Thursday, July 27, 2006
bathing on a fast day
The Ramban writes that all fasts (10 Teves, 17 Tamuz) theoretically should share the same prohibitions of washing, wearing shoes, etc. as 9 Av. As all the fasts are recorded in one pasuk together – “tzom harevi’i v’tzom hachamishi v’tzom ha’sehvi’i v’tzom ha’asiri” – why distinguish between the halachos which apply to each? However, as we discussed earlier in the week, these fast days depend in time of no oppression/no peace on the kabbalah of the people. In terms of practical halacha, Ramban assumes that Klal Yisrael accepted fasting on all these days, but never accepted the other prohibitions. Ramban points to the gemara (Megillah 5b) which takes the fact that Rebbi washed in the public bathhouse in the marketplace of Tzipori on 17 Tamuz as indicative that the fast was not accepted – the implication is that were it an accepted fast day, bathing as well as eating should be prohibited. Tosfos disagrees, and writes that the gemara simply means that there was no prohibition of bathing m’ikar hadin in spite of it being a fast day. The nafka mina between the opinions (see Biur haGR"A 550) would be in a time of oppression, when all fasts are obligatory, would bathing, leather shoes, etc. be prohibited? According to Tosfos all these would be permitted, except on 9 Av; according to Ramban, when choice plays no role, all fasts carry the same prohibitions as 9 Av.