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We call the period between the fast of the Seventeenth of Tammuz and the fast of the Ninth of Av “The Three Weeks” and days between Rosh Chodesh Av and the Ninth of Av “The Nine Days.” During this time we commemorate the destruction of the Holy Temples as well as other tragedies that occurred in these three weeks. The mourning intensifies after Rosh Chodesh Av, when the laws of mourning become stricter and culminates with the fast of Tisha Be’Av (the Ninth of Av), the day on which both Temples were destroyed.
Following is a summary of the laws that apply during this time. For more details, please see the Code of Jewish Law, O.C. Simanim 549 – 559.
(Due to unforseen circumstances this email is going out after the fast of the 17th of Tammuz is over. But I am leaving in these laws for educational purposes.)
Thursday, 17 Tammuz, July 9
This fast day commemorates five tragedies (see Taanit 26a and b and 28b):
·      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 Jewish people worshipping the golden calf.
·      See Taanit 28b and Rashi on Ex. 32:1 that Moshe ascended Mount Sinai on the 7th of Sivan. He descended 40 days later on the 17th of Tammuz which is when he broke the luchot (Taanit 28b and Rashi on Ex. 32:1).
·      The Korban Tamid (daily sacrificial offering) ceased being offered.
·      There are three opinions as to when this occurred.
1.     The Rambam (laws of Ta’anit 5:2) says that it occurred before the destruction of the first Bait HaMikdash. Apparently, due to the siege of the city, there were no lambs to be found. See Rashi on Erkin 11b.
2.     The Tiferet Yisrael (based on Bava Kamma 82b) says that it took place during the civil war between the two brothers Yochanan and Aristobulus, sons of the Hasmonean King Yannai.
3.     The Jerusalem Talmud (Ta’anit 4:5) says that it occurred in the Roman siege that led up to the destruction of the Second Beit HaMikdash. See also Rashi on Ta’anit 26b).
·      The walls of Jerusalem were breached in the year 3829 (69 CE) leading to the destruction of the Second Temple
·      In the time leading up to the destruction of the first Beit HaMikdash, the walls of Jerusalem were breached on the 9th of Tammuz (see Ta’anit 28b). (According to the Jerusalem Talmud this breach occurred on the 17th of Tammuz.) During the 70 years of the Babylonian Exile the Jewish people fasted on the 9th of Tammuz. When the second Beit HaMikdash was built, that fast was suspended. After the destruction of the second Beit HaMikdash the sages commemorated the breaching of the city walls in both the first and second Beit HaMikdash era, with one fast day. They chose the 17th rather than the 9th of Tammuz as the pain of that breach was more fresh. (Commentaries cited in the Metivta Shas on Ta’anit 26b.)
·      There are differing opinions as to the year of the Temple’s destruction, whether it was the year 68, 69 or 70. See here.
·        The wicked Apostumus burned the Torah scroll.
·      Apostumos was a Greek Hellenistic ruler (Rabbi Ovadiah of Bartuenura on the Mishna Ta’anit 4:1)
·      Some say he burned the scroll which had been written by Ezra, the Scribe. Others say he burned every Torah scroll he could find (Tiferet Yisrael on the Mishna).
·      An idol was placed in the Sanctuary
·      Some say this was done by the afore-mentioned Apostumus in the Second Temple era. 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 II, 21:7 and Sanhedrin 103b).
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.
  • 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.
  • Some say that one who is healthy should not eat extra before a fast but should rather experience the full difficulty of the fast.
  • It is best not to use mouthwash or brush one’s teeth and rinse one’s mouth on a public fast day.
  • 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.
  • 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. If this is difficult, one may redeem the fast by giving tzedakah.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • A sick or old person who finds it difficult to fast need not fast 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.
  • 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.
  • In Sefardic and Chassidic communities, it is customary that pregnant or nursing women not fast on this day. 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. 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. Others say that nowadays we can assume a pregnant woman will feel weak or sick, and therefore she need not fast. All agree that a woman who had a baby within 30 days should not fast. As mentioned above, there is greater leniency this year since the fast is postponed.
  • 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. Some disagree and say that only a mother who is actually nursing need not fast.
  • Children under Bar or Bat Mitzvah need not fast.
  • Reb Shlomo Zalman Auerbach disagreed with the modern custom of having children fast the three fasts before their Bar or Bat Mitzvah (Mishnah Berurah with Dirshu 549:12).
  • One who is not fasting should eat in private. In addition, he, as well as children who are old enough to be educated, should only eat simple foods and not sweets or treats.
  • One who is fasting may touch food (e.g., to serve her children). Some say that one may only touch food if it is necessary (i.e., if the child cannot prepare it himself).
  • 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.
  • But see Mishnah Berurah on 567:1 that it is permissible to taste a small amount and spit it out when cooking for a Seudat Mitzvah that will take place that night.
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 (Brachot 6a), the main reward of a fast day is for the Tzedaka that one customarily gives to the poor. 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) [Tosfot D.H. Hakore, Megillah 21a cited in Elya Rabbah 556:2].
  • 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) [Mateh Efraim 602:21 and Mishnah Berurah 566:12].
  • This is especially important for someone who was unable to fast for whatever reason [ibid 23].
  • One who is healthy may not redeem the fast instead of fasting [ibid].
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 [Mishnah Berurah 550:6 and Sha’ar HaTziyun, 8].
Some say that even a Ba’al Nefesh need not be strict [cited in Nitei Gavriel 8:2]. Certainly, a woman may bathe in preparation for her mikvah night [ibid 3].
Some are also strict regarding these matters (and also regarding fasting) on the night preceding a fast [ibid 9].
Certainly, women may prepare for mikvah and immerse as usual on the night of a fast, and men may immerse in the mikvah on the morning of a fast.
On fast days one should take care to not get angry. If one does business, one should take care to be perfectly honest and conduct the transactions in a subdued manner [Kaf HaChaim, 549:11 in the name of the Shela]. 
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.
  • If the chazan forgot to recite Aneinu before the blessing of Refa’enu, he should add it to Shome’ah Tefillah as is done during the silent Amidah (Mishna Berurah 565:3).
  • In such a case, he should finish the bracha with the following ending ha’oneh be’et tzarah vehashome’ah Tefillah (Luach Kollel Chabad, Tzom Gedalyah). Some say that the Chazzan should finish with the standard “Shome’a Tefillah” only.
  • If the Chazzan began the Refa’enu blessing and did not yet say G-d’s name at the end of the blessing, he may go back to Aneinu and continue from there (Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 119:5).
  • The Sefardic custom is for the entire congregation (that is fasting) to recite Aneinu in Shacharit as well [O.C. 565:3].
  • Aneinu is added to the Amidah in the Mincha prayer by both the chazan and the congregation. 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 [O.C. 565:2 and Mishnah Berurah, 7].
  • One who is praying the silent Amidah together with the Chazan who is doing the repetition, should recite Aneinu during Shema Koleinu and not together with the Chazan (as a separate blessing).
  • 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) should not be called for an aliyah, nor should he be the Ba’al Koreh or the Chazzan [566:5-6 and Mishnah Berurah 20].
  • If he is the only Kohen and he is not fasting, he should leave the shul so as not be called for an aliyah [O.C. 566:6].
  • 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 feels that announcing it would be a chillul Hashem (a desecration of G-d’s name), he may accept the Aliyah [Mishnah Berurah, ibid 21]. In addition, if the fast is on a Monday or Thursday (as it is this year), one who is called upmay take the aliyah in Shacharit even if he is not fasting [ibid19].
  • Despite this, the Gabbai need not ask the potential olim (people receiving aliyot) whether they are fasting or not [Nitei Gavriel 12:11].
  • One who is not fasting may open the Ark (peticha) and lift or wrap the Torah (hagbah and gelilah) [Mateh Efrayim 606:6].
  • 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 [See Piskei Teshuvot 549:1].
  • In earlier times it was customary for the Rav or spiritual leader of a congregation to speak inspirational words (after Minchah) on a fast day [Rambam, Laws of Ta’anit, 4:2]. The Lubavitcher Rebbe encouraged the revival of this custom [Likutei Sichot 20:352].
The Three Weeks
Thursday, The Fast of the 17 of Tammuz /July 9 to Thursday, 9Menachem Av /July 29 – 30
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 [Eicha 1:3]: כָּל-רֹדְפֶיהָ הִשִּׂיגוּהָ, בֵּין הַמְּצָרִים All those who run after her reached her bein hameitzarim (between the straits). 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) [Avodat Yisrael of the Kozhnitzer Maggid, Parshat Masei].
The reason for this is that when a person serves G-d in a difficult period it is all the more precious [No’am Elimelech, Parshat Vayeshev, D.H. Oh Yomar Vayeshev]. In this sense, the Three Weeks can be compared to the 21 days from Rosh Hashana to Hoshana Rabba [Chidushei Agaddot Maharsha, Bechorot 8a (pg. 156 bottom of left column)].
Some say that the laws relating to the Three Weeks begin the night before the fast (June 8). Others say that the restrictions do not begin until the morning of the fast. One can be lenient in a case of need [Igrot Moshe, O.C. 1, 168 and O.C. 4, 112:2] During the Three Weeks the following rules apply:
·        One should not say the blessing of She’hechiyanu which blesses the time since this is considered a “negative time.” According to Chabad custom, one should not say She’hechiyanu on Shabbat.. The Mishnah Berurah [551:98] writes that one may say Shehechiyanu on Shabbat. This is based on the fact that the Vilna Gaon holds that one may make She’hechiyanu throughout the Three Weeks, coupled with the fact that some are lenient on Shabbat. Similarly, some are lenient on Rosh Chodesh [Sha’ar HaTziyun, 99].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. In this case, it is better to wait until Shabbat, if possible.
·        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.
·        One may say She’hechiyanu on the occasion of a Pidyon Haben that they do for their son during the Three Weeks. The same applies if they have a baby girl during this time. Sefardim, who say She’hechiyahu on the occasion of a Brit Milah of their son, may do so during this time as well.
·        Some say that during these days one may say the blessing of HaTov VeHameitiv (on good news that affects oneself and others and on drinking new wine in certain settings). Others disagree [Kaf HaChaim 175:11]. As a result of his ruling, the Kaf HaChaim recommends that one not drink new wine in a way that will obligate him to recite the blessing of HaTov VeHameitiv. See Siman O.C. 175 at length regarding this blessing.
New Home
·        It is customary not to move to a new house or apartment during these weeks [Sha’arei Halacha Uminhag, 2, Siman 225].
·        One who needs to move into a new house (or apartment) should put some important furniture into the house before the Three Weeks begin. [Nitei Gavriel, 17:2 quoting Responsa Machazeh Avraham (by Rabbi Avraham Menachem Steinberg of Brody), vol. 3, Siman 13 regarding the Omer season.] One may purchase an investment property during these days [See Nitei Gavriel 17 and sources quoted there]. There are two reasons for not buying or moving into a new house. One is that it is forbidden to say the Shehechiyanu blessing. And the second is that it is not an auspicious time for such a mjor life event. When buying an investment property, neither of these reasons apply.
·        One may do renovations or paint one’s house during the Three Weeks, but not during the Nine Days (see below).
New Clothes[3]
·        One should not purchase new clothes (that are significant) or other important items. The Eliyahu Zuta [551:26] says that one should not purchase new clothes as this leads to increased joy, even if one will not say She’hechiyanu. Some are lenient in this regard for those who do not customarily say She’hecheyanu on these items. (See below regarding the Nine Days.)
·        One may buy and or/wear new underwear or socks during these days as these are not important items.
·        If one finds clothes on sale that will not be available for that price after TishaBe’Av, one may buy them during the Three Weeks (see below, regarding the Nine Days). This is particularly true if one isbuying for one’s children and is not paying all of the money at the time of sale (i.e., when purchasing on “layaway”).
New Car
·        Some say that one should not purchase a new car during the Three Weeks (see below regarding the Nine Days). One may be lenient in this matter if he needs a car for work or if it’s available for a significant discount and will not be available later [Nitei Gavriel ibid, 14].
·        It is customary not to listen to music during the Three Weeks. This includes recorded music or “acapella.” Some are lenient regarding “acapella” music. See Shevet HaLevi (8:127) who cites the common custom to listen to acapella music and explains the basis for this. The Shevet HaLevi however, disagrees with this custom.
·        One should also not allow his children who have reached the age of chinuch(education) to listen to music.
·        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.
·        It is proper to minimize dancing at this time (Nitei Gavriel 15:4).
·        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. Nevertheless, the (Jewish) students should not practice at home during this time unless they are learning music to make their parnassah (livelihood).
·        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.
·        It is customary not to get married at this time.
·        The Sefardic and Yemenite custom is to refrain from marriage only during the Nine Days.
·        It is permissible to have an engagement party (including a meal) during the Three Weeks, but there should not be music or dancing. (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.
Dangerous Activities[6]
·        One should refrain from engaging in dangerous activities during the Three Weeks as this is considered an inauspicious time.
·        For example, one should try to refrain from:
·        Having a non-urgent operation or other medical procedure.
·        Going hiking in places that are considered dangerous.
·        Hitting one’s children (this is rarely recommended).
·        Swimming in dangerous areas.
·        It is customary for Ashkenazim not to take haircuts during this time.
·        As mentioned above, it is best to not get a haircut on the night entering into the 17th of Tammuz (Wed. July 8)., Sefardim only need to refrain from taking haircuts during the week of Tisha Be’Av.
·        If one’s mustache is getting in the way of his eating, he may trim it during the Three Weeks but not during the week of Tisha Be’Av (see below).
·        If one needs to shave (in a permissible way) 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. One should discuss this with his rabbi. (See Igrot Moshe O.C. vol. 5, Siman 24, ot 5, regarding shaving during the week of Tish Be’Av for someone one who may otherwise lose his job and may not have money to feed his family.)
·        One should not give haircuts to their young children at this time.
·        If a child’s third birthday falls out during the Three Weeks, the upsherinish (first haircut) should be postponed until after Tisha Be’Av [Sha’arei Halacha Uminhag, 2, pg. 303].
·        If a woman needs to cut her hair for reasons of modesty, she may do so even during the Nine Days.
·        A woman may pluck her eyebrows or wax her legs until the week of Tisha Be’Av.
·        Combing hair is permissible even in the week of Tisha Be’Av.
·        There is room for leniency if a young lady needs to take a haircut in preparation for a shidduch date.
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 [Sha’arei Halacha Uminhag, 2, pg. 229].
·        The Lubavitcher Rebbe instituted that one should increase in learning about the Bait HaMikdash (Holy Temple) during this time. The Midrash [Tanchuma, Tzav, 14] equates learning about the Bait HaMikdash to building it. Thus, by learning about it during this time, it is as if we are building it. [Likutei Sichot, 18, sicha on Parshat Masei – Bein HaMeitzarim].
·        The Rebbe recommended that one learn:
·        the relevant chapters of Yechezkel (Ezekiel 40 – 43) with commentaries,
·        Tractate Middot and parts of Tamid [Hitva’aduyot, 5750, vol. 4, page 55, note 186].with commentaries,
·        and the Rambam (Hilchot Bait HaBechirah) with commentaries.
·        During this season, the Rebbe would often discuss these themes at length.
·        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[8]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.)[9]
·        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. [Nitei Gavriel, 24, note 12 in the name of Rav Yaakov Tanenbaum of Potnack]
·        (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.
The Nine Days
Wednesday, Rosh Chodesh Menachem Av/ July 21-22 – Thursday, 9 Menachem Av/July 29-30
From Rosh Chodesh Av until after Tisha Be’av it is appropriate to minimize in joy as explained below [Ta’anit 26b]. 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. If possible, one should reschedule it for after 15 Av or, better yet, for the month of Elul [O.C. 551:1, Hanhagot Chassam Sofer, quoted in Nitei Gavriel, 27, note 15 and Magen Avraham, quoted in Mishnah Berurah, 551:2.]
Renovations – New Homes[10]
·        One should not build or renovate one’s home.
·        One who is in the 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. 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.
·        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).
·        One may sign a contract to buy a new home if by not doing so he may lose that opportunity.
·        One should not move into a new home or apartment during this time. One should postpone this until after the 15th of Av [Igrot Kodesh, 9, page 228], or, better yet, until the month of Elul.
·        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.
Buying New Items[11]
  • In the Nine Days, one should refrain from buying furniture or other expensive household articles that would bring a person joy even if one does not recite Shehechiyanu on these furnishings. One may purchase utilitarian items such as a refrigerator or a washing machine. One should not buy a new car unless one needs it for work.
  • Generally, one should not buy new clothes during the Nine Days even if they will be more expensive after the Nine Days. One may buy shoelaces or a belt. Some say that in a case where it will be more expensive after the Nine Days it is permissible to buy clothes for young children. If it is a unique sale at extremely low prices which will not be available after the Nine Days, one may purchase clothes for adults as well.
  • One may not wear new clothes during this time even if they were purchased beforehand. This applies even to non-important clothing such as socks (Nitei Gavriel 31:3).
Washing Clothes[12]
·        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.
·        The Sefardic custom is to allow washing of clothes up until the week of TishaBe’Av .
·        The clothes of very young children that are constantly getting dirty may be washed. It is customary to be lenient with the clothes of children under six years of age. If one can have a non-Jew wash these clothes, that is preferred.
·        It is not necessary to purchase new clothing for one’s young children in order to make this washing unnecessary.
·        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.
·        In the case where one is permitted to wash certain clothes (as explained above), one may not add other clothes to the washing machine.
·        When starting a wash load on Erev Rosh Chodesh (Tuesday, July21), 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.
·        One should not bring his clothes to the dry cleaners even if he tells them not to clean the clothes until after Tisha Be’Av. Some are lenient in this matter. One may give clothes to the dry cleaner before the Nine Days and pick them up during the Nine Days.
·        Some say that a woman may not wash her wig (shaitel) during the Nine Days. Others disagree.
·        One who is traveling should take as many clothes as he will need for the trip rather than wash them during the trip. 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.
Wearing Freshly Laundered Clothing[13]
·        One may not wear freshly laundered clothes during this time. For Sefardim this only applies during the week of Tisha Be’Av.
·        Similarly, one should not use fresh sheets, tablecloths, towels or hand towels during the Nine Days.
·        If one needs to change one’s underwear due to discomfort, it is permissible.
·        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) and not merely put on and taken off.
·        According to Rav Gestetner, cited in Responsa Rivevot Efrayim, 3, Siman 340, for white clothes, even one minute is sufficient.
·        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.
·        One who did not prepare clothes in this manner and needs to change his clothes should put the fresh clothes on the ground so that they get (a bit) dirty (or, at least, wrinkled). He may then wear them.
·        One may provide a (new) guest with fresh sheets and towels.
·        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.
Wearing Shabbat Clothes[14]
·        One may not wear Shabbat clothes during the weekdays of the Nine Days. (In general, one should not wear their Shabbat clothing during the week unless it is a special occasion.)
·        On Shabbat, however, the custom of Chassidic communities is to wear Shabbat clothing. This is also the custom of the Vilna Gaon as well as the Sefardic custom.  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.[15] In some (non-Chassidic) communities, the custom is to not wear Shabbat clothes except for the Shabbat shirt. And in some places, Sefardim do not wear white clothes on these Shabbatot.
·        One who does wear Shabbat clothes (as per the customs mentioned above) may don them on Friday afternoon at the same time one normally does on other Fridays. After Shabbat, some say that one should remove these clothes immediately. Others disagree.
·        According to most opinions, one may not wear new clothes on the Shabbatot of the Nine Days.
·        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.
·        One may not crochet, knit, sew or do alterations on clothing during the Nine Days, nor may one ask (or pay) a non-Jew to do this for him. 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). By refraining from spinning thread, weaving, and sewing, we remember that the building of the even hashetiyah was destroyed.
·        In addition, this activity distracts one from the focus on mourning.
·        Both Sefardim and Ashkenazim should refrain from sewingfor all of the Nine Days.
·        One may sew a button or a patch on a torn garment as the above rule does not apply to minor repairs.
·        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.
Eating Meat and Drinking Wine[17]
·        It is customary not to eat meat or chicken or to drink wine or grape juice during the Nine Days. The reason for this is to commemorate the loss of the wine libations and animal (meat) sacrifices.
·        In some Sefardic communities it is customary to permit eating meat and drinking wine on Rosh Chodesh and only to forbid it after this.
·        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. In the beginning of the Nine Days, all those invited may eat meat and drink wine. During the week of Tisha Be’Av, only the Balei Simcha(the celebrants of that occasion), their immediate relatives and an additional ten people may do this
·        This only includes one who would normally attend this simcha if it had happened during the rest of the year.
·        Some say that one may hasten their learning to finish earlier than they would otherwise and make a siyum, but that they should not delay their learning for this purpose.
·        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.
·        One may cook with wine if the taste of the wine will not be noticed in the dish.
·        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.
·        If a young child needs to eat meat or chicken for health reasons, one may feed it to him.
·        Some say one may feed meat to children younger than four years old. Some are lenient regarding feeding chicken to children up to the age of nine years old (Kara Alai Moed by Rabbi Yosef Dov Septimus).
·        One who is ill may eat meat in order to gain strength.
  • On Shabbat, one may eat meat and drink wine. Regarding Havdalah, see below.
·        It is customary not to drink grape juice, but it is permissible to drink other alcoholic beverages.
·        It is customary not to bathe during the Nine Days.
·        The Sefardic custom is to refrain from bathing only during the week of TishaBe’Av.
·        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.
·        One may wash parts of one’s body with soap and cold water.
·        Children who are constantly getting dirty may be bathed.
·        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).
·        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.
·        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.
·        A woman whose Mikvah night is the night after Tisha Be’Av should bathe and prepare herself on Erev Tisha Be’Av [Biur Halacha on ibid D.H. Im and Mishnah Berurah 554:18]. Some say she should do the preparations after Tisha Be’Av.
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. [Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata, vol. 2, chapter 42, note 190 in explanation of the Mishnah Berurah, 551:20. See also Taz, 551:13.]
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 [Mishna Berurah ibid, 16].
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 [Nitei Gavriel 32:3].
Giving Gifts
  • Some say that one should refrain from giving gifts during the Nine Days [Rav Chaim Kanievsky cited in Kara Alai Moed, Chapter 4, note 25]. Others disagree [Rav Vozner in Kovetz MeBais Levi, vol. 13, page 24]. (See below regarding Tisha Be’Av.)
Kidush Levana[19]
  • 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. 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.
  • In a place that often has clouds, one may do Kiddush Levana before Tisha Be’Avin order to ensure that he does not miss it completely.
Positive Things[20]
  • 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 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 (Zechariah, 8:19): “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.”
  • 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).
  • 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. 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.
·       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).
Tuesday Night and Wednesday, Rosh Chodesh Menachem Av/July 21-22
This day is the Yohrtzeit of Ahron HaKohen.
Friday, 3 Menachem Av, July 24
One may cut one’s nails on this day. As mentioned above some permit showering as usual and some advise to not use soap. One who sweats a lot and needs soap for this reason, may use it.
One who usually immerses in a Mikvah on Erev Shabbat may do so this Friday as well. It is best that the mikva’ot not be hot.
As explained above, the custom in most communities is to wear Shabbat clothes on this Shabbat. One may put on these clothes at the normal time one would do so on a regular Friday.
One may polish their shoes on this day.
As explained above, the custom in most communities is to wear Shabbat clothes on this Shabbat. One may put on these clothes at the normal time one would do so on a regular Friday.
One may polish their shoes on this day.
Shabbat Chazon[21]
 Menachem Av 4/July 24 and 25
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.
  • If one needs to taste the meat or chicken dishes that one is cooking on Friday, one may do so (this includes swallowing it).
  • In places where people customarily dance on Shabbat, they may do so on this Shabbat as well.
  • One who accepts Shabbat early may eat meat and drink wine from that point and on.
  • One may also feed one’s young children the meat or chicken from the Shabbat food several hours before Shabbat.
·        One may wash clothes on Friday if one needs them for Shabbat.
·        One should have a joyful Shabbat meal as one would every week. As such, one may sing the zmirot at the Shabbat table as usual.
·        In some communities, the Haftorah is chanted to the tune of Eicha. This is not the Chabad custom.
  • Some have the custom to call up the Rav of the community for the maftir. The reason for this custom is that the Rav will know how to recite in the customary mournful tune. (As such the custom would not apply in places where the Haftorah is read to the normal tune.) We recite the prayer of Av HaRachamim as usual on this Shabbat.
Motzei Shabbat, Saturday Night, July 25
Regarding Havdalah, some say that it is best to have a child drink the wine or grape juice [See sources quoted in Nitei Gavriel, 96, note 3]. According to the Alter Rebbe, one may only give the wine to a child who is fulfilling the mitzvah of Havdalah with his blessing.
Others say that one may drink it himself [Mishnah Berurah, 556, 3.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe once indicated that the wine should be given to a child (Sichot Kodesh, 5738, vol. 3 pp. 496).].
If there is no child available, one may drink the wine himself [Nitei Gavriel, ibid]. Some recommend to make Havdalah on beer [Aruch HaShulchan 551:26].
  • One should not eat meat at the Melava Malka [Igrot Moshe, O.C. vol. 4, 21, ot 4].
Sunday, 5 Menachem Av/ July 26 – Thursday, 9 Menachem Av/ July 30
The Week of Tisha Be’Av
For Sefardim who observe many of the restrictions of the Nine Days only during the week of Tisha Be’Av, these restrictions only apply in this week (see above).
Sunday, 5 Menachem Av/ July 26
This day is the yahrtzeit of the Arizal.
Click here for information about this unique, holy tzadik.
Erev Tisha Be’Av, Wednesday, 8 Menachem Av /July 29
One may not study Torah from noon on Erev Tisha Be’Av (Wednesday) until Tisha Be’Av is over (Thursday night). This is because Torah study gladdens the heart.
One may study parts of the Torah which are sad and/or relate to the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash. Several examples:
Tachnun (prayers of supplication) is not recited at Mincha since Tisha Be’Av is referred to as a mo’ed (holiday).
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. 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) dipped in ashes and eggs. Sefardim eat bread and a lentil dish. Some Sefardim have a dish which includes lentils and eggs. One may not have another cooked side 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 or 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).
  • One need not remove his shoes during this meal.
  • One who finishes this meal before the fast begins may sit on a regular chair after the meal until the fast.
  • 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
Wednesday night and Thursday, Menachem Av 9/July 29 and 30
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 herefor 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 over 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 England on July 18, 1290 (9 Av, 5050)
b.                 The Jews were expelled from Spain onin 1492, July 31, 1492 (7 Av, 5252).
c.                  Germany declared war on Russia in the start of World War I on August 1–2, 1914 (9-10 Av, 5674). This led to a war that caused death and exile for millions of Jews and led to the second World War and the terrible Holocaust.
d.                 The final solution was “approved” by the Nazi party (may their names be blotted out, on August 2, 1941 (9 Av, 5701).
e.                  The Israeli disengagement from Gaza began in the Gaza Strip, expelling 8,000 Jews who lived in Gush Katif and demolishing their homes; August 15, 2005; 10 Av, 5765.
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[22]
As mentioned above, one may not study Torah on Tisha Be’Av as it gladdens the heart.
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.
  • One should also not read secular articles or the news or do anything which will distract him from the mourning of the day.
  • Some permit one to learn from works that inspire a person to Teshuvah (e.g., Mussar and Chassidut).
  • One who normally recites Mishnayot after the prayers and then says a KadishDerabanan should say the Mishnayot of Ta’anit or Mo’ed Kattan that one may study on Tisha Be’Av. At Mincha, one may say the regular Mishnayot.
  • 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.[23]
  • 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.
  • 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[25]
  • When going to sleep at night (or having a nap during the day), 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.
  • Some have a custom to sleep on the floor with a stone as a pillow. This is not the Chabad custom.
  • I heard that the Lubavitcher Rebbe would sleep with his mattress on the floor on Tisha Be’Av. (See Piskei Teshuvot 555:5)
Eating and Drinking[26]
  • From sunset on Shabbat afternoon until nightfall on Sunday, it is forbidden to eat or drink.
  • One who is sick and confined to bed need not fast. One should discuss their particular situation with their doctor and rabbi.
  • A woman who has given birth within the last thirty days is not required to fast.
  • 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 is ill and will eat on Tisha Be’av should not put on Tefillin in the morning even if that means he will be eating before putting on Tefillin. After midday, however, he should put on Tefillin before eating (Piskei Teshuvot 555:1).
  • 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.
  • 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.
Wearing Leather Shoes [O.C. 554:16]
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.
·        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.
·        One who went to the bathroom and did not touch a part of his body that is normally covered and is not about to pray, should touch such an area as otherwise it is questionable as to whether or not he should wash his hands.
·        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.
·        One who touched a part of his body that is normally covered may wash that hand up to the knuckles. One should refrain from touching these areas in order to minimize washing on Tisha Be’Av.
·        One should wash his hands up until his knuckles before praying.
·        A kallah within 30 days after her wedding may wash her face.
·        A woman may wash herself as necessary in order to do a hefsek tahara.
·        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.
·        In addition, one may wash their hands to clean them before preparing food as needed.
Marital Relations[28]
·        One may not have marital relations.
·        On the night of Tisha Be’Av (Wednesday night) a couple should observe the laws relating to a time of Niddah (harchakot).
·        A woman whose mikvah night is on Wednsday night should postpone the Mikvahuntil Thursday night. Some say she should do her preparations for the Mikvah (chafifah) on Wednesday afternoon (with another quick rinse on Thursday night) while others say these should be done after the Fast of Tisha Be’Av is over. The same question applies to one whose Mikvah night is the night after Tisha Be’Av (Thursday night).
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 [Nitei Gavriel 73:6].
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 [ibid 4].
Smelling Spices
It is best not to smell fragrant spices on Tisha Be’Av. [O.C. 556, Sha’ar HaTziyun, 1].
·        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.
·        It is permissible to nod one’s head in greeting.
·        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.
·        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.”
·        One may wish “Mazal Tov” to someone who had a simcha (Piskei Teshuvot 554:19).
Gift Giving
·        One should not give gifts on Tisha Be’Av unless the recipient is poor and in need of the item.
·        As such, one may give money or food to the poor on Tisha Be’Av.
·        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 (Ta’anit 30b) says 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 be enough time to prepare it, one may begin before midday.
The Night of the Fast of Tisha Be’Av, Wednesday night, July 29
·        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.
·        Some have a custom to say a bracha on the reading of Eicha especially if it is written on a parchment scroll in a manner similar to a Torah scroll (Mishnah Berurah on O.C. 490:8).
·        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 [O.C. 559:2].
·        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 [Kaf HaChaim, 552:63].
Tisha Be’Av Day, Thursday, July 30
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 [see Kaf HaChaim 554:78 that this is the opinion of the Arizal].
·        Others say that this bracha should be recited on Tisha Be’Av .[Mishnah Berurah 554:31].
·        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 [Piskei Teshuvot 555:2].
·        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 Chazzanrecites 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 [Rama, 559:5].
·        It is proper for each individual to recite Eicha privately after completing kinot [Mishnah Berurah, 559:2].
·        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 on 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 [Igrot Kodesh, 11:307].
Mincha / Afternoon Prayers[31]
·        At Mincha time, one may say the Tehillim of the day as well as the Chumash and Tanya.
·        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, Shir Shel Yom(Song of the Day), Ein K’elokainu, 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.”  Some say it should be inserted in Retzeh, before V’techezenah. 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.
·        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.
Motzoei Tisha Be’Av / Thursday Night, July 11
Ma’ariv and Break-fast[32]
·        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 says 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 nor do any of the restrictions of the Nine Days and Three Weeks until Wednesday after midday [Mishnah Berurah, 558, 5].
·        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 and drinking wine in the morning of the 10th of Av as well [Yalkut Yosef].
·        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 [Mishnah Berurah 558:2].
Our sages [Ta’anit 30b] teach that whoever mourns for Yerushalayim will merit to see it rebuilt. May we merit this speedily in our days!
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[1] Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 70:5 and 611:9, O.C. 564 and 567:2 and Mishnah Berurah, Rama O.C. 550:1, 4 and 5, 567:1, 568:8 Piskei Teshuvot, 550, note 1 and 2, Avnei Nezer, O.C. 540, and Mishnah Berurah 235:18, 550:3 and 5, Da’at Torah, 550:1, D”H Veyesh, Nitei Gavriel 5:1 in the name of the Pupa Rov, Mateh Efrayim 602:22 – 23, O.C. 554:5, Mishbetzot Zahav and Eishel Avraham, end of Siman 612, O.C. 559:9, Magen Avraham ibid 11, Yalkut Yosef, Laws of the Four Fasts 7, Nitei Gavriel Hilchot Bein HaMeitzarim 4:5, 5:4 and 9, Shevet HaLevi 8:261 Yaskil Avdi 8:31, Igrot Moshe O.C. 3:91, Betzel Hachochmah 1, 31, Kaf HaChaim, 549:11 citing the Elya Rabbah and others
[2] O.C. 551:17 and Magen Avraham 42, HaYom Yom, Tammuz 21, Kaf HaChaim 251:206 quoting the Bireki Yosef and the Mor Uktziah, Yechave Da’at 1:37, Yalkut Yosef, Yemei Bein HaMeitzarim, see Igrot Moshe O.C. 3:80
[3] See Nitei Gavriel, 17:8,9, 13 and note 17
[4] Nitei Gavriel 15: 1 and 10-12 quoting the Shevet HaLevi, 6:69. See also vol. 2, 57, Shevet HaLevi 8:127, Igrot Moshe O.C. 4, 21:4, Tzitz Eliezer, 16:1, BeTzel Hachochma, 6:61, She’arim HaMetzuyanim Bahalacha on Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, 126, cited in Shevet HaLevi, 6:69.
[5] O.C. 551:2, and Mishnah Berurah 16 and 19 and Sha’ar HaTziyun 26, and Yabi’ah Omer, 6:43, Halichot Shlomo, Bein HaMeitzarim, Dvar Halacha, 6
[6] See O.C. 551: 18, Shaarei Halacha Uminhag, 2, pg. 172 re the Nine Days and Igrot Kodesh, 24, page 357, Nitei Gavriel 23:4
[7] Mechaber and Rama, O.C. 551, 3 and 13, Igrot Moshe, O.C. 4:102 and 112, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 122, 4, Sha’arei Halacha Uminhag, 2, pg. 79 and 303, Piskei Teshuvot, 551:43, Mishnah Berurah, 551:20 and 82, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach in Halichot Shlomo, Bein HaMeitzarim, 14, Devar Halacha, 10
[8] The three weeks are actually 22 days since they span three weeks and one day. Perhaps the number of 21 does not count the 17th of Tammuz since the fast only starts in the morning. But see above that the laws of mourning begin on the eve of the 17th of Tammuz.
[9] Ohr LaShamayim by Rav Meir Rotenberg of Apt (1760 – 1827), Parshat Balak, paragraph beginning with Veinyan Yetziat Mitzrayim, citing Zohar Chadash, Parshat VaYeishev, page 29 side 4
[10] Mishnah Berurah, 551:11, 12 and 13, Igrot Kodesh, 9, page 228 and vol. 19, page 390, O.C. 551, 2, Kara Alai Mo’ed, 3, note 3, and Nitei Gavriel, 28:8
[11] Nitei Gavriel 30:2 and 7 and 31:5 and 14
[12] O.C. 551:3 and 14, Mishnah Berurah 34, Nitei Gavriel 35:5, 14 and 15, 36:3, 7 and 31, Elyah Rabbah 551:12. Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Sheinberg cited in the Mishnah Berurah Dirshu edition, note 37 on Siman 551
[13] O.C. ibid, 3, 4 and 21, Ben Ish Chai in responsa Rav Pa’alim, vol. 4, O.C. 29, Shevet HaLevi, 9:131, Yalkut Yosef, ibid, 12, Nitei Gavriel 34:5
[14] O.C. 551:1, O.C. 262, Nitei Gavriel, 45:1 and 49:5, Kaf HaChaim, 551:13, Aruch HaShulchan, 55, 11 Mishnah Berurah, 551:3, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach in Shalmei Moed, Chapter 90, note 51, Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchatah, vol.2, note 152 in the name of the Chazon Ish, Igrot Moshe, O.C. vol. 3:80
[15] See Responsa of Radvaz, vol. 2, Siman 693. In the earlier generations, the Shabbat clothes were not so different than the weekday clothes so it was not a public sign of morning to wear the weekday clothes on Shabbat.
[16] O.C. ibid, 7 See Mishnah Berurah 53, Talmud Yerushalmi, Pesachim 4, 1, Vilna Gaon, cited in Biur Halacha, 551, D.H Venahagu, Nitei Gavriel 37:2 in the name of the Chazon Ish
[17] O.C. 551: 10, Bait Yosef, 552, D.H. Katav HaKol Bo See Bava Batra 60b, Moreh Ba’etzbah of the Chida, 8, 233, Mishnah Berurah 551:63, 70 and 75, see Piskei Teshuvot 551:39, Nitei Gavriel 38:1 and 12 and 39:4 and 5, Rama, 151:9, O.C. 552:10.
[18] O.C. 551: 16, Mishnah Berurah 9, Biur Halacha on ibid D.H. Im, Mishnah Berurah 554:18, Nitei Gavriel, 42:1, 4, 6, 9, 11, Ibid, 11, Shloshim Yom Lifnei HaChag, by Avraham Dickman, page 231 and She’arim HaMetzuyanim BaHalacha, 122:8, and Shi’urei Shevet HaLevi, 199:4
[19] Rama, O.C. 551:8, Maseh Rav, ot 159, Aruch HaShulchan, 551:22
[20] Sichot Kodesh 5735, page 344, 5740 vol. 3, pg. 672, 5751, vol. 2, page 733, see Sha’arei Halacha Uminhag, vol. 2 pgs. 180 and 181
[21] O.C. 554:19, 559:1 and Rama 553:2, Magen Avraham 282:14, Mishnah Berurah 552:30 and 554:32, 39-40, Rav Vozner in Kovetz MiBeit Levi, ibid, page 40 and page 43, footnote 11, Nitei Gavriel 47:9 and 93:6 – 7, Shloshim Yom Lifnei HaChag, page 232, note 176, citing Rav Moshe Feinstein, Elyah Rabbah, 551:24
[22] Mishnah Berurah, 554:5, See Aruch HaShulchan Y.D. 384, 9, sources quoted in Kara Alai Mo’ed, 8, note 4, Sha’arei Halacha Uminhag, 2, pgs. 183 – 184
[23] See also Sefer HaSichot, 5751, vol. 2, page 691, end of note 87 that this leniency also applies to learning about the Bait HaMikdash. It would seem that this can only be said regarding one who learns this topic on every day of the Three Weeks or the like.
[24] O.C. 559:3, see Nitei Gavriel chapter 68
[25] Ibid, 555:2, Sefer HaMinhagim Chabad
[26] O.C. 554:6, And Mishnah Berurah, Bi’ur Halacha 559:9 D.H. Ve’eino, Kaf HaChaim 34, Nitei Gavriel, vol. 2, 65:6, Kara Alai Mo’ed, 9:1
[27] O.C. 554, 6 – 12 and Magen Avraham 11, Shulchan Aruch HaArav, 613:4, Minchat Yitzchak, 10:45, see Mishnah Berurah, 613:6 and 554:29, Nitei Gavriel 72:13, Aruch Hashulchan 554:10, O.C. 551, Sha’ar HaTziyun, 35
[28] See Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 40:8 and Y.D. 184, Kuntres Acharon 2, Mishnah Berurah 554:18, Shi’urei Shevet HaLevi, 199:4
[29] Mishnah Berurah, 554:41 and 42, and Kaf HaChaim 91, Ritva, Mo’ed Kattan, 27b D.H. Tanu Rabanan, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Bein HaMeitzarim, 15, Orchot Halacha 30
[30] O.C. 554:22 – 24 with Mishnah Berurah, see 559:10 and Mishnah Berurah, 40
[31] Sha’arei Halacha Uminhag, 2, pg. 183, Kaf Hachaim, 555:7, Mishnah Berurah, 555:5 and 557:2, Taz, 557:1 and Kaf HaChaim, 557:2
[32] Mishnah Berurah, 556:3 and 558:5, Nitei Gavriel, 96, note 3

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