Chapter: 8 – The Customs of the Three Weeks

01. The Three Weeks

The Three Weeks, which begin on the night of Shiv’a Asar Be-Tamuz and continue through Tisha Be-Av, are a painful time. This period is often known as Bein Ha-metzarim, recalling the verse, “All her pursuers overtook her in the narrow … Continue reading

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02. Dancing and Music

The Aĥaronim write that it is forbidden to hold dances from 17 Tamuz through 9 Av (MA 551:10). This prohibition includes playing and listening to instrumental music. Thus, one may not hold or attend dance classes, concerts, or sing-alongs during … Continue reading

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03. Playing Music and Singing at a Se’udat Mitzva

One may sing happy songs at a se’udat mitzva, like the meal at a brit mila, pidyon ha-ben, or sheva berakhot. One may also celebrate a bar mitzva or bat mitzva during this period, but only on the actual day … Continue reading

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04. Listening to Music on Personal Electronic Devices

Some authorities maintain that just as one may not listen to live music during the Three Weeks, so too one may not listen to recorded music played on home electronic devices during this period. One may listen only to songs … Continue reading

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05. The Halakha in Practice

It seems that in practice, according to the lenient view, we should divide all songs into three categories: 1) joyous songs, like those played at weddings; 2) songs that are neither especially joyous nor especially sad, which includes most contemporary … Continue reading

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06. Hiking, Swimming, and Hotel Vacations

Some maintain that one must refrain from hiking and swimming or bathing in the sea or a swimming pool during the Three Weeks, in order to limit our enjoyment during this mournful period. Furthermore, since these days are prone to … Continue reading

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07. Reciting She-heĥeyanu During the Three Weeks

Some of the greatest Rishonim would refrain from eating a new fruit or buying a new garment during the Three Weeks, in order to avoid reciting She-heĥeyanu. They reasoned: How can we say, “Blessed are You, Lord…Who has given us … Continue reading

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08. In Which Cases May One Recite She-heĥeyanu?

One who is presented the opportunity to perform a mitzva that requires one to recite She-heĥeyanu, like a brit mila or a pidyon ha-ben, recites the berakha, because he did not determine the timing of the berakha. Rather, God granted … Continue reading

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09. Marriage and Engagement

It is customary in most Jewish communities that no weddings are held during the Three Weeks. Technically, the prohibition applies only to an “optional” wedding, i.e., that of a man who has already fulfilled the mitzva of procreation by fathering … Continue reading

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10. Haircuts

The Sages instituted prohibitions against cutting one’s hair and washing one’s clothes during the week of Tisha Be-Av (Ta’anit 26b). Accordingly, Shulĥan Arukh (551:3) rules that one may not cut one’s hair from the beginning of the week in which … Continue reading

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11. Shaving One’s Beard During the Three Weeks

As we have learned, the custom among Ashkenazim and some Sephardim is to refrain from cutting one’s hair during the entirety of the Three Weeks. Regarding shaving one’s beard, however, a question arises. According to many poskim, there is no … Continue reading

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12. When Av Arrives, we Curtail our Joy

The Sages state in the Mishna (Ta’anit 26b), “When Av arrives, we curtail our joy,” because this is a period of mourning over the Temple’s destruction. Therefore, one should not engage in joyous activities like hikes, hotel vacations, and social … Continue reading

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13. Meat and Wine

The Rishonim had a custom to refrain from eating meat and drinking wine during the period of mourning over the destruction of the Temple. Some observed this stringency every weekday throughout the Three Weeks, while others did so only during … Continue reading

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14. The Laws of Eating Meat and Drinking Wine

The prohibition on eating meat includes all types of meat: beef and poultry, fresh, frozen, and cured. Fish, however, is permitted. It is customary to be particular even regarding foods that were cooked together with meat. For example, if potatoes … Continue reading

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15. Meat and Wine on Shabbat Ĥazon and at a Se’udat Mitzva

We eat meat and drink wine on Shabbat Ĥazon, as we do on every other Shabbat of the year. After all, even if Tisha Be-Av itself falls out on Shabbat, causing the fast to be postponed to Sunday, one may … Continue reading

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16. Building and Planting During the Nine Days

Since we curtail our joy from the beginning of Av, one may not build anything that brings joy during the Nine Days. For example, one may not expand one’s house or porch unless there is a vital need for this. … Continue reading

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17. The Laws of Building during the Nine Days

A Jewish contractor and Jewish workers may continue building residential homes during the Nine Days in order to sell them, because the units are designed as living quarters and not as luxury homes. In addition, this is their livelihood. Furthermore, … Continue reading

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18. The Laws of Business Transactions During the Nine Days

We curtail joyous business transactions during the Nine Days. That is to say, one may not buy luxury items like jewelry, clothing, fancy appliances, new furniture, or a car for personal use. Throughout the Three Weeks, one may not purchase … Continue reading

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19. The Prohibition on Laundry

The Sages prohibited laundering clothes during the week in which Tisha Be-Av falls (Ta’anit 26b). This is an expression of mourning; out of pain and identification with the deceased or with the Temple’s destruction, one ceases to take care of … Continue reading

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20. Children’s Clothing and Hospital Garb

Clothes worn by babies who regularly soil their outfits are not included in the prohibition. Likewise, one may wash sheets and blankets of young children who wet themselves at night. In addition, many people are lenient, in a time of … Continue reading

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21. Bathing

Even though the Sages prohibited bathing on Tisha Be-Av only, the Rishonim were stringent and would refrain from bathing on the days preceding Tisha Be-Av as well. Many Iberian Jews were stringent as well, and would refrain from washing in … Continue reading

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22. Shabbat Ĥazon

Shabbat Ĥazon is the Shabbat preceding Tisha Be-Av, on which we read the haftara beginning with the words “The vision of Yeshayahu (Ĥazon Yeshayahu)” (Yeshayahu 1:1-27). This haftara contains admonitions that the prophet Yeshayahu pronounced to the people of Israel … Continue reading

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23. “The Week of Tisha Be-Av” when Tisha Be-Av is Postponed to Sunday

The laws of the week in which Tisha Be-Av falls pertain only to the Sephardic custom, which maintains that one may not cut one’s hair or wash clothes during that week, as the Mishna states (Ta’anit 26b). Ashkenazim, however, are … Continue reading

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