Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Nine Days

There are many questions I have regarding the Halachos and customs for Ashkenazim during the nine days.
The first question I have is regarding showering. During the nine days one is supposed to refrain from bathing and showering because this is considered something relaxing. In the current times would it be acceptable in society if people found out you did not shower for 9 days? I am not sure what most people do in regards to this. I have heard two things where you can get around this Halacha. The first one is to only take cold showers. By taking a cold shower you are not enjoying it doing it only for hygiene. The second way around this is to build up a sweat (working out in a gym) so you would smell which would allow you to shower.
The second question I have is regarding Neginah and music. During the three week period beginning with the 17 of Tammuz and ending on the 10th of Av, one should not listen to music. I can understand this completely because we are supposed to be mourning and music can make someone happy. My question is regarding Shabbos and niggunim which are sung on Shabbos Chazon. It is the custom of many shuls to sing Lcha Dodi to the tune of Keli Tzion which is the last Kinna we recite in the morning of Tisha Bav. If we are supposed to be happy on Shabbos we should not remind ourselves of the nine day mourning period, correct? If so why is that niggun sung to Lcha Dodi? Last year I went to an Agudah minyan which I knew would not sing this niggun for Lcha Dodi. The question can then be asked, every Shabbos Chazon, the Haftorah is read in Eicha trup as well as the word Eicha which appears in the Parshah. I am not sure if every shul does this or only the ones I have been to. Where did these customs come from, and why are we allowed to be mourning on this Shabbos? Are these customs wrong or are they correct? With these questions in mind, I am not sure where to daven this year.


yitz said...

Hi FWQ, I'll try to answer your questions as best I can:
1. Showering and/or bathing -- it is not a matter of getting "around" the Halacha, it is rather understanding what the parameters of the Halacha are. So, we are prohibited from "washing of pleasure" [ta'anug in Hebrew], which means, specifically, a warm or hot shower or bath. Cold showers and/or baths are not ta'anug. In addition, people who go to the mikveh daily are allowed to go during the Nine Days, it is not considered "ta'anug" either. But you must be honest - if you sometimes don't go, you are not a "daily" mikveh person, and then you can't go. Same applies to Fridays - if you go every Friday, you can go on Shabbos Chazon. Otherwise, no.
2. The inyan of Negina during the 9 Days is, especially for me, an interesting one. The actual prohibition is live music, specifically played on musical instruments. Singing without musical accompaniment is permitted. Modern-day poskim have extended this further to recorded music, and radio. Indeed, one can understand that the quality of some recorded music is almost as good as you'll hear in any concert hall. So, now many people prefer to listen to acapella music, singing without musical accompaniment. This certainly seems to cover the spirit of the Halacha.
REGARDING SHABBOS CHAZON, there was an old [I believe] Litvish custom NOT to change one's shirt & pants even for Shabbos Chazon. I don't think anyone does this any more...most, if not all, of religious Jews change into newly-laundered or dry-cleaned Shabbos clothes, sing all the regular Zemiros and niggunim, etc.
I had a Rav [zt"l, he's no longer with us] who used to sing Lecha Dodi to the tune you refer to, & I used to cringe when I heard it too. Recently, someone pointed out to me something very interesting: the tune in the Yom Tov "nusach" [melodic chant by the ba'al tefilla] for Bnei veis'cha k'vatchila, etc. ["rebuild Your House, as before"] is identical to "Keili Tzion". So, are we mourning on Yom Tov, or perhaps we are expressing our hope on Tisha B'Av that Hashem will rebuild the Beis HaMikdash? This kind of consoled me about those who use this tune. But still, I'm with you, I prefer to treat this Shabbos like the usual, sing Lecha Dodi to the upbeat, positive, cheerful niggunim as usual, etc. etc. Hope this answers your questions, and best regards.

FrumWithQuestions said...

What about the Haftorah and the Torah reading? I am not sure what you are talking about when it comes to Bnei veis'cha k'vatchila because I have never heard anyone sing that whole paragraph, only those three words and the tune does not sound like Keili Tzion. It doesn't suprise me what you said "there was an old [I believe] Litvish custom NOT to change one's shirt & pants even for Shabbos Chazon" because everytime I am in a Litvish place they always seem to be wearing frsh laundered clothing no matter what day. What do you do for Lcha Dodi? Regarding some of the Acapella music, I think it is rediculous. I only listen to real niggunim without music and shiurim. I also listen to Yosef Karduner as well as Yehudah Solomons Beyond words. I heard a Shiur by Rabbi Weinberger Shlita of Aish Kodesh who said there is no difference between the other stuff and real music. Besided that, the Acapella stuff is horrible. People who sing nasal and not properly to begin with cannot harmonize or sound good together.

yitz said...

The Haftara & Torah Reading: These are long-standing traditions, I don't recall hearing them done otherwise. The Torah Reading is certainly less problematic -- there is only one verse read in the tune for Eicha. I find that this serves as a reminder about what is to come, & it doesn't bother me. In fact, we even change the place where we stop so as to not begin the second Aliya [Levi] with a verse that begins with Eicha.
The Haftara is read with the Eicha tune, but does end with a very positive message, which is read in the NORMAL tune. I have no problem with it -- and I've never heard it otherwise.
There ARE some good Acapella recordings out there. For insteance, the "Chassidishe Otzros" series, of which there are 3 so far, are excellent!

FrumWithQuestions said...

I have all the Chassidishe Otzros and well as the Shabbos Tisch album.

Chana said...

Why are you looking for the answers to these questions on the Internet? Do you have a rabbi you trust? If not, don't you think you should find one?

FrumWithQuestions said...

I do have a Rabbi, I actually have a few Rabbis. My problem with most Rabbis is that they don't have the answers to all the questions. Another thing is that it is hard to find a Rabbi who is in the middle. You either have comepletely Litvish or completely Chassidish. The only thing in between is usually YU Rabbis who are usually too modern. That doesn't leave many Rabbis that don't have a bias for when you ask questions.

Litvak said...

You raise some good questions.

I will attempt to provide some answers/perspective, biezras Hashem.

1) Re Licha dodi with a mourning tune - Shabbos does not start (acceptance of Shabbos halachically) until Mizmor shir liyom haShabbos I believe. So when licha dodi is said it's not necessarily Shabbos yet (unless it's said late). Nevertheless, I think the minhag HaGR"A is not to say it with a 9 days type of niggun.

2) Re clothes on Shabbos chazon - I think you are describing the old Ashkenazic minhag (not specifically Litvish). I think it is still done by Yekkes and some other Ashkenazim.

3) Re the leining of haftara and part of sidra with niggun Eicha. I think once again you are describing standard Ashkenazic minhag there. However, I believe the GR"A takes issue with it and says it's leined with regular tunes (based on the argument you make, I believe) and I have been in an Ashkenazic minyan which did it that way (regular, non 9 days tune).

Keep asking (good) questions !

Lo habayshan lomeid.

If your Rabbis don't satisfy you with your answers, keep on probing, researching, questioning, until you are satisfied.

FrumWithQuestions said...

Are you sure about your answers regarding the Gra ? The Rav of my minyan is a real Brisker and often holds by all the minhagim of the Gra and our minyan still followed this Ashkenazi practice.

socialworker/frustrated mom said...

Hope you get answers to your great questions. thanks

Litvak said...

FWQ - I am quite certain. Though Briskers may follow some things from the GR"A, they don't follow all his ways (that's why they are called Briskers, not GRA'niks :).

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