With this year’s fast of the 17th of Tammuz coinciding with one the hottest days of the year, the question on many people’s minds is: Can one swim on a fast day?
According to Aish.com:
“Technically there is no prohibition with bathing on a fast day. However, there is room to be stringent and to lessen such pleasures on a fast, especially to swim for pleasure rather than exercise.
For the upcoming fast of 17 Tammuz, there is an additional potential reason to be strict. Since the Three Weeks are considered a time of harsh judgment in Heaven, we avoid dangerous activities. Thus, one should not swim in rough or deep water during this time.”
The website also notes that swimming for exercise leaves even more room for leniency.
However, regardless of the halachic aspect of swimming on a fast day, is this how we should be spending such a tragic day? Have we lost our capacity to mourn? What does it say about the state of Klal Yisrael that we would look for entertainment on one of the saddest days of year?
Our Father is shedding tears and we’re cooling off in a swimming pool. Maybe instead of looking outdoors for some fun we should instead spend the day looking inwards and making a cheshbon hanefesh.
Hey, it might even make the day seem quicker.
(Sources: Shulchan Aruch O.C. 550:2, Taz 1, Mishbetzot Zahav 1, Mishna Berurah 6, Teshuvot v’Hanhagot (R. Sternbuch) II 263.)