Tisha B’Av Camp for Kids

Ask the Rov: May I run a Tisha B’Av camp for neighborhood children?

By Rabbi Chaim Hillel Raskin – Rov of Anash in Petach Tikvah

On Tisha B’Av, we are to remember and mourn the Beis Hamikdash’s destruction. Halacha says we may not engage in activities that will take our mind (hesech hadaas) off the mourning. Thus, Shulchan Aruch rules that one may not learn Torah – which brings a person joy and satisfaction, engage in fun activities, or take leisurely strolls in the street.1

For the same reason, it is also customary until after chatzos not to engage in melacha, meaning activities that take some time and would distract a person from the mourning, including straightening up the home or preparing food for the night meal.2

If substantial financial loss will be incurred from not working, melacha is permitted even before chatzos if done in private.3 Shulchan Aruch writes that someone who sets themselves up to attend to business on Tisha B’Av and distracts themselves from the mourning won’t see blessing in whatever money they earn from that work.4

When erev Tisha B’Av is a weekday, it is best to clean off the table right after the seuda hamafsekes and not leave it for the night.5 However, if the fast begins Motzaei Shabbos, cleaning up on Shabbos can be problematic if one finishes close to shkia and won’t be staying around in that room afterwards. In this case, one should only clear the table after reciting Boruch Hamavdil at the conclusion of Shabbos.

What should one do with the dirty dishes?

It is recommended to use disposable tableware for the Shabbos afternoon meal, and put water in the pot or serving dish so it won’t smell.6 While some poskim allow washing dishes, the custom is to refrain until midday. It is proper to wear gloves or use cold water as not to derive pleasure from the washing.7

Contemporary poskim write that one may organize a Tisha B’Av camp because it is a help to the community and makes it easier for the children’s parents to fast. It is permitted earn money from it as well, since this makes it more likely for someone to do it.8

See Sources (open PDF)

From The Weekly Farbrengen by Merkaz Anash

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