Between Shiva Assar B´Tammuz and Rosh Chodesh Av

1. Reducing One´s Joy: Starting from Shiva Assar B´Tammuz, we reduce our joy (whereas once the month of Av sets in, we are not joyous at all). Dancing is thus forbidden, as well as festive celebrations. One should devote a little bit of time every day to think about what has happened to us from then until today. (Shulchan Aruch 551, Mishna Berura 1, 16, 103; Lu´ach Eretz Yisrael by Rav Yechiel Michel Tuketchinsky)

2. Shehecheyanu: One must avoid eating new fruits. An ill patient who needs a certain fruit may eat it, even if it is new for him. It is permitted on Shabbat, as well. One should not purchase new items (551:17; Mishna Berura 98-9). One should not wear new clothing, but he may purchase or make them. On Shabbat, one may wear them and recite shehecheyanu. One may wear a new garment if it is not a significant garment. (551:6-7, Mishna Berura 45-6).

3. Haircutting and Shaving: One does not cut his hair or shave starting from Shiva Assar B´Tammuz. This applies to both men and women, but children may have their hair cut. One may cut his nails (551:4, 12, Mishna Berura 81-2, 79). There is room to justify the practice of those who shave during this period until the week of Tisha B´Av, if he normally shaves daily or every few days (Bei´ur Halacha “ve´chein” and other sources).

4. Music: One may not play or listen to music; religious songs are permitted. One similarly may not sing, though again religious songs are permissible. One may sing to help a baby fall asleep (Bei´ur Halacha – 560:3). If a child studies music and will regress should he or she interrupt the sessions for three weeks, he may continue (Zecher Simcha 67; see also 205). One may listen to a serious program even if it features musical interludes.

5. Television, Parties, etc.: One should not watch on television or listen on the radio an entertaining program, but a serious program is permitted, even if it has some entertaining segments, as well. This applies only until Rosh Chodesh Av. One may hold birthday parties for young children without music. (551 – Mishnah Berura 1; based on conversation with Rav Yaakov Arieli; with regard to television in general, see Yabi´a Omer vol. 6, Orah Hayyim 6)

Halachot of the Nine Days

1. We are Not Joyous: We do not conduct ourselves joyously at all during this period. Dancing is forbidden, as are all festive parties. Any entertaining television or radio program, even an isolated segment, is forbidden, but serious programs are allowed. One may not recite shehecheyanu even on Shabbat Chazon (the Shabbat immediately preceding Tisha B´Av).

2. Music: One may not play or listen to music, or sing. Religious songs are allowed. One may sing to help a baby fall asleep.

3. Reducing Work: We do not deal in business except for matters that cannot be delayed. We do not build “buildings of joy,” meaning, a building that is not urgent but rather adds comfort. We do not plant flowers and the like.

4. Cutting Hair and Nails, Shaving: One may not cut his nails, but for Shabbat this is allowed. We do not take haircuts, and even children six or seven years and up should not take haircuts during the week of Tisha B´Av. Even those who conduct themselves leniently and shave during the three weeks should refrain from shaving from after Shabbat Chazon until Tisha B´Av.

5. New Clothing: One may not wear new clothing, even clothing that is not considered significant, such as socks and shoes. In situations of great need, there is room to allow wearing new clothing on Shabbat Chazon. One may not knit, make or purchase new clothing unless this is his profession.

6. Clean, Laundered Clothing: One may not wash clothing, even to wear after the nine days, nor may one wear clothing that had been washed previously. The same applies to sheets and tablecloths. It is permitted to wear fresh clothing and Shabbat clothing on Shabbat. On Shabbat one may also use fresh tablecloths, but not fresh sheets. If one does not have clean garments, he may wash them. If one´s clothing gets dirty or he sweats and cannot go nine days without changing clothing for nine days, he should wear all the clothing he will need for a brief period before Rosh Chodesh. One may wash the clothing of small children as is necessary. One may polish shoes and mop floors.

7. Washing: One may not wash, even with cold water. One who becomes dirty and sweats may wash with cold water (not for enjoyment; only for hygienic purposes). If this is impossible, he should wash with lukewarm water. Warm water may be used for medical purposes or for the honor of Shabbat. One may not go swimming.

8. Meat and Wine. One may not eat meat, including chicken, canned meats, hot dogs, or even food with meat sauce. One may, however, eat parve food cooked in a meat pot. A sick patient who must eat meat should eat preserved meat or chicken. A child may not eat meat once he has reached the age where he is capable of learning (around six or seven). One may not drink wine; for havdala, one gives the wine to a child six or seven years old. If no child is present, one may drink the wine himself.

9. The Laws of the Tenth of Av (the day following Tisha B´Av): All the laws governing the nine days – concerning meat, wine, shehecheyanu, reducing joy, music, etc. – apply on the tenth of Av until midday. This applies as well to haircutting, shaving and laundry. (There is room for leniency regarding some of these halachot when the tenth of Av falls on Erev Shabbat.)

May Hashem break the yoke of exile from upon our persecuted brethren and rebuild our Bet Hamikdash and transform the days of mourning into days of joy, speedily and in our days.