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Eating a large meal prior to Mincha and the Seudas Hamafsekes:
It is an accustomed Ashkenazi practice to eat a set meal on Erev Tisha B’av, prior to Davening Mincha. After the meal, one Davens Mincha and then eats the Seudas Hamafsekes. [Some Poskim rule this meal is to be eaten prior to midday. However, the widespread custom is not to be particular in this matter. Some are accustomed not to eat two meals, one before Mincha and one afterwards, and rather they eat one meal with many uncooked foods and then at the conclusion of the meal they eat the egg and bread with ash.]
How much is one to eat by the first meal? The custom is to have a larger meal than usual in the first meal eaten [prior to Mincha]. Nevertheless, one who is able to withhold himself from increasing in food even during this meal and knows that the fast will not damage him, then if he is stringent to do so he is considered holy and praised. [However, other Poskim validate the increasing of food even in such a case.]
Being careful not to satiate oneself too much by this meal: One must beware not to satiate himself too much during the first meal in order so he retains an appetite to eat the Seudas Hamafsekes.
 Rama 552:9
The custom of Sefaradim: The ruling here follows the custom of Ashkenazi Jewry. However, Sephardic Jewry is not accustomed to have a large meal prior to Mincha, prior to the final meal [Seudas Hamafsekes]. [See Michaber 552:9]
 Rama ibid in name of Maharil
The reason: The reason for eating a meal prior to the Seudas Hamafsekes, is because one’s menu is extremely limited during the Seudas Hamafsekes, and thus in order to prevent the fast from causing one damage [due to hunger] one should have a first meal in which he can properly satiate himself. [See Rama ibid] Alternatively, the reason for this is to commemorate that in the times of the second Temple, Tisha B’av was a festive day in which a festive meal was held. By this we express our belief that once more Tisha B’av will become a day of rejoicing. [M”A 552:11; Elya Raba 552:11]
 Rama ibid in name of Maharil
The reason: The reason for specifically Davening Mincha between the two meals is because this creates an interval and prevents the issue of causing a Bracha Sheiyno Tzricha. [Shaar HaTziyon 552:16] The Darkei Moshe records in the name of the Mahril that one goes to the Beis Midrash and Davens Mincha. [M”B 552:21]
 M”A 552:10; Darkei Moshe 552:3; Bach; Ateres Zekeinim 552; Kaf Hachaim 552:46
 The M”B 551:20-22 does not mention at all the need to eat the meal before midday. It is also omitted from Piskeiy Teshuvos 551:8 and Nitei Gavriel 51:1-2
 Piskeiy Teshuvos 552:8
 Rama ibid; Darkei Moshe 552:3 [brought in Kaf Hachaim 552:48] “This is the custom of majority of people”
Other opinions: Many Poskim argue and rule that it is forbidden to increase in eating during the first meal to the point one no longer desires to eat the Seudas Hamafsekes and simply eats it because of the custom. [M”A 552:10 in name of Levush; Bach; Shlah; M”A 552:12 in name of Darkei Moshe that one is to only eat one cooked dish even during the first meal; brought in M”B 552:22]
 The reason: The reason for eating a larger meal than usual is in order to prevent the fast from causing one damage [due to hunger] as by this fast one is required to stop eating from the night before as is the law by Yom Kippur. [Rama ibid] Alternatively, the reason for this large meal is to commemorate that in the times of the second Temple, T”B was a festive day in which a festive meal was held. By this we express our belief that once more T”B will become a day of rejoicing. [M”A 552:11; Elya Raba 552:11]
 Rama ibid “so appears to me”.
 See M”A 552:11 regarding the alternative reason for increasing in this meal.
 M”B 552:22 in name of Elya Raba; Michaber 552:9 “The Seudas Hamafsekes must be a Seudas Keva” [and not a Seudas Aray]; M”A 552:10 in name of Tur and Ramban “Not like those that their stomach is the stomach of Reshaim as they satiate themselves first and then have a mere snack as Seudas Hamafsekes”; Kaf Hachaim 552:46
 The reason: The reason for this is because the final meal has a number of mourning customs and limitations, and if one will not properly eat the final meal due to being overfull, his final meal is considered to have been eaten before mincha, without following the mourning limitations. [M”B 522:20; Poskim ibid]
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