Haircut for Shabbat during 3 Weeks?

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Hi Rabbi Simon,
I hope you are well. I was surprised to learn that the restrictions during bein hametzarim [the interval from 17 Tammuz until 9 Av, often known as the Three Weeks] are only minhag and not actually enacted by the Sages of the Talmud (ie D’Rabbanan). I read your reply re shaving on Friday during the Three Weeks in honour of Shabbat. Is it permissible also to get a haircut lichvod Shabbat?

Dear Michael
TY for your question.
Haircut lichvod Shabbat is more difficult to justify, as one typically only gets a haircut every 30 days (approximately), whereas one who is clean-shaven often shaves daily. Nevertheless, if one’s hair is so long as to cause him to feel embarrassed to be seen in public, IMO he may get a haircut this Friday, 17 July, but not the following, which is during the Nine Days.
This is particularly true in the UK this year (2020), for one who was unable to access a barber during the brief “window of opportunity” when hairdressers were allowed to resume business (effectively Sunday 5 July) and the 16th of Tammuz two days later (Tuesday 7 July).
In general, the Talmud specifies mourning practices for 9 Av and the days leading up to it, but most restrictions are only on 8 (and 9) Av, or in some cases the week of the Fast. The long and bitter exile has had the effect of expanding the application of the prohibitions. Ashkenazim have Three Weeks, which Sephardim don’t really observe at all (other than to avoid weddings, possibly for reasons of negative omens). Sephardic custom is from the onset of the month of Av, regarding which the Mishna says “joy is diminished”. Nevertheless, it is worth stressing that these practices are enshrined in the Shulkhan ‘Arukh and have become part of the accepted practice of mitzvah-observant Jews (in accordance with Sephardic or Ashkenazic traditions).
Best wishes
Rabbi Rashi Simon

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Ask the Rabbi: Quinoa on Pesach
Dear Rabbi Simon,
Where do you stand on quinoa (and the kitniyot ban) for Pesach?
Many thanks,
Dear Tzippy,
In line with other American authorities, I am in favour of quinoa. Although I reject completely the voices (mostly from Israel) seeking to abolish the ban on kitniyot entirely, IMO we do not need to include in the prohibition pseudo-grains that were unknown in the Old World until modern times. Best to buy with a Pesach hechsher though, to be free of any possible wheat contamination.
Rabbi Rashi Simon
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