Nishmat's Women’s Health and HalachaIn memory of Chaya Mirel bat R' Avraham

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Conduct on Yom Kippur & Tisha B’Av

16 July, 2004

Question:

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?

Thank you!


Answer:

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.


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