Dear Rabbi Simon,
Shimi has applied for a gliding scholarship to take place during the summer holidays for the period of one week.
They asked during the interview if there were any weeks he could not do.
I have already told him to let them know that he could not do the scholarship during the week of 9 Av (ie effectively 19-28 July).
There are only so many weeks in the summer holidays, and I did not want to reduce his chances by saying there were two weeks he could not do.
But on reflection I realised I should ask. If the week chosen was the week of Rosh Chodesh Av (ie, week beginning 16 July) – of which Wednesday to Friday are within the month of Av, would Shimi be allowed to participate that week?
This is an interesting question, which should be approached from two considerations.
The first is regarding recreational activities. IMO, in this case there are grounds to allow it in the week of RH Av, as opposed to the week of 9 Av itself. Gliding is not like attending a concert or a visit to Euro Disney.
The second consideration, however, is one of engaging in an activity which has a (meaningful) element of risk (see OH 551:18). Although I do not know much about gliding, I am concerned that it may be included in the category of activities (such as physically admonishing a child/student, water sports, some say air travel as well, etc) which are to be avoided because of the possibility that “something may go wrong” at a time (of year) marked by misfortune. I am reluctant to say outright that it is asur, but equally, I am not comfortable with saying that the concerns of hazal in this regard may be set aside. Sakanta chamira me-isura [danger is more severe than a halakhic prohibition]
Bottom line, I cannot encourage this idea during the Nine Days.
I hope this is helpful, and that Shimi can still take up the opportunity at another time.
With best wishes and personal regards
Rabbi Rashi Simon