Thursday, December 28, 2006

Daf Yomi - Rosh Hashana 23 - Women working on Rosh Chodesh

by Rabbi Neustadt

Question: Are women obligated to observe the custom of refraining from “working” on Rosh Chodesh?

Discussion: The custom that women refrain from doing certain types of work on Rosh Chodesh — both by day and by night[1] — is an age-old custom, dating back to the days of Moshe Rabbeinu, which is recorded in the Rishonim and Shulchan Aruch and should be upheld by all girls and women.[2] Whenever possible, women should not do “work” on both days of Rosh Chodesh, but if one cannot refrain from doing work on both days, she should do her “work” on the first day and refrain from working on the second.[3]”

Question: Regarding the custom for women to refrain from “working” on Rosh Chodesh, what is considered “work”?

Discussion: Over the centuries, various customs evolved as to exactly what is considered “work” vis-à-vis Rosh Chodesh.[4] Nowadays, women generally refrain from sewing, crocheting and doing laundry on Rosh Chodesh. Ironing, however, is permitted.

Some poskim hold that using a washing machine is permitted, and only washing by hand is prohibited.[5] Others are more stringent and prohibit laundering in washing machines as well.[6]