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Freshly-Laundered Clothing When Tisha BAb Falls on Sunday

(Todays Halacha is based on a Shiur delivered by HaGaon Rabbi Gidon Ben Moshe of Jerusalem)

There is a debate among the Rishonim (Medieval Halachic scholars) as to whether the restrictions of the week of Tisha BAb apply when Tisha BAb is observed on Sunday, as it is this year (5772). According to one view, the restrictions must be observed throughout the week before Tisha BAb, whereas the other opinion maintains that since Tisha BAb begins right after Shabbat, there is no "week of Tisha BAb" and thus these restrictions do not apply at all in such a year. The Shulhan Aruch cites both views, but he mentions the stringent view as "Yesh Omerim" ("Those who say") and the lenient view as "Setam" (without any title). This indicates that the Shulhan Aruch sides with the lenient view, that when Tisha BAb begins on Mosaeh Shabbat, the restrictions of the week of Tisha BAb do not apply.

As such, it is permissible to shave, take haircuts, take hot showers, and wear freshly-laundered clothing throughout the week before Tisha BAb in such a case.

One must remember, however, that even when Tisha BAb is observed on Sunday, freshly-laundered garments may not be worn on the day of Tisha BAb itself. On Mosaeh Shabbat, of course, people will still be wearing their clothes from Shabbat, but on Sunday, the day of Tisha BAb, people will generally put on new clothing. That clothing which is worn on Sunday must not be freshly-laundered, for although there is no week of Tisha BAb when wearing fresh clothing is forbidden, it is still forbidden to wear fresh clothing on Tisha BAb itself. Therefore, even in a year when Tisha BAb falls on Sunday, one must prepare clothing for Tisha BAb day by wearing a change of clothing beforehand, such as on Friday. The clothes should be worn for a brief period until they absorb a bit of perspiration, so they will not be fresh on Sunday.

Additionally, even though it is, strictly speaking, permissible to shave during the week before Tisha BAb when Tisha BAb is observed on Sunday, several Poskim rule that it is proper not to shave before Shabbat. In order not to appear cleanly-shaven on Tisha BAb, it is preferable to refrain from shaving on the Friday before Tisha BAb (and there is room to consider refraining from shaving even on Thursday). This is the ruling of the Ben Ish Hai, Rav Haim Palachi, Hacham Ben Sion Abba Shaul, and Hacham Ovadia Yosef.

The custom of the Arizal (Rav Yishak Luria of Safed, 1534-1572) was to abstain from shaving, haircutting and eating meat throughout the three weeks from Shiba Asar BeTammuz through Tisha BAb. This practice is not required according to the Halacha, and is rather a stringency that may be followed by those who are sincerely driven to do so.

Summary: When Tisha BAb is observed on Shabbat, it is permissible to wear freshly-laundered clothing during the week before Tisha BAb, but not on Tisha BAb day, and therefore one must prepare a change of clothing for Tisha BAb by wearing the clothing for a short while beforehand. It is also proper in such a case to refrain from shaving on the Friday before Tisha BAb.


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