Tisha B'Av - The "ninth day"
in the Jewish month of Av, which starts at sundown on the eighth day and concludes at
sundown on the ninth day of Av. This is the day when the intensity of the entire three week mourning period reaches its peak (keep
reading below for details and use our entire Tisha B'Av Resource
Center to learn more).
According to our sages, many tragic events occurred to our ancestors on this day:
1. The sin of the spies caused
Hashem to decree that the Children of Israel who left Egypt would not be permitted to
enter the land of Israel;
2. The first Temple was destroyed;
3. The second Temple was destroyed;
4. Betar, the last fortress to hold out against the Romans during the Bar Kochba revolt in
the year 135, fell, sealing the fate of the Jewish people.
5. One year after the fall of Betar, the Temple area was plowed.
6. In 1492, King Ferdinand of Spain issued the expulsion decree, setting Tisha B'Av as the
final date by which not a single Jew would be allowed to walk on Spanish soil.
7. World War I
which began the downward slide to the Holocaust began on Tisha Bav.
The prohibitions on Tisha B'Av itself
are similar to those of Yom Kippur. In
addition to not eating or drinking, we are not allowed to wash, anoint oneself or wear
leather shoes. In a prohibition more stringent than on Yom Kippur, we are only allowed to
study certain portions of the Torah and Talmud on Tisha B'Av.
The observance of Tisha B'Av
begins with the Seudah HaMafseket, the last meal before the fast commences.
NOTE: During years when the fast starts on
Saturday night we do not have a seuda HaMafseket.
Unlike the elaborate feast we have before Yom Kippur, this meal is typically one course,
usually consisting of a hard-boiled egg and some bread. Also, this meal is generally not
eaten with others to avoid having a Zimmun (quorum for public blessing) at Birchat
HaMazon. Zimmun indicates permanence, habit and durability. We avoid the Zimmun because
wed prefer not to make this mournful meal a recurring experience. It is customary to
eat this meal seated on the floor or a low stool.
Until Mincha on Tisha B'Av one should
try to avoid sitting on a chair or bench. Instead, the custom is to stand or sit on the
floor, just like a mourner during the Shiva (traditional seven days of mourning a loved
Beginning at Mincha sitting on chairs
is permitted, and we reduce the intensity of the grief that has pervaded us so far. Also,
men put on Tefillin and recite those Tefillot that were omitted at Shacharit.
It is forbidden to greet friends or
acquaintances on Tisha B'Av. However, if greeted first, one should answer, but in a low
tone in order not to arouse resentment.
At the evening Ma'ariv service, the
entire congregation sits on the floor and recites the Book of Eicha
(Lamentations) where the prophet Jeremiah
weeps the destruction, and we weep with him.
The morning of Tisha B'Av is
the saddest part of the day. We recite Kinot, and the men do not don Tefillin at Shacharit, because Tefillin are
called "Pe-ar," "Glory," and this is definitely not a day of glory for
the Jewish People.
Our sages teach that
whoever mourns over Jerusalem will merit the future vision of her joy. As it is written in
Isaiah (Chapter 66, verse 10), "rejoice greatly with her, all who mourn her."
Five disasters occurred on Shivah Asar B'Tammuz:
1. Moshe descended from Mount Sinai, discovered the
people worshipping the golden calf, and broke the luchot;
2. During the siege of Jerusalem before the destruction of the first Temple the daily
offering, was suspended because the Kohanim (who had fortified themselves inside the
Temple) could not get any more sheep for the sacrifice.
3. In the year 70, the Romans breached the walls of Jerusalem before the destruction of
the second Temple;
4. Apustumus the wicked burned a Torah Scroll; and
5. The Romans set up an idol in the courtyard of the Temple.
This period of time is known as Bein HaM'Tzarim, "between the straits", because
it says in Eicha (Chapter 1, verse 3): "and her pursuers overtook her between the
straits", referring to the calamitous events that befell the Jewish people between
Shivah Asar B'Tammuz and Tisha B'Av. (Some of the prohibitions and customs we observe
during this period are mentioned here. For specific questions contact a Rabbi.)
- Visiting cinemas, theaters, concert halls or any
other place where there is public entertainment is strictly prohibited.
- With the exception of socks and undergarments, new
clothes should not be purchased.
- Haircuts are forbidden. According to some
authorities, men who shave daily for business reasons may shave during this period.
The Nine Days
The intensity of the three week mourning period increases with the onset of Rosh Chodesh
Menachem Av. So, in addition to those items mentioned below, during the days between Rosh Chodesh and Tisha B'Av, we are prohibited from:
Building or performing alterations in
ones home, unless the work is important repair work. This prohibition includes
painting, wall papering and other forms of home decorations.
Eating meat or drinking wine, except
Giving clothing to or getting
clothing back from the cleaners or doing laundry. Childrens clothing, especially
babies and infants, may be cleaned during this period. Also, this restriction doesnt
apply to clothing warn directly against the body which requires frequent changing.
Weaving, knitting and needle craft
work, with the exception of repairing torn clothing, is prohibited during this period.
Swimming and bathing for pleasure is
prohibited. Taking a bath or shower for hygiene purposes is permitted. Children in camp
may go swimming during the instructional swim period. Visiting a Mikveh when necessary is
The Shabbat before Tisha B'Av is
called Shabbat Chazon because the Haftorah that morning begins with the word