Practical Halacha: Tishah B’Av

As this year’s fast is pushed off to Sunday, there are a number of unique halachos to be observed. Review this guide by Rabbi Shmuel Leschesrov of Young Yeshiva in Melbourne, Australia.

To download a PDF version please click here.

LEARNING ON TISHAH B’AV

Five tragedies occurred on this day:
• The decree for the sin of the Meraglim
• The 1st Beis Hamikdash was destroyed
• The 2nd Beis Hamikdash was destroyed
• The fall of Beitar
• The site of the Beis Hamikdash and the surrounding area was ploughed

On Tishah B’Av, one may learn only those parts of Torah which discuss the laws of mourning, the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, or the tragedies which befell the Jewish people throughout history. One should learn these in a cursory manner, and not delve into it (Drush v’Pilpul). Similarly, one should not consult a Rav regarding Halachic matters irrelevant to Tishah B’Av.

The Rebbe Rashab would learn the Sugya of the Churban in Masechta Gittin (55b-58a), as well as Midrash Eicha Rabba.

Some other appropriate things to learn: The books of Eicha and Iyov, the dire prophecies of Yirmiyahu, the third Perek of Moied Kotton, the end of Masechta Taanis in Yerushalmi, the Tzemach Tzedek’s Reshimos on Eicha, and a review of the Halachos of the day.

As during the rest of the Nine Days, one should endeavour to hear a Siyum. This should be done on a topic which may be learned on Tishah B’Av (such as the conclusion of Moied Kotton.)

Needless to say, the obligation to learn Torah at every opportunity applies fully on Tishah B’Av.

Many Achronim bemoaned the lax attitude some people adopted towards learning on Tishah B’Av.

One should give increased Tzedakah, especially before Mincha. It is proper to give the value of the forgone meals – especially if one is exempt from fasting.

LAWS OF TISHAH B’AV

On Tishah B’Av, it is prohibited to:

• Wear festive clothing or festive jewellery. (However, one wears Shabbos clothing on the night of Tishah B’Av, as it is Motzei Shabbos.)

• Wear footwear containing any leather. One may wear non-leather footwear, including crocs. [If absolutely necessary for work purposes, a Rav should be consulted.]

• Go to Mikvah, bathe or wash any part of the body – even in cold water. Similarly, one may not wipe himself with a cloth sufficiently damp to moisten what it touches. [One may rinse if necessary for medical or therapeutic purposes, or for pain-relief. One may also rinse any soiled areas, but only as necessary. Similarly, one may wash his hands up to the knuckles after exiting the restroom or touching an area of the body that is normally covered. One may also rinse one’s hands as usual before and during food preparation. All the above may be done with soap when applicable. One may also wash dishes, but it is best to do so whilst wearing gloves.]

• Apply makeup, ointment, lotions, perfumes or creams – unless necessary for medical or therapeutic purposes, or for pain-relief.

• Brush one’s teeth or rinse one’s mouth.

• Sit on a normal-height chair until Tishah B’Av midday – unless one is frail or infirm, pregnant, while nursing, or when sitting in a vehicle.

• Intimacy – Harchakos must be kept even during the day.

• Greet another. If one was greeted, he may return the greeting in a subdued manner, or explain that it is Tishah B’Av.

• Give gifts (unless it is Tzedakah).

• Study, go to work, engage in business activity, or perform a job or task that requires concentration, as these will distract him from mourning. [Technically, these are permitted after midday, but it is best to refrain even then.] Nevertheless, one may do these in order to prevent a financial loss or to retain his job. Even then, one should defer any publicly performed work until after midday, if this is possible.

• Instruct a non-Jew to work publicly on his behalf (such as construction). However, one may instruct a non-Jew to do any other work, even if it will be performed in one’s own home.

One should not idle away one’s time, go on trips, read novels or articles, or partake in any other pleasurable pastimes or activities.

• One should not smoke at all. At the very least, one should do so in private only, and keep it to a minimum. [Of course, smoking is discouraged in general.]

• Onw should be especially careful not to become angered.

TISHAH B’AV MORNING

Neggel Vasser is washed only up to the knuckles.

Tip: Prepare the Neggel Vasser in a slightly different way as a reminder not to wash one’s hands as usual.

One wipes his eyes with the towel moistened by the hands. Someone who washes the flakes out of his eyes every morning may do so on Tishah B’Av as well.

After getting dressed, Neggel Vasser is performed again – with a Brocho – only up to the knuckles.

The Brocho of Sheoso Li Kol Tzorki is omitted until the following morning.

Tallis and Tefillin are not worn until after midday. Similarly, a Brocho is not recited on the Tallis Kotton, nor are they held and kissed during Boruch Sheomar and Shma.

The Chazzan lights candles as usual; five for a Chiyuv, and two for a non-Chiyuv.

During Shacharis, only the Chazzan recites Aneinu.

[See 17 Tammuz Halacha Sheet regarding a Chazzan who forgot to recite Aneinu, or who is not fasting.]

The Chazzan does not recite Birchas Kohanim.

Tachnun, Selichos and Avinu Malkeinu are not recited.

One who is not fasting (or who anticipates that he won’t be able to finish the fast) must still hear Krias Hatorah, but is not called up for an Aliya. [If he is the only Kohen or Levi, he should absent himself.] If he is called up, he may accept the Aliya. He should not serve as the Chazzan or the Ba’al Koreh either, unless there is no one else to do so.

Kaddish is recited between the last Aliyah and Haftorah. During Gelilah and Haftorah, the Magbiha holds the Sefer Torah while sitting on a regular-height chair. The Sefer Torah is returned to the Aron HaKodesh immediately after Haftorah.

Afterwards, Kinos is recited. One should not recite it standing, but should rather sit on a low chair.

One should refrain from casual conversation or other unnecessary interruptions during the recital of Kinos.

After Kinos, the following are recited: Ashrei, Uva L’tziyon (with the omission of the Possuk that begins Va’ani Zos Brisi), and Aleinu. Everything else (including Tehillim) is postponed until Mincha time.

After Uva L’tziyon, the Chazzan omits the line beginning Tiskabel from Kaddish.

A Chiyuv recites the third Perek of Mishnayos Moied Kotton prior to the last Kaddish.

One should recite the book of Eicha after Kinos (and the conclusion of davening).

Where possible, one should time his morning with the aim of concluding Kinos (and Eicha) shortly before midday, as opposed to long beforehand.

A Bris should be postponed until after Kinos. The baby’s parents and Baalei Habris may wear Shabbos clothing for the duration of the Bris, but not leather shoes. The Sandek sits on a regular-height chair whilst the Bris is performed. The Brocho is recited on wine, but is drunk by a child who understands the concept of Brochos (the younger, the better). As the fast this year is Nidche (deferred), there are a number of leniencies – a Rav should be consulted.

It is not our custom to visit a cemetery on Tishah B’Av.

TISHAH B’AV AFTERNOON

In the afternoon, the intensity of mourning lessens and some restrictions are relaxed.

It is customary to wait until midday before preparing for the post-fast meal. However, one may begin preparations for a Seudas Mitzvah before midday.

After midday, it is permitted to sit on chairs of regular height, unless one will still be finishing Kinos.

Chitas is learned after midday, but Rambam is postponed until evening.

MINCHA

The Paroches is restored to its usual place on the Aron HaKodesh after midday, before Mincha.

Mincha is longer than usual; care should be taken to conclude before sunset.

Before Mincha, one puts on Tallis and Tefillin and recites the entire Shma. This is followed by the selections omitted from the conclusion of Shacharis. [I.e. Shir Shel Yom, Ein Kelokeinu, Tehillim.] These should be recited with a Minyan, and Kaddish is said at the appropriate places.

Ideally, Krias Hatorah should not begin prior to Mincha Gedolah. Shmoneh Esrei may certainly not begin before then.

The passage of Vayechal is read, provided that at least three congregants are fasting.

One who is not fasting (or who anticipates that he won’t be able to finish the fast) must still hear Krias Hatorah of Vayechal, but is not called up for an Aliya. [If he is the only Kohen or Levi, he should absent himself.] If he is called up, and refusing the Aliya will cause him embarrassment and minimize the honour of the Torah, he may accept the Aliya. He should not serve as the Chazzan or the Ba’al Koreh, unless there is no one else to do so.

When the congregation recites the verses aloud, the Ba’al Koreh waits for silence before resuming. The one receiving the Aliya begins reciting these verses with the congregation but concludes with the Ba’al Koreh.

After Haftorah, the Chazzan begins Kaddish when the Torah is returned to the Aron HaKodesh, similar to Mincha on Shabbos.

If an individual forgot to recite Nacheim in the correct place, he may recite it in Sh’ma Koleinu after Aneinu; in Retzei before V’sechezena; or in Modim before V’al Kulam. [In any of these cases, he recites the conclusion of the Brocho as usual, and does not add the words Menachem Tziyon Uvoneh Yerushalayim.] If one didn’t remember until he concluded Shmoneh Esrei, he does not repeat it.

If an individual forgot to recite Aneinu in Sh’ma Koleinu, he may recite it in the passage of Elokai N’tzor, before the second Yih’yu L’ratzon. If one didn’t remember even then, he does not repeat Shmoneh Esrei.

An individual who is not fasting omits Aneinu but still recites Nacheim.

The Chazzan recites Aneinu between Goel Yisroel and R’faeinu, Nacheim in Boinei Yerushalayim, and also recites Birchas Kohanim toward the end of Shmoneh Esrei. [See 17 Tammuz Halacha Sheet regarding a Chazzan who forgot to recite Aneinu, or who is not fasting.]

A Chiyuv recites the usual Mishnayos prior to the last Kaddish.

Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin are put on after Mincha, and one recites the usual selections.

One should ensure that he puts on Tefillin before sunset. If one davens with a Minyan which will conclude only after sunset, he should change into Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin before Mincha.

CONCLUSION OF FAST

One washes Netilas Yadayim (covering the entire hand with water) without a Brocho, and rinses one’s mouth as soon as possible after Maariv, and certainly before Kiddush Levanah or (Havdallah and) breaking the fast.

Havdallah is recited without Besomim and Havdallah candle. The one who recites Havdallah drinks the wine. [If one forgot to recite Havdallah, he should do so as soon as he remembers – up until sunset on Tuesday afternoon. Even though he ate prior to Havdallah, there is no need to repeat Shmoneh Esrei again with Atah Chonantanu.]

A man who heard Havdallah should not recite it again for a woman. Therefore, one should not be yoitze with the Havdallah at Shule when there are women at home waiting to hear Havdallah.

A woman may make Havdallah herself.

If the moon is visible, Kiddush Levanah is recited. Ideally, one should first change into leather shoes, rinse one’s face to freshen up, and taste something (after Havdallah), unless this will negate his participation in a Minyan.

One should not eat meat or drink wine (aside from the Havdallah wine) until Monday morning. However, all the other restrictions of the Nine Days (including listening to music, having a haircut, bathing, wearing freshly laundered clothing, or doing the laundry) are permitted immediately after the fast.

15TH AV / SHABBOS NACHAMU

One should continue to participate in a Siyum and learn Hilchos Beis Habechira every day until (and including) Friday, the 15th of Av.

Tachnun is not recited on Friday the 15th of Av, nor during Mincha on the day beforehand. It is forbidden to fast on the 15th of Av, even a Chosson and Kallah.

On Shabbos Nachamu, the third chapter of Pirkei Avos is recited after Mincha.

A Halacha Guide relevant to the Nine Days can be viewed here. For Halachos regarding Shabbos Chazon see here.

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