (OC 567:3) forbids one to rinse one’s mouth with a little water and spit it out on a (public) ta’anis, the Magen Avraham (OC 567:6) writes that this is only according to the Rema who forbids tasting food. The Shulchan Aruch would allow one to rinse with less than a revi’is of water (on a minor fast).
While the Kaf Hachaim (OC 567:13) forbids rinsing even with less than a revi’is, most poskim are more lenient, especially when one is uncomfortable. Thus, the Rema (Darchei Moshe OC 567:2), Elya Rabba (567:5) and Baer Heitev (567:5) relate that the Maharil used to rinse his mouth with water while being particular not to swallow any.
The Mishna Berura (567:11 quoting the Chayei Adam 132:20) writes that on one of the minor fasts one may rinse their mouth with water if they are uncomfortable and on Tisha B’av, one may only do so if they are suffering. One doing so should bend over the sink to ensure that they don’t swallow any water. A healthy person cannot rinse one’s mouth on Yom Kippur.
The poskim write that brushing one’s teeth is the same as rinsing one’s mouth (See Minchas Yitzchak 4:109).
R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yalkut Yosef, Ta’anis, 13) writes that if one is uncomfortable not brushing one’s teeth, one may do so, though ensure that one uses less than a revi’is of water and try not to swallow any.
The Aruch Hashulchan (OC 567:3) is more lenient still, allowing one to rinse (but not gargle) even with more than a revi’is of water.
In conclusion, one who wants to brush their teeth on a minor ta’anis may do so, though they should ensure that they don’t swallow any water.