May one’s housekeeper do laundry on Rosh Chodesh?

May one’s housekeeper do laundry on Rosh Chodesh?

Background: Women are accustomed to abstaining from certain works on Rosh Chodesh[1], including laundry.[2] The question is raised as to whether this custom of avoiding laundry extends even to prohibiting it from being done by another person, or if it only applies against the woman herself doing it. Furthermore, even if the latter were deemed to be correct, the question is raised as to whether another Jewish female housekeeper may do so on one’s behalf, or if it may only be done by a man or gentile.

The law-Gentile housekeeper:[3] It is permitted for a gentile housekeeper to do one’s laundry on Rosh Chodesh, as the restriction only applies against Jewish females doing laundry and not against it getting done by others.

The law-Jewish housekeeper: Some Poskim[4] rule it is forbidden for a Jewish female housekeeper to do laundry on Rosh Chodesh on behalf of her employers even though she does so for the sake of her livelihood. Other Poskim[5], however, rule it is permitted for a woman to do these jobs as part of her livelihood.[6] Practically, in a time of need one may be lenient.


[1] Michaber 417:1; Yerushalmi Taanis 1:6; Explanation of Megillah 22a

[2] Or Letziyon 3:1-1; Nisivei Am ibid that so is the Jerusalem custom

[3] See Or Letziyon 1:1; Poskim of today mentioned in the footnotes in Mishneh Berurah Oz Vihadar 417

[4] See Beis Yosef 417 [brought in Kaf Hachaim 417:30] that it there is room to say that it was specifically doing these activities for money which women refrained from, while avoiding doing so at home is an extension of the original custom.

[5] Aruch Hashulchan 417:10

[6] The reason: As the women never accepted upon themselves to avoid work to the point that they will lose their livelihood. [ibid]

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