Dear Rabbi Simon,
My wife recently asked me if we are allowed to cut our nails during the Nine Days of Av leading to the Fast of Tisha B’Av. I consulted the book Laws of Daily Living: The Three Weeks, Tisha B’Av and Other Fasts by Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen. On p. 37, it says: “All authorities agree that nail cutting is permitted until the week of Tisha B’Av. The authorities are in dispute regarding the week of Tisha B’Av.” This equivocal answer still leaves me in doubt. So I am asking you, what is the halachah on this matter and what are the different opinions about cutting one’s nails during the “Nine Days”?
Thank you for your practical question.
Clipping fingernails is allowed until the week in which the Fast of Av falls. This year, for example, when 9 Av is on Sunday, in effect there is no “week of 9 Av.” The same applies when the Fast falls on Shabbat and is postponed until the next day (for one who clips his nails every Friday in honour of Shabbat). A woman may in any case clip her nails in preparation for the mitzvah of immersion in the mikveh. (Similarly, a mohel.)
As the prohibition is subject to dispute among the classic expositors of the Shulchan Aruch, I would encourage clipping one’s nails erev Shabbat Hazon (ie on Friday prior to the week in which 9 Av falls), but in a situation of need or discomfort, one may rely on the lenient view that there is no prohibition of clipping nails at all in conjunction with Tisha B’Av.
I hope this is helpful.
Rabbi Rashi Simon