Three Weeks: Three Stages of Mourning
Before Tish’a b’Av we are in a type of mourning so the laws are similar to mourning for a parent. There are three stages:
- The “Three Weeks”: The least severe stage starts three weeks preceding the Ninth of Av
- The “Nine Days”: The next-most severe stage begins on Rosh Chodesh Av.
- “Week” of Tish’a b’Av: The most severe mourning is during the “week” of Tish’a b’Av (beginning after Shabbat preceding Tish’a b’Av).
Three Weeks: Restrictions
Forbidden during the Three Weeks :
- Saying shehecheyanu;
- Listening to music (even recorded);
- Getting married.
- You may move into a new home or apartment, whether owning or renting, during the Three Weeks before Tish’a b’Av. Ideally, you should not move into a new place during the Nine Days but if necessary, it is permitted.
- If you are swimming for:
- Pleasure, you may swim during the Three Weeks but not during the Nine Days.
- Exercise (you don’t particularly enjoy swimming or you are not doing it for fun or to cool off), you may be permitted to swim even during the Nine Days. Consult a rabbi.
- Activities for socializing are not prohibited during the Three Weeks before Rosh Chodesh Av (but the activities might be prohibited for other reasons such as if they are dangerous).
Three Weeks: Risky Activities
We are discouraged from doing dangerous activities during the Three Weeks before and including Tish’a b’Av. But since it is forbidden to do dangerous activities anyway, there are few relevant activities that are forbidden. Some people do not travel during this time but it is not forbidden to do so. Non-urgent surgery should be scheduled for after this period.
First Nine Days of Av
Restrictions during the Nine Days before Tish’a b’Av are the same as for Three Weeks, plus:
You may not eat meat or drink wine.
- You may drink wine on Shabbat (but not on Rosh Chodesh Av or erev Shabbat.)
- You may drink wine for havdala (but ideally give the wine or grape juice to a child between ages 6 and 10).
- You may eat meat or drink wine at a brit, siyum, or pidyon ha’ben.
You may not wear freshly laundered clothes, or wear or buy new clothes.
Note: You may wear clean socks and underwear. Ideally, throw them on the floor first but, b’di’avad, it is OK to wear them even if you did not.
You may not wash yourself for pleasure.
Note: Showering or bathing to clean one’s soiled body is permitted (except on Tish’a b’Av). So you may bathe or shower during the Nine Days if you are dirty, sweaty, or smelly.
You may not do any activities that involve luxury.
You may not say shehecheyanu except on Shabbat.
Note: Therefore you should not buy new fruits or new items that you will enjoy during the Nine Days. But if you DO eat a new fruit or buy something new, you must say shehecheyanu anyway.
Try not to be involved in a court case opposing a non-Jew during the Nine Days.
Reason: The Nine Days are considered to be an inauspicious time for Jews. But if you cannot avoid it, it is not forbidden and you may proceed.
If you are not likely to see the moon on any of the days from the 10th to the 14th of Av, you may say kiddush levana during the Nine Days.
You should not start new projects or make investments during the Nine Days if they can be delayed without incurring a loss.
Reason: The Nine Days are considered to be an inauspicious time for Jews.
You may not paint your house during the Nine Days. Ask a rabbi for possible exceptions.
For laws on swimming during the Nine Days, see Three Weeks: Swimming.
You may say birkat hamazon with a mezuman or with a minyan during the Nine Days. But you may not do so at the meal preceding Tish’a b’Av (se’uda ha’mafseket).
Reason: Only bread dipped in ashes and a hard-boiled egg should be eaten and that is not a meal for socializing or togetherness.
When Tish’a B’Av begins on Saturday night, the custom is as follows:
Say baruch ha’mavdil when Shabbat ends.
Say the blessing on the candle after ma’ariv.
Do not say the remainder of havdala at all. Instead:
Wait until Sunday night, after the fast is over, and then
Say only the blessing on the wine and the paragraph of hamavdil blessings.
Note: You will not say the blessings on the spices for havdala for that week.
You should not fly on Tish’a b’Av, even if you are flying to Israel to make aliya.
On Tish’a B’Av, as on Yom Kippur, if you must wash your hands to remove:
- Tum’a, you may wash your hands only up to the knuckle that connects your fingers to the rest of your hand (thumb: second knuckle; fingers: third knuckle).
- Dirt from your hand, you may wash wherever the dirt is on your hand.
On Tish’a b’Av, you may not brush your teeth using water. You may use a dry toothbrush. You may floss your teeth.
Tish’a b’Av is similar to the day of burial of a person and so tefillin are not worn in the morning.
The afternoon has a lower level of mourning and so tefillin (and talit gadol) are worn at mincha.
Activities for Tish’a B’Av until halachic midday
- Thinking: Until halachic midday, you should do things and think about things that will keep you in bad spirits or will make you sad.
- Sitting: You may not sit on any kind of seat that is higher than 12 inches (30 cm) above the floor or ground until after halachic midday.
- After halachic midday on Tish’a B’Av, you may do any activities except the five activities forbidden on Tish’a B’Av (washing, anointing, eating/drinking, marital intercourse, wearing leather shoes) or the Nine Days. But you may not greet anyone, or reply to someone else’s greeting to you, including saying “hello,” “good morning,” “how are you,” etc., until after dark.
Copyright 2015 Richard B. Aiken. Halacha L’Maaseh appears courtesy of www.practicalhalacha.com Visit their web site for more information.
This material is provided for informational purposes only – not a substitute for the consultation of a competent rabbi.