ישיבת כרם ביבנה

Laundering During Mourning and the Nine Days

הרב מרדכי גרינברג
נשיא הישיבה

The Mishna in Masechet Ta’anit (26b)[1] teaches: “The week during which Tisha B’Av occurs, one may not cut hair or do laundry.” Our practice is that already from 17 Tammuz until Tisha B’Av there are increasing degrees of restriction. We find a parallel to this (in the opposite direction) in the laws of mourning: shiva, shloshim, and (for parents) a year. During the week of Tisha B’Av, laundering and gihutz (pressing or ironing) is prohibited. In shiva, as well, laundering is not allowed, whereas in shloshim only gihutz is prohibited. However, in Masechet Semachot (ch. 7)[2] we find that the prohibition against wearing pressed clothes during shloshim applies only to white, new clothes, not to colored or used ones.

Interestingly, though, the aforementioned Mishna in Ta’anit only states that it is prohibited to launder during the week of Tisha B’Av, and does not mention ironing. The Rambam (Hil. Ta’anit 5:6)[3], however, prohibits wearing pressed clothes. Similarly, in Hil. Avel (6:4)[4] the Rambam writes that it is prohibited to wear pressed clothes (only white and new) during shloshim. He adds that the prohibition against gihutz does not apply to linen clothing. The Kessef Mishneh, however, writes in name of the Ramban and Rosh that to wear pressed linen clothes is not allowed, and only to press them and leave them for after Tisha B’Av is allowed, against the Rambam.

The source of this dispute between the Rambam and the Rosh and Ramban is the Gemara in Ta’anit 29b[5], where R. Nachman and Rav Sheshet argue whether the prohibition against laundering during the week of Tisha B’Av is only to launder and then wear, or even to launder and leave for after Tisha B’Av. The Gemara cites a Beraita in support of Rav Sheshet:

It is prohibited to launder before Tisha B’Av, even to leave for after Tisha B’Av. Our pressing is like their laundering. (R. Chananel explains that pressing in Bavel was only as good as laundering in Eretz Yisrael.) Gihutz does not apply to linen clothing...

The Gemara concludes:

Rav Yitzchak b. Giyuri sent in the name of R. Yochanan: Even though they said, “Gihutz does not apply to linen clothing,” it is still prohibited to wear them during the week of Tisha B’Av.

Thus, although the Beraita excludes linen from gihutz, the conclusion of the Gemara explicitly prohibits wearing pressed linen clothes during the week of Tisha B’Av, and presumably during shloshim, as well, like the Rosh and Ramban. From where did the Rambam derive that a mourner is allowed even to wear freshly pressed linen clothes? It is possible that the Rambam also does not allow wearing them, just to press them, and he simply quoted the language of the Beraita. This does not seem correct, however, since we find in Masechet Semachot that one is allowed to bring clothes (presumably of any kind) to be pressed during shloshim, so that the special allowance of the Rambam for linen must be even to wear! In addition, it seems from the Rambam that the whole prohibition of gihutz during shloshim is only to wear, as he writes, “It is prohibited to wear white, new, pressed clothes all thirty days,” and in this context he writes that linen is allowed. Thus, the Rambam seems to contradict the conclusion of the Gemara that to wear pressed linen clothes is prohibited during the week of Tisha B’Av.

Moreover, the Rambam in Hil. Ta’anit does cite the Gemara’s conclusion regarding the week of Tisha B’Av, that one may not wear pressed linen clothes, against what he writes in Hil. Avel. Thus, the Rambam must distinguish between mourning, when one is allowed to wear pressed linen clothes, and the week of Tisha B’Av, when one is not allowed to. What is the basis for this distinction?

The Brisker Rav writes that apparently the Rambam had a totally different understanding of the Gemara in Ta’anit. We understand that the entire Gemara refers to the week of Tisha B’Av. It teaches that our pressing is like their laundering, which is still prohibited, whereas linen, to which gihutz does not apply – one is allowed to press. The Rambam, however, understood that the phrase, “Gihutz does not apply to linen,” does not refer to Tisha B’Av, but rather to mourning. He was forced to learn this way, since we do not find anywhere a restriction against gihutz during the week of Tisha B’Av. Therefore, the Beraita must mean that where there is a restriction of gihutz, i.e., to wear during shloshim (as we find in Masechet Semachot) – there is no restriction against linen. (Yet, even linen is prohibited during the week of Tisha B’Av, because it is at least equivalent to laundry.) The proof that the Rambam learned this way is that he wrote the special halacha of linen in Hil. Avel regarding shloshim, where only gihutz is prohibited, and not in Hil. Ta’anit.

Perhaps the Rambam was forced to learn this way for another reason, as well, as we will explain.

The Rambam in Hil. Ta’anit 5:6 writes: “The week during Tisha B’Av occurs, one may not cut hair, launder, or wear pressed clothes.” A careful reading indicates that to wear freshly laundered clothes (that were cleaned beforehand, and not pressed) is allowed. It seems that the Rambam understood that laundering and gihutz are totally different. Laundering – the act is prohibited; gihutz – wearing is prohibited. We see this distinction in Semachot, that even during shloshim one may take clothes to be pressed, since the act is allowed, but one may not wear freshly pressed clothes. Conversely, laundering – the act is not allowed (since it distracts from mourning), but to wear clothes washed beforehand is allowed.

Similarly, in Hil. Avel (5:3)[6], the Rambam writes about shiva, “Just as a mourner may not launder clothes, so, too, he is prohibited to wear white, new, pressed clothes.” Again, his language indicates that laundering and wearing pressed clothes are separate restrictions, and that wearing laundered clothes is allowed even during shiva. Furthermore, he prohibits only white, new, pressed clothes, but colored clothes – even pressed – are allowed. Now, if even clean, laundered clothes were not allowed, how could he permit pressed, colored clothes? Rather, it must be that only the act of laundering is prohibited, whereas wearing laundered clothes or colored, pressed ones (which are equivalent to laundered white clothes) – is allowed.

The Ramban, however, writes in Torat Ha’adam (cited by the Tur 389) that to wear pressed, white clothes is prohibited for the entire shloshim, and during shiva even pressed, colored clothes are not allowed. Although colored clothes are not considered pressed, still they are like laundered, and the Ramban maintains that one cannot wear freshly laundered clothes during shiva (against the Ramban). Thus, according to the Ramban, the prohibition of laundering includes wearing.

Tosfot (Mo’ed Katan 24b s.v. birchat)[7] writes that (R. Shimon) [=Rashi] permits a mourner during shiva to change into clean clothes laundered before the mourning. Tosfot assumes that he would also allow changing into clothing pressed beforehand, and then proves Rashi wrong from an earlier Gemara that indicates that one may not change into clothes pressed beforehand. However, based on what we explained, Rashi may understand like the Rambam that only to wear clean, laundered clothes is allowed, but not to wear pressed clothes. Thus, there is no difficulty at all from the earlier Gemara that prohibits wearing clean pressed clothes. (It is hard to understand why Tosfot assumed that pressed is the same as laundered.)

If we assume, according to the Rambam, that laundering and wearing pressed clothes are two separate restrictions, when it says in the Mishna that during the week of Tisha B’Av it is prohibited to launder – this means the act of laundering. The prohibition of gihutz, not to wear pressed clothes, is not mentioned at all in the Mishna. What is the source of the Rambam that this is also not allowed during the week of Tisha B’Av? From the statement of Rav Yitzchak b. Giyuri in the conclusion of the Gemara: “Even though they said, ‘Gihutz does not apply to linen clothing,’ it is still prohibited to wear them during the week of Tisha B’Av.” We see that prohibition of wearing pressed clothes also applies. (The Gemara must have had some source for this restriction.)

This statement is difficult, though. The simple understanding of that Gemara is like the Ramban, that even though one is allowed to press linen clothing during the week of Tisha B’Av, one cannot wear them. However, since gihutz does not apply to linen, why is it prohibited to wear them? The Ramban apparently understood that pressed linen clothes are still considered equivalent to laundered. Since the Gemara prohibits wearing them during the week of Tisha B’Av, the Ramban derived from here that one may not even wear laundered clothes during the week of Tisha B’Av, and, as well, during shiva.

However, according to the Rambam, that the only prohibition of gihutz is wearing, the exception of linen clothes from gihutz must mean that one is allowed to wear them. How, then, can Rav Yitzchak conclude, “it is still prohibited to wear them?” Therefore, the Rambam was forced to learn that the two statements talk about two different topics. “Gihutz does not apply to linen” is talking about mourning; “it is still prohibited to wear them” is talking only about the week of Tisha B’Av. Thus, pressed linen clothes are permitted during shloshim, but not during the week of Tisha B’Av.

What remains difficult according to the Rambam is why during shloshim one is allowed to wear pressed linen clothes, but not in week of Tisha B’Av? Perhaps the reason it that during the week of Tisha B’Av one can prepare ahead of time and wear it a little, as is our custom, whereas a mourner cannot prepare in this way.

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קוד השיעור: 3987

סרוק כדי להעלות את השיעור באתר:

Edited by Rav Meir Orlian (Concluding shiur, kayitz zman, 2 Av 5762)

לשליחת שאלה או הארה בנוגע לשיעור:




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