Laundry During the 9 Days

Question:

Regarding the 9 Days and laundry. We are blessed with two boys, one three and the other 9 months. We use cloth diapers. It's permitted to do their laundry as needed, correct? We also don't use paper towels in the house, only cloth towels. Is it permitted to wash towels? Also, is it permitted to wash adult undergarments?


Answer:

1. You may launder diapers during the 9 Days as usual. You may also launder clothes for your sons as required; small children, as we all know, have a higher turnover when it comes to clothes.


2. It is clear that standards of personal hygiene today are much higher than in the past. Rambam writes (Deoth 4:21) that going to the public bath house once a week is the norm. In Europe most people bathed infrequently, sometimes just a few times a year. Jews traditionally bathed once a week for Shabbath.

All this changed with the advent of indoor plumbing. Today almost no-one goes more than a day without bathing, certainly not during the summer months. These facts are very relevant Halakhically, as the Mishna (B’rakhoth 2:6) relates regarding R. Gamliel who bathed despite being in mourning because he was an “ist’nis”, i.e. someone used to higher standards of personal hygiene than most people. Today we are all ist’nissim.


3. Thus, regarding bathing and laundry, the realities and the Halakha today are different. One may, therefore, wash towels, underwear, shirts etc. where necessary.


Monday, 27 July 2009

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