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The 22 Days - Tisha B'Av

THE TWENTY-TWO DAYS

Thus is it written in our Holy Talmud (Tractate Ta’anith):

“Five calamaties befell our forefathers on the Seventeenth of Tammuz, and five on Tish’ah be Ab (the Ninth of Ab).

On the Seventeenth of Tammuz the Tablets of Stone were broken (by Moshe Rabbenu), the daily-offering ceased (in the Temple), the walls of the City (of Jerusalem) were breached, Apostomos burned the Torah Scroll and placed an idol in the Hekhal (Sanctuary). Some say it was actually Apostomos, while another opinion is that it was Menashe.

On Tish’ah be Ab it was decreed upon our forefathers that they should not enter the Land of Israel (because of the sin of the Ten Spies), the First Temple was destroyed, so too the Second, Bittair was seized and the City of Jerusalem ploughed up.”

These twenty-two days from the Seventeenth of Tammuz to Tish’ah be Ab are thus, among the saddest in our calendar and the Halakhoth (laws) and the Minhaghim (customs) that we have adopted, reflect this.

FROM ROSH HODESH AB

From the onset of the month of Ab joyfulness should be lessened, and one who has a court-case with a non-Jew should postpone it till after the tenth of Ab.

Negotiations for and acquisitions of items for joyous purposes, such as marriages, are postponed till after the Ninth of Ab. However, they are permitted if the items would not be available later, or if they would then be more costly.

While some Sepharadim do not perform weddings from Rosh Hodesh (the new month) to the Ninth of Ab, the accepted practice is to be strict and forbid it from the Seventeenth of Tammuz.

Bathing is not permitted during these nine days. Today, however, while there are different opinions on the matter, some consider, that a less pleasant option, such as a cold shower, is acceptable. In any case, there is no question that it is permitted for health and ritual purposes.

THE WEEK OF TISH’AH BE AB

The week of Tish’ah be Ab is calculated from the Shabbath preceding it to Tish’ah be Ab. During this week, cutting of hair is prohibited, and this is the Minhagh of most Sepharadim. Ashkenazim prohibit it for the twenty-two days. Some Sepharadim have adopted this custom also.

Washing clothes is not permitted (except for children’s diapers and – some say – babies’ clothes). Bathing on the eve of Shabbath Eikha (also known as Shabbath Hazon) is permitted. However, as the opinions about washing oneself from Rosh Hodesh vary on the precise details, one should consult a Hakham.

On Shabbath Eikha Sepharadim wear Shabbath clothes, in honor of the Sabbath. Hassidim also have this Minhagh, but many other Ashkenazim do not. But, since after this we are not permitted to wear clean clothes till after Tish’ah be Ab, it is common in warm weather to wear several garments for one hour each, prior to Shabbath, and as such, they are no longer considered clean and may be worn during the week.

Sepharadim do not partake of meat and wine from the night after Rosh Hodesh Ab. But on Rosh Hodesh itself, meat and wine are consumed in honor of the special day. Ashkenazim abstain from Rosh Hodesh. It is common among Sepharadim to break the fast of Tish’ah be Ab with a chicken meal. The Ashkenazi custom, however is to postpone this till the day of the tenth of Ab.

One may not cut one’s nails during this week, though on ‘Ereb (the eve of) Shabbath Hazon it is permitted. However, if the nails extend beyond the flesh of the fingers they may be cut, even on this week, as it is a great obligation to do so according to the Qabbalah.

Click Here for more of the Laws and Customs of The 22 Days and Tisha B'Av.

(Taken from the writings of Hakham Ya'aqob Menashe.)