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.
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.