Sunday, July 15, 2012

2 Jews, 3 opinions, or halachic (in)decisions

I forgot to check my Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, and didn't think to look for one online,  So I looked all over the Internet for rules regarding buying clothing during the Three Weeks/Shalosh HaShavuot, and found this t'shuvah (response to a question of halachah/Jewish religious law) by Rabbi Eli Mansour.  "Halacha allows purchasing new garments during the Three Weeks, but only until Rosh Hodesh Ab."  Based on that t'shuvah, I went up to La Di La, where I've had some luck buying hats before, and purchased my second cotton beret this past Thursday evening, so that I'd have a spare when I wanted to wash the first one.  I got home, put on the new beret, recited Shechecheyanu--and then had second thoughts.  "Well, now that I'm home, maybe I should check my Shulchan Aruch."  !#$%^&*+!!!!!  It's just my luck--my Shulchan Aruch says, "It is the custom not to say the benediction Shechecheyanu (who hath kept us in life) during these days.  Therefore, one should neither purchase nor put on a new garment, as that would necessitate uttering the benediction Shechecheyanu."

Maybe this is just one of those differences of practice between Ashkenazim and Sefardim--Rav Mansour is Sefardi, and I assume, judging by his name, that Rabbi Solomon Ganzfried, author (editor?) of my Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, is Ashkenazi--but come on, give me a break:  If even rabbis can't agree on matters of halachah (law) and/or minhag (custom), how's a poor Am Ha-aretz/Jewishly-illiterate person like me supposed to know what's mutar (permissible) and what's assur (prohibited)?

I've decided to split the difference--I'll continue to buy new clothes through this coming Thursday afternoon, especially if they're on sale and/or unlikely to be available after Tisha B'Av, but I'll stop before sundown this Thursday, which is when Rosh Chodesh Av begins, and I won't wear any new clothes until after Tisha B'Av so as not to say a Shechecheyanu until after Tisha B'Av.

For the record, I find Rabbi Ganzfried's statement confusing--I thought that the whole point of saying a Shechecheyanu over a new garment was to say it upon wearing the garment for the first time.  Since when is buying a garment a cause for reciting a Shechecheyanu--do I have to say a Shechecheyanu at the check-out counter?


Blogger Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

> If even rabbis can't agree on matters of halachah (law) and/or minhag (custom), how's a poor Am Ha-aretz/Jewishly-illiterate person like me supposed to know what's mutar (permissible) and what's assur (prohibited)?

Well if you'd have looked harder for the KSA...

Seriously though, it's an Ashkenazic/Sephardic thing. Ashkenazim start all the restrictions on 17 Tammuz while Sephardim start on Rosh Chodesh Av.

As for your disagreements, you should know that major Jewish communities often show great variety in certain customs and there are many differences between Ashkenazim and Sephardim in this regard. Heck, one word: kitniyos!
And that's the reason for life long study, to learn all these differences and appreciate the cultural diversity within halacha.

As for the shecheyanu, remember that back in the alte heim there was no WalMart. A significant new garment was an unusual thing so the thrill of picking it up from the tailor warranted the blessing.
Nowadays since we get everything off the rack the thrill comes from the first time you wear the outfit. So that's when we make the blessing.

Mon Jul 16, 05:35:00 PM 2012  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Good points, Garnel. I'll keep them in mind. The kitniyot restriction is one that I need like a hole in the head--it's a minor pain to be unable to eat rice or corn for all of Pesach. But a good seamstress would be nice to have. :)

Tue Jul 17, 11:56:00 AM 2012  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

On a serious note, I'll try to behave myself next year and not go clothes shopping during the Three Weeks. But I'll follow the Orthodox Union's ruling, published here regarding clothing on sale or not likely to be available after Tisha B'Av: "One may buy things - even "items of joy" - during the Nine Days, if they will be difficult to find after Tish'a b'Av, or even it they will be more expensive then. The mourning during the Nine Days is not intended to cost us money; it is meant to diminish our joy."

Tue Jul 17, 12:06:00 PM 2012  

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