From “Guidelines to the Three Weeks” by Rabbi Elozor Barclay and Rabbi Yitzchok Jaeger

 

What is forbidden during the three weeks?

The following three activities are forbidden:

  • Weddings.
  • Playing or listening to music.
  • Haircuts.

Are engagements permitted?

One may become engaged during the entire three weeks. A festive meal may be held until Rosh Chodesh, but only light refreshments may be served between Rosh Chodesh and Tisha b’Av. In either case, music may not be played.

Which type of music is forbidden?

One may not play or listen to any musical instrument during the three weeks. It is also forbidden to listen to music on the radio or on a cassette. According to most opinions, this applies even to a seudas mitzvah such as a bris, pidyon haben, sheva brachos, siyum, or bar mitzvah.

May one learn or teach to play an instrument?

This is usually forbidden. However, if the cancellation of lessons will cause a financial loss to the teacher, some opinions are lenient until the week of Tisha b’Av. A student may only practice to play the instrument if extra lessons would be required due to the break and he is not playing for the enjoyment. In any event, he must not practice during the week of Tisha b’Av.

May one listen to a cassette of singing without music?

According to most opinions, this is also forbidden.

May one sing without musical accompaniment?

It is permitted to sing:

  • On Shabbos.
  • At a seudas mitzvah.
  • Songs of praise or arousal to serve Hashem.
  • To young children.
  • Singing for pleasure is permitted until Rosh Chodesh, but it is preferable to refrain.

May one dance without musical accompaniment?

Dancing is usually forbidden. However, at a seudas mitzvah some opinions allow dancing without music.

May women have a haircut?

Generally speaking, both men and women are forbidden to have a haircut during the three weeks. However, a married woman may remove excess hair that protrudes out of her hair covering if necessary.

May children have a haircut?

Ideally, children should also not have a haircut. If necessary, a child may have a haircut until the week of Tisha b’Av.

May a boy have his first haircut (chalakah) when reaching the age of three?

Although some opinions permit it, the custom is to give the first haircut before or after the three weeks.

May a man shave?

A man is forbidden to shave or trim his beard during the three weeks. A man who shaves daily and is liable to incur a financial loss if he refrains may shave until the week of Tisha b’Av. Nevertheless, he may not shave simply to avoid embarrassment. A rav should be consulted about shaving during the week of Tisha b’Av.

May a man trim his mustache?

This is permitted only if it interferes with his eating. According to some opinions, even this is forbidden in the week of Tisha b’Av.

May a woman shave her legs?

This is usually forbidden. However, according to some opinions, a married woman or a girl of marriageable age may be lenient, if she considers it to be necessary.

May a woman pluck her eyebrows?

Yes.

May one shave or have a haircut in honor of a bris?

According to most opinions, the parents of the child, the sandek, and the mohel may shave and have a haircut in honor of the bris. This is only permitted until the week of Tisha b’Av and only on the day of the bris. If the bris is held on Shabbos, they may shave and have a haircut on Friday.

May one shave or have a haircut in honor of a pidyon haben?

No.

May a boy have a haircut in honor of his bar mitzvah?

Ideally, he should not have a haircut. If necessary, he may have a haircut before his birthday until the week of Tisha b’Av (see question ‎38).

What if a mourner completed his period of mourning during the three weeks?

Since he was unable to shave or have a haircut before the three weeks, he may do so until Rosh Chodesh.

Is combing one’s hair permitted?

This is permitted even during the week of Tisha b’Av.

Is cutting one’s nails permitted?

This is permitted until the week of Tisha b’Av. When Tisha b’Av is on Shabbos, it is permitted to cut one’s nails on Friday in honor of Shabbos.

May one recite the b’racha shehecheyanu for new fruits?

The prevalent custom is to refrain from reciting shehecheyanu on a weekday, but to permit its recital on a Shabbos or on Rosh Chodesh.

May one eat a new fruit on a weekday without reciting shehecheyanu?

Ideally, a new fruit should not be eaten until Shabbos when shehecheyanu may be recited. If the fruit will not last until Shabbos, one may eat it on a weekday and recite shehecheyanu.

May a pregnant woman or a sick person eat a new fruit on a weekday?

If such a person has a desire to eat a new fruit on a weekday, he may do so, but in this case the b’racha shehecheyanu should not be recited.

May one recite the b’racha shehecheyanu for new garments?

The prevalent custom is to refrain from reciting shehecheyanu on a weekday, but to permit its recital on a Shabbos before the nine days.

May one wear a new garment on a weekday without reciting shehecheyanu?

Ideally, such clothing should not be worn until Shabbos, when shehecheyanu may be recited. In extenuating circumstances, one may wear such clothing on a weekday until Rosh Chodesh, but the b’racha shehecheyanu should not be recited.

Is shehecheyanu recited at a bris or pidyon haben?

The b’racha is recited as usual for a pidyon haben, or for a bris (in Eretz Yisroel), even on Tisha b’Av.

Is shehecheyanu recited for a newborn girl?

Many parents have the custom to recite shehecheyanu when first seeing a newborn girl. The b’racha is recited as usual by both parents, even after Rosh Chodesh.

May one buy new clothes?

  • Clothes of minor importance that do not require shehecheyanu (e.g. underwear, shoes, socks, shirts) may be bought and worn until Rosh Chodesh.
  • Clothes of major importance that require shehecheyanu (e.g. jackets, suits, coats) may be bought until Rosh Chodesh according to most opinions, but it is preferable to refrain. (Regarding wearing them, see question ‎53.) According to some opinions, one may not buy such clothes.

May one buy a new tallis?

A tallis is an important garment that requires the b’racha shehecheyanu (see previous question). One may buy a tallis koton even during the nine days if one has no other to wear, since this is a mitzvah item that does not require shehecheyanu.

May one buy a new car, furniture, etc.?

  • If another person will also benefit from the item (e.g. a spouse or child), one may buy it until Rosh Chodesh. The b’racha hatov vehameitiv should be recited.
  • If only the purchaser will benefit from the item, one should ideally postpone buying it until after Tisha b’Av, in order to avoid reciting the b’racha shehecheyanu during the three weeks.
  • If he requires the item for his livelihood, he may purchase it, but the b’racha shehecheyanu should not to be said until after Tisha b’Av (if he still feels considerable joy from the item).

May one buy a house?

The custom is to refrain from buying a house during the three weeks, since it is not a time of good fortune. If a person is forced to move out of his home, he may buy or rent a house even after Rosh Chodesh.

May one look for a house?

This is permitted, but a written agreement should not be signed. If one is afraid that someone else may buy or rent the house before him, he may sign an agreement even after Rosh Chodesh. Some opinions discourage looking for a house during the three weeks.

May one paint or decorate a house?

Strictly speaking, this is permitted until Rosh Chodesh, but it is praiseworthy to refrain.

Should one avoid potentially dangerous activities?

Yes. Since this a time of misfortune, one should be especially careful to avoid all dangers.

What sort of activities should be avoided?

  • Going to dangerous locations.
  • Striking a child or student.
  • Undergoing a major operation that can be postponed until after Tisha b’Av.
  • Going on a flight that can be postponed until after Tisha b’Av.

May one swim in the sea or a swimming pool?

Strictly speaking, this is permitted until Rosh Chodesh, even if it is one’s first visit of the season. However, one must take care to avoid deep or dangerous waters. Some opinions recommend not entering the sea.

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2 Responses to “Bein Hametzarim Guide – The Three Weeks”

  1. What about renting a new house/moving into a new rented apartment during the 3 weeks/9 days?

    • In general moving house should be avoided if possible, but if doing so will cause a loss it is permitted to do so.

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