[Editor’s Note: The dates mentioned in this article are based on the usual calendar and will be different this year because the 9th of Av is Shabbos. The fast of Av is therefore observed a day later, beginning at sundown on Saturday and concluding at nightfall on Sunday.]
From Rosh Chodesh Av: The Nine Days
Eating meat and drinking wine. The Gemara forbids eating meat in the last meal before Tishah B’Av. Nonetheless, it is the custom not to eat meat from Rosh Chodesh Av (or, for some Sephardim, the week of Tishah B’Av) until chatzos (halachic noon) on the 10th of Av (S.A. O.C. 551:9 citing the Rashba). One may eat meat and drink wine at a celebration of a siyum, the completion of a tractate of Talmud, or an order of the Mishnah.
One may have meat and wine on Shabbos of the Nine Days.
According to Rav Elyashiv, zt’l (Halichos v’Hanhagos, p. 11), the Havdalah wine during the Nine Days should be consumed as follows:
- A boy who has reached the age of berachos (generally 6–7 years old) but not one who understands mourning (generally 7½–8). If there is not one available, then . . .
- A boy under bar mitzvah. If there is not one available, then . . .
- The man himself may drink the wine.
Meat or wine may not be consumed for melaveh malkah (Igros Moshe OC IV 21:4).
Laundering clothing. During the Nine Days, it is forbidden to launder clothing, even if it will not be worn until after the Nine Days (S.A. O.C. 551:3). This includes clothing, sheets, and towels. Removing a stain with water is permitted if the article of clothing may get ruined if not treated. Sheitels cannot be washed and set either (Rav Elyashiv Halichos v’Hanhagos, p. 66). Rav Scheinberg, however, permitted it when absolutely necessary (cited in Rivevos Ephraim VI 291:3).
New or freshly laundered clothing may not be worn during the Nine Days either (S.A. O.C. 551:3). They must therefore be pre-worn. How long must they be worn? Rav Binyomin Forst has the practice of putting on five shirts simultaneously and wearing them for 30 minutes. The Daas Kedoshim, however, states that one minute will suffice. Perhaps this ruling was written before air-conditioning was invented. An alternative method of removing the freshness is to lie down on the clothing for a significant period of time.
One may make a bed for a guest with freshly laundered linen (Mesoras Moshe).
The 8th Of Av
Pleasure trips are forbidden on erev Tishah B’Av after chatzos ha’yom (Vilna Gaon on Rema end of 553).
The custom is not to learn Torah after chatzos ha’yom on the 8th of Av. The reason is that learning Torah causes the heart to rejoice (see Tehillim 19:9).
The seudah ha’mafsekes. On the 8th, before Tishah B’Av begins, we eat a mourner’s meal called the “seudah ha’mafsekes.” The custom is to eat one cooked item such as a cold hard-boiled egg, bread, and ashes. We eat it while lying on the floor and we do not eat the meal in a group. We may wear leather shoes while eating the meal, although the mood during this meal should be somber.
Tishah B’Av: What Happened?
- The 12 spies that were sent to spy out Eretz Yisrael returned from their mission. Yehoshuah and Caleiv brought a positive report; the others did not and spoke lashon ha’ra about the land. This caused the Bnei Yisrael to lose faith in Hashem and weep. Hashem said, “You wept without a reason. Now I will give you a reason to cry on this day.”
- The first Beis HaMikdash, built by Shlomo HaMelech, was destroyed by the Babylonians led by Nebuchadnezzar and we were sent into the Babylonian exile.
- The second Beis HaMikdash, built by Ezra and Nechemiah, was destroyed by the Romans in August of 70 CE.
- The Romans crushed Bar Kokhva’s revolt and destroyed the city of Beitar, killing over 100,000 Jews, on July 8, 132 CE.
- In the year following the Bar Kokhva revolt, Roman commander Turnus Rufus (his name in Josephus is Terentius Rufus), a senator from the powerful Lolianni family, plowed Yerushalayim and the Makom HaMikdash and its surrounding area.
Tishah B’Av: The Fast
Because the loss of the Beis HaMikdash was such a tragedy for our nation, the halachos of Tishah B’Av combine the laws of Yom Kippur and the laws of mourning.
Thus, we apply the five inuyim of Yom Kippur:
- no eating or drinking,
- no washing,
- no anointing,
- no wearing leather shoes
- no marital relations.
In addition to the Yom Kippur inuyim:
- we are not permitted to study Torah except for the passages that bring on sadness,
- we do not extend greetings to others,
- we do not work,
- we do not sit on a chair.
The latter two, however, may be performed after chatzos ha’yom. When one does need to wash hands, such as after going to the restroom, one washes just until the knuckles.
Customs in shul. In shul the custom is to dim the lights, based upon the verse in Eichah (3:6), “He placed me in darkness.” We also remove the curtain from the ark that covers the sefer Torah. This is on account of the Midrash that interprets the verse in Eichah (2:17), “He tore His royal garments.” After Ma’ariv, Eichah is read and then a number of Kinos are recited.
On the day of Tishah B’Av, a number of Kinos are recited. Most of these Kinos were written during the Crusades. During the Holocaust, a number of Kinos were added as well. It is the custom of many shuls to recite the new ones as well.
The 10th Of Av
Since the burning of the Beis HaMikdash continued until the 10th of Av (indeed, most of it burned then), we refrain from eating meat and drinking wine until halachic noon on the tenth (S.A. O.C. 558). The Mishnah Berurah rules that we refrain from bathing, cutting our hair, listening to music, and washing our clothes until halachic noon on the 10th.
If the 10th of Av falls on a Friday, then we may launder immediately after Tishah B’Av is over. Haircuts and bathing, however, should wait until Friday morning (Eliyahu Rabbah 559:31), and music is only permitted at noon. If necessary, bathing and haircutting can be done on motzaei Tishah B’Av, if one will be unable to do them on Friday.
Rabbi Hoffman can be reached at Yairhoffman2@gmail.com.