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  • The Nine Days

Washing hands and face during The Nine Days


Rabbi Yoel Lieberman

Av 3, 5779
Dear Rabbi During The Nine Days are we permitted to wash our hands with soap and in cold water only? I usually wash my hands after handling food and also at other times during the day. Is it better not to use soap? Also, are we permitted to wash our face with a cloth or napkin with cold water, even if we are not in the habit of doing so? I find myself wanting to wash or wipe my face more often during these hot summer months. I always want to do the right thing by Torah and Halacha and Mitzvot. Thank you so much, Rabbi, for your kindness and answering my Shailos.
ב"ה Shalom The prohibition of washing as mentioned in the (Shulchan Aruch Orach chaim 551: 16) refers to the entire body. However, one may wash the hands, face and feet with cold water and soap during the 9 days ( Mishna Berura 551: 93 )besides the 9th of Av itself which has its own halachot. The prohibition of washing oneself is in regard to washing for pleasure therefore one may not go swimming during the 9 days. On the one hand, one who works at a job in which he or she becomes filthy they may wash even with hot water. In addition, contemporary Poskim say that in our times, when people are much more aware of their hygiene and body odor, whether if they or others may suffer from it, may bathe their entire body with lukewarm water and with soap, when the intention is for hygiene and not enjoyment. (פסקי תשובות סי' תקנ"א: מח). For more details see also link from Pninei Halacha. These laws apply to Ashkenazim the entire 9 days, and for Sefardim on in the week of Tishah B"av. Since, this year תשע"ט, , 5779, the Tisha B'av fast is actually on the 10th of Av, these laws of washing don’t apply to Sefardim this year. ((Shulchan Aruch Orach chaim 551:4) All the best
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