The 9th of Av (Ninth of Av) – Tisha B’Av

Posted on August 10, 2008. Filed under: Jewish traditions | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

BS”D

In a Nutshell

Mourning the destruction of the Temple and the exile of Israel, we abstain from eating and drinking, bathing, the wearing of leather footwear, and marital relations — for the night and day of Av 9 (this year, from sundown on August 9 to nightfall August 10, 2008). It is customary to sit on the floor or on a low seat until AFTER mid-day. Torah study is restricted to laws of mourning, passages describing the destruction of the Temple, and the like. The Tefillin are worn only during the afternoon Minchah prayers. Consult a Halachic authority for more specific guidance in observance of this day or read on for the laws in detail.

The Day Before The Ninth of Av

Towards the end of the day, one should eat the final meal. At this meal, one should not partake of two types of cooked food even if they are of the same variety – e.g., two kinds of noodles. Even if the cooked food is usually eaten raw, it has the status of a cooked food in this case.

– It is customary to eat a boiled egg or lentils at the final meal in sign of mourning. One should not partake of any other cooked foods and should eat bread, dairy products, or fruit. Some follow the custom of eating a piece of bread dipped in ashes.

It is customary to eat the final meal while seated on the floor or on a low stool. According to some, there is hidden significance in placing a mat or cloth underneath oneself and not sitting directly on the floor. One need not remove his shoes before eating the meal.

After the final meal, if the sun has NOT yet set, one may continue eating – provided that one did not intend or state that he had accepted the fast upon himself. lf one intended not to eat again because he was full, however, he can eat again since he had not intended to accept the fast yet. It is proper to declare or to intend specifically, that one has not accepted the fast upon himself until sunset.

The study of Torah is prohibited on The Ninth of Av, for the verse (Psalms 19:9) states: The statutes of G-d are upright, they rejoice the heart, and one who is mourning is forbidden to rejoice. The custom is to refrain from studying Torah from noon on the eve of The Ninth of Av.

Some people have a custom to eat a full meal – without meat or wine – in the early afternoon [before the final meal] so that the fast not cause them harm.

This custom also serves as a commemoration of the festive character of both the eve of The Ninth of Av and The Ninth of Av itself during the period of the second Beit-Hamikdash. During this period, the four fast days which commemorate the destruction of the first Beit-Hamikdash were celebrated as holidays, and the people would eat, drink, and rejoice even on The Ninth of Av itself. We who have not yet merited consolation commemorate this festival in remembrance of what was and what will again be in the future when the Beit-Hamikdash is rebuilt – may it be speedily and in our days. This custom shows our faith and trust in G-o-d and our anticipation of salvation.

The afternoon prayers are recited earlier than usual, to allow ample time for the final meal, and Tachanun is omitted since the verse (Lamentations 1:15) refers to The Ninth of Av as being a Festival.

On the eve of The Ninth of Av one should not take carefree walks in public places in a spirit of lightheartedness, so that he will not come to laughter and frivolity.

Three people should not partake of the final meal together. lf they did so, they should not recite the Grace after Meals together.

One may eat as much fresh fruit or vegetables as desired during the final meal, although some do not eat vegetable salad as a side dish. One may drink tea or coffee afterwards.

Any food which consists of two varieties which are usually cooked together in one pot is considered to be a single cooked dish. The pious, however, eat only a salted piece of dry bread with a cup of water. The Talmud (Ta’anit 30a) records:

This was the custom of R. Yehudah bar Ilai: On The Day Before The Ninth of Av they would bring him a dry, salted piece of bread and he would sit next to the oven [the most unattractive place in the house (Rashi)] and he would eat it together with a cup of water, like one whose dead relative was lying before him.

Special instructions for when the fast falls on Sunday and thus begins right after Shabbat, Saturday night.

On Shabbat, Saturday afternoon one must finish eating before sunset, we do not eat the egg and bread dipped in ashes as on Shabbat we may not observe mourning customs. Recite the evening prayers (Maariv), and include the usual Shabbat night insertion of “Ata Chonantanu”. Those who do not recite the evening prayers should recite the following verse:

“Baruch Hamavdil Bein Kodesh LeChol”
“Blessed is He Who distinguishes between the holy and the mundane”.

Havdalah is not recited, but one lights a candle and recites the blessing on the creation of fire (Bore Me’orei Haesh).

On Sunday night – The full Havdalah is recited at the conclusion of the fast, however the blessings on the creation of fire and on the spices are omitted.

The laws of The Ninth of Av

There are five things forbidden on the Ninth of Av: eating and drinking, washing oneself, anointing oneself with oil, wearing leather shoes, and cohabitation.

There is no difference between the night of the Ninth of Av and the day. One may eat only before sunset on the eve of the Ninth of Av; twilight is considered to be night and eating is forbidden.

All are required to fast on the Ninth of Av, including pregnant women and nursing mothers. One who is ill, however, may eat even if his illness is not life-threatening. However, an ill person should refrain from eating delicacies and should eat only that which is absolutely necessary for his physical well-being.

If the Ninth of Av falls on a Sunday and a sick person needs to eat during the fast, he should recite Havdalah before eating [since Havdalah was not recited the previous night because of the Ninth of Av].

– One may not rinse his mouth on the Ninth of Av until the end of the fast.

– Washing for pleasure is forbidden both in warm and in cold water. However, if one’s hands are dirty, he may wash them. He may also wash his hands upon arising in the morning as he does every day, as well as after using the bathroom. However, he may not wash the entire hand but should only wash his fingers. While his fingers are still moist, he may wipe his eyes with them. lf his eyes are dirty, he may rinse them as he usually does.

– When cooking and preparing food, one may wash the food since the intention is not to wash one’s hands.

– The prohibition of wearing shoes applies to those made of leather. Shoes made of linen or rubber may be worn. However, if they are covered by leather or if they have leather soles, they may not be worn. lf one is walking on a path full of thorns or in an area populated by gentiles [where his appearance would be ridiculed], he may wear regular shoes in that place.

It is permissible to bathe a baby and apply oil to his skin in the same manner as one usually does.

– All of the prohibitions mentioned are applicable from sunset of the eve of the Ninth of Av until the end of the fast.

As noted earlier, the study of Torah is prohibited on the Ninth of Av because Torah study brings a person joy. However, one is permitted to study the third chapter of tractate Mo’ed Katan which deals with the laws of mourning and excommunication. One may also study the Midrash to the Book of Eichah with its commentaries; and Job with its commentaries, for these works awaken a sense of sorrow in the reader. One may also study the chapters of admonition and calamities recorded in Jeremiah; however, one should be careful to skip those verses that speak of consolation. One may also study the aggadah about the Destruction recorded in tractate Gittin.

– One should not greet a friend and ask how he is on the Ninth of Av, and one should not even say “good morning.” lf one is greeted by a friend, however, he should respond so as not to cause bad feelings, but in a lowered tone of voice. It is also forbidden to send gifts on the Ninth of Av.

– It is customary on the Ninth of Av to refrain from doing any work which must be done over an extended period of time, for engaging in such activity distracts one from feeling a sense of mourning. One should refrain from this type of work on the night of the Ninth of Av and until midday the next day. After midday, such work is not customarily forbidden but nevertheless it is proper for each person to be stringent with himself and avoid such work until the fast is over.

– From the night of the Ninth of Av until midday, one should sit on the floor or on a low stool less than three handbreadths high.

One should avoid walking through the streets or marketplace so that he will not come to talk idly and thus distract himself from the sense of mourning. One should surely avoid activities which might lead to levity.

– Some observe the custom of not sleeping on a bed on the Ninth of Av; instead they sleep on mattresses placed on the floor. In any event, one should vary his sleeping habits; for example, if one usually sleeps with two pillows he should use only one. Some people place a stone under the pillow or mattress as a means of remembering the Destruction.

– It is customary to begin only after midday to prepare food that will be eaten when the fast is over.

– One should not smell perfumes or spices on the Ninth of Av, nor smoke, in public.

– One should not wear fine clothing on the Ninth of Av even if the clothing is not new.

– Many observe the custom of washing their floors and cleaning their houses after midday on the Ninth of Av, in anticipation of the redemption which we await. Moreover, it is a tradition that the Mashiach will be born on the Ninth of Av.

It is said that one who eats or drinks on the Ninth of Av without having to do so for health reasons will not merit to see the joy of Jerusalem. And one who mourns over Jerusalem will merit to see her happiness, as the verse (Yeshayahu 66:10) promises: Rejoice with her greatly, all who mourn for her.

Ma’ariv

In the evening, the regular weekday Ma’ariv service is said. After Shemoneh Esreh, Kaddish is said and Eichah – Lamentations – is read, followed by the recital of Kinot. Following Kinot, we say V’Attah Kadosh which is followed by Kaddish. The stanza of Titkabel is omitted from this Kaddish and from the Kaddish recited at the end of Shacharit as well. At Minchah, however, Titkabel is included in the Kaddish.

Titkabel is omitted because it is a petition that our prayers be accepted. Since we read in Eichah (3:8) that “My prayer has been shut off”, how can we petition G-d to accept our prayers if they have been shut off! Some do not omit Titkabel from the Kaddish recited after Shemoneh Esreh because Eichah has not yet been read.

Our Sages (Eichah Rabbah) write: G-d said [to the angels at the time of the Destruction]: What does a mortal king do when he is in mourning? He extinguishes the lanterns [in his palace]. I too will do the same, as the verse (Yoel 2:10) states: The sun and moon have become darkened.

– At night only a single light is lit at the pulpit of the synagogue and the parochet is removed from the ark. It is replaced before Minchah. In many Sephardic communities, it is customary to extinguish all lights in the synagogue and to light one small lamp. The chazan then announces the number of years that have passed since the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash. For example, on the Ninth of Av of the Hebrew year 5757 (1997), he would announce that one thousand, nine hundred and twenty-nine years have passed since the destruction of the second Beit Hamikdash.

In Sephardic communities and in most Ashkenazic communities as well, Eichah is read from a printed book rather than from a scroll and no berachah is recited before the reading. Ashkenazic communities that follow the custom of the Vilna Gaon read Eichah from a parchment scroll and recite the blessing of Al Mikra Megillah beforehand. When Eichah is read in the morning, no berachah is recited.

– Rama writes that each time the word eichah is read [Le., at the beginning of the chapters], the reader should raise his voice.

Levush writes that the custom not to read Eichah from a parchment scroll – even though the obligation to read it publicly is greater than that of other megillot – is based on the fact that Eichah scrolls were rare. The scribes did not customarily write this Megillah, as an expression of the yearning and great anticipation of the time when the Ninth of Av shall be transformed into a day of rejoicing and happiness. Hence, because of the shortage of parchment scrolls, it became customary to read Eichah from a printed book.

– The congregation listens attentively to the reader’s recitation of the Megillah. When the verse of Hashivenu is read [the next to the last verse in Eichah], the congregation recites the verse aloud followed by the reader. The reader then reads the last verse whereupon the congregation repeats Hashivenu once again as does the reader.

lf the Ninth of Av falls on Saturday night, the prayer of Vihi No’am is omitted. The theme of this prayer is the completion of the Mishkan and it is thus inappropriate on the Ninth of Av when we mourn the destruction.

V’Attah Kadosh is recited after reading Eichah – even when the Ninth of Av does not fall on a Saturday night. The first verse of this prayer – “And a redeemer shall come to Zion” – is omitted, since tradition teaches that the redemption will not come at night. The verse “And this is my covenant” is also omitted for we are forbidden to learn Torah, and so that it does not appear as if we were establishing a covenant with G-d over the Destruction.

– One who is in mourning [sitting shivah]should go to the synagogue for the reading of Eichah and for the recital of Kinot. Some rule more stringently and hold that during the first three days of the seven-day mourning period, one should not leave the house at all. This applies particularly to the night of the Ninth of Av, since only a small number of Kinot are read in the synagogue then.

Shacharit

– Some follow the custom of omitting the blessing of “Who provided me with all my needs” in the morning blessings. This berachah is recited instead at night, after the fast, when regular shoes are put on again. Some omit the blessing of “Who crowns Israel with glory” in the morning and recite it only when they put on tefillin at Minchah. Most Ashkenazic communities recite the blessings in the morning, in the usual manner.

The large tallit is not worn in the morning, but the smaller tallit [i.e., the tzitzit usually worn under the shirt] is worn as usual. We do not put on tefillin for Shacharit, but put them on at Minchah instead. The basis for this latter ruling is the fact that tefillin are referred to as being our “glory” and on the Ninth of Av our glory is absent. The source for the former ruling is the verse in Eichah (2:1 7) which states: He has carried out his declaration, which the Targum interprets as “He has torn his tallit,” a play on the Hebrew words. Some communities have a custom of donning the tallis and tefillin at home, reciting the Shema, and then going to the synagogue for Shacharit. Others don the tallit and tefillin for Shacharit but remove them before reading Eichah and reciting Kinot.

The Shacharit service is the same as during a regular weekday except for minor changes which relate to the fast. When repeating Shemoneh Esreh, the chazan inserts Anenu between the berachot of Go’el Yisrael and Refa’enu as is done on every fast day. Those who follow the Sephardic rite, recite Anenu in the silent Shemoneh Esreh in the berachah of Shema Kolenu. Tachanun is not said on the Ninth of Av since the day is referred to as being a mo’ed – a holiday. Birkat kohanim [the priestly blessing] is omitted during Shacharit but is recited at Minchah.

The psalm of the day and Ein K’Elokeinu are omitted at the end of Shacharit. It is customary to say these prayers before donning Tefillin at Minchah. As regards the insertion of the Nachem prayer in Shemoneh Esreh: In some communities this is said by the Chazan dur­ing the repetition of the Shemoneh Esreh of Shacharit. In Ashkenazic communities, Nachem is recited only at Minchah.

The Torah is taken from the Aron Hakodesh and three people are called up. The reading is from the portion of Vaetchanan, beginning with the verse (Devarim 4:25) It shall be when you bear children, which speaks of the destruction of the land. A chapter from Yirmeyahu (8:13-9:23), which speaks of the Destruction, is read as the day’s HaftArah.

After the Torah reading, Kinot are recited which are followed, in some communities, by the repetition of the reading of Eichah – without a B’rachah. Afterwards, we say Ashrei, skip la-Menatze’ach since the Ninth of Av is referred to as a mo’ed – a holiday – and proceed with U’Va L’Tziyon. Within the latter prayer, the verse “And this is My covenant” is omitted.

Some communities have the custom that when the first person is called to the Torah, he quietly says Baruch Dayan ha-Emet –“Blessed is the True Judge” [without mentioning the name of G-d] – the blessing generally recited upon hearing of a death or of very bad news, immediately prior to reciting the requisite B’rachah on the Torah reading.

– When a Brit Milah occurs on Tisha B’Av, it is performed after the recitation of Kinot and the wine is given either to a small child or to the mother of the baby. If the Ninth of Av falls on Shabbat and the fast is therefore delayed until Sunday [and the Brit is on Sunday], then after midday the father, the Mohel, and the Sandak may change into clean clothing and may also eat. A large festive meal is held only that night, however.

– Some have a custom of visiting the cemetery on the Ninth of Av. The elders of Jerusalem used to walk around the walls of the city so as to awaken a sense of pain by seeing the ruins of the city.

– It is customary to give charity on every fast day, for our Sages have said that the reward for the fast comes through the charity that is given to the poor on that day.

Minchah

At minchah, we don the tallit and tefillin and read the portion of Vayechal (Shemos 32) followed by the haftarah of Dirshu Hashem (Yeshayahu 55:6-56:8) as on every fast day. In the Shemoneh Esreh the Nachem prayer is added to the blessing of Boneh Yerushalayim and Aninu is added to the blessing of Shome’a Tefillah. Why is Nachem added in Minchah rather than in Shacharit? Because it was in the afternoon – at the time when Minchah is recited – that the Beit haMikdash was set afire [and it continued to burn until the end of the tenth of Av]. Others say that the reason for the omission of Nachem during Shacharit is that in the morning one is considered to be like one whose dead relative lies before him unburied, that is, he is not receptive to words of consolation. We therefore wait to say Nachem until Minchah, when a person is capable of being consoled.

– People who are ill, or minors, who eat on the Ninth of Av, nevertheless recite Nachem at Minchah. One who forgot to say Nachem or Aninu does not repeat Shemoneh Esreh.

The night following the Ninth of Av

– It is customary to wash one’s hands at night, when the Ninth of Av is over, since in the morning of the Ninth of Av, one was permitted to wash only until the joints of the fingers.

– As mentioned earlier, if the Ninth of Av falls on a Sunday, and as a consequence the Havdalah blessing over wine was not made at the end of Shabbat, it is made at the end of the Ninth of Av. We recite Havdalah over wine – even though it is customary to refrain from drinking wine until after midday on the tenth of Av, since most of the Sanctuary was actually destroyed on the tenth. When making Havdalah, we recite only the B’rachot on wine and Hamavdil. The B’rachah on the candle is omitted since it was said after Shabbat, and is pertinent only then, for fire was created on Motza’ei-Shabbat. The B’rachah on spices is also omitted, for that B’rachah too is pertinent only at the end of Shabbat, when we give strength to our soul which mourns the loss of the additional soul which departs with Shabbat.

A Kiddush-Levanah [the sanctification of the new moon] is recited immediately after Ma’ariv following the Ninth of Av. However, some people do not wait until the Ninth of Av and hasten to perform this mitzvah as early in the month as possible.

One should refrain from eating meat, drinking wine, bathing, or cutting one’s hair until midday on the tenth (10th) of Av. The Talmud refers to Sages who would fast on both the ninth and the tenth of Av. However, if the Ninth of Av falls on a Thursday – in which case the tenth would fall on a Friday – one may wash and cut one’s hair in the morning in honor of Shabbat.

If the Ninth of Av falls on Shabbat, in which case the fast is delayed until the tenth, then, although one may not eat meat, drink wine, or recite Shehecheyanu at night after the fast, one may do so immediately on the following morning, without having to wait until midday. One may wash, shave, and cut one’s hair on the night AFTER the fast.

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*** We WANT Moshiach, Now!!! ***

By the way, You, too, can help hasten the coming of Moshiach by doing ONE more Mitzvah.

*** We WANT Moshiach, Now!!! ***


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One Response to “The 9th of Av (Ninth of Av) – Tisha B’Av”

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this is some great info. I wish I read it before I went to shull. Well I added you to my blogroll. Keep up the good work


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