Emunah Based on the Teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

Archive for July, 2011

Laws and Customs of the Three Weeks – Part II

A. Music

Dancing and Musical Instruments: During this period it is forbidden to dance, play musical instruments or listen to them live or pre-recorded.

Vocals-only music:  Even though such music has no musical instruments, if the music is of a joyous nature, it follows the same prohibition as listening to instrumental music. If the music however is of the type that awakens one to deveykus and is required by one specifically for this purpose, then it is permitted as long as it is listened to in private.

Recorded Cantorial music without musical instruments:  Here to, if there is a specific need it is permitted as long as it is in private.

Recordings for Children:  If the content contains both singing and music it is forbidden for children of chinuch age to listen.  However, if the content is primarily stories etc. with some musical accompaniment, there is room to permit this.  However, if the children are not of chinuch age, then it is permissible for them to listen to instrumental recordings.

Nursery schools for children at the age of chinuch:  It is forbidden to play musical instruments to children of chinuch age even if there is a fixed schedule for doing so.  One who’s livelihood depends on playing them musical instruments and stands to loose money from not doing so, should ask the opinion of a Posek.

Singing:  With regards to joyous melodies, there are those that are stringent especially when there are a group of people together.  In the context of a Seudas Mitzvah though, it is permissible to sing, however those present should be cognizant of not becoming exceedingly joyous.

The Poskim allow singing in all of the following cases:

1. On Shabbos.

2. While Learning.

3. When the melodies are of an awakening nature – whether alone or in a group of people who have joined together to strengthen themselves in Yiras Shamayim.

4. In order to keep one awake behind the wheel while driving.

Listening to music against one’s will: With regards to instrumental music that one happens to hear, be it on a bus, while on-hold on the phone or cell phone, is not prohibited on condition that one does not intend deriving enjoyment from the listening.   With regards to one’s own cell phone, it is however correct to change the ringtone to a non-musical one.

Listening to Music while exercising:  In this regard, one should consult with a Posek.

B. Shehechiyanu

One does not make a Shehechiyanu during Bein Hametzarim. According to the essential law, though it is permissible on Shabbos.  Yet according to the Arizal it is forbidden even on Shabbos.

One should not purchase a new item of clothing or a new fruit doing this period in order that one should not have to make a Shehechiyanu .  If however such items will not be available after the three weeks or specifically in regards to a child’s desire for such an item, then it is permissible to allow the purchase and to make a Shehechiyanu. However, it would be preferable if possible to postpone eating the new fruit or wearing the new item of clothing until Shabbos.

A pregnant or sick individual who needs to wear or eat a new fruit, is permitted to do so but without making a Shehechiyanu .

Bris Milah, Pidyon Haben or seeing one’s daughter for the first time:  It is permitted to say in all these cases to make a Shehechiyanu .

HaTov v’Hameitiv:  With regards to an item that requires the blessing of HaTov v’Hameitiv i.e. there are those who are partnered in the joy, such as one’s wife or children, it is permissible to purchase the item as well as make the blessing.

C.  Things that are permitted according to the essential law:

New Clothes and objects (Keilim) :  There is no prohibition in purchasing items or new clothing that do not require a Shehechiyanu during this period, however there are those that hold neither to buy nor to wear such new clothing.  There are those that are stringent only when it comes to purchasing very expensive items that bring one tremendous joy.  And so, if there are items that one does not need specifically during this time, it is correct to be stringent and not purchase them until afterwards.

Dwellings:  There is no prohibition in moving into a new apartment during this time whether rented or purchased.  But there are those that are stringent to refrain from doing so for the sake of a “good omen” (“siman tov”).

Alterations and painting:  There is no prohibition against alterations made to, or painting a dwelling during this time, however, the “Eliya Rabba” writes that is it is correct not to do so.

Outings (tiyulim):  There is no prohibition during this time to go on outings, however one should be careful not to go to places of danger.

Washing: There is no prohibition to bathe during these days in the ocean etc.  However due to the “fear of danger” during this ominous period, it is preferable to refrain from doing so unless there is a specific need.


Laws and Customs of the Three Weeks – Part I

A.  The Fast of Tammuz

a) According to the letter of the law it is permissible to wash on 17 Tammuz.  However, those who are stringent do not wash the entire body with hot water, but either wash the entire body in cold water or just the face, hands and legs with hot water.  However, on all accounts, no-one should wash for the pleasure of it alone.

b) It is permissible to launder on the 17th of Tammuz.

c) Children under Barmitzvah do not need to fast at all – not even a few hours – and can eat as per usual. However, they should prevent themselves from eating candies.

d) Pregnant and nursing women do not need to fast at all and can eat as per usual, however, they should prevent themselves from eating meat or poultry.

e) The fast starts at dawn (Alos Hashachar).  However, those who want to eat at night before dawn in order to alleviate the difficulty associated with the fast should do as follows:

i. One should make a condition (t’nai) before going to sleep that he intends to eat or drink before dawn.  Should one forgot however to make such a condition, he is permitted to drink but NOT eat.  Should one not sleep at all or sleep less than what is considered a “shanas keva” (20 minutes or more), one is not required to make such a condition before eating or drinking.

ii. Since there is a prohibition to eat before praying, the law therefore is as follows:

1. Drinking coffee or tea etc. is allowed until dawn.

2. “Tasting” bread or mezonos less than a kasayis (approx. 29 grams) is permissible until dawn.

3. With regards to eating bread or mezonos more that a kazayis, if one started to eat a half-hour before dawn or more, he can continue to eat until dawn.  However, from half an hour before dawn, it is prohibited to start eating bread or mezonos.

In certain calendars there are 2 times for dawn [based on the differing Halachic Opinions] and one should therefore finish his eating or drinking according to the earlier of the two times [90 minutes before sunrise]. With regards to not starting half an hour before dawn, one can however be lenient in an “emergency” (shaas hadechak) and use the later time of dawn.

f)  According to the Zohar HaKadosh, if one slept and woke up before dawn, he cannot eat in all accounts.  Therefore, with regards to those who follow the customs of the Kabbalists, should it be extremely difficult for them to fast without having eaten before dawn, they have on whom to rely and may eat according to the points outlined above.

B.  Laws of Bein Hametzarim from 17 Tammuz to Rosh Chodesh Av

This period of mourning (Bein Hametzarim) is named after the verse in Eicha: “all of her [Tzion’s] pursuers overcame her between the straits”, which we commemorate by diminishing our joy by refraining to perform weddings, haircuts, blessings of Shehechiyanu and music.  This period of time starts from sunset before 17 Tammuz.  However, one who has an urgent need to have a haircut at this specific time should ask a Posek.

C.  Marriages and Seudos:

Marriages – We do not perform marriages from the 17th of Tammuz until after the 9th of Av.

Engagements – It is permissible to make Shidduchim and Seudas T’naim, however without musical instruments.

Seudos Mitzvah – Barmitzvahs, Bris Milahs and the Completion of Mesechets of Talmud are permitted except without musical instruments.

D.  Haircuts:

Adults – Both men and women are prohibited from haircuts even in honor of Shabbos. [If the hair is long and one’s only intention of cutting is for Shabbos, there is room to be lenient].

Children – Adults are not permitted to cut the hair of children. However if there is a specific need to cut the hair of a child, there is room in which to be lenient.

“Baalei Bris” – Baalei Bris, a Mohel and Sandak, are according to the letter of the law allowed to cut their hair.

Barmizvah, Pidyon Haben, Chalaka (Upshirin) – One should ask a Posek if it is permissible to have a hair cut or not.

Specific Needs – with regards to Shidduchim, Modesty, Barriers (Chatzitzos), Healing, Mustaches which interfere with one’s eating, is it permissible to cut hair.

Brushing/Combing hair – is permissible.

E.  Cutting Nails – is permissible

Various Laws Pertaining to the 9 Days before Tisha B’Av

1.  Wearing laundered cloths: 

It is forbidden to wear laundered cloths, to change bedding sheets or towels during this period.  Also, changing undergarments is forbidden unless they are soiled.  It is often mistaken to think that undergarments are excluded from this prohibition. Therefore should someone wish to change them regularly during this period per the rest of the year, the Poskim advise him to prepare them before Rosh Chodesh for a short while so that they will no longer be considered “freshly” laundered.

2.  Preparing one’s clothes:

How long to wear the garments. There is no prescribed fixed length of  time for this process since it depends on the environment in which one wears them.  For example, someone sitting in an air-conditioned area requires more time than someone walking in the heat of the day in the street.

Wearing multiple garments together.  If one wears them while walking in the street, it helps to “unfreshen” all of them at the same time, however sitting at home will not help prepare the outer garments in the same way it prepares the undergarments.

Placing them on the floor.  Even though we have a heter from the Poskim to do this as a way of “unfreshening” our clothing, this is really only applicable to floors actually made of earth as was the case in previous years, unlike the tiled or carpeted clean floors we have today,   Therefore one needs to actually step on them.

3. Laundering.  It is forbidden to launder clothes either by hand or by machine.  However, spot cleaning is permitted if someone would be embarrassed by the mark on his clothes or if refraining from cleaning the spot immediately results in the clothes being permanently stained.

4. Polishing shoes.  There is a difference of opinion among the Poskim whether to permit polishing ones shoes or not.  It appears to me that if they are very dirty or someone lives in a very dusty place, there is room to be lenient.  (In practice though, one shouldn’t need to polish dusty shoes but should rather wipe then down with a cloth.)

5. Clothes which became soiled.  If someone would be embarrassed to wear such clothes or such a person is an Istanus who could not stand wearing them in such a condition, and does not have any “non-fresh” garments which were prepared before Rosh Chodesh, then he can wear laundered clothing but it would still be preferable for him to prepare the clothing during the nine days itself in the ways mentioned above before he wears them – if such a person will be able to bare such a discomfort.

6. Children.  All the heterim to change and launder children’s clothing are only applicable in cases of dirty garments, however it is prohibited to change non-soiled clothing.  Certainly not to launder garments that are not soiled.  In all cases it is not permitted to place over-garments together with undergarments that one is already washing.

The week in which T”B falls: 

Until 3 years old: it is possible to launder and change clothes as per normal.

3 to 6 years old: it is possible to change clothes on a per need basis. Also it is permitted to launder their clothes should they run out.

6 to 9 years old:  The law is per 3 to 6 years old described above, only one should be more careful not to end up in such a predicament if at all possible.

9 to Bar Mitzvah:  Preferably (l’chatchila), one should hold per the law of adults.  In reality such children normally become dirty and therefore one may be lenient and change their clothes on a per needs basis, after the fact (bedi’avad).

7. In honor of Shabbos.  It is permitted to change into laundered clothing.  But new clothing is prohibited unless one has no others. One is permitted to polish shoes.

The question arises as to is what is considered the time frame for “The Honor Of Shabbos”?  It is those times which are typically recognized as being “In Honor of Shabbos” such as on Motzei Shabbos in which case the Minhag is to extend the duration of wearing such items, however,  there are those who are stringent not to.

Sheets.  One is prohibited to change the sheets even for the “Honor of Shabbos”.  (There are many who are not aware of this prohibition).

Towels. The Mishna Brura does not address the law of towels.  The Taz brings the teachings of Harash”l together with the “Eliya Rabba” permitting changing them.  If they are already slightly soiled, then certainly one can change them were Shabbos to fall out on Rosh Chodesh.

1. General Laws of Washing (excluding issues of discomfort).

Entire Body:  Is prohibited even with cold water.

Face, Hands and feet:  Is permitted with cold water, but prohibited with hot water.  There are those however that are stringent not to wash the feet, because nowadays we do not walk bare-foot.

Washing the hair alone:  One may be lenient and wash the hair only, even with soap and hot water in cases where the hair becomes matted from dust and sweat.  This is allowed because there is no “enjoyment” derived in doing so.

Swimming in a pool or the sea:   Is prohibited.  If however it is required for healing purposes, one should ask a Posek.  People who are learning how to swim and may stand to loose money should they not attend the lessons, should also ask a Posek.

Mikveh:  If someone is used to going everyday, it is permissible to go as per usual even if one is accustomed to performing numerous “tevilos”.  However, someone who does not go regularly is not permitted to go during this period – The exception to this is someone who is meticulous about keeping “Tevilos Ezra” and may indeed go.

On all accounts it is prohibited to submerge in hot water.  Moreover,  lingering in the mikveh longer than is necessary is also forbidden – one should submerge and exit as soon as one is finished one’s tevilos.

In places where the rules of the Mikveh compel one to shower before submersion, one is permitted to shower but without soap.  If someone is accustomed to showering after the Mikveh to remove the chlorine etc., it is permitted for  this reason alone, and no more.

2. Washing not for Enjoyment:

Someone who perspires excessively and generates an unpleasant odor, or, who due to discomfort from the perspiration cannot sleep or focus, is permitted to wash.

Someone who becomes dirty is permitted to wash the dirty area alone.

For  purposes of healing, it is permitted to wash.

Pregnant and nursing mothers are permitted to wash.  However, they should diminish the degree to which they would normally do so during the year.

It is important to understand that all the heterim given in point 2. above are only as a means of reducing the amount of discomfort.  Therefore a person must diminish the amount of washing one would normally do and only wash in order to remove this discomfort.

For example, should a person be able to accomplish the same using cold water rather that hot, it not permitted to use hot water.  Or if one is able to wash without soap, it is not permissible to wash with soap.  Or, if one needs to wash only parts of the body, he is not allowed to wash the entire body.

Furthermore, it should not be done in public in case someone would mistakenly learn that it’s in fact permissible to wash regularly.

3. Children:

Babies until age 6:  It is permitted to wash them per usual.

Ages 6 to 9:  If they are used to washing everyday, it is permissible.

Ages 9 to Bar/Batmitzah: It’s best to diminish if possible per adults.

4. Washing Erev Shabbos:

According to the Mishne Brurah:  Someone who is accustomed to washing erev Shabbos is permitted to bath with hot water, but without soap, and only one’s head, face, hands and not the entire body.

Indeed, it is our practice not to wash with soap and to wash only with hot water.  However, today since we shower for the most part, and it is difficult to prevent water landing on all parts of the body together with the fact that in general the whole body becomes more sweaty, it is permissible to be lenient and wash the entire body but without soap in honor of Shabbos.  And one who needs to wash with soap should however not do so in public, such as at the Mikveh.

5. Motzei Tisha B’Av.

M’ikar Hadin, the same laws apply per the nine days.  However, one can be lenient if he does not feel good as a result of the Fast or the heat and may then wash in a manner per the rest of the year on condition that the washing is not for enjoyment.

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