Donating hair on the three weeks
Rabbanit Surale Rosen
She'elaCan I donate my hair to Zichron Menachem (to make wigs for children with cancer) during the three weeks? I want to do it in honor of my mother’s Yartzeit which is 24th of Tammuz.
The Mishnah Ta’anit 4:7 brings the prohibition regarding cutting one’s hair: “During the week in which the ninth of Av falls, it is forbidden to cut the hair and to wash clothes but on Thursday it is permitted in honor of Shabbat…”
The question is, how did the clear ruling of the Mishnah of a prohibition that only applies to שבוע שחל בו – the week in which Tisha B’Av actually falls – widen to a minhag that’s kept from the 17th of Tammuz?
The earliest reference we have is ספר המנהגים לרבינו אייזיק טירנא (app. 1400) where he brings the minhag not to have a hair cut from 17th of Tammuz till after Tisha B’Av. The Remah in Orach Chayim 551:4 mentions this Ashkenazi custom together with the minhag not to wash clothes from Rosh Chodesh Av as opposed to the Shulkhan Arukh who rules that it’s only on the actual week of the fast.
However, unlike other customs we have of widening the period of mourning over the destruction, there is no earlier, explanatory source for this particular minhag of not cutting one’s hair from the 17th of Tammuz.
For example, the custom to abstain from eating meat and drinking wine from Rosh Chodesh Av and not only on שבוע שחל בו is brought in the Tur and commented on by the Beit Yosef (Orach Chayim 551:10) in the name of the Kol Bo, the reason being that there can only be simcha when eating meat. The custom of abstaining from drinking wine begins earlier, from the 17th of Tammuz, because that was when they stopped bringing the daily sacrifice, קרבן התמיד, that was sacrificed together with wine. Interestingly enough, it is mentioned in the Yerushalmi that it was women who started the minhag of not having wine and meat from Rosh Chodesh (Tur Orach Chayim 551:8 quoting Rabbeinu Nissim).
As mentioned earlier, the prohibition to have a haircut during the entirety of the 3 weeks is not explained but the Remah brings it as הלכה למעשה that we know has been kept for generations. Therefore, I would advise you to cut your hair before 17th of Tammuz and then make the actual donation on the date of your mother’s Yahrzeit.