Where Frequency Matters
‘We Forbid Haircutting And Laundering’
The Gemara, citing a mishnah (Ta’anis 26b), states that it is forbidden to take a haircut or launder clothing during the week in which Tisha B’Av occurs. (It is also forbidden to wear freshly laundered clothing during that period – Ran, Ta’anis 26b.)
If Tisha B’Av falls on Shabbos, we wait until Sunday to fast. In such a scenario, the Yerushalmi (Ta’anis 4:6) maintains that there are no restrictions against taking a haircut and laundering clothing since Tisha B’Av is observed on Sunday and the week preceding Tisha B’Av is not considered “the week of Tisha B’Av.”
The Semag (cited by the Tur, Orach Chayyim 551:4), however, maintains that the preceding week is considered “the week of Tisha B’Av”even though the fast is delayed until Sunday.
Not Relevant Due To An Ashkenazi Restriction
The Rema (Orach Chayim 551:3-4) notes that the prevailing custom among Ashkenazi Jewry is to refrain from laundering clothing during the entire Nine Days (i.e., from Rosh Chodesh Av until after Tisha B’Av). Also, our custom is to refrain from cutting hair during the entire Three Weeks. Accordingly, one would think that it makes no difference whether the week preceding a pushed-off Tisha B’Av is considered “the week of Tisha B’Av” or not.
And yet, there are several cases where it very much does it make a difference. We will now cite some examples.
Nothing Left To Wear
Eliyahu Rabbah (Orach Chayim 551) rules that a person who only has one shirt may wash it during the Nine Days if it became soiled – as long as the week of Tisha B’Av has not yet arrived. Some authorities apply the same leniency to a person who has several changes of clothes which all become soiled. Since he is left without a change of clothes, he is permitted to launder them if the week of Tisha B’Av has not yet arrived (provided they are the type of clothes that need frequent changing – see Mishnah Berurah, O.C. ad loc.).
A Child’s Haircut
The Chayei Adam (133:17-18) rules that the minhag to refrain from cutting hair during the entire Three Weeks pertains only to adults. A child may get a haircut until the week of Tisha B’Av. Eliyahu Rabbah (Orach Chayim ad loc.,cited by Mishnah Berurah) disagrees and maintains that even a child may not get a haircut during the Three Weeks.
Toras Yekusiel (earlier edition, responsum 47) rules that even according to Eliyahu Rabbah, it is permitted to give a child his first haircut on his third birthday (upsheren) during the Three Weeks – as long as his birthday does not fall in the week of Tisha B’Av itself. He maintains that for those people who have the custom to give a child his first haircut on his third birthday, it is considered a mitzvah and therefore permitted during the Three Weeks. (Others, however, maintain that even an upsehrin must be delayed until after Tisha B’Av – or advanced to before Shiva Assar B’Tammuz [Nit’ei Gavriel, Orach Chayim 551:27].
Bris – Bar Mitzvah
Some authorities (Sha’arei Teshuva, O.C. s.k. 3) permit the father of a baby being circumcised, as well as the mohel and sandak, to cut take a haircut on the day of the bris as long as the bris does not take place the week of Tisha B’Av itself. Rabbi Yitzhak Isaac Liebes, late Av Beis Din of the Iggud HaRabbonim (Responsa Beth Avi, vol. 2:58), also permits a boy to have his hair cut in honor of his bar mitzvah as long as it isn’t the week of Tisha B’Av itself (see Piskei Teshuvos, Orach Chayim 551:6, note 44).