Q. When Rosh Chodesh Av occurs on Erev Shabbos, as it does this year, are there any restrictions on taking a shower?
A. During the Nine Days, a person may not shower or bathe (Rama OC 551:16) but may wash his hands, feet and face with cold water (Mishna Berura ibid. 94) without soap or shampoo (Magen Avraham ibid. 41).
In warm climates, where one tends to perspire, some poskim allow a brief shower in cold or lukewarm water, and when necessary soap may be used as well (See Piskei Teshuvos 551:48 and Moadei Yeshurun p. 132:14 and p. 156:80).
This year we have two Arvei Shabbosos during the Nine Days. The first occurs on Rosh Chodesh Av and the second is the one which falls on Erev Tisha B’Av. On the first Erev Shabbos, for one who always honors the Shabbos by bathing on Erev Shabbos, the mitzvah of kovod Shabbos overrides the restrictions of the Nine Days and one may wash his whole body in hot water (Mishna Berura 551:89) and use soap (see Dirshu MB, Beurim 551:104 in the name of Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach, zt”l) even when not required for hygienic purposes.
On the second Friday, Erev Shabbos Chazon, one may wash hands, face and feet with hot water. Nowadays, since people shower daily, Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l allowed bathing the entire body as well (Moadei Yeshurun p. 133:21 and Kitzur Hilchos Bein HaMitzorim p. 13:7).
This column comes from OU Kosher’s Halacha Yomis dedicated in memory of Rav Chaim Yisroel ben Reb Dov HaLevy Belsky, zt’l, Senior OU Kosher Halachic Consultant (1987-2016). Subscribers can also ask their own questions on Kashrus issues and send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. These questions and their answers may be selected to become one of the Q and A’s on OU Kosher Halacha Yomis.