The Nine Days 2015—Laws and Customs

The Nine Days—Laws and Customs

 Heightened mourning, uplifting visions and rejoicing with mitzvot

The first nine days of the month ofAv, and also the morning of the tenth,1 are days of acute mourning for the destruction of the first and second Holy Temples.

During this time, we don’t:

  • Eat meat or drink wine, for during this period the sacrifices and wine libations in the Holy Temple ceased.2The exceptions to this rule are meat and wine consumed on Shabbat or as part of a meal that celebrates amitzvah, such as a circumcision, bar mitzvah, or the completion of a tractate of the Talmud.
  • Launder clothing (except for a baby’s)—even if they will not be worn during the Nine Days—or wear freshly laundered outer clothing.3 Those who wish to change their clothing daily should prepare a number of garments and briefly don each of them before the onset of the Nine Days. Then it is permitted to wear these “non-freshly laundered” garments during the Nine Days.
  • We don’t consume meat or wine, for during this period the sacrifices and wine libations ceasedSwim or bathe for pleasure.
  • Remodel or expand a home.
  • Plant trees to be used for shade or fragrance (as opposed to fruit trees).
  • Buy, sew, weave or knit new clothing—even if they will only be worn after the Nine Days.
    Exceptions to this rule: a) If you will miss a major sale, or if the garment will be unavailable later. b) For the purpose of a mitzvah, e.g., purchasing new clothing for a bride and groom.
  • Cut nails during the actual week of the fast of Tisha B’Av—i.e., starting from the Saturday night before the fast until the conclusion of the Nine Days.

The Sephardic custom is to observe the stringencies regarding meat, wine and bathing only in the week of Tisha B’Av.

Some more observances:

  • The Sanctification of the Moon is postponed until after Tisha B’Av.
  • There is no law forbidding traveling during the Nine Days; however, it is customary to refrain from traveling (or engaging in any potentially perilous activity) during these days, unless it is absolutely necessary.
  • One may become engaged to be married during this period, but no celebration should be held until after Tisha B’Av.

Note: All these restrictions are in addition to the restrictions that apply during all of the Three Weeks.

Shabbat Chazon

The Shabbat preceding the Ninth of Av is called Shabbat Chazon—“Shabbat of the Vision.” This Shabbat’s reading from the Prophets begins with the wordsChazon Yeshayahu, the “vision of Isaiah” regarding the destruction of the Holy Temple. The legendary chassidic master Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev said that on this special Shabbat, every Jewish soul is shown a vision of the third Holy Temple. The purpose of this vision is to arouse within every Jew a yearning to actually see this edifice which will be built by G‑d, and to do as many mitzvotas possible in order to realize this dream. While this vision may not be sensed with the physical eyes, the soul certainly experiences this vision, and it affects the person on the subconscious level.

There is no mourning on Shabbat—click here for more on this topic.

We try to moderate the sadness through participating in permissible celebrationsIf possible, this week’s havdalah wine or grape juice should be given to a child—younger than bar/bat mitzvahage—to drink.

Click here for the rules that apply if this Shabbat falls on the eighth or ninth of Av.

The Inner Dimension

“When the month of Av enters, we reduce our joy . . .”

—Talmud, Taanit 26b

The entire month of Av is considered to be an inopportune time for Jews. Our Sages advised that a Jew who is scheduled to have a court hearing—or anything of a similar nature—against a gentile during this month should try to postpone it until after Av, or at least until after the Nine Days.

On the positive side, as we get closer and closer to the Messianic era, when these days will be transformed from days of sadness to days of joy, we start to focus on the inner purpose of the destruction, which is to bring us to a higher level of sensitivity and spirituality, and ultimately to the rebuilding—with even greater grandeur and glory—of all that was destroyed.

We therefore try to moderate the sadness through participating in permissible celebrations. It is therefore the Chabad custom to have someone complete a tractate of the Talmud each day of the Nine Days, in order to infuse these days with permissible joy.

Click here for more on this topic.

1. The Temple was set ablaze on the afternoon of the ninth of Av, and burned through the tenth.
2. Through custom, this prohibition has been expanded to include food cooked with meat. However, one may eat food that was prepared in a meat pot or utensil.
3. Shoes purchased specifically for the Ninth of Av—e.g., shoes made from canvas or rubber—may be worn even if they are new.
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The Source of Tragedy


Imagine, you come home one day, and you are greeted by a terrible smell coming from the kitchen. Your first priority is to track down the source and get rid of it. We would not think too highly of anyone who finds the source, but doesn’t do anything to remove it.

Now, if we could only find the “source of tragedy” (which is worse than any smell) then we could work on eradicating that as well. There are no words to describe the person that knows the source and doesn’t do anything to remove it. But what is the source!?

The answer can be seen in the Kinos of Tisha B’Aav. In the Artscroll Kinos p.270, Rabbi Feuer and Rabbi Gold wrote a beautiful and moving introduction for Kinah 25 “Mi Yiten Roshi Mayim– Would That My Head Were Water.” (Tisha B’Av has a lot more meaning when you understand what you are saying).

They explain that this is the first kinnah that is apparently unrelated to the destruction of the two Temples. Indeed this elegy mourns the calamity that befell the Jewish communities of the Rhineland- Worms, Speyer and Mainz (Mayence)- in the year 1096, during the First Crusade, over one thousand years after the destruction of the Second Temple. It was included here to demonstrate that the source and cause of all Jewish tragedies in exile can and must be traced back to the destruction of our Temple. The following incident illustrates this concept vividly.

When the Jewish people became aware of the awesome devastation that befell our nation at the hands of the murderous Nazis in World War II, many sought to establish a new day of national mourning to commemorate Churban Europa (the Holocaust). The contemporary Torah leaders were consulted. Among the responses was that of the “Brisker Rav” Rav Yitzchok Zev Soloveitchik, who said that the reply lies in this Kinah (25). Why didn’t the great Rabbis and Sages of that generation- among them the greatest of the Rishonim, including Rashi- establish a new day of national mourning to commemorate that newtragedy? The author of this Kinah addresses the question and offers this insight:

Please take to your hearts to compose a bitter eulogy,/ because their massacre is deservant of mourning and rolling in dust/ as was the burning of the House of our G-D, its Hall and its Palace./ However, we cannot add a (new) day (of mourning) over ruin and conflagration, / nor may we mourn any earlier-only later. / Instead, today (on Tisha B’Ov), I will arouse my sorrowful wailing, / and I will eulogize and wail and weep with a bitter soul, / and my groans are heavy from morning until evening.

Thus, the essential purpose of this kinnah is to drive home this lesson: There are really no new tragedies befalling Israel. All of our woes stem from one tragic source-the Destruction of the Temple on Tishah B’Av . To establish a new day of mourning would detract from the significance of Tishah B’Av and obscure its lesson and message.


4 thoughts on “The Nine Days 2015—Laws and Customs

  1. All mourning for Matisyahu and all our bros in this intense exile , may they all come home asap 🙂

    • The Arizal could’ve brought Moshaich – Eitan Kagan: He told his talmidim to join him on the walk to Yerushalayim…This meant he was about to bring Moshiach!

      Correct. Famous story of him in the fields of Tsfas during LEcha Dodi
      He told his talmidim to join him on the walk to Yerushalayim…This meant he was about to bring Moshiach
      The talmidim told him that they first need to ask their Baal Habosters permission…
      He realised they were not ready …
      Rebbe has a good sicho on this
      Bitul to a Tzadik…
      As if the Ari Hakodesh never knew Halocha and didn’t consider Shalom Bayis as an iker…
      Living by the Tzadik will bring Moshiach, specifically a Nasi Hador, which is higher than Tzadik

      This Sunday is the fast of the 9 Av when we mourn over the spies return with a negative report of the Land of Israel [1]. But strangely the afternoon of 9 Av we relax our mourning as it is the time when the redeemer will be born who will bring us the ultimate happiness.

      How and why do we entertain these two opposing themes on the same day?

      And furthermore, being that we are mourning our spiritual losses, why do we express our mourning by limiting ourselves physically?

      A number of years ago, Rabbi Yaakov Galinsky of Bnei Barak went collecting overseas.

      One evening he phoned his wife. She asked him if he had managed to raise any money.

      “Over 8 million dollars,” he replied.

      “What do you mean?” she asked incredulously.

      That day, he explained to his wife, he had met a man whose daughter was engaged to be married to a non-Jew. The man offered the Rabbi a million dollars if he could successfully persuade his daughter not to marry out.

      “I did not succeed,” concluded the Rabbi, “but if success was worth a million dollars to this man, we have 8 kids all married to Jews – that is worth at least 8 million dollars!”

      Sometimes recognising that which we don’t have helps us appreciate the true worth of that which we do have.

      The spies were not allowed to enter the land, but nevertheless G-d told Moshe that the next generations “who did not know good from evil this day – they will come there; to them shall I give it and they shall possess it” [2]. Whilst on a simple level the subject of this verse is the land of Israel, perhaps the seemingly superfluous repetition, ‘to them shall I give it and they shall possess it’ refers to the beginning of the verse which speaks of knowing good and evil. It therefore comes to remind us that a person actually acquires good or evil based on their free decision to follow them. This is what G-d will – tit-for-tat – ‘give’ them, for He leads a person on the path that they have chosen (or ‘come’ to) [3] and ultimately they will come to ‘possess it’ – either good or evil.

      True happiness comes only when we are completely satisfied: both physically and spiritually. A person who ‘chooses’ this world and therefore seeks purely physical happiness will never truly be satiated, and will continue to seek but never actually attain true happiness. But a person who ‘chooses’ to believe in the next world and therefore ‘possesses’ [4] a portion in it will also be happy on this world because he recognises the true source of spiritual happiness and therefore only anticipates physical happiness from this world [5].

      On the 9 Av, the redeemer is born. This is no coincidence. He is born as a result of our mourning. When we mourn our losses, we limit ourselves physically. We are demonstrating that we are not satiated by physical happiness alone, and on the contrary without the spiritual counterpart even our physical happiness is incomplete.

      It is this recognition that gives birth to the redeemer, who will ultimately bring the greatest happiness of all… may it be speedily in our days.

      Have a good Shabbos and a possessive 9th Av,


      Additional sources:

      Story: heard from R. Yaakov Galinsky

      [1] Taanis 29a

      [2] Devarim 1:39

      [3] E.g. Makkos 10b

      [4] See Sanhedrin 10:1 and Sanhedrin 90a

      [5] Similar to an idea heard from R. Yechiel Yaakovson

  2. From rabbi Price Know How To Use Your Tears Wisely

    In the sefer, “Shearim B’Tefillah,” by Rabbi Shimshon Pincus,ztl. on p.45 he brings an interesting story about the great Tzaddik Rav Boruch Ber Leibowitz.

    Once when he was a young child, he did some childish thing for which he received a punishment from his father. This caused him to cry. While he was still crying, he picked up a siddur-prayer book and started to daven -pray Mincha-the Afternnon Service. His father asked him why he decided specifically now to daven Mincha? Rav Leibowitz answered that if he’s crying anyway, he may as well use these tears for davening.

    Rav Pincus concludes, “…this is a wondrous way to act, that a person should try that no screaming and crying should come out of his mouth in vein. In truth, it is a pity that such a precious thing as crying and screaming should go for naught. And if one channels it towards Heaven, there is nothing better than this.”

    He describes our natural tears and sighs that emanate from us during times of trouble as ” very precious diamonds and pearls. How foolish it is to waste these precious gems for nothing, to allow them to be sopped up by the ground, instead of channeling them to the Heavens to tear open the Gates of Heaven, and to bring a great bounty of blessing to him and the whole world…Therefore, when a person is in pain and this leads to his natural tendency of crying, sighing and screaming, he should designate and sanctify these screams which happen naturally, to Hashem that he should save him from his troubles.”

    We see from all of this, that even when a person initially cries for an ulterior motive, if he eventually channels his tears towards Heaven, it has a tremendous effect. Consequently, if we find that we cannot cry for the Beis Hamikdosh, let us think about something sad and moving that we can relate to, which will bring us to tears. Then we can channel them to mourn for the Churban. Many people, on Tishah B’Av, read books about the Holocaust or would think about some personal moving episode in their lives to draw out their emotions. Thinking about a loved one who is very sick or passed away, or remembering a sad, tragic or inspirational story, can many times stir up our emotions.

    The truth is, however, that there are many inspirational moments that we experience, hear or read about that can have a tremendous impact on our life, but, to our misfortune, we let them go to waste.

    Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz, ztl, in his sicha, “Immortalizing the Fleeting Moment” (in the English “Rav Chaim’s Discourses” p.111 – in the Hebrew Parshas Bo 5731), underscores this point.

    He brings the Gemoro Avoda Zoro 17a which relates how Rav Elazar ben Durdia did a tremendous teshuvah-repentance because of a chance remark of a woman with whom he was engaged in sin .(See “How To Listen a Sicha” where I elaborate on this Gemoro). Her words made such an impact on him that he sat down on a mountain and cried until his soul left him. A Heavenly voice proclaimed that Rav Elazar has entered Olam Habo -the World to Come. When Rebbi heard this, he began crying and remarked, “There are some who acquire their share of Olom Habo in just a moment.”
    Why did Rebbi cry? Shouldn’t he have been overjoyed that Rav Elazar raised himself from such lowly circumstances to be granted immediate entrance to Olom Habo?

    Rav Chaim answers, that Rebbi did not cry for Rav Elazar’s sake, but rather for all of humanity. When he was told the story of Rav Elazar , he realized that each one of us also experiences a moment of such import that is capable of changing one’s entire life. Yet only one out of a thousand in fact utilize this moment. If every person does indeed have such a moment in his life, why do so few make use of it? This is why Rebbi cried.

    I will conclude with a very moving story from Rav Fishel Shechter that also teaches us how tears should be used wisely.

    A certain woman told Rabbi Fishel Shechter that she unfortunately lost a child and she refused to leave her house. She said, “That’s it, my life is over!”

    There was a wedding and her husband said, “Go to the wedding.” It was already two months after she lost the child but she felt she couldn’t go. He pushed her out of the house and locked the door. He told her, “Your wedding clothes are by a neighbor next door and I’m not letting you in till you go to the wedding.”

    She was furious but she had no choice so she went to the neighbor and put on the wedding clothes and went to the wedding. She saw people dancing and she said, “How dare they dance?!” she said she is not walking in there and just stood there tears streaming from her eyes.

    She didn’t know what to do, so she went to a phone booth and picked up a phone and cried, “Ribono shel Olom,-Master of the Universe, get me out of here, I don’t want to be here!”

    An old woman who was collecting money, saw what was happening and put her arm around her and asked,”Mein kint farvus veins tu-My child, why are you crying?”

    “You don’t know what it‘s like to lose a child!,” she screamed at the old lady.

    The old lady responded, “Really, I lost ten in the war! Why are you crying?”

    “And you never cried?”

    “I cried, but I learned that there is no point in crying over the past. I learned that when I cry I take advantage of those tears and I say, ‘Ribono shel Olom, you see these tears, what happened happened, but help everyone else. Bring Geula-Redemption. Help people that are suffering!’”

    Then the old lady put her hand around the woman and said, “No one should tell you to stop crying.”

    “But my husband said that I shouldn’t cry!”

    “You cry, but have seichel-brains, know how to cry, cry for someone else.”

    She picked up the phone. She began to think about all the other people who were sick in the hospital and were suffering and she cried for each and every one of them. She cried for every single person that she knew needed a yeshua-salvation. She cried for Klal Yisroel and the future of Klal Yisroel.

    When she finished crying she said, “I never felt so happy in my life. And I stepped into that circle and I started dancing like I never danced before in my life.”
    Rabbi Shechter concluded that when we cry we are planting the yeshua for geula-the salvation for redemption.

    May we learn from these stories how to plant the yeshua for geula this Tisha Bav and live to reap it, bimhera beyomeinu amen.

  3. Reblogged this on Kosher Eli and commented:

    The Nine Days 2015—Laws and Customs #Kosher style!

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