Digest of The Laws of Tisha B’Av and the Three Weeks

hero image


(According to the Ashkenazic practice)

Notes in [brackets] based upon contributions from Rabbi Ari Kahn, whom we thank for his valuable input!


A.H. = Arukh HaShulĥan
B.H. = Biur Halakha
E.Y. = Even Yisrael (Fischer)
K.H. = Kaf HaĤayim
K.S.A. = Kitzur Shulĥan Arukh
M.B. = Mishna Berura
M.H. = Mipi HaShemua
N.H. = Nefesh HaRav
O.Ĥ. = Oraĥ Ĥayim
S.A. = Shulĥan Arukh
S.H. = Shiurei HaRav, Inyanei Tisha B’Av
S.S.K. = Shemirat Shabbat Kehilkhata
S.T. = Sha’ar HaTziyun
S.Te. = Sha’arei Teshuva
Y.O. = Yabia Omer



1 The period of the Three Weeks commences with the evening of (before) the seventeenth of Tammuz and continues through midday after Tisha B’Av (S.H. 2, 31). [In extreme need one should consult a rabbi – Igros Moshe OC I:168.]

2 During the Three Weeks, one is not permitted to (a) take a haircut or shave (Rama, O.Ĥ. 551:4), (b) get married or participate in a wedding (Rama, O.Ĥ. 551:2) [Editor’s note: One may remarry an ex-spouse – AS OC 551; regarding engagements and engagement parties, see AS OC 551 and MB 551:19], (c) listen to music (M.B. 551:16), or (d) recite the Sheheĥeyanu blessing (Rama, O.Ĥ. 551:17). [Editor’s note: The S.A. writes that it is good to be careful in this matter; the Rama says if that if one will not find the fruit later then one may make a Sheheĥeyanu.]

3 One is permitted to sing, dance and recite Sheheĥeyanu on Shabbat (M.B. 551:98).


4 The Nine Days commence with the evening of (before) Rosh Ĥodesh Av and continue until midday of the tenth of Av (M.B. 551:58).

5 In addition to the restrictions of the Three Weeks, during the Nine Days one is not permitted to (a) eat meat (including fowl) (S.A., O.Ĥ. 551:9–10; M.B. 551:58) [if suffering from a lactate deficiency, consult a rabbi], (b) drink wine (ibid.), (c) expand one’s business (S.A., O.Ĥ. 551:2), (d) build items that bring pleasure or make preparations for joyous events (ibid.), (e) wash or iron clothes, or (f) wear new or newly washed clothes (Rama, O.Ĥ. 551:3).

6 If a Se’udat Mitzva, meal in connection with a mitzva, takes place during the Nine Days, such as a Siyum or Brit Mila, one may eat meat at that meal (Rama, O.Ĥ. 551:10).

7 One may eat meat and drink wine on Shabbat, but for Havdala, one should give the wine to a child to drink. If one cannot do that, one may use wine (Rama, O.Ĥ. 551:10).

RESTRICTIONS OF TISHA B’AV · Digest of Tisha B’Av Laws 786

8 Grape juice is included in the prohibition of wine and therefore one may not drink it (E.Y. vol. 9, p. 110).

9 The general custom is to forbid bathing for pleasure during the Nine Days (S.A., O.Ĥ. 551:16). [Regarding swimming for exercise, consult a rabbi.]

10 There is a custom to postpone lawsuits against gentiles until after this inauspicious month, or at least until after Tisha B’Av (S.A., O.Ĥ. 551:1; M.B. 551:2).


On Tisha B’Av one is not permitted to (1) eat or drink, (2) wash one’s body, (3) anoint oneself, (4) wear leather shoes, or (5) engage in marital relations
(S.A., O.Ĥ. 554:1).

1. Eating and Drinking

11 One is not permitted to put any food or drink in one’s mouth, even if one spits it out without swallowing (S.A., O.Ĥ. 567:1).

12 Someone who is ill and needs to eat, and a woman up to thirty days after childbirth, may eat on Tisha B’Av (S.A., O.Ĥ. 554:6). If Tisha B’Av falls on a Sunday, these individuals should recite Havdala before eating (S.Te. 556:1). [Besamim are not used; some authorities advise that children should eat without hearing havdalah.]

13 If one eats bread on Tisha B’Av, when one recites Birkat HaMazon one should begin the third blessing with the word “Naĥem” instead of the usual “Raĥem” (Rama, O.Ĥ. 557:1; N.H. p. 198).

2. Washing

14 One is not allowed to wash one’s hands or even dip one’s finger in water (S.A., O.Ĥ. 554:7). However, one may rinse dirt off with water (S.A., O.Ĥ. 554:9).

15 When one awakens in the morning, one should wash one’s hands only up to the knuckles (S.A., O.Ĥ. 554:10). The same should be done after one uses the facilities, although if necessary one may wash any dirty area of one’s hands even beyond the knuckles (A.H., O.Ĥ. 554:10). If one is allowed to eat and needs to wash his hands for bread, he washes all the way to the wrist (S.S.K. ch. 39, n.101).

16 One may prepare food for children or for after the fast, even if the consequence is that one’s hands get wet (M.B. 554:19).

Digest of Tisha B’Av Laws · EREV TISHA B’AV

3. Anointing

17 One is allowed to anoint oneself for any purpose that is not pleasurable (S.A., O.Ĥ. 554:15). This includes medical ointments and deodorant (B.H. 554:15).

4. Leather Shoes

18 One may wear any shoe that is not made of leather (S.A., O.Ĥ. 554:16).

19 If one has no other options, one may wear leather shoes but must take them off as soon as possible (S.A., O.Ĥ. 554:17).

Other Restrictions

20 One may not study Torah on Tisha B’Av except for melancholy passages in Torah texts, the laws of mourning and Tisha B’Av, and works of Musar (S.A.,
O.Ĥ. 554:1; Y.O. 2:26).

21 One is not required to omit any Torah passage that is part of the regular daily prayer service (S.A., O.Ĥ. 554:4).

22 One may not greet another person with a verbal greeting such as “Hello” or “Good morning.” If someone greets you, you may respond in a serious tone
(S.A., O.Ĥ. 554:20).

23 One may not sit on a chair until after halaĥik midday (taking into account the extra hour of daylight saving time). Until then, one should sit on the floor or a low
chair (S.A., O.Ĥ. 559:3; N.H. p. 253).

24 One should not work before midday unless refraining from work will result in a significant and irretrievable loss (S.A., O.Ĥ. 554:22–24).


25 Some have the custom not to learn Torah on the afternoon before Tisha B’Av other than such passages that are permitted on Tisha B’Av, but many authorities are lenient because of the importance of Torah study (A.H., O.Ĥ. 553:4). However, all agree that one should not take a pleasure trip or even an enjoyable stroll on the afternoon before Tisha B’Av (Rama, O.Ĥ. 553:2).

26 The custom is to eat a large meal before Minĥa that will sustain one through the fast (Rama, O.Ĥ. 552:9). This is in addition to the later Se’uda HaMafseket.

MA’ARIV · Digest of Tisha B’Av Laws 788

27 Taĥanun (on Shabbat, “Tzidkatekha”) is omitted from Minĥa (S.A., O.Ĥ. 552:12, 559:1).

28 After Minĥa, one eats the Se’uda HaMafseket, the final meal before the fast. At this meal, one may not eat more than one cooked item (S.A., O.Ĥ. 552:1). One should drink less than usual at this meal (Rama, O.Ĥ. 552:1). The custom is to sit on the floor and eat bread and a hard-boiled egg with ashes (Rama, O.Ĥ. 552:5–7).

29 Three adult males should not eat together to avoid having to say Birkat HaMazon with a zimmun (S.A., O.Ĥ. 552:8).

30 On Shabbat, one eats as usual and does not have to observe any of the restrictions of a Se’uda HaMafseket (S.A., O.Ĥ. 552:10). However, one must cease eating [and washing] by sundown (Rama, O.Ĥ. 552:10).

31 The fast begins at sundown and all restrictions begin at that time (S.A., O.Ĥ. 553:2). [Editor’s note: If Tisha B’Av falls on Shabbat, then one should remove one’s Shabbat clothing and shoes 30 minutes after sunset, after reciting “Baruch Hamavdil Bein kodesh l’ĥol.” Shabbat is still not over until the time indicated on the calendar.]

32 If Tisha B’Av falls on Shabbat, the fast is held on Sunday (S.A., O.Ĥ. 550:3). Shabbat is observed as usual except that marital relations are forbidden (Rama, O.Ĥ. 554:19). [Editor’s note: This is the predominant custom for Ashkanazim, however Sefardim treat this Shabbat as any other Shabbat. Even Ashkenazim are lenient in a case of Mitzva Onah; it is therefore advisable to consult a posek to clarify this law.]


33 For Ma’ariv, we remove the curtain from the Ark and dim the lighting. After Barekhu, one sits on the floor or a low seat (Rama, O.Ĥ., 559:1–3).

34 If Tisha B’Av begins on Motza’ei Shabbat, one may not make any preparations for Tisha B’Av, including bringing kinot or alternate shoes to shul, until after Shabbat is over. Many people bring them on Friday, before Shabbat begins. One removes weekday shoes after saying Barekhu at Ma’ariv but one should be careful not to dirty one’s hands before prayer (Rama, O.Ĥ. 553:2; M.B. 553:6). Alternatively, one may take off one’s shoes after saying “Barukh HaMavdil ” as a form of Havdala, after nightfall but before Ma’ariv (S.S.K. ch. 28, n. 179).

35 Ma’ariv proceeds as usual until after the Kaddish following the Amida. On Motza’ei Shabbat, one recites Ata Ĥonantanu in Ma’ariv and then one recites Kaddish immediately after the Amida.

36 On Motza’ei Shabbat, after Kaddish one lights a Havdala candle and recites the “Boreh Me’orei HaEsh” blessing. The rest of Havdala is delayed until after Tisha B’Av (S.A., O.Ĥ. 556:1; M.B. 556:1). [Besamim are not used on Sunday night.]

Digest of Tisha B’Av Laws · SHAĤARIT

37 After Kaddish (or Havdala), the Shaliaĥ Tzibbur reads Eikha followed by kinot (Rama, O.Ĥ. 559:2).

38 Following kinot, even on Motza’ei Shabbat, the congregation says VeAta Kadosh (omitting the verse “VaAni Zot Beriti ” – M.B. 559:6), followed by Kaddish without Titkabal (Rama, O.Ĥ. 559:4), and Aleinu.


39 Men do not wear tallit and tefillin in the morning, although they put on a tallit katan (tzitzit) without a blessing when they get dressed in the morning (S.A., O.Ĥ. 555:1).

40 Shaĥarit proceeds as usual, but without sitting in regular chairs. In the repetition of the Amida, the Shaliaĥ Tzibbur adds Anenu (M.B. 557:13) and omits Birkat Kohanim (K.S.A. 124:3). One does not say Taĥanun (S.A., O.Ĥ. 131:7).

41 The appropriate Torah portion for Tisha B’Av is read, followed by Kaddish and Haftara, and the Torah is returned to the Ark.

42 The congregation then recites kinot. During the recitation of kinot, one may not conduct idle conversations that distract one from the mourning (S.A., O.Ĥ. 559:5).

43 After kinot, the congregation recites Ashrei and continues to Aleinu, omitting LaMenatze’aĥ and the verse “VaAni Zot Beriti ” from Uva LeTziyon. Kaddish is recited without Titkabal (Rama, O.Ĥ. 559:4). The psalm of the day is omitted (K.S.A. 124:3).


44 The curtain is returned to the Ark before Minĥa (K.H. 559:19).

45 Before Minĥa, men put on tallit and tefillin with blessings and wear them until after Minĥa (S.A., O.Ĥ. 555:1).

46 The psalm of the day, which was omitted at the end of Shaĥarit, is now recited, followed by Ashrei and Kaddish (K.S.A. 124:19). Then the Torah scroll is removed from the Ark, the customary portion for the fast days (Vayeĥal ) is read, and the Haftara is recited (M.B. 566:3). After the Torah is returned to the Ark, the Shaliaĥ Tzibbur recites Kaddish, which is followed by the silent Amida.

THE END OF TISHA B’AV · Digest of Tisha B’Av Laws

47 During the silent Amida, one adds Naĥem in the “Boneh Yerushalayim” blessing and Anenu in the “Shomei’a Tefilla” blessing (S.A., O.Ĥ. 557:1). If one is not fasting, then one says Naĥem but not Anenu (B.H. 565:1). One says Sim Shalom instead of the usual Shalom Rav (Rama, O.Ĥ. 127:2).

48 If one forgets to say Naĥem, one may insert it into the “HaMaĥazir Shekhinato ”blessing before the word “Veteĥezena.” In such a case, one concludes the blessing with “HaMaĥazir” and not “Menaĥem Tziyon” (M.B. 557:2). If one already finished that blessing, one does not insert Naĥem at all and just continues praying. If one forgets to say Anenu, one may insert it at the end of the Amida, before Elokai Netzor (M.B. 119:19).

49 In the repetition of the Amida, the Shaliaĥ Tzibbur says Anenu after the “Go’el Yisrael ” blessing, and Naĥem in the “Boneh Yerushalayim” blessing. He also says Birkat Kohanim and Sim Shalom.

50 In the event the Shaliaĥ Tzibbur forgets to say Anenu in the repetition of the Amida, if he has not yet finished the next blessing (Refa’enu) then he should
say Anenu and then begin Refa’enu again. If he has finished that blessing, then he should insert Anenu into the “Shomei’a Tefilla” blessing (Rama, O.Ĥ. 119:4).


51 A regular Ma’ariv service is prayed.

52 On Sunday night, one says Havdala over a cup of wine but without the introductory verses and without a flame or spices (S.A., O.Ĥ. 556:1).

53 One should eat and put on one’s shoes before reciting Kiddush Levana (M.B. 426:11). However, if that is not possible, one may recite Kiddush Levana even before eating and putting on shoes (S.T. 426:9).

54 The restrictions of the Nine Days are still in effect until midday on the tenth of Av, the day after Tisha B’Av. Therefore, one may not eat meat, drink wine, wash clothes, bathe in a pleasing way, take a haircut or shave, until midday after Tisha B’Av (S.A., O.Ĥ. 558:1; N.H. 31). However, if Tisha B’Av falls on Thursday, one may wash clothes, bathe, take a haircut and shave in order to prepare for Shabbat (M.B. 558:3). If Tisha B’Av is deferred from Shabbat to Sunday, one need not observe all these restrictions after the fast ends, with the exception of eating meat and drinking wine which are still prohibited the night following the fast [but are permitted in the morning] (Rama, O.Ĥ. 558:1).