Parsha Halacha

Parshat Devarim / Shabbat Chazon

Laws and Customs

Tisha Be’Av – 5781
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While I usually write an article about the Three Weeks, the Nine Days, and Tisha Be’Av, this week I was not able to do so as I was busy due to the collapse of the Champlain Towers South here in Surfside. Instead I will focus only on the Laws and Customs of Shabbat Chazon and Tisha Be’Av.

Shabbat Chazon/Erev Tisha Be’Av – 8 Menachem Av / July 16 and 17
This year Shabbat Chazon (the Shabbat before Tisha Be’av) coincides with Erev Tisha Be’Av (the day before Tisha Be’Av). As such, there are several unique halachot that apply as explained below.
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.
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.
One should not prepare for Tisha Be’Av by bringing Kinot or non-leather shoes to shul before Shabbos.
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 in the normal tune.) We recite the prayer of Av HaRachamim as usual on this Shabbat.
It is customary to not study Torah after midday on this Shabbat as Torah gladdens the heart, and one may possibly bring that gladness into Tisha Be’Av. One may study certain part of the Torah which are permissible on Tisha Be’Av as explained below. As such, we do not recite Pirkei Avot in the afternoon after mincha as is the custom in the summer months in many communities. The Pirkei Avot is resumed next Shabbat.
As such, one should study one’s daily regimen of Torah (Chitat, Rambam, Daf Yomi etc.) in the morning.
Some say that one may study Torah in the afternoon. The Mishnah Berurah writes that one may rely on this opinion.
We do not recite Tzidkatecha on this Shabbat afternoon.
One must finish eating the third meal (Seudah Shlishit) before shkiah (sunset) on this Shabbat.
One may eat meat and drink wine during the Seudah Shlishit even if one doesn’t usually do so during a regular Se’udah Shlishit.
One should eat at the table as usual for the third meal.
In many shuls Mincha is davened early so that people can go home to eat their third meal and return to shul after dark wearing their weekday clothes and Tisha Be’Av shoes.

Motzoei Shabbat, Tisha Be’Av/ 17-18 July/ 9 Av
One who remained in shul until Maariv need not go home specifically to change into weekday clothes. Rather he should take his shoes off before Maariv.
One should say Baruch HaMavdil bein Kodesh Lechol before changing one’s clothes or shoes.
If one is davening in a shul that prays Ma’ariv immediately after Shabbat, he should remove his leather shoes after the recital of Barchu. (One should untie the laces beforehand and wash one’s hands after doing so.) In such a shul, the Chazzan should remove his shoes before Barchu so as not to interrupt in the middle of his prayers.
We do not make havdalah after Shabbat as the fast has already started at that time. Rather, Havdalah is recited after the fast, on Sunday night.
A person who is ill and will not be fasting should make havdalah on this night. (One should consult their Rav and/or doctor about this matter.) Some say that he or she should use beer or another important beverage rather than wine or grape juice. No blessing on fragrant spices is recited. A husband may make havdalah for his wife who will not be fasting, and she (or a child) should drink the beverage. One who does not need to break his/her fast until the daytime should not make havdalah at night but should rather make it by day, before eating (Piskei Teshuvot 555:4)
Some say that a child who will not be fasting should make havdalah before eating. He or she should use grape juice or another important beverage. One child may recite havdalah for many children. Others say that children may eat without hearing havdalah and that they should hear havdalah on Sunday night with everybody else.
One should make the bracha of Borei Me’orei Ha’Esh on a (multi-wicked) candle before the reading of Eicha. If one did not do so, one may say this blessing afterwards as well, anytime on that night.
One should make sure to say Ata Chonantanu (the Havdalah in the Maariv Amidah) or (if one forgot to do so,) Baruch HaMavdil Bein Kodesh LeChol before doing any forbidden labor.
One should not wash the dishes from Shabbat until after midday on Sunday but one may fold their Shabbat Tallit on Motzei Shabbat.

History of Tisha Be’av
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.
3) The second Bait HaMikdash was destroyed by the Romans in the year 69.
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, AM 5050)
b) The Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492, July 31, 1492 (7 Av, AM 5252).
c) Germany declared war on Russia at the start of World War I on August 1–2, 1914 (9-10 Av, AM 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 1914.
d) The final solution was “approved” by the Nazi party (may their names be blotted out, on August 2, 1941 (9 Av, AM 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.

Laws of Tisha Be’Av

(See below for more on the Book of Eicha and the laws of the Day of Tisha Be’Av)

Forbidden Activities

The following activities are forbidden on Tisha Be’av

Torah Study

One  one may not study Torah on Tisha Be’Av as it gladdens the heart.
The following topics may be studied as they are not gladdening.
Megillat Eicha and the Midrash on Eicha
The book of Iyov (Job) and the sad parts of Yirmiyahu.
The last chapter of Tractate Mo’ed Kattan.
The story of the second destruction as recorded in Gittin 55a – 58a, or of the first destruction as recorded in Sanhedrin 96 and 97.
The Book of Josephus (Wars of the Jews). Similarly one may read the history and stories of the holocaust.
The laws of mourning and of Tisha Be’Av may also 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 on Tisha Be’Av 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 on Sunday afternoon, 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.

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
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 TishaBe’Av. (See Piskei Teshuvot 555:5)

Eating and Drinking
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 his 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 break his fast should make havdalah before doing so (see above).
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. For example by adding vinegar to water.
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
One may not wear leather shoes.
One should not wear shoes that have leather uppers or leather soles. 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
One may not have marital relations.
On the night of Tisha Be’Av (Motzei Shabbat) a couple should observe the laws relating to a time of Niddah (harchakot).
A woman whose mikvah night is on Motzei Shabbat should postpone the Mikvah until Sunday night. Some say she should do her preparations for the Mikvah (chafifah) on Friday afternoon (with another quick rinse on Sunday 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 (Sunday 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]. (For this reason we do not make a blessing on spices after Shabbat.)

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).

One should not give gifts on Tisha Be’Av unless the recipient is poor and in need of the article.
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 beginning of Tisha Be’Av.
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.

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.
We do not say Vihi No’am on this night nor the prayer of VeYiten lecha.
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, Sunday, July 18/ 9 Av
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].
Some 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 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 [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
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.
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.

Ma’ariv and Break-fast
At nightfall, one should pray Maariv as usual.
One should wash Negel Vasser properly (six times alternately) after Maariv.
One should make Havdalah before eating. One may drink the Havdalah wine themselves. Some say that it is best to have a child drink the wine. Certainly, if there is no child available, one may drink the wine themselves.
One should not recite the blessings of smelling spices or the candle (even if he forgot to say the blessing on the candle on Motzei Shabbat.)
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 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 Sunday night nor do any of the restrictions of the Nine Days and Three Weeks until Friday 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 [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].
One may not eat meat or drink wine Sunday night. However all the other restrictions of the Nine Days and Three Weeks are lifted as soon as the fast is over.

Our sages teach that whoever mourns for Yerushalayim will merit to see it rebuilt.[Ta’anit 30b] May we merit this speedily in our days!

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