The Nine Days—Laws and Customs
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.
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.|
The Source of Tragedy
By RABBI SHLOMO PRICE
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.