Sign In Forgot Password

The Nine Days in Halacha

A Brief Review of the Laws of the Nine Days

The nine days, begin Tuesday night, July 18th (Rosh Chodesh Av), and are the beginning of the most intense season of national mourning, as the Talmud states [Ta'anit 26]: "When the month of Av begins, we reduce our joy."



From Rosh Chodesh Av (Tuesday night 7/18) and until after Tisha B'Av:

    • We avoid purchasing any items that bring great joy.

    • We suspend home improvements and the planting of trees and flowers.

    • We avoid litigation with non-Jews, since this period of time is not considered a time of "fortune" for the Jewish people.

    • We abstain from eating meat (including poultry) and drinking wine - foods which are symbolic of the Temple service, and are expressions of celebration and joy. On Shabbat, meat and wine are permitted. This applies also to any other seuduat mitzvah, for example, at a Brit Milah or at the completion of a tractate of Talmud. Some have the custom to let a child drink the wine from Havdalah this Saturday night.

    • We refrain from wearing newly laundered garments, or laundering any clothes, even if done by a non-Jew or in preparation for Tisha B'Av. (If the "freshness" has been taken out of a garment prior to the Nine Days, it may be worn.) Fresh clothes may be worn for Shabbat and young children's clothing, which is frequently soiled, may be laundered during the Nine Days.

    • We do not bathe for pleasure. However, it is permitted to bathe in order to remove dirt or perspiration, and bathing in warm water is permitted on Friday in honor of Shabbat.



Shopping During the Nine Days

During the period from Rosh Chodesh Av and through Tisha B'Av it is forbidden to make a major purchase or to buy clothing. The reasons for this prohibition are:

    • Such a purchase may require a person to recite a "shehechiyanu" - a bracha that we avoid reciting during the Three Weeks, and especially during the Nine Days [Orech Chaim 551:17; Aruch Hashulchan Orech Chaim 551:38].

    • If the purchase is clothing, there are additional prohibitions related to buying new clothing, even if they are intended to be worn AFTER the Nine Days [Mishna Berura ibid. notes 45 and 49].


However, the following leniencies apply:

    • An item which is forbidden to be bought during the Nine Days because of the "shehechiyanu" restriction may be bought during the Nine Days if it requires assembly (or in the case of clothing - alterations) and if the assembly will be done after the Nine Days. The same rule applies to a utensil that requires immersion/tevila in a mikvah. If the immersion will not take place until after the Nine Days, no shehecheyanu is said at the time of purchase [Mishna Berura Orech Chaim 223 note 17; Shaar HaTziyun, ibid. note 21].

    • If delaying the purchase will cause one a substantial loss (i.e. a very special sale is in progress and will end before Tisha B'Av) [Zichron Shlomo, Hilchot Chol HaMoed pg. 94 in the name of R' Moshe Feinstein and R' Yaakov Kaminetzky; Nitei Gavriel Bein HaMeitzarim vol. 1 17:9 ] or if the item will not be available after Tisha B'Av, it is permitted to buy the item during the Nine Days [Mishna Berura Orech Chaim 551 note 11 and 13; Kaf HaChaim Orech Chaim 551 note 29].

    • One who does not have appropriate shoes to wear on Tishah B'Av may buy them during the Nine Days [Iggrot Moshe Orech Chaim vol. 3, number 80]. If one will run out of clothing for small children, one may either wash the clothes or buy new clothes [Orech Chaim 551:14]. 



Making a Siyum During the Nine Days

During the "nine days" one is permitted to eat meat and drink wine at a seudat mitzvah [fig. festive meal]. However, those who complete a significant portion of learning (e.g. a tractate of Talmud) during the nine days solely for the purpose to eat meat are not universally praised. In fact, the Aruch HaShulchan, while allowing such behavior (suggesting that at least in this way, people will learn Torah) does limit the people participating in this meal to just Torah scholars associated with this learning project [Aruch HaShulchan Orech Chaim 551:28]. Nevertheless, the Mishna Berura, among others does allow broader participation in the meal, extending it to all those who would normally be invited to such a celebration [Mishna Berura 551:75].


Once the week of Tisha B'Av begins (from the Sunday before Tisha B'Av), the number of participants at such a siyum should be limited to a minyan aside from the relatives of the person making the siyum and those who are helping with them meal [Orech Chaim 551:10; Mishna Berura, ibid. note 77]. In addition, according to many authorities, including Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, when living in a summer camp or bungalow colony, it is permitted to invite all those who normally eat together to such a siyum [Nitei Gavriel, Hilchot Bein HaMeitzarim vol 1, 41:4].



Havdalah During the Nine Days
While the Talmud records that there is a prohibition against eating meat and drinking wine only during the final meal before Tisha B'Av, by the time of the Shulchan Aruch, this prohibition was extended to the entire period between Rosh Chodesh Av and Tisha B'Av (the "nine days") [Taanit 26b, Orech Chaim 552:1].
But what about wine for havdalah? Rabbi Yosef Karo ruled that the prohibition of wine and meat never included these items when used for a mitzvah, such as Birkat haMazon and havdalah [551:10]. However, the Rema disagreed and ruled that Ashkenazim should not drink the wine for havdalah, giving it instead to a child. However, he does add that at a Seudat Mitzvah (e.g., a brit, pidyon haben, or siyum), wine and meat are permitted.
As noted in the Shulchan Aruch, the basis of the Rema's stringency is a responsum of the Maharil [#106]. But interestingly, this stringency is not found in that responsum. Rather, the Maharil writes that he never saw his teachers refrain from drinking wine for Havdala. 
While several answers are offered to this dilemma, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, z "l explained that the Rema's restriction was because, in his day, wine was a rare commodity. As a result, it was rare to use wine for havdalah, and to choose to do so during the nine days was inappropriate. However, nowadays, wine is commonly used for havdalah, and the practice is for an adult to drink the wine even if a child is present. 
Despite this ruling of Rabbi Feinstein, many still follow the ruling of the Rema and give the havdalah wine to a child (or use an alternative beverage for havdalah). However, the Mishna Berura raises one more difficulty, and that is that the child who is drinking the wine must be old enough to understand the bracha but not yet reached the age of mourning over Yerushalayim [Mishna Berura 551:70].

As a result, Rabbi Avigdor Nebenzhal reported that Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach would drink the wine himself [Yerushalayim B'Moadeha, The Three Weeks, #167]. 

Mon, June 17 2024 11 Sivan 5784