Shaving and Haircuts During The Three Weeks

1) Ashkenazim maintain that one may not take a haircut from the seventeenth of Tamuz until chatzos on the tenth day of Av. (Rama 551:4) Sefardim prohibit haircuts only during the week of Tisha b’Av,. (Moed L’Kol Chai 6:25, Nahar Mitraim Tisha B’Av 6 and Yechava Daas 3:39)

2) Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l writes that according to the letter of the law an Ashkenazi may give a haircut to a Sephardi during the time period where Sepahrdim are allowed to shave (from the 17th of Tamuz until the week of Tisha B’Av). However, it is preferable for the Ashkenazi to avoid doing so when possible. (Halichos Shlomo Moadim vol. 2 Dvar Halacha page 414)

3) Combing hair is permissible. (M.B. 20 and Shaar Hatzion 28)

4) In an instance where not getting a haircut is likely to cost somebody money, Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe Orach Chaim 4:102) allows one to shave during the three weeks because the prohibition of haircuts during the three week  is only a minhag. (See also Halichos Shlomo Moadim vol. 2 page 414) However, during the week of Tisha b’Av, itself, when it is halachically prohibited to cut hair, one would not be permitted to do so even in the event of significant monetary loss.  In an instance where one is unlikely to lose any money by not shaving, but one is uncomfortable going into his place of work unshaven for fear that his co-workers may mock him, Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe Choshen Mishpat 93) rules that one may not even shave during the three weeks.

5) One may not shave or get a haircut during this period even if one is doing so l’kavod Shabbos. (M.B. 551:32)

6) Women may get their sheitels cut or styled during the three weeks, as this is not considered to be their hair, but their clothing. (See Netai Gavriel Bein Hamitzarim page 139)

7) The poskim discuss whether one may trim one’s eyebrows during the three weeks. Rav Moshe Feinstein was of the opinion that one cannot trim eyebrows during shloshim (thirty days of mourning), and therefore may not do so during the three weeks either. (See Netai Gavriel Bein Hamitzarim page 130) Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach however, maintains that  it is permissible to trim eyebrows (and eyelashes) during the three weeks. He felt that such hair removal is not considered to fall into the halachic category of “haircutting”. (Halichos Shlomo Halichos Shlomo vol. 2 page 414)

8) Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach allowed a woman who is of marriageable age to take a haircut during the three weeks (and even during the nine days) for the sake of Shidduchim (Shalmei Mo’ed Chapter 89)

9) Many have a custom not to give a boy his first haircut until he reaches the age of three. The first haircut is called the Upsherin. This custom has sources in the works of the Ari z”l. (See Shaarei Teshuva 531:2 and Shulchan Menachem vol. 5 page 24)

10) If a child’s third birthday falls out during the Three Weeks, when taking haircuts is forbidden, the poskim discuss the proper procedure for the Upsherin. A- The Lubavitcher Rebbe zt”l was of the opinion that one should postpone the haircut until after the Three Weeks. He was not in favor of having the Upsherin earlier before the child reaches the age of three (Shulchan Menachem vol. 3 page 49, vol. 5 page 31) [Many have the custom that a child begins wearing Tzitzis from the age of three. In this instance the child should begin wearing the Tzitzis from his birthday, before the Upsherin. (Likutei Sichos 13 page 297] B- Harav Shmuel Wosner zt”l writes that “technically one can have the Upsherin even during the week of Tisha B’Av. However, the custom is to have the Upsherin earlier before the Three Weeks (even though it is before the child’s third birthday). (Kovetz M’Beis Levi Bein Hamitzarim page 6)


2 Halachos A Day Email

Over 6 months ago bezras Hashem I began a new program called 2 Halachos a Day where I send out a daily email including 2 halachos on various topics.  There is no charge for this program and b”h hundreds of people have already signed up. If you would like to receive these daily email please contact and write “sign me up.” I also have a PDF of all previous emails that can be sent upon request.


Thank you,

Avi Zakutinsky

The Fast of Shiva Asar B’Tamuz

  1. Five tragedies befell the Jewish people on Shiva Asar B’Tamuz (seventeenth of Tamuz). A- The first Luchos were broken when Moshe Rabbeinu descended from Har Sinai. B- The Karban Tamid (two daily sacrifices), were suspended during the time of the First Beis Hamikdash. C- The enemy penetrated the walls of Yerushalayim prior to the destruction of the Second Beis Hamikdash. D- The wicked Apostumos burned the Torah. E- An idol was erected in the Beis Hamikdash. (See Taanis 26b, Rambam Taanis 5:2 and Halachos of the Three Weeks page 1) This day is commemorated by refraining from eating and drinking from sunrise to nightfall.
  2. The purpose of the fast day is to stir our hearts in order that we utilize the paths of teshuva, repentance, and to serve as a reminder to us of our own actions and those of our forefathers. These iniquities are responsible for the terrible events which befell our people. Remembering these tragedies should lead us to examine our conduct and return to Hashem. One should not mistakenly, assume that abstinence from food and drink alone fulfills the requirement and purpose of the fast day. Rather, the true purpose of a fast day must be evidenced in one’s improved deeds. (Mishnah Berurah 549:1)
  3. This year the fast begins on Sunday (July 24) at 4:33 a.m. and ends at 9:06 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time). Even though the fast begins from dawn, sometimes the prohibition against eating begins from the previous evening. For example, if, before the arrival of dawn, a person decides not to eat any more until the fast begins, he is seen as having accepted the fast upon himself, and it is now forbidden for him to eat. Therefore, if a person goes to bed in anticipation of the fast and then rises before dawn, it is forbidden for him to eat, for he diverted his thoughts from eating. If one wishes to wake up before dawn and eat or drink, he should stipulate before going to sleep that he intends to wake up early to eat or drink and that the fast should not begin until dawn. The Shulchan Aruch (564) rules that if one did not make this stipulation he may not eat or drink. However, according the Rama he may still drink, even without making a stipulation.
  4. Both men and women must fast on Shiva Asar B’Tamuz. (Shulchan Aruch 550:1)
  5. The Shulchan Aruch (554:5) writes that a pregnant woman need not fast on Shiva Asar B’Tamuz. The Rama (550:1), however, writes that if the pregnant or nursing woman is feeling good the custom is to fast. If she feels week she need not fast. Many poskim explain that the accepted practice today, even among Ashkenazic women, is for pregnant and nursing women to refrain from observing the minor fasts. And even a woman who wishes to be stringent and to observe the fast – if she experiences difficulty during her fast, or if the fast causes her to have less milk, thus causing discomfort to the baby, it is best that she refrain from fasting. (Orchos Chaim Spinka 550:4 and Siddur Yaavetz) For normative halacha, a rav should be consulted.
  6. Nonetheless, if the woman isn’t fasting she shouldn’t eat lavish meals with meat and wine, but rather only what is necessary. (Shulchan Aruch ibid. and Mishnah Berurah 550:5)
  7. The pregnant or nursing woman who does not fast need not make up the fast on a different day. (Yechava Daas 1:35)
  8. One who is sick, even if there is no danger of dying is exempt from fasting and shouldn’t fast. Especially this year that the taanis was postponed (nidcha) from Shabbos to Sunday. (See Netai Gavriel Bein Hamitzarim 5:9) Before one decides to break his fast he must first consult with a rav. If one is sick and does not fast he need not make up his fast on a different day. (Yechava Daas ibid. and Mishnah Berurah Biur Halacha 550)
  9. One need not train his children to fast, even at the age of twelve for boys or eleven for girls. Once they have reached the age of chinuch they shouldn’t eat lavish meals, but rather only what is necessary. Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l and ybc”l Harav Neventzhal shlit”a write that although many boys have the custom to fast three fasts before they become bar-mitzvah, this custom has no source. (Mishnah Berurah 550:5, Halichos Shlomo vol. 3 page 398-399 and B’Yitzchak Yikare on Mishnah Berurah)
  10. The Mishnah Berurah (567:11) maintains that only if one is in pain may one rinse one’s mouth on Shiva Asar B’Tamuz and in such a case one should bend one’s head downward so one doesn’t swallow any water.
  11. If one has bad breath and it causes him discomfort or embarrassment, he may use mouthwash on Shiva Asar B’Tamuz. He may also brush his teeth with toothpaste but not with water. (Beer Moshe 8:94, Minchas Yitzchak 4:109)
  12. If one needs to take medicine on Shiva Asar B’Tamuz he may take them without water. If he can not swallow the pills without a little water, he may swallow a very small amount of water (just enough to get the pills down). (Opinion of Rav Debreczin zt”l cited in Nitev Gavriel Bein Hatzomos page 54)
  13. If one ate by mistake on a fast day he should nevertheless continue fasting afterwards. (Shulchan Aruch and Mishanh Berurah 568:1) The Mishna Brurah (568:3) says that even if one ate on a taanis, you can still say aneinu during the shemoneh esrei. Harav Wosner zt”l (Shevet Halevi 5:60) explains that this is only true for someone who began the fast and ate accidentally. However, one who is exempt from fasting altogether does not recite aneinu.
  14. Many have the custom to recite Avinu Malkeinu on public fast days. One can even say Avinu Malkeinu when davening without a minyan. (Ishei Yisroel 45:45)

Mourner’s Kaddish (Assorted Halachos)

1) It is extremely important to recite kaddish for the deceased. It is clear from the words of the Zohar that Kaddish helps the soul from the punishments of Gehinnom. The Ari z”l (Shaar Hakavanos Kaddish) adds that tt is also beneficial in raising the deceased’s soul from one level to another in Gan Eden. Jews therefore customarily recite Kaddish following the passing of a father or mother, even if they were exceptionally righteous individuals.

2) The Meforshim tell us that by reciting Kaddish for one’s parents who are deceased one fulfills the mitzvah of Kibud Av V’Em. (Derech Pekudecha 33 and Rav Yosef Engel in Gilyonei Hashas 31b)

3) The Chasam Sofer (E.H. 69) writes that he has heard that one does not recite Kaddish for Jews who were not observant and who did not adhere to the Torah. He explains that this is unequivocally false and that on the contrary these souls need Kaddish much more than anyone else. This is the accepted approach amongst the poskim (for a larger discussion see Umekareiv Biyamin vol. 1 page 275).

4) The poskim discuss whether a convert can recite kaddish for his non-Jewish parents. Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l (Yechava Daas 6:36) writes that one is absolutely permitted to do so. Harav Ahron Walkin zt”l (Zaken Ahron 2:87) writes that they are permitted to do so. But, he adds if there are people in the shul that are aware that he is reciting it for a non-Jew it may seem strange and in that instance it is better to learn Mishnayos than to recite Kaddish. However, Harav Yaakov Hillel shlit”a (Vayeshev Hayam 3:32) maintains that one should not recite kaddish for a non-Jew. He explains that the convert can privately (in his shemoneh esrei) pray to Hashem to aleviate the suffering of the ould of the departed etc. For normative halacha, a rav should be consulted.

5) The custom is to say Kaddish for only eleven months so as not to suggest that one’s parent was an evil person (rasha). This is because the evil are judged for twelve months. (Rama Y.D. 376:4)

6) The poskim discuss the following case: If a person was not observant and did not recite kaddish during the eleven months of the mourning and years later became observant can they then recite kaddish for eleven months or at that point it would not be permitted. Harav Kook zt”l (Daas Kohen 217) rules that it is forbidden, he explains that if reciting kaddish for twelve months is not allowed so as not to suggest that one’s parent is evil. All the more so that one cannot begin reciting kaddish years later. However, Harav Yaakov Hillel shlit”a, for reasons beyond the scope of this halacha, rules that one may recite kaddish even years later (see Umekareiv Biyamin 2:1). For normative halacha, a rav should be consulted.

Eating Dairy After Meat

1) There are three places where the Torah states that one should not cook meat and milk together (Shmos 23:19, 34:26 and Devarim 14:21). Chazal tell us that one verse is prohibiting cooking meat and milk together. The second verse is prohibiting eating meat and milk that was cooked together. And the final verse prohibits any enjoyment from milk and meat that was cooked together (Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 87:1).

2) Chazal decreed that one may not eat cheese after eating meat, but may eat meat after eating cheese. The Gemara (Chullin 105a) mentions that Mar Ukvah said that he would not eat milk and meat in the same meal; however, he would eat a dairy meal following a meat meal. The Rambam and others understand that Mar Ukveh was dictating how much time one must wait between meat and milk. And that is the amount of time between the morning meal and the evening meal. This time period is six hours. [See Biur Hagra]

3) There are two reasons given in the Rishonim as to the need to wait 6 hours. Rashi (Chullin 105a) explains that when one swallows meat, the fat of the meat leaves a fatty residue in the throat and the mouth for that amount of time. The Rambam (Ma’achelos Assuros 9:28) explains that some meat might get stuck in between the teeth, and for 6 hours it has the hallachic significance of meat. However, after 6 hours the stuck meat is not halachically considered meat anymore and therefore even if one would then eat dairy one would not be eating meat and dairy at the same time.

4) We rule stringently and are concerned for both opinions and one must wait as long as either Rashi or the Rambam would require you to do so. For example if one swallows a piece of meat whole [without chewing it] he would be required to wait 6 hours. For although the opinion of the Rambam is inapplicable (because the meat was not chewed and thus none would be stuck in between the teeth), since the opinion of Rashi is still applicable (as the meat was swallowed some of the fatty residue coats the throat) one must wait. Similarly, if one merely chews on meat, even if he did not swallow it one would still be obligated to wait 6 hours because according to the opinion of the Rambam there is a concern that some meat got stuck in between his teeth. Even though Rashi would only require a waiting period if there exists a fatty residue coating the throat which occurs only when swallowing the meat.

5) The consensus of the majority of poskim is that one must wait a full six hours (Chochmas Adam 40:13, Pischai Teshuvah 87:4, and Aruch Hashulchan 87:7). This is indeed the most prevalent custom amongst Klal Yisroel.

6) There are those that wait only 5 hours (and a little) there custom is most probably based upon the words of the Meiri (Magen Avos page 46). The Meiri, when addressing the obligation to wait in between meat and milk writes that one must wait “five or six hours”. Rav Ahron Kotler zt”l was of the opinion that one should wait five hours and thirty one minutes (custom of Lakewood see Ohr Yitzchak Y.D. 4). He felt that as long as one has waited a majority of the sixth hour one need not wait any longer. One should follow his or her custom.

7) If one is unsure whether he has waited a full six hours (for ex. he is not 100% sure when he finished his meal), the poskim debate whether one is required to wait until he has definitely waited six hours, or perhaps he may act leniently and assume that the six hours have passed (safek d’rabbanan l’hakel). Harav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt”l and ybc”l Harav Yitzchak Yosef shlit”a rule leniently. However, Harav Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a rules stringently. (See Darkei Teshuva 89:5, Dalsei Teshuva 2, Badei Hashulchan, Yalkut Yosef  Kitzur Shulchan Aruch page 837 and Ohel Yaakov page 222) For normative halacha, a rav should be consulted.

8) Three Hours- Many German Jews have the custom of waiting merely three hours. This custom can be found in the works of Rabbeinu Yeruchem (Issur V’Heter 39).  Some explain that in these communities during the short winter days, they would eat their meals 3 hours apart. (Darkei Teshuva 89:6). While others explain that in those communities they used to eat 5 meals each day, and each meal was 3 hours apart. (Rabbi Yisroel Belsky zt”l cited in Piskei Rav Belsky page 132).

9) Harav Belsky zt”l (ibid.) maintains that one who has this custom should not change his custom to waiting six hours. However, Harav Yitzchak Yosef shlit”a (Yalkut Yosef Kitzur Shulchan Aruch page 837) maintains that it is preferable to change one’s custom from three to six hours.

10) One hour- We stated earlier that Mar Ukveh required that one cannot eat dairy and meat in the same meal and one can only eat dairy in the meal following a meat meal. We cited that many Rishonim understood that to mean one must wait the amount of time one normally waits in between meals (i.e. six hours). However, Tosafos has a different interpretation of the words of Mar Ukveh. He feels that one does not need to wait a period of time; rather the milk and meat need to be served in different meals.  As long as one recited a brachah achrona and cleared the table, one would be permitted to eat dairy immediately. The Taz writes that the custom of many Dutch Jews to wait one hour is based upon the ruling of Tosafos. They feel that one need not wait at all; the requirement to wait one hour is merely a stringency they placed upon themselves.

11) Harav Belsky zt”l explains that once a woman is married, she follows her husband’s custom in waiting the allotted time between meat and dairy. No hataras nedarim is required after she gets married and changes her minhag. (Piskei Harav Belsky zt”l page 134)

12) Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l (Igros Moshe Y.D. 2:26) writes that one who swallows a meat vitamin (ex. A liver pill) does not need to wait six hours. He explains that the decree (to wait six hours) was never extended to meats that were not meant to be chewed. Additionally, since there were no pills during the time of Chazal, they were never included in the gezeira.

13) The Haflah writes that one who found meat in between his teeth and swallowed it [whether within the 6 hours or even after 6 hours from eating] would be required to wait 6 hours from that point. His opinion is cited by Rav Feivel Cohen shlit”a in the Sefer Badei Hashulchan (89:13 Tziyunim 22). See however the Chayei Halevi (5:60 note 5) for a permissible view.

14) The Sefer Vyaas Avraham writes a truly novel hallacha. He feels that one who sleeps after eating meat is allowed to eat dairy immediately, even if six hours have not past. However, most authorities do not rule leniently. The Chasam Sofer originally agreed with this approach. The Chasam Sofer once placed milk near his bed in order that after his sleep he would be able to drink it, even though six hours had not past. However, while he was sleeping he knocked over the milk. The Chasam Sofer accepted that as a sign from Heaven that the hallacha does not concur with the Vyaas Avraham and one needs to wait six full hours even if he slept in between (See Tshuvos VHanhagos 1:43). Harav Beslky zt”l and Harav Wosner zt”l also ruled that sleep does not exempt a person from waiting. (Piskei Rav Belsky zt”l page 134 and Koveitz M’Beis Levi 9 page 23) The common custom is to rule stringently.

15) Harav Yisroel Belsky zt”l ruled that it is permitted for a person to swoosh fleishig clear soup in one’s mounth then spit it out and there is no waiting required if he wants to eat dairy. However, one must clean his mouth out prior to eating dairy (Piskei Rav Belsky ibid.). Like all cases of halacha, with a slight variation the halacha may change. Therefore, one should only act leniently in the case of Harav Belsky- with clear soup that one spit out. The halacha would be different if one were to chew a meat dish and spit it out.

16) One who eats a parave food that was cooked in a clean meat pot (even if the pot had been used that day to cook meat), does not need to wait 6 hours (Rama 89:3).

17) The custom is to start counting the six hours when one finished eating meat, not from when the meal ends. For example, if one finished eating meat at 1:30 p.m., and the meal ended at 2:3o p.m., one begins counting six hours from 1:30 p.m. (Badei Hashulchan 89:7)

18) If an onion (or any other sharp food) is cut with a meat knife or sauteed in a meat pan those onions have the halachic status of meat. If those onions get mixed with a dairy dish the dish would be prohibited. Rav Akiva Eiger zt”l (on S.A. 3) rules that although these onions have the status of meat, one need not wait six hours after eating them.

19) The Pri Megadim (O.C. 494:6) explains that even Rav Akiva Eiger zt”l would agree that if one ate meat (example- hamburger) and is in middle of waiting six hours, he may not eat an onion (or any other sharp food) that was cut or cooked with a dairy knife or in a dairy pot. Since an onion that was sliced with a dairy knife has the status of dairy in halacha, one may not eat it during the six hours.

20) One who ate meat and then vomited must still wait six hours from the time he finished eating the meat. (Darkei Teshuva 89:9 and Piskei Rav Beslky zt”l page 133)

21) If one forgot that he was fleishig and ate dairy, one may not continue eating dairy. Rather, one must stop as soon as he realizes his mistake. (See Yalkut Yosef page 431 and Ohel Yaakov page 221)