Between the 17th of Tammuz and Tisha B'av
12. One should not bathe [for pleasure] during the nine days [between Rosh
Chodesh Av and Tish'ah B'av], even with cold water (1). If, however, there
is a question of a person's health involved, for example, in the case of a
woman who has just given birth or a pregnant woman who will give birth in
the near future and whose condition is improved by washing, and similarly a
very weak person whom doctors have instructed to wash, the person may wash
even with hot water.
Similarly, a woman who is in the niddah state can bathe and then immerse
herself [as part of her purification process] in her normal manner. Even
if her immersion is scheduled for the night following Tish'ah B'av, but she
will not be able to bathe that night (after Tish'ah B'av) in preparation
(2), she can wash herself on the day before Tish'ah B'av. Similarly, a
woman who is wearing white undergarments, [as is required seven days before
her immersion], may wash herself slightly, as she is accustomed to do,
since she is not washing for the sake of pleasure.
(1) This applies to washing one's whole body, however, washing one's face,
hands and feet with cold water is permissible (one may mix hot water with
cold water, and as long as the mixture is not yet comfortably warm, the
water is still halachically defined as "cold" ("Halachos of the Three
Weeks": Rav Shimon Eider). Furthermore, the custom is only to refrain from
washing or bathing for pleasure ("Ta'anug"), but bathing for medical
reasons, for a mitzvah, or to remove dirt and perspiration is permissible.
In terms of soap, shampoo, and hot water, one should use only the minimum
required for the removal of the dirt and perspiration or for the particular
medical condition. Unnecessary use of hot water, soap and shampoo is
prohibited. Bathing on Erev Shabbos will be discussed in the next halacha.
(2) Some authorities rule that she should bathe on Erev Tish'ah B'av, and
then wash herself again before the immersion on the night after Tish'ah B'av.
Halacha-Yomi, Copyright (c) 2002 Project Genesis, Inc.
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