Bathing during the Nine Days

What is included in the prohibition of bathing?

It is forbidden to bathe or wash oneself for pleasure, but permitted for basic cleanliness. Therefore, under normal circumstances, one may not wash any part of the body with hot water, and may wash only the hands, face, and feet with cold water without soap.

What if part of one’s body is dirty or perspired?

He may wash the affected area(s). Hot water or soap should not be used unless the dirt or perspiration cannot be removed otherwise.

What if one’s entire body is perspired?

  • According to most opinions, he may take a cold shower if he feels this is required for basic cleanliness. Soap should not be used unless necessary.
  • According to some opinions, there is an additional limitation that he may not wash the entire body at once, but should wash one area at a time.
  • According to some opinions, only a very sensitive person may take a shower, and each individual should use his judgment before being lenient in this matter.

May one bathe children?

They may be bathed as frequently as necessary for basic cleanliness.

May one shampoo the hair?

This is permitted if:

  • he has a scalp condition that causes irritation, or
  • his hair is full of perspiration, or
  • he is a very sensitive person.

May one bathe on erev Shabbos?

  • According to most opinions, one may wash only the hands, face, feet, and hair with hot water without soap.
  • According to some opinions, one may bathe as usual, especially in hot countries where people are accustomed to bathe more frequently.
  • When Rosh Chodesh Av is on Friday, one may bathe the entire body with hot water and soap. When the eighth of Av is on Friday, one should bathe before halachic midday, if possible.

May one bathe for medical reasons?

This is permitted, since it is not for pleasure. Therefore, a weak or sick person who is advised by a doctor to bathe in hot water or hot springs may do so. Similarly, a pregnant woman may bathe in hot water during the ninth month, if she believes that this is beneficial to her health.

How should a woman prepare herself for the mikveh?

  • She should wash herself and immerse in the mikveh as usual. Similarly, she may wash herself as usual before the seven clean days.
  • If the immersion will be on motzai Tisha b’Av, the custom is to make all the preparations after the fast, unless the fast finishes late.

May a man immerse in a mikveh?

  • A man who is accustomed to immerse himself every erev Shabbos may do so on erev Shabbos in the nine days. If he occasionally does not go due to cold weather or lack of time, he may not go during the nine days.
  • A man who immerses daily before shacharis or whenever he is tamei may do so.
  • If possible, he should immerse only in a cold or lukewarm mikveh. If he is sensitive and cannot tolerate such a cold temperature, or if no such mikveh is available, he may immerse in a hot mikveh. However, in this case, he should not remain in the mikveh longer than is necessary, but should immerse and leave immediately.

Is swimming permitted during the nine days?

Swimming for pleasure or exercise is forbidden. Opinions differ regarding swimming for medical reasons, e.g. to provide relief from physical pains. If possible, one should use other forms of exercise.

What other activities should be avoided during the nine days?

Since the fortune of the Jewish people is not favorable during these days, one should try to avoid a lawsuit with a gentile until after Tisha b’Av. According to some opinions, the case should preferably be postponed until after the fifteenth of Av, and according to others until the month of Elul.

Is kiddush levana recited during the nine days?

The main custom is to wait until after Tisha b’Av, since kiddush levana should preferably be recited in a state of happiness (see also question ‎354). Some have a custom to recite it during the nine days in order to perform the mitzvah as soon as possible, or to avoid the risk of missing the opportunity entirely.

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