Laws for the 9th of Av
• Tisha Beav is a fast day – it is forbidden to eat and drink. It is also forbidden to wash, anoint oneself with oils and creams, to wear leather shoes, and for couples to have marital relations. Pregnant and nursing women are not exempt from the fast, unless they are somewhat sick. A lady who has given birth within thirty days may eat and drink right away in the morning of Tisha Beav. One who is very sick or feeling extremely week may eat on Tisha Beav, as long as he’s not eating for pleasure. An old man or woman whom the doctors say the fast will hurt him may eat as well. Also, a woman who is nursing and the doctors say that it will be detrimental to the baby if she doesn’t eat may eat as well. Kids under the age of bar/bat mitzvah may eat and drink as well; however, they shouldn’t be given their best and favorite foods. It is always best to ask a competent Halachic Authority before.
• It is permissible to take a swallow pill, as it is not considered food. One should try to not have water with it if he can, but if he really needs it, he should make the water bitter in some way such as adding rosemary or extremely concentrated tea. Bottom line, the water shouldn’t be drunk in its normal state; it should be very bitter.
• One should not smoke on Tisha Beav. In fact, it is preferable that one should never smoke. But even if one happens to be a smoker, he still should not smoke on Tisha Beav.
• It is forbidden to wash any part of one’s body on Tisha Beav, whether with cold or hot water. One may not even place his hand in water or under running water. One may only wash his hands only up to the knuckles, and even one who uses the bathroom, one may only wash up to his knuckles. There are a few exceptions: 1) If ones hands or another part of one’s body are actually dirty, he may wash off the dirtiness. 2) Kohanim who are washing their hands for Birkat Kohanim may wash their whole hands 3) One who is sick and permitted to eat on Tisha Beav may also wash his hands all the way. 4) Women who washing vegetables for after the fast it’s ok if their hands touch the water 5) When it is extremely necessary, one may wash his mouth out with less than 3 oz. of water, provided that he keeps his head down to make sure he doesn’t drink the water. 6) After washing ones knuckles and drying them a little, one may rub his eyes and clean them out with his moist fingers
• Annointing with oil or creams is forbidden when done for pleasure. However, if it is being done for medical reasons, one may apply creams or oil.
• It is forbidden to wear leather shoes on Tisha Beav, even if one is wearing socks and they do not directly touch his feet. One should only wear shoes of other materials, such as fabric, wood, or rubber. Usually wearing crocs or flip-flops work very well.
• It is forbidden to learn Torah on Tisha Beav, and even to think about Torah is forbidden, because Torah brings the greatest joy and happiness possible to one’s life. There are only a few specific sad parts that one may learn. Among these are the following: Iyov(Job), Echah(Lamentations), the sad portions of Yirmiyahu(Jeremiah), the song of Haazinu, the third chapter of Tractate Moed Katan, Tractate Gittin 55b-58a, Halachot of mourning, and books of Mussar. There are other things also that may be permitted; one should always ask a competent Halachic Authority first.
• One shouldn’t even read Tehilim on Tisha Beav. If it is really bothering him though and cannot learn anything else, he may do so, especially if he is reading for a sick person.
• We do not greet each other on Tisha Beav(as in “hey, whats up”). The reason for this is because we are all in mourning, so we shouldn’t be all joyous to see each other. If someone who doesn’t know the halacha happens to greet you, one shouldn’t ignore him, but one shouldn’t respond to him with joy either; we must understand that we are in mourning. It is probably best to just nod your head and look down or something; show the person that we are in mourning. If however, one sees that his friend is in distress, he may ask him how he is feeling or how the fast is going to make sure he is ok.
• We do not go on trips for fun on Tisha Beav. We do not go to movies, or watch T.V., or play video games, or go shopping, or read novels, or do anything close to being fun or enjoyable. One may read the works of Josephus Flavius and the history of what went on at the time the Temple was destroyed.
• We do not go to work on Tisha Beav. Some families have a custom to go work, and if one has this custom, it is preferable that he should go in the afternoon because the mourning is a little bit lighter in the afternoon, but even this is best to avoid it if possible. We have a tradition that unless it was something absolutely necessary, one will not see any Beracha in his business on Tisha Beav.
• We do not sit on regular chairs on Tisha Beav, only on lower chairs, or on the ground, or on a pillow on the ground. Again, we are all like mourners on this day, so we accept the Minhagim of mourning, and just as mourners do not sit on regular chairs, we do not sit on regular chairs during this day. In the afternoon though, one may sit on a chair because the mourning becomes a little bit lighter in the afternoon.
• Some people have a custom to change their sleeping pattern on Tisha Beav. For example, one might sleep on the floor instead of his bed, or use only one pillow instead of two. This is very praiseworthy, but not strictly required by halacha.
• We include “Anenu” in the Amida during all our prayers on Tisha Beav. Sephardim say the “Nachem” prayer during Amida in all three prayers of the day, Arvit, Shacharit, and Mincha.
• Our Minhag is that we do not put on Tallit and Tefillin in the morning for Shacharit, but we put it on in the afternoon during Mincha. Some have the Minhag to put it on in the morning, especially those who live in Yerushalayim. Kohanim who are in Minyan for Shacharit do put on a Tallit and do Birkat Kohanim.
---The Tenth of Av---
• A few of the customs of Tisha Beav continue into the next day, the Tenth of Av, because the Bet Hamikdash was still burning until the next day.
• It is preferable that one shouldn’t eat meat or drink wine until end of the day after Tisha Beav(the Tenth of Av). Some families have a very strong Minhag to break the fast with meat, and these families may uphold their Minhag. Otherwise, one shouldn’t have meat until the end of the Tenth of Av.
• We also do not wear new clothes that require “Shehechiyanu” or eat a new fruit that requires “Shehechiyanu” until after the Tenth of Av.
• The rest of the restrictions, such as not laundering, taking hot showers, or shaving are all permitted for Sephardim immediately after the fast is over.
Chodesh Tov!! We are entering the month of Av, a month famous as a tragic period throughout history, however a great period comes about in the middle of this month and I will elaborate more on that during this Dvar Torah.
We know that the 1st of Av, as we learn in Parshah Chukat, Aharon passed away on this day, through the ‘kiss’ of death from Hashem.
During the 1st of Av, around more than 1000 years after the death of Aharon, we learn that Ezra and his followers came into Israel to be near the second temple.
The 7th of Av, was a miserable day throughout Jewish history, Nebuchadnezzar came to destroy the first temple, as the Babylonians broke in to the temple. A civil war also took place on this day during the second temple era between different Jewish factions, after they could not decide whether to attack the Romans or not.
The 9th of Av was a horrific day in Jewish history, the first and second temples were both destroyed on this day. Nebuchadnezzar and Titus both in different eras destroyed the temple. The prior being a Babylonian and the latter being Roman. After the Babylonians destroyed the first temple the Jews went into exile for 70 years.
The 9th of Av is memorable as a day which saw the fall of Betar. Betar, the last stronghold of the Bar Kochba rebellion, fell to the Romans on the 9th of Av, after a three-year siege. 580,000 Jews were said to have died by either starvation or by the sword, including Bar Kochba, the leader of the rebellion.
The Spanish Inquisition also tragically took place on this day in the English year 1492.
The 9th of Av is commemorated as we fast every year on this day, a 24 hour fast, remembering the destruction of the temples. It is common to learn the book of Iyov (job) and to read the Megillat Eicah (Lamentations) on this day.
The 10th of Av is famous for the continuation of the Temples being burnt.
On a much happier note, the 15th of Av, In ancient Israel, there was the custom that on this day "the daughters of Jerusalem would go out in borrowed linen garments... and dance in the vineyards" and "whoever did not have a wife would go there" to find himself a bride, as related in the Gemorah ‘Taanit.’
The reason they would wear borrowed linen garments was so those without nice clothes of their own would not be embarrassed.
It was a day that we learn in the book of ‘Shoftim’ that the Binyominites found wives for themselves which led to a repopulation of that tribe. It is also a special day as the Jews stopped dying in the wilderness every year on this day in their 40th year in the wilderness.
Also 15th of Av is known as the day in the year, when during the period of the Beit Hamikdash, it saw the completion of cutting firewood. Overall the 15th of Av was a great day!!!
The 24th Av is known as the day that the Hasmoneans reinstated Jewish civil law which replaced the Hellenist secular law, and declared this day a holiday.
Hope you all have a meaningful fast, Shavua Tov, Michael Zaroovabeli.