Jewish Holidays & Events

Laws and Customs of The Three Weeks, Nine Days and Tisha Be’Av, 5777

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Laws and Customs of The Three Weeks, Nine Days and Tisha Be’Av, 5777
We call the period between the fast of the Seventeenth of Tammuz and the fast of the Ninth of Av “The Three Weeks.” We call the days between Rosh Chodesh Av and the Ninth of Av “The Nine Days.” We commemorate the destruction of the Holy Temples as well as other tragedies that occurred during these three weeks. The mourning intensifies after Rosh Chodesh Av, which is why the laws of mourning become stricter then, culminating with the fast of Tisha Be’Av (the Ninth of Av), the day on which both Temples were destroyed.
Following are the basic laws that apply during this time. For more details, please see the Code of Jewish Law, O.C. Simanim 549 – 559.
Tuesday, the Fast of 17 Tammuz/ July 11
This fast day commemorates five tragedies:[1]
  • The first set of the Luchot (tablets) was broken by Moshe in the year 2448 (-1313 BCE) when he came down Mt. Sinai and saw the people worshipping the Golden Calf.[2]
  • The Korban Tamid (daily sacrificial offering) ceased being offered.[3]
  • The walls of Jerusalem were breached in the year 3829 (69 CE)[4] leading to the destruction of the Second Temple.[5]
  • The wicked Apostumus burned the Torah scroll.[6]
  • An idol was placed in the Sanctuary.[7]
Fasting
The fast begins at dawn and ends when the stars come out.
  • Under normal circumstances when one goes to sleep, it is considered as if the fast has begun, and he may not eat if he wakes up before dawn.
  • However, if one went to sleep with the intention of getting up and eating before dawn, one may do so.
  • One should not eat a full meal within a half hour of dawn unless they appoint someone to remind them to pray the Shacharit service.[8]
  • Some say that one may drink if one wakes up in the middle of the night even if he had not planned on doing so. It is best, however, to specify that one intends to do so. One who normally wakes up and has a drink in middle of the night may do so on this night too, even if he didn’t specify that he would.[9]
  • Some say that one who is healthy should not go out of his way to eat extra before a fast but should rather experience the full pain of the fast.[10]
  • It is best not to use mouthwash or brush one’s teeth and rinse one’s mouth on a public fast day.[11]
  • One who is uncomfortable if he doesn’t brush his teeth or use mouthwash, may do so. It is best if one uses mouthwash instead of water to do the rinsing. Care should be taken not to swallow anything.[12]
  • If one forgot and ate on the fast day, when one remembers, one must begin fasting again. In such a case, it is proper (but not obligatory) to fast another day as an atonement for his sin.[13] If this is difficult, one may redeem the fast by giving tzedakah.[14]
  • If one flies on a plane on a fast day, he should fast until the stars come out, even if it means he will fast a longer or shorter fast. Some disagree and say that one should fast according to the time in the place that he came from.[15]
  • If one crosses the dateline on a fast day, one should keep the fast according to when the fast began in his location. Nevertheless, one should not eat in a public manner in a place where the people are fasting.[16]
  • A sick or old person who finds it difficult to fast need not fast,[17] nor does he need to make up the fast on a different day.
  • In such a case, one may eat in the morning and need not fast for the first part of the day.[18]
  • One who needs to take medication may do so, if the medication does not have a good taste. If he needs water to help swallow a pill, it is preferable to mix into the water something that tastes bad before drinking it, such as vinegar. If this is not possible, he should use a small amount of regular water.
  • If the medicine has a good taste or if he needs to eat or drink (regular water) when taking the medication (so as not to take the medication on an empty stomach), he may do so if he is ill or if by not taking the medication he would become ill.[19]
  • In Sefardic and Chassidic communities, it is customary that pregnant or nursing women not fast on this day.[20] In this context, a woman is considered pregnant after the 40th day from conception. In a case of weakness, one may be lenient before this time as well.[21] In Ashkenaz, non-Chassidic communities, some say that pregnant and nursing women should fast unless they are feeling sick or weak, in which case they should eat.[22] Others say that nowadays we can assume a pregnant woman will feel weak or sick, and therefore she need not fast.[23] All agree that a woman who had a baby within 30 days should not fast. [24]
  • A woman who has had a baby (or a miscarriage) within 24 months is considered to be a nursing woman even if she is not actually nursing her baby.[25] Some disagree and say that only a mother who is actually nursing need not fast.[26]
  • Children under Bar or Bat Mitzvah also need not fast.[27]
  • One who is not fasting should eat in private.[28] In addition, he, as well as children who are old enough to be educated, should only eat simple foods and not sweets or treats.[29]
  • One who is fasting may touch food (e.g., to serve her children).[30] Some say that one may only touch food if it is necessary (i.e., if the child cannot prepare it himself).[31]
  • If there is a brit on this day, the meal should be postponed until after the fast.
  • One who is cooking on a fast day may not taste the food even if he spits it out.[32]
Redeeming the Fast
  • It is a special mitzvah to give tzedakah to the poor on fast days. This ensures that they will have enough to eat after the fast. According to the Talmud, the main reward of a fast day is for the Tzedaka that one customarily gives to the poor.[33]
  • It is customary to give this tzedakah before Mincha time. The Mincha Haftorah reading is therefore appropriate in that it says:  שִׁמְרוּ מִשְׁפָּט וַעֲשׂוּ צְדָקָה (Keep tzedakah/justice and practice righteousness).[34]
  • Some have a custom to give the poor the amount of money they would have spent on eating that day (the approximate value of two meals).[35]
  • This is especially important for someone who was unable to fast for whatever reason.[36]
Other Activities
One is permitted to work on fast days (but see below regarding Tisha Be’Av) In addition, one may shower and wear leather shoes. Some say that one should not take hot showers or have marital intimacy (unless it is mikvah night) on public fast days. A ba’al nefesh (scrupulous person) will be strict about these.[37]
Prayers
The prayers on a fast day include the following additions:
  • Selichot, recited after the repetition of the Amidah. Sefardim and some Chassidim recite Selichot before the prayers.
  • The Chazan says Anienu in the Repetition of the Amidah of both Shacharit and Mincha.[38] The Sefardic custom is for the entire congregation (that is fasting) to recite Aneinu in Shacharit as well.[39]
  • Aneinu is added to the Amidah in the Mincha prayer by both the chazan and the congregation.[40] Only one who is fasting should say Aneinu. If one forgot to say it in Shema Koleinu, he should say it when he finishes the Amidah before the final Yihiyu Leratzon.[41]
  • Avinu Malkeinu is recited in Shacharit and Mincha (morning and afternoon services).
  • There is a special Torah reading in Shacharit and Mincha. The Torah reading of Mincha also includes a Haftorah.
The Torah Reading
  • One who is not fasting (whether he has already eaten or is planning to eat[42]) should not be called for an aliyah,[43] nor should he be the Ba’al Koreh or the Chazzan.[44]
  • If he is the only Kohen and he is not fasting, he should leave the shul so as not be called for an aliyah.[45]
  • One who was called up to the Torah and is not fasting should decline to receive the aliyah. If the Aliyah was given to a Torah scholar and he is embarrassed that he’s not fasting and he feels that announcing it would be a chillul Hashem (a desecration of G-d’s name), he may accept the Aliyah.[46] (In addition, if a fast is on a Monday or Thursday, he may the take the aliyah in Shacharit if he was already called up.)[47]
  • Despite this, the Gabbai need not ask the potential olim (people receiving aliyot) whether they are fasting or not.[48]
  • One who is not fasting may open the Ark (peticha) and lift or wrap the Torah (hagbah and gelilah).[49]
  • The Chazan should recite the Bircat Kohanim in the repetition of the amidah of Mincha. In Sefardic congregations (and in Israel), the Kohanim give their blessing during Mincha of fast days.
The Purpose of the Fast
On the fast days, it is important to mourn over the tragedies that occurred on that day and pray to G-d that he redeem us from this bitter exile. One should do an honest reckoning of one’s actions and rectify whatever needs rectification in order to correct the sins which caused the tragedies that occurred in the first place.[50]
  • It was customary for the Rav or spiritual leader of a congregation to speak inspirational words (after Minchah) on a fast day.[51] The Lubavitcher Rebbe encouraged the revival of this custom.[52]
Fast Times (from www.chabad.org)
Fast Begins
Fast Ends
Miami
5:13 am
8:42 pm
New York
3:42 am
9:01 pm
Los Angeles
4:15 am
8:36 pm
Yerushalayim
4:11 am
8:15 pm
Melbourne, Australia
6:06 am
5:47 pm
The Three Weeks
Tuesday, The Fast of the 17 of Tammuz /July 11 to Wednesday, 10 Menachem Av /August 2
A Mournful Yet Auspicious Time
Despite the fact that The Three Weeks is a time of mourning for the tragedies that occurred to our people, it is also an opportune time to connect to the Almighty. This is alluded to in the verse: כָּל-רֹדְפֶיהָ הִשִּׂיגוּהָ, בֵּין הַמְּצָרִים All those who run after her reached her bein hameitzarim (between the straits).[53] This can be interpreted to mean that all those who exert themselves will be able to reach G-d in the time of the Three Weeks (this time is referred to as bein hameitzarim).[54]
The reason for this is that when a person serves G-d in a difficult period it is all the more precious.[55] In this sense, the Three Weeks can be compared to the 21 days from Rosh Hashana to Hoshana Rabba.[56]
All the laws relating to the Three Weeks begin on the night before the fast (July 10). In a case of need, some say that one may rely on the opinion that these restrictions do not begin until the morning.[57] In practice, one should consult one’s rabbi.
During the Three Weeks the following rules apply:
She’hechiyanu
  • One should not say the blessing of She’hechiyanu which blesses the time since this is considered a “negative time.”[58] Some say that one may say Shehechiyanu on Shabbat.[59] According to Chabad custom, one should not say She’hechiyanu on Shabbat.[60]
  • If one will not be able to have this fruit later on because it is going out of season, one may say she’hechiyanu and eat the fruit even during the Nine Days.[61] In this case, it is better to wait until Shabbat, if possible.[62]
  • If one began to make a blessing on a new fruit and he realized that it is the Three Weeks after he already mentioned G-d’s name, he should complete both blessings and eat the fruit in order not to transgress the sin of saying a blessing in vain.[63]
  • If one is doing a Pidyon Haben during these weeks or, if one has a baby girl, the Bracha of Shehechiyanu should be said.[64]
  • It is customary not to move to a new house or apartment during these weeks.[65]
  • One who needs to move into a new house (or apartment) should put some important furniture into the house before the Three Weeks begin.[66]
  • One may purchase an investment property during these days.[67]
  • One may do renovations or paint one’s house during the Three Weeks, but not during the Nine Days, see below.
  • One should not purchase new clothes (that are significant) or other important items. Some are lenient in this regard for those who do not customarily say she’hecheyanu on these items.[68]  (See below regarding the Nine Days.)
  • If one finds clothes on sale that will not be available for that price after Tisha Be’Av, one may buy them during the Three Weeks (see below, regarding the Nine Days). This is particularly true when buying for one’s children and is not paying all of the money at the time of sale (i.e., when purchasing on “layaway”).[69]
Music
  • It is customary not to listen to music during the Three Weeks. This includes recorded music or “acapella.”[70] Some are lenient regarding “acapella” music.[71]
  • One should also not allow his children who have reached the age of chinuch (education) to listen to music.[72]
  • One may sing while davening (praying) or studying Torah or while at a farbrengen or the like, as this adds to one’s inspiration in serving the Almighty. Otherwise, one should refrain from singing.[73]
  • A music teacher who would suffer financial loss by not teaching music at this time may teach up until the week of Tisha Be’Av.[74] Nevertheless, the (Jewish) students should not practice at home during this time unless they are learning music to make their parnassah (livelihood).[75]
  • One may not watch movies or TV shows that include music. It is best not to watch these ever, as many of them contain immodest or violent themes and scenes. (Besides the fact that they are, for the most part, a waste of time.)
  • One who is listening to the news on the radio (or other permissible content) need not turn off the radio if there is an occasional musical “jingle” as an interlude since he does not intend to pay attention to these.[76]
Weddings
  • It is customary not to get married at this time.[77]
  • The Sefardic and Yemenite custom is to refrain from marriage only during the Nine Days.[78]
  • It is permissible to have an engagement party (including a meal) during the Three Weeks, but there should not be music or dancing.[79] (See below that during the Nine Days one may get engaged but may not have an engagement meal.). It is permissible to sing (without music) at such occasions, but it is best to minimize this as well.[80]
Dangerous Activities
  • One should refrain from engaging in dangerous activities during the Three Weeks as this is considered an inauspicious time.[81]
  • For example, one should try to refrain from:
    • Having a non-urgent operation or other medical procedure.[82]
    • Going hiking in places that are considered dangerous.
    • Hitting one’s children (this is rarely recommended).
    • Swimming in dangerous areas.[83]
Haircuts
  •  It is customary for Ashkenazim not to take a haircut during this time.[84]
  • As mentioned above, one should not take a haircut on the eve of 17 Tammuz.[85]
  • Sefardim refrain from taking haircuts from 2 Av. Some refrain only during the week of Tisha Be’Av .[86]
  • If one’s mustache is getting in the way of his eating, he may trim it until the week of Tisha Be’Av (see below).[87]
  • If one needs to shave (in a permissible way[88]) for business reasons, there is room for leniency during the Three Weeks and the beginning of the Nine Days, but not during the week of Tisha Be’Av.[89] One should discuss this with his rabbi.
  • One should also not give haircuts to their young children at this time.[90]
  • If a child’s third birthday falls during the Three Weeks, the upsherinish (first haircut) should be postponed until after Tisha Be’Av.[91]
  • If a woman needs to cut her hair for reasons of modesty, she may do so even during the Nine Days.[92]
  • A woman may pluck her eyebrows or wax her legs until the week of Tisha Be’Av.[93]
  • Combing hair is permissible even in the week of Tisha Be’Av.[94]
  • There is room for leniency if a young lady needs to take a haircut in preparation for a shidduch date.[95]
Positive Things
  • During the Three Weeks, one should add in Torah study and giving Tzedakah, especially to support mini-sanctuaries, i.e., shuls and yeshivot.[96]
  • The Lubavitcher Rebbe instituted that one should increase in learning about the Bait HaMikdash (Holy Temple) during this time. The Midrash equates learning about the Bait HaMikdash to building it.[97] Thus, by learning about it during this time, it is as if we are building it.[98]
  • The Rebbe recommended that one learn:
    • The relevant chapters of Yechezkel (Ezekiel 40 – 43) with commentaries,[99]
    • Tractate Middot[100] (and parts of Tamid[101]) with commentaries,
    • and the Rambam (Hilchot Bait HaBechirah) with commentaries.[102]
    • During this season, the Rebbe would often extrapolate on this theme.[103]
    • The Rebbe encouraged that children should learn these subjects as well (in a manner that is appropriate for their age).
    • The Three Weeks are an opportune time to do Teshuvah. These 21 days[104]correspond to gematriyah (numerical value) of the Divine name of Ekyeh (אה־יה). One who does Teshuvah in these days can merit to a blessing in his sustenance. This is based on the Zohar that says that these 22 days (See note 102) correspond to the 22 years that Yosef was separated from Yaakov. Seven of these years were years of plenty. (While two of them were years of famine. These correspond to the 8th and 9th of Av.)[105]
    • The three parshiyot (Torah portions) that are always read publicly in these weeks are Matot, Masei and Devarim (Pinchas is usually read during the Three Weeks. But when Matot and Masei are read as separate portions, Pinchas is read before the Three Weeks.) These correspond to different kinds of contemplation that should lead one to Teshuvah that are listed in the beginning of Pirkei Avot Chapter 3.
      • (Roshei Ha)Matot – Tribal leaders, corresponds to the  concept of Da MeAyin Bata – Know from where you come.
      • Masei – Travels, corresponds to the concept of Le’An Attah Holech – Know to where you are going.
      • Devarim – Words, corresponds to the concept of Lifnei Mi Attah Atid Litein Din VeCheshbon – the reckoning we will have to give to G-d after 120 years.[106]
The Nine Days
Monday, Rosh Chodesh Menachem Av/ July 24Wednesday afternoon, 10 Menachem Av/August 2  
From Rosh Chodesh Av until after Tisha Be’av it is appropriate to minimize in joy in the manner explained below.[107] Despite this, one should maintain and even increase in permissible joy such as Torah study.
During these Nine Days the following rules apply:
Court Cases
  • If one has a court case with a non-Jew, one should try to postpone it until after the Nine Days.[108] If possible, one should reschedule it for after 15 Av[109] or, better yet, for the month of Elul.[110]
Renovations – New Homes
  • One should not build or renovate one’s home.[111]
  • One who is in middle of renovating his home and is paying non-Jewish workers by the job, need not stop the workers from their job if this will cause him a significant financial loss.[112] If one can pay them a small amount for them to delay their work, it is better to do so.
  • One who is renovating because his living quarters are too cramped may do the work in the Nine Days, up until the seventh of Av.[113]
  • Building for the sake of a mitzvah (e.g., a shul) is permissible as is building to prevent a financial loss (e.g., if a wall needs strengthening to prevent it from breaking).[114]
  • One may sign a contract to buy a new home if by not doing so he may lose that opportunity.[115]
  • One should not move into a new home or apartment during this time. One should postpone this until after the 15th of Av,[116] or, better yet, until the month of Elul.[117]
  • One should not plant a garden for pleasure. But one may plant for the purpose of eating fruits or vegetables. One may maintain their garden even if it does not produce food.[118]
Buying New Items
  • One should refrain from buying furniture or other expensive household items in the Nine Days even if one does not recite Shehechiyanu on these items. The same applies to a new car. One may, however, purchase such items for business use.[119]
  • Generally, one should not buy clothes during the Nine Days even if they will be more expensive after the Nine Days. Some say that in such a case it is permissible to buy for young children. If it is a unique sale at extremely low prices and it will not be available after the Nine Days, one may purchase for adults as well.[120]
Washing Clothes
  • One may not wash or iron clothes during the Nine Days even if one does not plan to wear them until after Tisha Be-Av. Neither may one have a non-Jew wash or iron his clothes for him.[121]
  • The Sefardic custom is to allow washing of clothes up until the week of Tisha Be’Av (i.e., from Motzei Shabbat, July 29). [122]
  • The clothes of very young children that are constantly getting dirty may be washed.[123] It is customary to be lenient with the clothes of children under six years of age.[124] If one can have a non-Jew wash these clothes, that is preferred.[125]
  • It is not necessary to purchase new clothing for one’s young children in order to make this washing unnecessary.[126]
  • If all of one’s clothes are soiled to the extent that they cannot be worn, one may wash the minimum that one needs to wear.[127]
  • In the case where one is permitted to wash certain clothes (as explained above), one may not add other clothes to the washing machine.[128]
  • When starting a wash load on Erev Rosh Chodesh (Sunday, July 23), one should take care to start it at such a time that the washing cycle will be complete before sundown. If necessary, one may begin the load if it will finish before nightfall.[129]
  • One should not bring his clothes to the dry cleaners[130] even if he tells them not to clean the clothes until after Tisha Be’Av. Some are lenient in this matter.[131]
  • Some say that a woman may not wash her wig (shaitel) during the Nine Days.[132]Others disagree.[133]
  • One who is traveling should take as many clothes as he will need for the trip rather than wash them during the trip.[134] Some say that if it would be a great bother to take this amount of clothes, one may take less clothes and wash them when he has used them up.[135]
Wearing Freshly Laundered Clothing
  • One may not wear freshly laundered clothes during this time. Sefardim only observe this law during the week of Tisha Be’Av.[136]
  • Similarly, one should not use fresh sheets, tablecloths, towels or hand towels.[137]
  • If one needs to change one’s underwear due to discomfort, it is permissible.[138]
  • A woman may wash and wear the white garments she needs in order to count the seven clean days.
  • It is customary to “pre-wear” other articles of clothing to be able to wear them during the Nine Days. The changes of clothing should be worn for enough time for them to be considered “worn” (a half hour is recommended[139]) and not merely put on and taken off.[140]
  • One may not “pre-wear” their clothes on the Shabbat during the Nine Days as this is considered a preparation for the weekdays. But one may put on a different shirt when they wake up in the morning and again after their afternoon nap as it is not obvious why one is doing this.[141]
  • One who did not prepare clothes in this manner and needs to change his clothes should put the fresh clothes on the ground in such way that it gets (a bit) dirty (or, at least, wrinkled). He may then wear them.[142]
  • One may provide a (new) guest with fresh sheets and towels.[143]
  • One should educate older children to observe these laws as well.
  • One may wear fresh clothes on Shabbos. The same applies to using fresh towels and tablecloths.One who is going on a date (for shidduch purposes) may wear fresh clothes (and, if necessary, even new clothes) in order to look presentable.[144]
Wearing Shabbat Clothes
  • One may not wear Shabbat clothes during the weekdays of the Nine Days.[145] (In general, one should not wear their Shabbat clothing during the week unless it is a special occasion.[146])
  • On Shabbat, however, the custom of Chassidic communities is to wear Shabbat clothing.[147] This is also the custom of the Vilna Gaon as well as the Sefardic custom.[148] The reason for this custom is that it is forbidden to show public signs of mourning on Shabbat and wearing weekday clothes on Shabbat is a public sign of mourning.[149] In some (non-Chassidic) communities, the custom is to not to wear Shabbat clothes except for the Shabbat shirt.[150] One may don Shabbat clothes (as per the customs mentioned above) on Friday afternoon at the same time one normally does on other Fridays.[151] After Shabbat, some say that one should remove these clothes immediately.[152] Other disagree.[153]
  • According to most opinions, one may not wear new clothes on the Shabatot of the Nine Days.[154]
  • If there is a brit or a pidyon haben, the parents, mohel, sandak or Kohen may wear (freshly laundered) Shabbat clothes. The woman who brings in the baby (kvater) may do so as well.[155]
Sewing
  • One may not crochet, knit, sew or do alterations on clothing at this time, nor may one ask (or pay) a non-Jew to do this for him.[156] The reason for this is that the word for spinning (shetiyah) is similar to the even hashetiyah (the stone in the Holy of Holies upon which the Aron Kodesh was placed). So, by refraining from spinning thread, weaving, and sewing clothes, we remember that the building of the even hashetiyah was destroyed.[157]
  • In addition, this activity distracts one from the focus on mourning.[158]
  • Both Sefardim and Ashkenazim should refrain from this for all of the Nine Days.[159]
  • One may sew a button or a patch on a torn garment as the above rule does not apply to minor repairs.[160]
  • By the letter of the law, one may hire a non-Jew to sew a new garment if it will not be ready until after Tisha Be’Av. It is, however, better to refrain from this as well.[161]
Eating Meat and Drinking Wine
  • It is customary not to eat meat or chicken or to drink wine or grape juice during the Nine Days.[162] The reason for this is to commemorate the loss of the wine libations and animal (meat) sacrifices.[163]
  • In some Sefardic communities it is customary to permit eating meat and drinking wine on Rosh Chodesh and only to forbid it after this.[164]
  • One may eat meat and/or drink wine if it is a seudat mitzvah (mitzvah feast). This includes: a Brit Milah, Pidyon Haben or a Siyum of a masechta which was completed on one’s regular learning schedule.[165]
  • This only includes one who would normally attend this simcha if it had happened during the rest of the year.[166]
  • It is customary not to eat food cooked with meat or chicken. If the food was not cooked with actual meat but was merely cooked in a fleishig (meaty) pot, it may be eaten.[167]
  • One may cook with wine if the taste of the wine will not be noticed in the dish.[168]If one made a bracha on a piece of meat and then realized it is in the middle of the Nine Days, he should taste a small amount so that his bracha not be in vain.[169]
  • If a young child needs to eat meat or chicken for health reasons, one may feed it to him.[170]
  • One who is ill, may eat meat in order to gain strength.[171]
On Shabbat, one may eat meat and drink wine.[172] Regarding Havdalah, see below.
  • It is customary not to drink grape juice, but it is permissible to drink other alcoholic beverages.[173]
Bathing
  • It is customary not to bathe during the Nine Days.[174]
  • The Sefardic custom is to refrain from bathing only during the week of Tisha Be’Av.[175] If, as a result of heat and perspiration, one feels uncomfortable, one may shower or bathe, but only as necessary to relieve one’s discomfort.[176]
  • One may wash parts of one’s body with soap and cold water.[177]
  • Children who are constantly getting dirty may be bathed.[178]
  • A man who goes to the mikvah on a daily or weekly basis may continue to do so during the Nine Days (but not on Tisha Be’Av).[179]
  • By the letter of the law, Ashkenazim should not have a full shower on Erev Shabbat. Rather they should wash their hands, face and feet with hot water and soap and their hair without soap. Some are lenient in this regard.[180]
  • A woman whose Mikvah night is during the Nine Days may prepare for the Mikvah with a hot bath and immerse in the Mikvah as usual.[181]
  • A woman whose Mikvah night is the night after Tisha Be’Av should bathe and prepare herself on Erev Tisha Be’Av.[182] Some say she should do the preparations after Tisha Be’Av.[183]
Nail-cutting
There are differing opinions regarding cutting one’s nails during the week of Tisha Be’Av. In practice, Ashkenazim should be strict in this regard. During the rest of the Nine Days, it is permissible.[184]
Engagements
It is permissible to get engaged during the Nine Days. One may have an engagement party without music or dancing. One may serve snacks but not a meal.[185]
Trips
During the Nine Days, it is best not to go on a pleasure trip as this time is considered to have a bad mazal (fortune). One who needs to go on a trip should at least begin the preparations for the trip before the Nine Days.[186]
Giving Gifts
  • Some say that one should refrain from giving gifts during the Nine Days.[187]Others disagree.[188] (See below regarding Tisha Be’Av.)
Kidush Levana
  • It is customary not to do Kiddush Levana until after Tisha Be’Av since until then people are in a state of sadness and mourning.[189] The Vilna Gaon was of the opinion that one should do Kiddush Levana as soon as possible after the 3rd day of the month and not wait until after Tisha Be’Av.[190]
  • In a place that often has clouds, one may do Kiddush Levana before Tisha Be’Av in order to ensure that he not miss it completely.[191]
Positive Things
  • It is a Chassidic custom to make or participate in Siyumim (celebration of completing a Torah Tractate) during the Nine Days. The Lubavitcher Rebbe explained[192] that by increasing in Torah joy, we begin the transformation of these days to a time of joy and rejoicing. This transformation will be completed in the Messianic era as the verse says: “So said the L-rd of Hosts: ‘The Fast of the Fourth (the seventeenth of Tammuz which comes out in the fourth month from Nissan), the Fast of the Fifth (Tisha Be’Av), the Fast of the Seventh (Tzom Gedalya), and the Fast of the Tenth (Asara BeTevet) shall be for the house of Judah for joy and happiness and for cheerful holidays.”[193]
  • If possible, the siyumim should take place on every day of the Nine Days including Tisha Be’Av.  Since on Tisha Be’Av it is forbidden to study most parts of the Torah, the siyum should be made on Mo’ed Kattan whose last chapter may be studied on Tisha Be’Av.
  • One should endeavor to include as many people as possible in these siyumim in a manner of Berov Am Hadrat Melech (A large crowd is an honor to the king).[194]
  • One who cannot make it to the siyum can participate in the simcha (joy) of the siyum by hearing it on the radio or the phone.[195] If that is how he participates, it is forbidden for him to eat meat or drink wine.
  • The Chabad custom is not to eat meat or drink wine at these siyumim unless the person finished the tractate in the course of their regular learning. Even in this case, only people who would otherwise be invited to the siyum may eat meat as explained above.
  • The Rebbe suggested that this custom of having siyumim be extended to 15 Av.[196]
  • One should add in giving tzedakah and studying Torah during this time.
  • It is especially appropriate to add to the study about the Bait HaMikdash at this time (see above).[197]
Monday, Rosh Chodesh Menachem Av/July 23
This day is the Yohrtzeit of Ahron HaKohen.
Tuesday, 5 Menachem Av/ July 28
This day is the yahrtzeit of the Arizal.
Click here for information on this unique, holy tzadik.
Shabbat Chazon
 6 Menachem Av/July 28 and 29
If one needs to taste the meat or chicken dishes that one is cooking on Friday, one may do so.[198]
The Shabbat before Tisha Be’av is referred to as Shabbat Chazon, reflecting the first word of the haftorah reading. Because the word Chazon means vision, the great Chassidic master, Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, taught that every year, on this Shabbat, G-d shows us a vision of the Future Bait HaMikdash. Even if we are not aware of this vision, our neshamot (souls) are aware of it, and this causes us to yearn for the rebuilding of this temple.
  • On Shabbat, the laws of mourning do not apply, which means one may eat meat, drink wine, and wear fresh (Shabbat) clothes (according to most opinions) as explained above.
  • In places where people customarily dance on Shabbat, they may do so on this Shabbat as well.[199]
  • One who accepts Shabbat early may eat meat and drink wine from that point and on.[200]
  • One may also feed one’s young children the meat or chicken from the Shabbat food several hours before Shabbat.[201]
  • One may wash clothes on Friday if one needs them for Shabbat.[202]
  • One should have a joyful Shabbat meal as one would every week.
  • In some communities, the Haftorah is chanted to the tune of Eicha. This is not the Chabad custom.[203]
  • Some have the custom to call up the Rav of the community for the maftir.[204]
Motzei Shabbat
Regarding Havdalah, some say that it is best to have a child drink the wine or grape juice.[205] Others say that one may drink it himself.[206] If there is no child available, one may drink the wine himself.[207] According to the Alter Rebbe, one may only give the wine to a child who is fulfilling the mitzvah of Havdalah with his blessing.[208]
  • One should not eat meat at the Melava Malka.[209]
Erev Tisha Be’Av – Monday, 8 Menachem Av /July 31
  • One may not study Torah from noon on Erev Tisha Be’Av (Monday) until Tisha Be’Av is over (Tuesday night). This is because Torah study gladdens the heart.[210]
  • One may study parts of the Torah which are sad and/or relate to the destruction of the Bait HaMikdash. Several examples:[211]
    • Megillat Eicha and the Midrash on Eicha[212]
    • The sad parts of Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah) and Iyov (Job)[213].
    • The last chapter of Tractate Mo’ed Kattan.
    • The story of the second destruction as recorded in Gittin 55a – 58a,[214] or of the first destruction as recorded in Sanhedrin 96 and 97.[215]
    • The Book of Josephus (Wars of the Jews).[216]
    • The laws of mourning[217] and of Tisha Be’Av[218] may also be studied.
Tachnun (prayers of supplication) is not recited at Mincha since Tisha Be’Av is referred to as a mo’ed (holiday).[219]
Seudah HaMafseket
  • The final meal before the fast must be very simple (see below). For this reason many people have two meals in the afternoon of Erev Tisha Be’Av. During the first one, they may eat whatever they wish.[220] An interruption is made, usually by going to daven Mincha (pray the afternoon prayer), and then the final meal may be eaten.
  • The final meal before the fast is called the Seudah Hamafseket (lit., the meal that divides). It should include bread (some use bagels[221]) dipped in ashes and eggs. Sefardim eat bread and a lentil dish. Some Sefardim have a dish which includes lentils and eggs.[222] One may not have more than one dish. One may drink water and/or coffee or tea. Some are strict not to have a hot drink. This meal should be eaten while sitting on the floor or on a pillow placed on the floor or on a low stool, and may not be eaten in groups. In addition, one should not recite the Birkat HaMazon (Grace after Meals) with a mezuman (as a group).[223]
  • One need not remove his shoes during this meal.[224]
  • One who finishes this meal before the fast begins may sit on a regular chair after the meal until the fast begins.[225]
  • One who wishes to eat after he finishes the meal before sunset should have this in mind before he recites the Grace after Meals.
The Fast of Tisha Be’Av
Monday night and Tuesday, July 31 and August 1
Tisha Be’av is a day of fasting and mourning for five tragedies:
1) In the year 1312 BCE, the spies returned from Israel with a bad report. The Jews believed them, as a result of which it was decreed that the entire generation perish in the desert.
2) The first Bait Hamikdash (Holy Temple) was destroyed by the Babylonians in the year 423 BCE. (Click here for more information)
3) The second Bait HaMikdash was destroyed by the Romans in the year 69. (See here for more on this destruction.)
4) Turnus Rufus, the governor of the Judean province in the first half of the second century, had the Temple Mount plowed under on that day.
5) In the year 133 the rebellion of Beitar was suppressed, resulting in the death of millions of Jews. See here for more information.More recently:
a) The Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492.
b) Germany declared war on Russia in the start of World War I in 1914.The following is a brief digest of the laws pertaining to this day: (For more information please see the Code of Jewish Law [O.C. 554 – 558].)
Forbidden Activities
The following activities are forbidden on Tisha Be’av:
Torah Study
As mentioned above, one may not study Torah on Tisha Be’Av .
See above as to what topics may be studied.
Even when studying the topics mentioned above, one may not delve deeply into them and develop new insights in them.
  • One who will read from the Torah may review the Torah portion before the reading.
  • One should also not think Torah thoughts.
  • One may only render a Halachic ruling if it is necessary for that time.[226]
  • One should also not read secular articles or the news or do anything which will distract him from the mourning of the day.[227]
  • Some permit one to learn from works that inspire a person to Teshuvah (e.g., Mussar and Chassidut).[228]
  • One who normally recites Mishnayot after the prayers and then says a Kadish Derabanan should say the Mishnayot of Ta’anit or Mo’ed Kattan that one may study on Tisha Be’Av. At Mincha on Sunday afternoon, one may say the regular Mishnayot.[229]
  • Some say that one may do regular Torah study that is done by a community on a daily basis such as Chok LeYisrael or chitat (Chumash, Tehillim and Tanya) after Mincha.[230]
Sitting[231]
  • From nightfall on Motzei Shabbat until midday on Sunday, one may not sit on a regular chair. One may sit on the floor, a pillow, or a low stool.[232]
  • One may stand if he wishes. Only if one wishes to sit, should he sit in the prescribed manner.
  • A pregnant woman or elderly person, for whom it is difficult to sit on a low stool, may sit on a regular chair.
  • One may sit as usual while traveling by car. When traveling by bus, one should stand, if possible.
  • One may not sit on a bed.
  • One who does hagbah (lifting the Sefer Torah) may sit while holding the Torah afterwards. Similarly, a sandek (one who holds the baby during a brit) may sit during the brit.
  • A nursing mother may sit as usual while nursing.
Sleeping in the Normal Fashion
  • When going to sleep at night, one should be somewhat uncomfortable. For example, if one usually sleeps with two pillows, he should use one instead. If he usually uses one, he should use none.[233]
  • Some have a custom to sleep on the floor with a stone as a pillow.
  • I heard that the Lubavitcher Rebbe would sleep with his mattress on the floor on Tisha Be’Av.
Eating and Drinking
  • From sunset on Monday eveninguntil nightfall on Tuesday, it is forbidden to eat or drink.
  • One who is sick and confined to bed need not fast.[234] Some say that even a sick person should fast unless he is in great pain.[235] In case of doubt, one should discuss it with one’s doctor and rabbi.
  • A woman who has given birth within the last thirty days is not required to fast. Some say that a woman who gave birth more than seven days before Tisha Be’Av should fast providing she feels well enough to do so.[236]
  • Generally, a nursing mother or pregnant woman should fast. One who feels that she is unable to fast should consult her doctor and a rabbi.
  • It is advisable to drink a lot of water in the days leading up to the fast. If one has a special condition, a Rabbi should be consulted.
  • One who needs to swallow medication may do so.
  • One who needs liquid with which to swallow a pill should use a bitter liquid, if possible.[237]
  • As mentioned above, it is best not to rinse one’s mouth on public fast days. If one is uncomfortable, he may use mouthwash and be careful not to swallow any of it.
  • Children before Bar or Bat Mitzvah need not fast. Some say that children nearing the age of Bar or Bat Mitzvah should be trained to fast for several hours.[238]
Wearing Leather Shoes[239]
 One may not wear leather shoes.
  • One should not wear shoes that have leather uppers or leather soles. In other words, there should be no leather anywhere in the shoes.
  • Leather belts and other leather garments are allowed.
  • Shoes made of non-leather (canvas etc.) are allowed.
  • Children should likewise refrain from wearing leather shoes.
Washing[240]
  • One may not wash any parts of the body.
  • An area which becomes dirty may be washed.
  • One should wash Negel Vasser (the morning hand wash) until the knuckles.
  •  Children (or others who are exempt from fasting) who are washing for bread may wash as usual. The same applies to Mayim Acharonim.
  • The same applies to Kohanim who are washing to say the blessing of the Kohanim (in the Sefardic tradition of doing a daily Priestly blessing or in Israel) as well as to the Leviyim who are washing the hands of the Kohanim.
  • After washing in the morning, one may dry one’s hands and use his somewhat moist fingers to wipe his eyes.
  • If one’s eyes are encrusted, he may wash them as necessary.
  • One who uses the bathroom should wash his fingers until the knuckles.[241] One who normally washes six times alternately after using the bathroom may do so on Tisha Be’Av as well but should only wash until the knuckles.[242]
  • One who touched a part of his body that is normally covered may wash that hand up to the knuckles.[243] One should refrain from touching these areas in order to minimize washing on Tisha Be’Av.[244]
  • One should wash his hands up until his knuckles before praying.[245]
  • A kallah, within 30 days after her wedding, may wash her face.[246]
  • A woman may wash herself as necessary in order to do a hefsek tahara.[247]
  • One who is preparing food (for children or for after the fast) may wash that food even though their fingers will get washed as well.[248]
  • In addition, one may wash their hands to clean them before preparing food as needed.[249]
Marital Relations
  • One may not have marital relations.
  • On the night of Tisha Be’Av (Monday night) a couple should observe the laws relating to a time of Niddah (harchakot).[250]
  • A woman whose mikvah night is on Moday night should postpone the Mikvah until Tuesday night. She should prepare for mikvah on Monday afternoon and then do another brief preparation before immersing after Tisha Be’Av. Some say she should prepare after the Fast of Tisha Be’Av is over.[251] One whose Mikvah night is the night after Tisha Be’Av (Tuesday night) should do her preparations after nightfall.
Creams and Oils
  • One may not use any cream, oil, or lotion on one’s skin.
  • A Kallah may use creams on her face for thirty days after her wedding.
  • One may use deodorant as necessary.[252]
Jewelry
It is customary for women not to wear jewelry on Tisha Be’Av with the exception of jewelry that one wears all of the time.[253]
Smelling Spices
It is best not to smell fragrant spices on Tisha Be’Av.[254]
Greetings
  • One may not greet others on Tisha Be’Av (e.g., by saying “hello” or “good morning”).
  • If one is greeted by someone else, one should respond softly and inform that person (if appropriate) that on Tisha Be’Av, greeting is forbidden.[255]
  • It is permissible to nod one’s head in greeting.[256]
  • One should not inquire as to how someone else is doing as a matter of course. If they are sick however, one may ask how they are doing.[257]
  • One who needs to take leave of a friend on Tisha Be’Av should say “May we meet at the rebuilding of the Bait HaMikdash.”[258]
  • One should not give gifts on Tisha Be’Av unless the recipient is poor and in need of the item.[259]
  • As such, one may give money or food to the poor on Tisha Be’Av.[260]
Work[261]
  • One should not do work on Tisha Be’Av before midday. This is referring to any work that takes time and would distract one from mourning.
  • It is best not to work even after midday as the Talmud says[262] that “Whoever works on Tisha Be’Av will not see a blessing from that work.”
  • Simple work (e.g., turning the light on) may be done even in the morning.
  • If not working will cause one to have a great financial loss, one may work even in the morning.
  • It is customary not to begin preparing the meal with which to break the fast until after midday. If it will be a seudat mitzvah (a mitzvah meal e.g. the feast after a brit milah) and there will not enough time to prepare it, one may begin before midday.[263]
The Night of the Fast of Tisha Be’Av, Monday night, July 31
  • It is customary to remove the parochet (curtain) from the aron kodesh (holy ark) or at least to leave it drawn to the side.
  • Some have the custom of also removing the cloth that covers the Bimah (table used for the Torah reading) and the chazzan’s shtender (lectern).
Reading the Book of Eicha
  • The lights should be dimmed for Maariv and the reading of Eicha.
  • One should sit on the floor (or a low bench) for the Maariv prayer and the reading of Eicha.
  • The reader should pause slightly between each verse and slightly longer between each chapter. He should read the final verse in every chapter in a louder voice than the rest of the chapter. The last verse should be said aloud by the congregation and then repeated by the reader.[264]
  • After the reading of Eicha, several kinot (lamentations) are recited.
  • It is customary in many communities to learn the story of the destruction after the nighttime prayers.[265]
Tisha Be’Av day, Tuesday, August 1
Morning Prayers
  • In the morning, we do not say the blessing of She’asah li Kol Tzarki since this blessing is to thank G-d for shoes and we may not wear (regular) shoes on Tisha Be’Av. The bracha is also not recited at night at the end of Tisha Be’Av according to the Chabad custom.[266]
  • Others say that this bracha should be recited on Tisha Be’Av.[267]
  • We do not wear a Talit Gadol or Teffilin for Shacharit, only for Mincha.
  • One should not say a blessing on their Talit Katan in the morning.
  • One should not hold the tzitzit of their tallit katan for Baruch She’amar or for the reading of the Shema.[268]
  • It is customary not to recite the Song of the Day or Ein K’elokainu until the afternoon.
  • We do not recite Tachanun (confessionary prayers). After the amidah, the Chazzan recites Half Kaddish.
  • Only those fasting may receive an aliyah.(See above regarding the Torah reading of the 17th of Tammuz.)
  • After Shachrit it is customary to read kinot until Chatzot (midday). The final chapter ‘Eili Tzion’ should be recited verse by verse responsively.
  • One may not walk outside or converse during the recital of the kinot so as not to remove one’s mind from mourning.[269]
  • It is proper for each individual to recite Eicha privately after completing kinot.[270]
  • After Kinot we recite Ashrei, Uva L’tzion (omitting the verse V’ani Zos Briti), Kaddish (without the verse of Titkabel), Aleinu, Mourner’s Kaddish.
  • A mourner, during the shiva, may come to shul during the morning of Tisha Be’Av.
  • If there is a brit on Tisha Be’Av, it should take place after the completion of Kinot. The parents, Mohel and Sandak may wear Shabbat clothes during the Brit. They may not, however, wear leather shoes. It is mentioned in the Shulchan Aruch that it is customary to visit the cemetery after morning prayers of Tisha Be’Av. The Chabad Rebbes didn’t follow this custom. The reason for this may be that on Tisha Be’Av one may not go to the Mikvah, and it is customary in Chabad for men to immerse themselves in the Mikvah before going to a cemetery. [271]
Mincha / Afternoon Prayers
  • At Mincha time, one may say the Tehillim of the day as well as the Chumash and Tanya.[272]
  • It is important to give additional Tzedakah on this day (see above regarding the fast of the 17th of Tammuz).
  • The order of Mincha is:
    1.   The Parochet (curtain) should be replaced on the Aron Kodesh (holy ark).
    2.    One should don Tallit and Tefillin with a Bracha.
    3.   Chabad custom is to begin by reciting the three chapters of Shema,[273] Shir Shel Yom (Song of the Day), Mourner’s Kaddish, Ein K’elokainu, Kaddish D’rabanan, Tehillim, followed by Korbanot, Ashrei, Half-Kaddish.
4.  The Torah is brought out and three Aliyot are read. The third Aliyah is also Maftir. All the three men called up to the Torah should be fasting.
5.  The prayers of Nachaim and Aneinu are inserted in the silent Amidah, in the blessings of Boneh Yerushalayim and Shome’ah Tefilah respectively.
    • If one forgot to say Nacheim, some say it should be inserted in Shome’ah Tefilah, before “ki atah.”[274] Some say it should be inserted in Retzeh, before V’techezenah.[275]  In any case, one should finish those berachot as usual. One who did not remember to say it during those blessings can add it to Elokai Netzor.[276]
    • If one did not recite Nacheim at all, he need not repeat the Amidah.
6.  The Chazzan should recite Aneinu, Nachaim, and Birkat Kohanim in the repetition of the Amidah. In Sefardic communities (and in Israel) the Kohanim recite the Priestly blessing.
7.  Minchah is concluded with Aleinu and Mourner’s Kaddish.
8.  Those who put on “Rabeinu Tam’s Tefillin” should do so after Mincha.
Some women have a custom to sweep and tidy the house on the afternoon of Tisha Be’Av. Since, according to our tradition, Moshiach is born on the afternoon of Tisha Be’Av, this is considered to be a preparation for Moshiach.[277]
Motzoei Tisha Be’Av / Tuesday night, August 1
Ma’ariv and Break-fast                                        
  • At nightfall, one should pray Maariv as usual.
  • One should wash Negel Vasser properly (six times alternately) after Maariv.
  • It is proper to do Kiddush Levana on the night after Tisha Be’av. The Arizal say that this alludes to the birth of Moshiach ben David.
  • It is best to also put on leather shoes and eat before Kiddush Levana in order to recite it with full simcha (joy).
  • One may not eat meat or drink wine on Tuesday evening or do any of the restrictions of the Nine Days and Three Weeks until Wednesday after midday.[278]
  • The Sefardic custom is to refrain from eating meat or drinking wine on the night after Tisha Be’Av but to permit all of the other restrictions of the Nine Days on this night. In addition, they permit eating meat and drinking wine in the morning of the 10th of Av as well.[279]
  • It is proper for a couple to refrain from having relations on this night unless it is Mikvah night or if one of them is leaving on a trip or has just returned from a trip.[280]
Our sages teach that whoever mourns for Yerushalayim will merit to see it rebuilt.[281]May we merit this speedily in our days!
Tisha Be’Av Times (taken from Chabad.org)
Fast Begins
Midday Tue.  May sit on regular chair
Fast Ends
Miami
8:07 pm
1:26 pm
8:32 pm
New York
8:12 pm
1:01 pm
8:42 pm
Los Angeles
7:55 pm
12:59 pm
8:22 pm
Yerushalayim
7:36 pm
12:45
8:03 pm
Melbourne, Australia
5:32 pm
12:26 pm
6:01 pm

[1] See Ta’anit 26 a and b, and 28b
[2] Although there is an argument as to whether the Torah was given on the 6th or the 7th of Sivan (Shabbat 86b), all agree that Moshe ascended Mount Sinai on the 7th. He descended 40 days later on the 17th of Tammuz (Tanit 28b).
[3] Some say this occurred in the siege leading up to the destruction of the first Beit HaMikdash, while others say that this is the event took place during the era of the second Beit HaMikdash at the time of the civil war between the brothers of the Hasmonean dynasty-Yochanan and Aristobulus-in the year 3700 (-61 BCE) (Tiferet Yisrael on Ta’anit, 4, 6. See Bava Kamma 82b). According to Rashi, this occurred in the time leading up to the destruction of the second Beit HaMikdash (Tanit, 26b D.H. uvatel)
[4] There are differing opinions as to the year to the Temple’s destruction, whether it was the year 68, 69 or 70. See here
[5] In the siege of Jerusalem which led to the destruction of the first Beit HaMikdash, the walls of Jerusalem were breached on 9 Tammuz (Ta’anit, 28b).
[6] According to the Tiferet Yisrael, the Torah Scroll in reference was the one written by Ezra, the Scribe, which was the source-text for the writing of other Torah Scrolls. Alternatively, Apostumus may have burned as many scrolls as he was able to.
[7] Some say this was done by the afore-mentioned Apostumus in the Second Temple. While others say it was done by King Menasheh in the First Temple, sometime between the years 3228 (-533) and 3283 (-478). (Tosfot Yom Tov on Ta’anit, ibid, see also Kings 2, 21, 7 and Sanhedrin 103b.)
[8]See Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 70, 5 and Mishnah Berurah, 235, 18
[9] O.C. 564, and Mishnah Berurah there
[10] Kaf HaChaim, 549, 11
[11] Rama, 567, 1
[12] O.C. 567, 2 and Mishnah Berurah
[13] Mishnah Berurah 568, 8
[14] Mateh Efraim 602:23
[15] Nitei Gavriel, Hilchot Bein HaMeitzarim 4, 5. The Shevet HaLevi (8:261) is lenient regarding fasting shorter hours when traveling west. And the Yaskil Avdi (8:31) is strict regarding fasting longer hours when traveling east.
[16] Betzel Hachochmah 1, 31
[17] Ibid 550, 4
[18] Piskei Teshuvot 550, 2, Avnei Nezer, O.C. 540
[19] See Igrot Moshe 3, 91
[20] Yalkut Yosef, Laws of the Four Fasts, 7 Nitei Gavriel, 5, 4
[21] Mishnah Berurah 550:3
[22] Rama O.C. 550:1
[23] See sources quoted in Piskei Teshuvot, 550, note 1
[24] See Rama O.C. 550, 1 and Mishnah Beru

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