The "Nine Days" starts tonight.
Rosh Chodesh Av begins tonight, putting into place a more intense set of halachos and minhagim that are intended to make us more aware of our need to mourn the loss of the Beis Hamikdash.
Beginning tonight, we refrain from eating meat or drinking wine or grape juice until the morning after the fast. These are explicitly allowed on Shabbos or at a Seudas Mitzvah such as a Bris, Pidyin Haben or Siyum. One may also drink the Havdala wine. If there is a boy between 5 and 8 years old around during Havdala, the grape juice should be given to him. Otherwise, the wine may be drunk by the person making havdala. There is no need to substitute another drink.
Starting tonight, we don’t do laundry until after the Fast. Make sure to take care of that before sunset.
If one has previously laundered and pressed or dry-cleaned clothing, he should wear them briefly before dark.
From Rosh Chodesh until after the Fast, one should not purchase clothing or other significant items.
One should not bathe for pleasure from Rosh Chodesh until after the Fast. Bathing for Shabbos is totally allowed, as is washing off any filth or sweat or dirt.
One should not do any renovations or plant gardens or flowers during this time either.
Since the Gemara emphasizes that the Beis Hamikdash was destroyed because of senseless Hatred, effort should be made to enhance our respect and affection for our fellow Jews during this period.
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