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.
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.
New clothes that normally require a shehecheyanu should not be bought
during this time. Thus, shoes, shirts, trousers and all undergarments may be
purchased and worn without restriction until Rosh Chodesh Av, since
shehecheyanu is generally not recited over them. One who never recites
shehecheyanu on clothes, even on expensive ones, could also purchase
and wear expensive clothes during this time. Those who do recite
shehecheyanu when putting on new clothes may still buy and alter them until
Rosh Chodesh Av, but they may not be worn [during the weekdays] until after
the Nine Days are over.
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
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,
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org