Summary of the Laws of Tishe Beav

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Chapter 5: Erev Tisha B’av

  1. Learning Torah on Erev Tisha B’av:
  • One is to limit his Torah learning starting from midday of Erev Tisha B’av to only those subjects permitted to be studied on Tisha B’av itself. Nevertheless, those who are lenient to continue their regular Torah sessions have upon whom to rely.

  1. Taking pleasure walks on Erev Tisha B’av:
  • One may not take pleasure walks on Erev Tisha B’av. [This applies even on Shabbos Erev Tisha B’av. If Tisha B’av falls on Shabbos and is pushed to Sunday, one is to refrain from walks throughout the entire day, (i.e. starting from Friday night).]

  1. 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.
    • When: Some Poskim rule this meal is to be eaten prior to midday. However, the widespread custom is not to be particular in this matter.
    • Other customs: Some are accustomed to not eat two meals, one before Mincha and one afterwards, and rather they eat one meal with many uncooked foods and then after 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.

  1. Mincha:
  • When? After eating the large meal [discussed in the previous Halacha] one is to [recite Birchas Hamazon] and Daven Mincha. The Seudas Hamafsekes is then eaten after Mincha.
  • Tachanun: Tachanun is omitted during Mincha of Erev Tisha B’av being that Tisha B’av is called a “Moed” [Festival].

  1. Laws pertaining to the final meal:
  • The widespread Ashkenazi custom is to eat a large meal on Erev Tisha B’av prior to Mincha and then eat the Seudas Hamafsekes after Mincha.
  • Menu of Seudas Hamafsekes-Letter of law: It is forbidden from the letter of the law to eat meat, drink wine, or partake in two cooked foods during this meal.
  • Not to eat fish or chicken: The custom is to forbid eating even chicken and fish [due to their inclusion within the prohibition against meat].
  • The definition of a cooked food: All cooked foods are included within this prohibition of eating two cooked foods even if it is possible for the foods to also be eaten raw.
  • Two cooked foods in one dish: Two foods that have been cooked together in the same pot have the status of two cooked foods [and is thus forbidden to be eaten by the Seudas Hamafsekes]. However, if this combination of foods is the most common recipe for this food throughout the year, then it is considered one food, and it may be eaten. Thus, one may eat a cooked legume that contains onions if this is the common recipe of cooking throughout the year.
  • Raw fruits and vegetables: One may eat an unlimited amount of raw [not cooked] fruits and vegetables during this meal.
  • Egg: The custom is to eat a [cold] hardboiled egg during this meal. [This egg counts as the cooked food of the meal, and hence one may not eat any other cooked food.]
  • Diminish in drinking: One is to diminish the amount he drinks during this meal in comparison to the amount he drinks in a regular meal during the year.
  • Not to drink beer: One may not drink beer during this meal unless the person feels weak [and is doing so in order to garner strength].
  • Menu of Seudas Hamafsekes-Custom: Customarily, the Seudas Hamafsekes consists of merely bread with salt, water, and a cooked egg.
  • Dipping bread in ash: Many are stringent to conclude their meal by dipping their bread in ash and then eating it. [Upon eating it one says: “This is the meal of Tisha B’av.”]
  • Sitting on the floor during the meal: The custom is to sit on the ground while eating the Seudas Hamafsekes meal. [However, based on Kabala, one is never to sit directly on the ground and is rather to have an interval between him and the floor. Clothing that one is wearing is not considered a valid interval for this matter. One should be stringent even regarding a tiled floor.]
  • Not to eat in the forum of three men: One should be careful not to eat the meal with another two men in order to avoid the obligation of making a Zimun. [Nevertheless, in the event that one ate with two other men, a Zimun is not to be made.]
  • Eating after Bentching: After one finishes his final meal, and recites Birchas Hamazon, he may continue to eat and drink [those foods permitted during the Seudas Hamafsekes] until sundown/Shekia. However, if one explicitly said that he is accepting the fast after his conclusion of the meal, then he may no longer eat and drink [and all the prohibitions that begin by sundown apply to him from that time, other than the prohibition against wearing leather shoes]. This acceptance is valid even if it was not verbalized but simply stated in one’s mind.
    • Saying that one is not yet accepting the fast prior to finishing eating: It is proper to stipulate during the Seudas Hamafsekes that even after he finishes eating, he does not intend to accept the fast [until sundown and] he may thus continue to eat and drink. [This stipulation is valid whether it is said in the heart, or verbalized.]
    • If one does not feel like eating anymore: Even if one is satiated and does not feel like eating anymore food, it is not considered an acceptance of the fast until he explicitly decides to begin the fast.

The laws applicable throughout Tisha B’av

The five tragedies that occurred on Tisha B’av:

  1. On Tisha B’av of year 2449 the Meraglim returned, and it was decreed that the Jewish people in the desert would not enter Eretz Yisrael.
  2. On Tisha B’av of year 3338 [422-שלח BCE] the first Temple was destroyed.
  3. On Tisha B’av of year 3828 [68 CE] The second Temple was destroyed.
  4. On Tisha B’av of year 3881 or 3901 the city of Beitar was destroyed.
  5. On Tisha B’av the city [of Jerusalem] was plowed by Turnus Rufus.
  1. Fasting:
  • It is forbidden to eat or drink anything on Tisha B’av.
  • One who is sick: A person who is sick and needs to eat, is not required to fast on Tisha B’av. If he needs to eat, he is required to break his fast. [Anyone who feels weak and sick to the point he is bedridden, is considered sick in this regard, even if it is not life threatening.]
  • Pregnant woman: A pregnant woman must fast on Tisha B’av just like on Yom Kippur. [If, however, a pregnant or nursing woman feels weak and will become sick due to the fast, she is not to fast. If a pregnant woman begins to feel dizzy or begins to experience labor [i.e. contractions] or low/high blood pressure, she is to break her fast. Certainly, if she feels sick and needs to lie in bed, she is to break her fast.  Some Poskim are lenient for all pregnant women who are prior to their due date, to not fast if it is very difficult due to the hot weather. Furthermore, some Poskim are lenient in all cases that a pregnant woman prior to her due date is not to fast, due to fear of miscarriage. Practically, such a woman is to contact a Rav for a final ruling.]
  • Nursing woman: A nursing woman must fast on Tisha B’av just like on Yom Kippur. [However, a nursing woman who feels sick and needs to lie in bed, is not to fast. If a nursing mother feels healthy, but she will not have milk for her child if she fasts, then if her child only eats from her, she may break her fast. Some Poskim rule that even if she is able to feed the child formula and the like, nevertheless, she is not required to do so. Practically, such a woman is to contact a Rav for a final ruling.]
  • A woman who is after childbirth: A woman within 30 days of childbirth is not required to fast. Nevertheless, the custom is to fast unless she is experiencing great pain, in which case there is worry of danger. Nonetheless, a woman may choose to be lenient against this custom and not fast within thirty days of birth even if she is not in pain. [Practically, in today’s times all women within thirty days of birth are to be taught not to fast. However, some Poskim rule that a woman who is after seven days, and feels healthy, is to fast. Accordingly, such a woman is to contact a Rav for a final ruling. Certainly, if she is within seven days of birth, and even more so if she is within three days of birth, it is forbidden for her to fast.]
  • Taanis Nidche: If the fast fell on Shabbos and was hence deferred to Sunday, one may be lenient not to fast even if he or she is a slightly sick, and is not bedridden. Likewise, a pregnant [or nursing] woman may break her fast if she feels even slightly sick [or weak]. [This applies even absent of the other reasons for exempting a pregnant woman from fasting, as explained above.] Certainly, a Yoledes within 30 days is not to fast on Tishe Beav Nidche even according to the stringent opinion mentioned above. In all the above cases of exemption, there is no need for the person to fast until Mincha time and he may eat right away in the morning [or even at night].
  • Children Fasting: All children who are above the age of Bar or Bas Mitzvah are obligated to fast on all accustomed fast days. All children who are below the age of Bar or Bas Mitzvah, are not required to fast any of the four Rabbinical fasts, including Tisha B’av. [This applies even if the child is within three fasts from his/her Bar/Bas Mitzvah. One is not even required to educate the child to fast for a certain amount of hours into the day [i.e. Taanis Shaos]. Nevertheless, some Poskim rule that regarding Tisha B’av, children who have reached the age of education in this regard, which is approximately nine years old, are to delay their meals a few hours into the day from its set time. However, children below the age of education are to be fed like normal and it is even forbidden to delay their meals from their regular times, being that this can lead them to becoming in a state of danger.]
  • What may the children eat? Some Poskim rule that a child who has reached the age of understanding the mourning is only to be allowed to eat bread and water or other simple staple food. The custom however is not like this opinion. [However, they are not to be given sweets and the like, although one is not required to stop them from eating it if they are in the midst of doing so.]
  • Does one who eats bread on Tisha B’av recite Nachem in Birchas Hamazon? One who eats bread on Tisha B’av is to say Nachem in Birchas Hamazon. It is recited prior to Uvinei Yerushalayim. It is recited each time that one recites Birchas Hamazon on Tisha B’av. [However, some Poskim rule that based on Admur in the Siddur one is not to recite Nacheim in Birchas Hamazon. Practically it is to be recited. Children who ate bread are to recite Nachem in Birchas Hamazon.]
  1. Smelling spices:
  • Some Poskim rule it is permitted to smell spices on Tisha B’av. Other Poskim however rule it is forbidden to smell spices on Tisha B’av.
  • Smoking: If it is not difficult, one is to avoid smoking on Tisha B’av. Accordingly, one who is not overly addicted should not smoke. If, however, one finds this very difficult, he should at the very least delay smoking until after midday, and even then, it should only be done in private.
  1. Leather shoes:
  • It is forbidden to wear leather shoes on Tisha B’av. This includes all footwear which contains leather, even if the shoe is mainly of a different material. It is forbidden to wear it even on one foot.
  • Shoes made of other materials: Footwear made of other material, is permitted. However, it is best to be stringent and not wear shoes made of wood. [Likewise, some Poskim rule one is not to wear comfortable sneakers/shoes that prevent the feet from feeling the hardness of the ground, even if they are not made of leather. Other Poskim however rule it is permitted to wear any shoe that does not contain leather, and so is the Chabad custom.]
  • Children: One may not place leather shoes on a child, even if the child is below the age of education. However, some Poskim are lenient to allow all children below Bar and Bas Mitzvah to wear leather shoes. [The custom is like the former opinion.  However, some write that children of a very young age, such as 2-3 years old, may be lenient.]
  • Standing on top of leather cloth: Although there is no prohibition against standing on a cloth made of leather, nevertheless, one who is stringent is blessed.
  1. Bathing & Washing one’s skin:
  • For pleasure: It is forbidden to wash any part of one’s body [for the sake of pleasure] on Tisha B’av. This applies whether with hot or cold water. Even to stick one’s finger in water is forbidden.
  • To clean dirt: If one’s hand is dirty with mud or feces, it is permitted to wash it with water in order to remove the dirt. Nevertheless, one may only wash the dirty areas and not the entire hand. [The same applies for any part of the body that is dirty.]
  • For medical purposes: One who is sick may bathe for medical purposes. 
  • Children: Children are not to be bathed on Tisha B’av even if they are below the age of Chinuch, unless they are dirty.
  • A bride within 30 days: A bride within 30 days after her wedding may rinse her face to beautify herself for her husband. 
  • Mikveh Night on the ninth of Av: A woman whose Mikvah night falls on Tisha B’av, must postpone it until the next night. In such a case, she should perform the Chafifa on the day before Tisha B’av and on the night following Tisha B’av she should again bathe and clean herself, and then immerse.  
  • Hefsek Taharah: A Hefsek Taharah may be performed on Tisha B’av. Nevertheless, she is to only slightly wash between her thighs for this purpose. It is permitted to use either hot or cold water.
  • Washing hands in the morning: Upon awakening on the morning of the 9th of Av one only washes his fingers, up until his knuckles, having intention to remove the impurity which they contain [as on these days the impurity does not extend past the fingers]. [At the conclusion of Tisha B’av, prior to saying Kiddush Levana, one washes his [entire] hand three times inconsecutively.]
  • If one is not fasting, is he to wash hands as usual [until the wrist] when eating bread on Tisha B’av? Yes.
  • Washing hands for the blessing of the Kohanim: A Kohen may wash his [entire] hand prior to the priestly blessings, even if he had already washed them in the morning before prayers, as he is not washing for pleasure purposes.
  • Washing after bathroom: When going to the bathroom before Davening, one may wash his fingers [not hand] prior to Davening, even if they did not become dirty in the process. When going to the bathroom during other times, one may only wash his fingers, up to his knuckles, if he got them dirty in the process of going to the bathroom. It is advisable to do so in order to say asher yatzar in purity.
  • Washing one’s face upon awakening: Rinsing mucus from one’s eyes: One may wash mucus from his eyes if he is careful to do so throughout the year.
  • Rinsing the remainder of the face: One may not wash his face, even if he is a very pampered person, unless he has dirt on his face and desires to wash it off.
  • Cooling oneself off: Cooling oneself off with a cold bottle: One may not cool himself down with the cold walls of an open bottle of liquid, due to fear of spillage. [If the bottle is closed and its walls are dry without condensation, it is permitted to use it to cool oneself off.]
  • Cooling oneself off with a wet towel: One may cool himself down with a dry towel that was wet before Tisha B’av. However, a wet towel is forbidden to use.
  • Rinsing the mouth: It is forbidden to rinse one’s mouth on Tisha B’av. This applies even if one will be using less than a Revius of water. [If, however, this is causing one great discomfort, he may be lenient to rinse his mouth even on Tisha B’av.]
  1. Anointing:

On Tisha B’av, one may not use the following items unless it is for medical purposes:

  • cosmetics
  • lotions
  • oils
  • soap
  • perfumes
  • May one use deodorant during Tisha B’av? Some Poskim rule it is permitted to apply deodorant to ones skin on Tisha B’av in order to prevent a bad odor of sweat.
  1. Marital relations:
  • Night: On the night of Tisha B’av one is not to touch his wife affectionately or sleep with her in the same bed. Some rule one is to also follow the other Harchakos restrictions at night.
  • Day: By the day of Tisha B’av one may be lenient regarding touch, although some rule that one is to be stringent just like by night, even regarding the Harchakos restrictions.
  1. Learning Torah on Tisha B’av:
  • It is forbidden to learn Torah on Tisha B’av, with exception to the parts of Torah relating to the mourning period or tragic occurrences for the Jewish people. This prohibition includes Chumash, Navi, Kesuvim, Mishneh, Talmud, Halacha, Agadah [i.e. Midrash].
  • Thinking words of Torah: Those subjects which are forbidden to learn on Tisha B’av, are forbidden to be studied even in one’s thought, without verbalizing the words. Practically, we rule like the first opinion.  One however is not obligated to remove from one’s mind a thought of Torah that came to his head, and only initially is it forbidden to think about the subject.
  • Giving Halachic rulings: A Rav may not rule on subjects which are unrelated to Tisha B’av unless it involves a sick person who needs an answer.
  • Reviewing the Torah Reading: A Baal Korei may review the Torah reading in order to prepare for it.
  • The law by children: Children are included within the learning prohibition and hence they may not be taught Torah on Tisha B’av. [Some Poskim rule that this prohibition applies even against teaching children the permitted texts discussing the tragedies. Other Poskim however rule it is permitted to teach children these subjects, just as is the law regarding adults. It is forbidden for a child to learn even on his own, if he is of age to receive joy from his learning.]
  • It is permitted for one to learn the following subjects on Tisha B’av [being they discuss calamities and destruction]:
    • Iyov and its commentaries.
    • The tragic parts in Yermiah, skipping those verses which deal with comfort and those which mention the tragedies that will befall the gentiles.
    • Midrash Eicha. [The Rebbe Rashab would study Midrash Eicha on Tisha B’av.]
    • The third chapter of Moed Katan “Eilu Megalchin.”
    • The story of the Churban in Gittin pages 55b-58b. [The Rebbe Rashab would study this Gemara on Tisha B’av.]
    • Sanhedrin page 104b.
    • The story of the destruction in Josephus.
    • The laws of mourning and the laws of the three weeks.
  • Delving deeply into a permitted subject: It is forbidden to delve deeply into the permitted subjects of learning even in his thought [i.e. Iyun]. It is thus forbidden to look into various questions and answers relevant to the permitted subjects. He is to only learn the straightforward [i.e. Girsa] meaning of the subject. [Some Poskim however rule that while one may not initially set himself to learn a subject in depth, it is permitted to look into a matter if one needs to do so for better understanding, and discover a Chidush, Torah novelty.]
  1. Greeting a friend:
  • It is forbidden to greet a friend on Tisha B’av. Thus, one may not greet a friend with Shalom Aleichem [or good morning]. If one’s friend will be offended if he is not greeted, then one is to explain to him the concept of this prohibition.
  • Responding to a greeting: If one is greeted by another person using the above terms, he should answer the person in a mournful tone.
  1. May one give gifts or presents on Tisha B’av?
  • One may not give presents on Tisha B’av. [Thus, one may not give a baby present, Bar Mitzvah gift, birthday present or wedding present on Tisha B’av.]
  1. Working on Tisha B’av:
  • Today, the accepted custom is to avoid doing any form of work on Tisha B’av if the work requires some time to be performed. The prohibition applies [from the night of Tisha B’av] until midday. All work which requires only minimal time to be done, such as lighting a match and making a knot, may be done even before midday. Whoever does work on Tisha B’av [to the extent that his mind is diverted from the mourning] will not see blessing from that work.
  • Housework: Even housework should be avoided from being done until after midday.
  • Having a gentile do work on one’s behalf: It is permitted to have a gentile do work on one’s behalf on Tisha B’av.
  • Doing work to prevent loss: It is permitted to do work to prevent financial loss.
  • Preparing food: The custom is not to slaughter meat and not to prepare food [for after the fast] until after midday.
  1. Diminishing from general pleasures:
  • One should diminish from his honor and pleasure as much as possible throughout Tisha B’av.
  1. Pleasure walks and public areas:
  • Some opinions rule one is not to go for walks on Tisha B’av, such as to the marketplace, being that doing so can lead to frivolity. [Practically, this is the final ruling, and we are stringent in this matter even on Erev Tisha B’av. For this same reason, one should not walk around in groups on Tisha B’av.]
  1. Diminishing comfort when sleeping:
  • Sleeping on the floor or with a stone under the head: Some people are accustomed to sleep on the floor on the night of Tisha B’av. Some people are accustomed to place a stone under their head when they sleep.  [The Chabad custom is not to sleep on the ground or sleep with a stone under the head (however one is to diminish in comfort, as stated next).]
  • Diminishing in comfort of sleep: [Even those who do not abide by the above custom] are to diminish their sleeping comfort on Tisha B’av, such as if one normally sleeps with two pillows, he is to sleep with one pillow.
  • Pregnant women and people who are weak: A pregnant woman for whom it is difficult to have discomfort in her sleep, is not required to abide by any of the above customs. [Likewise, one who is weak is not required to be stringent in this matter and may hence sleep on his bed as usual.]
  1. Sitting on the ground:
  • On the night of Tisha B’av, and by day, one sits on the floor in Shul [and in all other places] until the time of Mincha. However, today the custom is to sit on benches immediately after leaving Shul after Shacharis, and the reading of Kinos, which is to be lengthened until sometime near midday. [Practically, one is not to sit on a bench until midday.]
  • May one sit on a cushion? One is not required to sit directly on the floor, and he may thus sit on a cushioned bottom. [Furthermore, based on Kabala, one is to have an interval between him and the floor.]
  • May one sit on a low stool? It is permitted to sit on a low stool if it is difficult for one to sit on the ground. [Today the custom is for all people to be lenient in this matter.  Some are particular that the stool be within three Tefachim from the ground.!]
  1. Getting engaged:
  • It is permitted to get engaged [i.e. Eirusin/Kiddushin] on Tisha B’av.
  1. Oppression laws relevant to children:
  • Leather Shoes: One may not place leather shoes on a child even if he is below the age of education. However, some Poskim are lenient to allow all children below Bar and Bas Mitzvah to wear leather shoes. [The custom is like the former opinion. However, some write that children of a very young age, such as 2-3 years old, may be lenient.]
  • Bathing: Children, even below Chinuch, are not to be bathed unless they are dirty.
  • Anointing: Children, even below Chinuch, are not to be smeared with pleasure ointments, just as is the rule by an adult. [Medical creams however may be administered to a child, or even an adult, on Tisha B’av.]
  • Learning Torah: Children are also included within this learning prohibition and hence they are not to be taught Torah on Tisha B’av. [Some Poskim rule that this includes even teaching them from the permitted texts discussing the tragedies. Others however rule it is allowed to teach children these subjects, just as is the law regarding adults. It is forbidden for a child to learn even on his own if he is of age to receive joy from his learning.]
  1. Bris on Tisha B’av:
  • The Baal Bris [father of the child, Mohel and Sandak] are all required to fast the entire day even though the Bris is taking place that day. Thus, the Seudas Mitzvah is to take place only after the fast.
  • Taanis Nidche-If the fast was pushed off to Sunday: In the event that the fast fell on Shabbos and was hence pushed off to Sunday, then one who has a Bris taking place on Sunday is not required to fast until night. Rather [after midday] he is to Daven Mincha early. After he Davens Mincha he may then eat. The same applies for all the Baalei Bris [however not for anyone else invited to the Bris, including the Kvatrin, which must fast until night]. [They are to say Havdala prior to eating. Nevertheless, they are not to make a large meal during the day as is normally done on the day of a Bris, and thus the main meal is to take place at night. Nevertheless, despite the above ruling, some Poskim rule that even on a Taanis Nidche the Baal Bris is to fast the entire day as usual, and so is the custom of certain communities. However, most communities are lenient in this matter as the plain ruling in Shulchan Aruch.
  1. Pidyon Haben on Tisha B’av:
  • If a Pidyon Haben is set to take place on a fast day the father and Kohen must nevertheless fast until night as usual. The meal is to take place at night, after the fast.
  • Taanis Nidche: In the event that the fast fell on Shabbos and was hence pushed off to Sunday, then if a Pidyon Haben is taking place on Sunday, the father and Kohen is not required to fast until night. Rather, after midday, he is to Daven Mincha early and he may then eat. Nevertheless, the meal is to take place only after the fast. 
  1. Mourning customs applicable on Motzei Tisha B’av-Tenth of Av:
  • The Heichal [Kodesh and Kodesh Hakedoshim] was set afire on the 9th towards evening, and it burnt until sunset of the 10th. It is therefore customary to avoid eating meat and drinking wine [as well as to guard all the mourning customs of the nine days] until midday of the 10th of Av.  Furthermore, some are accustomed to avoid eating meat and drinking wine throughout the entire day of the 10th of Av, until the start of the 11th of Av. [Practically, the widespread custom of Ashkenazi Jewry is to only keep the mourning customs until midday of the 10th.  Regarding Tisha B’av that falls on Shabbos, and is hence pushed off to Sunday, see next chapter!]
  • The following mourning customs apply until midday of the 10th:
  1. Eating meat or poultry [fish is permitted].
  2. Drinking wine.
  3. Bathing for pleasure.
  4. Laundry
  5. Wearing freshly laundered clothing.
  6. Music
  • Marital relations: It is proper to avoid marital relations on the night of the 10th of Av [Motzei Tisha B’av], unless it is the night of Mikveh or one is traveling the next day or has arrived home after traveling [or he has a very strong inclination and may come to sin].
  • Shehechiyanu: One is to avoid saying Shehechiyanu over new fruits until the 11th of Av. [However, some are lenient to say Shehechiyanu even on the night of the 10th of Av, which is Motzei the 9th of Av.]

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