Once the month of Ab begins, “our happiness decreases”, because we are preparing ourselves, gradually and emotionally, for the 9th of Ab, the day of national mourning of the Jewish people. Thus, we avoid certain activities associated with joy or personal pleasure. The Shulhan Arukh mentions, among other things, that once the month of Ab begins, no weddings are allowed; we do not celebrate engagements (se’udat erusin); we avoid eating meat, etc., which will be explained in the coming days BH .
Today we will focus our attention on two elements mentioned by the Shulhan Arukh that are less known: MASA UMATAN UBINYAN SHEL SIMHA (buying or building something for our own pleasure, leisure or satisfaction).
MASA UMATAN SHEL SIMHA:
It is customary to refrain from buying new clothes, jewelry or other luxury or superfluous items from Rosh Hodesh Ab until after the day of fasting. Now, if one has a wedding (his own wedding, or the wedding of one of his children, for example) immediately after the 9th of Ab, and she was unable to buy clothing or other supplies for the wedding before the month of Ab begins, or if the wedding will be held a few days after 9 Ab, but if he won’t buy certain items now, these articles will be more expensive after the 9th of Ab, it is allowed to acquire the items needed for the wedding.
It is also permitted to buy jewelry or clothing or a property when you do it as a business or investment. Because then the acquisition is part of your commercial activity (which does not need to be interrupted during this period) and not a direct function of your personal joy or pleasure.
Buying something that is intended for a Mitsva is also allowed. For example, you can buy a new Tefillin or a new book of Tora. You are also allowed to buy non-leather shoes to use during Tish’a Beab.
BINYAN SHEL SIMHA
Jewish tradition distinguishes, in this case, between a construction, extension or renewal of a house or apartment when is done for our own personal pleasure, and when is done out of necessity or time sensitivity.
For example, you should not start any unnecessary renovation or construction in your home, like painting the walls of the house or renovating the kitchen, once the month of Ab begins.
However, if you need to build something, for example, you need an extra room for a new guest or you need renewing something in the kitchen which can not wait until after the 9th of Ab, it can be done, although it indirectly would bring you pleasure. Similarly, if one has already started to build, repair or expand something at home one may continue the construction during the nine days. It is also allowed to build or repair in order to prevent a physical risk, for example, building a fence on the roof or near a window.
Building something that is for the public benefit (לצורך רבים) is allowed, although it is not a time sensitive matter. For example, it would be permitted to begin building or renovating a Synagogue or a school during the nine days.
According to Sephardic custom it is allowed to buy, rent or moving into a new house until the beginning of the month of Ab. During the nine days, if by not moving to a new house you’ve already bought or rented, you would incur in a significant financial loss, then it will be permitted for you to move into the new house during these days (המנהג להורות שלא להיכנס לדירה חדשה, קנויה או שכורה, בתשעת הימים. אבל אם עיכוב הכניסה יגרום להפסד גדול, מותר להיכנס- Penine Halakha).
In short, what is forbidden during these days, from the beginning of the month of Ab until after Tish’a beAb, is any unnecessary purchase, acquisition or construction or any superfluous renovation when it is done primarily for our enjoyment or personal pleasure (simha). That is not allowed because these nine days are a period of mourning. However, when we buy something or build or renew or we moved into a new home for necessity, for business or to avoid a significant economic loss, it is allowed.