Today, the fast of the Seventeenth of Tammuz is observed since the Seventeenth of Tammuz actually fell out yesterday, Shabbat, and thus, the fast was postponed until today, Sunday.
The three-week period between the Seventeenth of Tammuz and the Ninth of Av is dubbed by our Sages “Between the Straits,” based on the verse (Eicha 1, 3), “All of her enemies overtook her between the straits.” Our Sages tell us that these three weeks between the Seventeenth of Tammuz and the Ninth of Av are when our enemies entered the holy city of Jerusalem and massacred countless Jewish people until the Ninth of Av when they finally succeeded in destroying the Bet Hamikdash. From that day on, the Jewish people no longer dwell securely and we must endure enemies attacking us from the outside as well as from within.
The Levels of Mourning during this Period and the Laws of the Week during which Tisha Be’av Falls Out This Year
In the following Halachot we shall, G-d-willing, discuss the laws of the “Three Weeks” (based on what we have written in previous years along with some new additions). There are various degrees of mourning observed during this period: From the Seventeenth of Tammuz until Rosh Chodesh Av, few mourning customs are observed. From the day of Rosh Chodesh Av, some more mourning customs are added. During the week during which Tisha Be’av falls out, even more mourning customs are observed.
This year, 5778, the laws of the week during which Tisha Be’av falls out do not apply, for the Ninth of Av falls out on Shabbat; the fast of Tisha Be’av is thus postponed until Sunday. For this reason, all of the laws pertaining to the week during which Tisha Be’av falls out do not apply this year based on the ruling of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 551). Nevertheless, Ashkenazim do adopt certain stringencies beginning from Rosh Chodesh Av as we shall, G-d-willing, discuss when the time comes. If Hashem hastens the coming of our righteous Mashiach to redeem us eternally, we shall instead speak about more joyous topics, G-d-willing.
Reciting the “Shehecheyanu” Blessing During the “Three Weeks”
It is proper to abstain from reciting the “Shehecheyanu” blessing during the three weeks between the Seventeenth of Tammuz and the Ninth of Av on a new fruit or a new garment. One should leave the new fruit or garment for after Tisha Be’av rather than to eat the fruit or wear the garment without reciting “Shehecheyanu.”
The source for this custom can be found in the Sefer Chassidim who writes that they would not eat a new fruit during the “Three Weeks,” for how can one recite the blessing of “Who has given us life, sustained us, and allowed us to reach this time,” during such a tragic period? Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch likewise writes that it is preferable to abstain from reciting the “Shehecheyanu” blessing on a new fruit or garment during the “Three Weeks.” Rabbeinu Ha’Ari z”l rules likewise, as do the consensus of the Acharonim. (Chazon Ovadia-Arba Ta’aniyot, page 129)
If a pregnant woman sees a new fruit during the “Three Weeks” and craves it, she may indeed eat this fruit during this time and she should recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing before eating it.
On Shabbatot that fall out during the “Three Weeks,” one may recite “Shehecheyanu” on a new fruit or garment. Nevertheless, following Rosh Chodesh Av, it is preferable to abstain from reciting “Shehecheyanu” on a new garment even on Shabbat. However, regarding reciting the “Shehecheyanu” blessing on a new fruit on the Shabbat following Rosh Chodesh Av, one may act leniently and do so. (Responsa Yechave Da’at, Volume 1, Chapter 37)
Summary: One should not recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing on a new fruit or a new garment during the “Three Weeks.” There is room for leniency, however, on Shabbatot which fall out during the “Three Weeks.” Nevertheless, on the Shabbat following Rosh Chodesh Av, one should act stringently regarding reciting this blessing upon a new garment but there is still room for leniency regarding a new fruit.
It is permissible to purchase new clothing during this period until Rosh Chodesh Av; however, the clothing should not be worn until after Tisha Be’av.