Monday, July 15, 2013

The Laws of Tisha B’av

The Laws of Tisha B’av

Erev Tisha B’av
1. One should not take pleasure walks after midday (Remember: no Tachanun is said at Mincha)
2. Traditionally, a normal meal is eaten in the afternoon, then mincha is said, and then the ‘Seudas Hamafsekes’ (The final meal before Tisha B’av) is eaten.

Seudas Hamafsekes
1. This meal must be eaten after noon with the intention of not eating anything thereafter
2. It may be preceded by a regular meal. But, one should not fill themselves - in order to allow room for the Seudas Hamafsekes. One should take at least a 20-30 min. break between the regular meal and the Seudas Hamafsekes.
3. The custom is to eat this meal while seated on the ground. If one is weak, he may sit on a pillow.
4. The custom is for this meal to consist only of bread, cold hard-boiled eggs (or lentils), and water. Some of the bread (some have the custom to dip the egg) is dipped in ashes and eaten. One should say: “This is the Tisha B’av meal.”
5. D
uring this meal, one can’t eat two different foods that are cooked (even if they can be eaten raw but were cooked) Bread\cake doesn’t count as a cooked food. One may any amount of uncooked foods (cheese, raw fruits & vegetables)
6. One must say the Birchas Hamazon by themselves, therefore three adult males should avoid eating this meal together in order not to be required to recite the Grace after meals as a “Mezumin” (invitation to bentch).
7. Since mourning does not begin until the evening, one may sit on a chair until sunset while wearing shoes.
8. One may eat and drink after this meal until sunset, unless you expressly decided, verbally or mentally, not to eat any more on that day, or said that you are accepting the fast. If one plans on eating or drinking after this meal, it is preferable to either verbally or mentally express that you are not accepting the fast until sunset.

When Tisha B’av falls on Saturday Night/Sunday:
1. The “Tzidkatcha Tzedek” prayer is not said at Minchah on Shabbos.
2. There is no special Seudas Hamafsekes on Shabbos. One may eat whatever he wants for the 3rd Shabbos Meal, even meat and wine. One may eat even after their meal is over, as long as he stops eating before sunset. One may also eat more than usual in order to prepare for the fast, but one must not say that he is eating more for this reason.
3. One may say Birkas Hamazon with a zimun (preferably before sunset as well)
4. On Saturday Night, one shouldn’t change their shoes/clothing, sit on the ground or do anything mourning or Tisha B’av related until after nightfall AND first saying, “baruch hamavdil bein kodesh l’chol.” (women who are not praying Maariv should be careful to say this as well before they do any work or any of the mourning practices)
5. Attah Chonantanu is recited as usual in the evening prayer, however the customary Havdallah is not said: ONLY the blessing over light is said either at home (after shabbos has ended!) OR at shul after the evening prayer. 

Tisha B’av Prohibitions
The prohibitions of Tisha B’av begin just prior to sunset (one is permitted to drive to Shul/sit normally in the car)

Eating & Drinking:
1. A person is sick, old or weak and may become ill if he does not eat or drink (even if his life is not in danger) is is prohibited from fasting, permitted to eat as much food as he usually does, but should only eat what is necessary.
2. A woman up to thirty days after giving birth is also permitted to eat. She should try to postpone eating for a few hours, unless this causes undue hardship. A pregnant and nursing woman (30 days after giving birth) should fast the entire day even if they are suffering. If they are suffering greatly, they should discontinue fasting. Contact your rabbi.
3. A person with only a headache or similar discomfort is required to fast.
4. Boys under the age of 13 and girls under the age of 12 are not required to fast at all.
5. Swallowing capsules, bitter medicine tablets, or bitter liquid medicine without water is permitted (according to some opinions, it’s permitted to swallow a bit of water as well if the medication can not be swallowed otherwise)
6. One who usually rinses his mouth daily may do so only in instance if it causes him great distress otherwise.

Bathing & Washing:
1. All washing for pleasure on any part of the body is prohibited (vs. washing for health, seven clean days, etc.)
2. One may wash their hands or other parts of their body if they are dirtied or stained, but not beyond the dirty area.
3. In the morning, one may wash their hands in the usual manner, no further than the knuckles. While the hands are still moist after drying them, one may pass them over your eyes. If your eyes contain dirt, one may wash them.
4. One is permitted to wash their hands before praying, after using the bathroom and/or touching a part of their body that is usually covered. One should not wash further than the joints at the end of the fingers.
5. One may cook or prepare food on Tisha B’av, even though one’s hands will get wet – when necessary.
6. A woman may not go to the Mikveh on Tisha B’av – but may go to the Mikveh the night after.

1. One can’t apply onto your body any substance – liquid or solid – (oils, soap, hair tonic/cream, ointment, perfume)
2. One may anoint for medical reasons such as skin conditions (One is also allowed to comb their hair)
3. The use of deodorant or anti-perspirant to remove a bad odor is permitted.
Wearing Leather Shoes:
1. It is prohibited to wear shoes that are made, even partially, out of leather. (cloth, wood, rubber, plastic are allowed)
2. Wearing leather shoes is permitted in the case of a person who has to walk a long distance over stones or mud and no other suitable footwear is available, medical reasons, kids who are too young to understand about the Temple.

Learning Torah:
1. It is prohibited to learn or teach Torah – except for those topics which are relevant to Tisha B’av and mourning. (one may also prepare the Torah reading for Tisha B’av or say Tehillim for sick people or in times of danger)
2. One may learn
Lamentations/Aicha with its midrash and commentaries, portions of the Prophets that deal with tragedy or destruction, the third chapter of Moed Katan (which deals with mourning), the story of the destruction (in Gittin 56b-58a, Sanhedrin 104, and in Josephus), and the halachot of Tisha B’Av and mourning.

Other Prohibitions & Customs:
It is extremely important to stay focused on the serious nature of the day by staying in touch with your soul and not being distracted by other physical things. Therefore, there are additional prohibitions:

1. Sexual relations are prohibited and there are different customs with regard the ‘harchakos’
(most have the custom to keep the harchakos at night and treat the rest of the day like an ‘onah’ day.
2. One should not have a perfectly comfortable sleep (ie. sleep with no/less pillows or with a rock under the pillow).Pregnant women, the elderly and the ill are exempt from this
3. Some poskim say that one is allowed to smell spices and other pleasant odors on Tisha B’Av, while others disagree.
4. One should avoid unnecessary walks in public areas or taking a trip for pleasure

 One is prohibited to greet someone. Not only is enquiring after one’s well –being prohibited, but even greeting a person with “good morning” and the like is prohibited. One, who is greeted, should respond softly – to show that greeting is prohibited. (in general, Tisha B’av is not a time for socializing, idle chatter, schmoozing, etc.)
6. It’s prohibited to give gifts, but one may give a gift to a poor person.
7. Some have a custom to visit a cemetery after completion of the morning services.
8. There is a custom to wash the floors and clean the house in the afternoon. The custom is based on a tradition that Moshiach will be born on Tisha B’av afternoon and that it is therefore appropriate to prepare for the redemption.

Prohibitions until Halachik Midday:
1. It is prohibited to sit on a chair or bench that is 12’’ or higher (One may sit on the floor, a cushion or low bench/chair)
2. Any type of prolonged work (even housework) is prohibited and should preferably not be done the entire day.
3. Preparation for the meal after Tisha B’av should not take place until after Halachik Mid-day. (when Tisha B’av follows Shabbos, one may not clean the shabbos dishes until midday Sunday)
4. The Talis and Tefillin are only worn for Mincha (the Talis Koton [Tzitzis] should be put on in the morning and the blessing is made; if one is married, there is a custom to sleep with the Tzitzis)

Restrictions on the 10th of Av:
1. Laundering, washing, saying Shehechiyanu, listening to music, and eating meat/wine should be avoided until noon Soups made with meat may be eaten. (unless it is Mikvah night, marital relations should not take place)
2. Showers, baths and shaving should be avoided, but individual parts of the body can be washed. When Tisha B'Av is on a Thursday, laundering may be done as soon as the fast is over. Some Poskim permit shaving before midday as well.
3. On Sunday, nothing may be eaten until Havdallah is recited over wine, (no spices, candles are used) and the ‘hinay’ paragraph is omitted. (One who must eat must make Havdallah beforehand on beer, coffee, or tea – but no spices)
4. All the restrictions of the 3 weeks and the Nine Days continue until Halachik Mid-day of the 10th of Av.
5. When Tisha B’av falls out on a Thursday, one is permitted to take a shave/haircut and wash clothes on Thursday night – in honor of Shabbos and you should delay saying Kiddush Levana until Motzei Shabbos.

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