Conduct on Yom Kippur & Tisha B’Av
16 July, 2004
Can you please clarify the rules regarding physical contact on Tisha B'Av and Yom Kippur? Do the harchakot apply, as if you are niddah? What about something like a tap on the shoulder? Would holding hands and other similar physical contact be permitted?
Also, what are the differences between day and night? And why are the restrictions different at night and during the day?
No touching is permitted on Yom Kippur (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 615:1) or Tisha B'Av (Mishnah Berurah 37), just as if the wife were niddah. The couple is not allowed to share the same bed even if they do not touch (Orach Chaim 554:1, 18). On Tisha B'av during the day, there is leniency with the harchakot (Mishnah Berurah 37) and you could, for example, tap your husband's shoulder to get his attention, but should not engage in affectionate touch such as holding hands. There is a debate over whether the other harchakot apply as well, particularly on Yom Kippur, and one should ask one's rabbi how to proceed.
Yom Kippur is more stringent because it is a Torah ordained fast, while Tisha B'av was instituted by rabbinic decree. The reason for the difference between day and night on Tisha B'Av is not clearly stated in the sources. It may be because night is more conducive to marital relations and thus one is more likely to need reminders that relations are prohibited.
This internet service does not preclude, override or replace the psak of any rabbinical authority. It is the responsibility of the questioner to inform us of any previous consultation or ruling. As even slight variation in circumstances may have Halachic consequences, views expressed concerning one case may not be applied to other, seemingly similar cases. All health and health-related information contained within Nishmat's Women's Health & Halacha Web site is intended to be general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for consulting with your health care professional. The advice is intended to offer a basis for individuals to discuss their medical condition with their health care provider but not individual advice. Although every effort is made to ensure that the material within Nishmat's Women's Health & Halacha Web site is accurate and timely, it is provided for the convenience of the Web site user but should not be considered official. Advice for actual medical practice should be obtained from a licensed health care professional.
For further questions or comments:
The Nishmat Women's Health and Halacha Site is a public service of Nishmat, The Jeanie Schottenstein Center for Advanced Torah Study for Women. This project and others like it are made possible by contributions from people like you. If you have benefited from the service, and wish to enable us to help others, click here to donate.
Users of Internet filtering services: This site discusses sensitive subjects that some services filter without visual indication. A page that appears 100% complete might actually be missing critical Jewish-law or medical information. To ensure that you view the pages accurately, ask the filtering service to whitelist all pages under yoatzot.org.