Summer Halachos

Summer Halachos

Saturday, June 9th, '12

Note: Below is a summarized version of the Halochos. I omitted both Halochos that are not very relevant as well as Halochos that are widely known and so do not need to be listed. Also, many of the Halochos below are subject to disputes in the Poskim, sometimes complex and very involved. I listed only the bottom-line answer I would give when asked what to do in actual practice.

17 Tamuz and the 3 Weeks

Parents are not permitted to make children under the age of nine fast even part of the day or night  on any fast, including Yom Kippur, and certainly not Tisha Bav or 17 Tamuz.

Children from age nine until Bar/Bas Mitzvah should fast part of the day and/or night. Also, they should not eat cakes, candies, deserts, etc., even when they are eating, as a “qualitative” fulfillment of the fast.

Women 40 days pregnant or more, or women with children under the age of two need not fast on 17 Tamuz if fasting is difficult for them.

Smoking cigarettes on a fast day carries no additional Halachic prohibitions than it does during the rest of the year.

A person should refrain on 17 Tamuz from all the things that are prohibited during the 9 Days.

Even though the fast of 17 Tamuz starts in the day, the prohibition of listening to music, taking haircuts etc. starts on 17 Tamuz at night, and extends until midday 10 Av.

It is prohibited to listen to music, live or recorded, during the 3 weeks. Listening to singing without musical accompaniment is permitted until the 9 days.

One may shop in a store while music is being played.

Someone who is making a Bris may shave on the day of the Bris (not the night before) until the week when Tisha Bav occurs. Thereafter, he should not shave even in honor of the Bris. In a case of pressing need, however, a  Rav Should be consulted as there are Poskim who permit shaving in honor of a Bris even during the week of Tisha Bav.

An Upsherin that falls out during the three weeks should be postponed until after Tisha Bav. In case of pressing need, a Rav should be consulted.

One should refrain during the 3 weeks from anything that would normally be considered risky, even if it not in the category of sakanas nefoshos, as this time period (even before the 9 days) is prone to misfortune.

The 9 Days

During the 9 days, all types of festive celebrations are prohibited. It is prohibited even to have friendly social gatherings (seudas mareim).

Buying new clothing, tailoring clothing, laundering clothing or ironing clothing is prohibited during the 9 days.  It is permitted to give clothing to a non-Jew during the 9 days with instructions for him to launder them after Tisha Bav. However, there are Poskim who prohibit this and therefore it should not be done if it can be avoided.

Wearing freshly laundered or never-before worn clothing is prohibited during the 9 days (exceptions being undergarments and socks). If one runs out of permitted clothing, he may lay freshly laundered or never-before worn clothing on the ground until they are no longer “fresh,” and then wear them.

Polishing shoes is permitted with liquid polish, but shining them with wax polish and a cloth is prohibited.

One may launder the clothing of Ketanim until the week Tisha Bav occurs. It is preferable, however, in this case, to get a non-Jew to do the laundering. During the week of Tisha Bav, one may launder only the clothing of small children who constantly soil their clothing, and only clothing that the children need.

Construction for purposes other than (a) for a Mitzvah (such as a Bais HaMedrash) or (b) to fill a need for more physical living space or (c) preventing physical damage (such as fixing the leak in a roof) is prohibited during the 9 days. This includes painting as well.

It is prohibited to eat meat or drink wine during the 9 days (except for Shabbos). Beer is permitted. Food that became fleishig because it was cooked with meat is prohibited as well, even if it contains no actual meat. Food that became fleishig because it was cooked in a fleishig pot is permitted. (Sefardim are allowed to eat meat on Rosh Chodesh Av.)

Some people drink the Havdalah wine on Motzoi Shabbos Chazon; others don’t. If you have no established Minhag, you should give the Havdalah wine to a child between the age of 6 and 10 to drink. If a child below 10 is not available, give it to a child under Bar Mitzvah even if he over 10. If no under-Bar Mitzvah child is available, you may drink the wine yourself.

At a siyum mesechta (or other seudas mitzvah) it is permitted to eat meat and drink wine (but not to play music). Even if you did not hear the siyum itself, but merely just came to the meal, you may eat meat and drink wine. To qualify as a siyum that permits eating meat, you have to finish a mesechta of Gemora, or Mishnayos. If it is Mishnayos, the mesechte must have been learned in depth (for example, with the Bartenura and Tosfos Yom Tov).

It is permitted to shower for kovod shabbos on erev shabbos chazon. One may shower in the normal manner, using shampoo, soap, and warm water.

It is permitted to learn Torah Erev Tisha Bav, even after chatzos.

Tisha Bav

The prohibited behaviors on Tisha Bav are prohibited because they are considered acts of gratification.  Therefore, if someone is performing one of those acts for non-gratification purposes, it would be permitted. For example, one may wash off a fruit even if by doing so his hands are unintentionally getting washed as well. Or if someone has just finished a long walk and his feet are weary from the journey, he may bathe them in water as needed. According to some opinions, an istenis (finicky person) who would be uncomfortable all day without washing his face for so long, may wash his face to alleviate the discomfort on Tisha Bav.

If someone has a bad headache, he may wash his face if it gives him relief, because such a person is considered a choleh, and his washing is for medicinal purposes.

Similarly, the prohibition of smearing (sicha) does not apply if the smearing is for medicinal purposes.

The prohibition of smearing (sicha) includes moisturizer, perfume, etc. Deodorant is permitted.

Sneakers that are made up partly of leather are prohibited to wear on Tisha Bav if the leather contributes to either the comfort or structural integrity of the sneaker. In other words, if by removing the leather in the sneaker, it would not be less functional or less comfortable, it is permitted to wear that sneaker on Tisha Bav. Therefore, non-leather sneakers with leather designs or stripes on the outside are permitted to be worn on Tisha Bav.

However, it is preferable that sneakers not be worn on Tisha Bav altogether. According to some Halachic authorities, it is prohibited to wear them. The reason for this is that sneakers are as comfortable as shoes, sometimes even more so, and it defeats the purpose of the prohibiting leather if it would be permitted to wear something that is just as comfortable or even more comfortable than leather. Therefore, a person preferably should wear on Tisha Bav footwear that is less comfortable than normal leather shoes.

It is customary that the night of Tisha Bav, and in the day before chatzos, we do not do any melachah that is time-consuming. For example, we would not assemble furniture, and we would not do business, but we would turn on a light or answer the phone. Writing is permissible if it is important. A yorei shamayim should continue this behavior throughout the day in order that he should not be distracted from his mourning.

When the fast ends is subject to the general disagreement between Rabbeinu Tam and the Geonim regarding the time of shekiyah and tzeis hakochavim.


General Summer Halachos

Yarlmuka should be worn even while playing ball and at the swimming pool between swims.

If one was mekabel shabbos early and needs melacha done before shkiyah, one may ask another Jew who was not yet mekabel shabbos to do it for him.

Wearing sneakers or shorts is not kovod shabbos.

One should not drink on Shabbos outdoors on the grass or soil.

It is prohibited to remove something hanging from a tree on Shabbos. One may not remove clothes from a clothesline that is tied directly to a tree. If the clothesline is tied to a nail embedded in the tree, it is permitted to remove the clothes (unless they were still wet during bain hashmoshos, in which case the clothes are muktzeh).

Fruit that fell from a tree on Shabbos is muktzeh.

Yichud is prohibited on mountain side-raods and less-than-frequently traveled highways. There must be at least three – and preferably four – women in the car to eliminate the prohibition of yichud with one man.

A woman whose husband is not with her all week may go to the mikve Thursday night in her husband’s absence. It is prohibited to go to the mikve during the day. (Note: It is brought down in seforim that a woman going to the mikve in her husband’s absence should employ one of various segulos to eliminate the sakana involved. For specifics, consult a Rav.)

Bungalows need mezuzos. Except for winterized bungalows, they should be affixed without a brachah.

Note for those going to the mountains: Please remember that although the mountains may seem like Boro Park revisited, it is not. I used to live year-round in South Fallsburg, and I know how the locals feel when their quiet little villages ae turned inside-out for two months by what they perceive to be thousands of arrogant, noisy people who love to beep their horns, double-park, and drive too fast. Please – let us remember that even when garbed in shorts and sandals and unwinding from ten months’ worth of life’s vicissitudes, we are still the mamleches kohanim v’goy kodosh.

One more thing. Sadly – and unbelievably – there is still a need to stress the inyan or v’nishmartem meod l’nafshoseichem when it comes to summer vacations. Even those who are not familiar with the Halachah are certainly wise enough to learn from past experiences rachmana latzlan. Children should not play in any bungalow colony that does not have a fence between it and the road (besides the obligation of maakah [lo sasim damim] that applies in such a case) and certainly should not be allowed to play anywhere with access to an exposed swimming pool. It is said in the name of Rav Ahron Kotler ZTL that it is prohibited Halachicly to drive at any speed that would earn the driver a ticket if caught.

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