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The Halachos of Tisha B’Av

Tisha B’Av commemorates the burning of both the first and second Batei Mikdosh. In addition, many other tragedies throughout our history have occurred on this day.

In order to assist us with feelings of remorse and repentance, we are not allowed to eat or drink on Tisha B’Av. In addition, it is forbidden to: wash any area of the body, smear oils, creams or lotions on any area of the body, wear leather footwear and have marital relations.

The restrictions begin at sunset Tisha B’Av eve, continue through the entire following day and conclude fifty minutes after sunset (for those living in North America).

Note: As with every day in the Jewish calendar, there are points in time that vary by location. On Tisha B’Av, two important times to be aware of are: “shkiya” (sunset) and “chatzos” (midday). Consult www.myzmanim.com to see what these times are in your area.

EREV TISHA B’AV

As the saddest day in the Jewish calendar approaches, our mourning begins to intensify.

PLEASURABLE TRIPS

Pleasurable walks and excursions become forbidden after midday.

SEUDAH HAMAFSEKES

A final meal called the “Seudah Hamafsekes” is eaten a short while before Tisha B’Av begins.It is customarily limited to bread, a hard-boiled egg (that is no longer warm and water.

· A moderate supper should be eaten some time before the Seudah Hamafsekes, to ensure that one will have the energy to fast. When eating supper, it is important to leave enough of an appetite for the Seudah Hamafsekes.

· During the Seudah Hamafsekes, bread is dipped into ashes. While dipping the bread, one states: “This is the meal of Tisha B’Av”.

· Tip: Only a small amount of ash is necessary. It can be prepared in advance by burning something such as a piece of a napkin or tissue.)

· The meal is eaten in solitude.If three men mistakenly ate together, a mezuman is still not recited.

· It is customary to eat this meal while sitting on the ground or a low stool.

· This obligation does not apply to those who have physical limitations due to age or infirmity.

· Once the meal is over, one resumes sitting normally until Tisha B’Av begins.

· Wearing leather footwear remains permitted during the Seudah Hamafsekes.

· Even people who are exempt from fasting eat this meal.

· Of course, the meal must be concluded before sunset.

· Reciting Birchas Hamazon could technically initiate the restrictions associated with Tisha B’Av. Therefore, one who does not want to accept these restrictions yet (assuming that there is still time before sunset,) should preferably express this intent before reciting Birchas Hamazon.

TISHA B’AV RESTRICTIONS:

EATING AND DRINKING

Tisha B’Av is a stringent fast day – second only to Yom Kippur. As a general rule, even those who are ill, weak, nursing or pregnant are supposed to fast but a rabbi should always be consulted.

Nonetheless:

· It is forbidden to fast if it could put one’s life at risk.

· Women who are within thirty days after childbirth do not have to fast on Tisha B’Av; within seven days of childbirth, they are not allowed to fast.

· Necessary pills and medication should be swallowed without liquid. If this is not feasible, a rabbi should be consulted.

· Even those who are not fasting may not eat especially tasty foods or treats. This includes children under bar/bas mitzvah who are old enough to understand the concept of mourning.

BATHING AND WASHING

Washing any part of the body with water of any temperature is included in this restriction.

Following, are exceptions to the rule:

· It is permitted to clean dirt or germs but the washing must be limited to the affected area. If the dirt or germs are spread out, the general area may be washed.

· Washing for medical purposes is allowed.

· In the morning, hands are washed in the usual alternating manner but only up to the joints where the fingers attach to the palm. The usual brachah is not recited until after one washes from using the bathroom.

o After one’s hands are dried, even though they are somewhat moist, one may rub his or her eyes. Any glutinous discharge may be washed away with water.

o It is also permitted to wash one’s hands in this manner before mincha,or after leaving a cemetery.

· If it is necessary to wash an object (such as food for a child), one does not need to worry about inadvertently getting his or her hands wet.

LEATHER FOOTWEAR

Footwear containing leather may not be worn on Tisha B’Av.

· This restriction applies to children once they are old enough to understand the concept of mourning. Common practice applies it to younger children as well.

· Leather inserts are permitted if they are necessary for a medical condition.

ANOINTING

Oils, alcohol, lotions, creams or perfumes may not be rubbed onto any part of the body.

· Spreading these items is permitted for a medical purpose.

· It is permissible to use deodorant on Tisha B’Av (in contrast to Yom Kippur.

MARITAL RELATIONS

Marital relations are forbidden on Tisha B’Av. All interactive limitations that apply when a woman is a niddah are also in effect throughout the evening of Tisha B’Av.

ADDITIONAL RESTRICTIONS

· Since studying Torah generates joy, the only Torah subjects that may be studied on this day are those related to mourning, tragedy or Tisha B’Av. This prohibition also applies to teaching children.

· Until midday, one may not sit on a seat that is higher than twelve inches.

· This does not apply to those who have physical limitations due to age or infirmity or in cases of necessity such as when riding in a vehicle or using the bathroom.

· Activities that could be distracting from the mournful spirit of the day are forbidden at least until midday. Some examples of this group are going to work, any general skilled labor, cleaning the house and yard work.

· If a significant financial loss will result from not working, a rabbi should be consulted.

· When sleeping during Tisha B’Av evening, it is proper to reduce one’s comfort such as removing a pillow or sleeping on the floor. This behavior is not relevant for the aged or infirm.

· We do not greet others on Tisha B’Av. If someone mistakenly greets you, reply in a subdued fashion and if sensitively possible, inform them of their mistake.

· Other than tzedaka, we do not give gifts on Tisha B’Av.

· Tallis and tefilin are not worn until the mincha but the smaller tzitzis garment is worn as usual.

· It is questionable if a brachah should be recited when putting on the tzitzis garment in the morning. To avoid any issue, it is best to leave them worn throughout the night of Tisha B’Av (but this is not obligatory).

TISHA B’AV CONCLUSION

· After ma’ariv at the conclusion of Tisha B’Av, kidush levanah is recited if the moon is visible.

o It is preferable to break the fast before reciting kidush levana but not if it will cause one to miss saying kidush levana with a minyan.

· Regular shoes should be worn when reciting kidush levana. (To ensure that one will not miss reciting kidush levana with a minyan, one should plan ahead and bring the shoes with him to maariv.)

POST TISHA B’AV

Since the Batei Mikdosh continued to burn through the tenth of Av, the following restrictions usually continue through the day following Tisha B’Av.Consuming meat, wine or grape juice, cutting hair, taking a hot shower or bath, washing clothes, wearing freshly laundered clothes, and listening to music.

This year, however, since the tenth of Av falls on Friday, a few of the restrictions are lifted in honor of Shabbos. It is permitted to launder clothes immediately after the fast concludes and regular bathing and showering become permitted in the morning.

TISHA B’AV TEFILOS

Tip: Be Prepared!

We sit on a low seat or the floor until midday. One who doesn’t want to sit on the floor, should be sure to bring along a cushion or low seat.

On Tisha B’Av, there are a number of changes from the usual prayers. It is highly recommended to buy a kinnos (described below) that includes the adapted prayers for Tisha B’Av.

KINNOS

Additional texts called kinnos are recited on Tisha B’Av primarily during the daytime.

Tip: Kinnos are not found in the siddur but in a specific book called a “kinnos”. The books are usually available at shul but if you prefer a translated version, you will likely need to bring your own.

· The purpose of reciting kinnos is to arouse feelings of mourning which is accomplished by reading them in a meaningful way. Unfortunately, due to their difficult, antique Hebrew style and the general stress of Tisha B’Av, many synagogues read the kinnos quite fast. In this case, it is proper to say them independently of the congregation.

· One who has limited time should ask a knowledgeable person which items should be prioritized.

· It is perfectly fine to recite a translation of the texts instead of the original Hebrew.

MA’ARIV

Tip: Ma’ariv is immediately followed with the reading of the Book of Eicha (Lamentations) and a few kinnos.The entire service usually lasts about an hour.

· Even in shul that the chazzan usually wears a tallis for ma’ariv, he does not wear one the night of Tisha B’Av.