Tisha b’Av is a day of national mourning and repentance, on which we recall the destruction of the first and second Temples. Many tragic events have happened on Tisha b’Av throughout Jewish history. The following is, sadly, only a partial list:
- The Spies gave a negative report about the land of Israel, The spies returned from the Promised Land with frightening reports, and the Israelites balked at the prospect of entering the land. G‑d decreed that they would therefore wander in the desert for 40 years and ultimately perish in the Wilderness, introducing the entire concept of “Galut” (exile) into the Jewish experience (TISHA B’AV, 1313 BCE).
- The first Temple was destroyed – approximately 100,000 Jews were slaughtered, and millions more exiled. (TISHA B’AV, 586 BCE).
- The second Temple was destroyed – approximately 2,000,000 Jews died, and another 1,000,000 were exiled, unleashing a period of suffering from which our nation has never fully recovered. (TISHA B’AV, 70 CE) – This year is 1954 years since the destruction of the second Temple (5782).
- The Bar Kochba revolt against the Romans ended in defeat: The Jews of Beitar were butchered. (TISHA B’AV, 133 CE).
- The Temple area and its surroundings were plowed under by the Roman general Turnus Rufus. Jerusalem was rebuilt as a pagan city – renamed Aelia Capitolina – and access was forbidden to Jews. (TISHA B’AV, 134 CE).
- The fortress city of Beitar – the Jews’ last stand against the Romans – was captured & destroyed. Over 100,000 Jews were slaughtered (TISHA B’AV, 135 CE).
- King Edward I, signed an edict that the Jews must be expelled from England (TISHA B’AV, 1290).
- The Spanish Inquisition culminated with the expulsion of approximately 200,000 Jews from Spain (TISHA B’AV, 1492)
- WWI broke out when Germany declared war on Russia. German resentment from the war set the stage for the Holocaust (TISHA B’AV, 1914).
- The mass deportation of Jews began from the Warsaw Ghetto en route to the infamous Nazi death camp Treblinka (TISHA B’AV, 1942).
As part of our mourning for the destruction of the Temple and the exile of Israel, we fast and abstain from pleasurable activities on the night and day of the 9th of Av, starting with sunset on the eve of the day before (Saturday night – 8:44 pm), and concluding with the following Nightfall (Sunday night – 9:23 pm).
This year, the 9th of Av falls on Shabbat and is postponed until Sunday. All the laws of mourning are suspended on Shabbat, and Shabbat is joyously celebrated as usual until sunset (8:44 pm).
Please note the following Halachot and Customs are specifically for this year 5782/2022 and apply only to Sepharadim. (Ashkenazim differ and are more stringent on various customs, especially this year with Tisha b’Av falling on Motzai Shabbat, please do not hesitate to contact me should you require further extensive background).
- On Shabbat, one may be lenient and learn Torah even after midday until sunset.
- According to Halacha, marital relations are permitted.
- It is permissible to eat meat, drink wine, and have a lavish meal even for Seudah shlishit; however, one must stop eating before sunset – 8:44 pm.
- At sunset, the day’s five prohibitions and other laws start immediately, except for wearing shoes, in honour of Shabbat. One does not remove them until after motzai Shabbat. Similarly, one does not sit on the floor until motzai Shabbat.
- At Nightfall – 9:40 pm, men and women say Baruch Hamavdil ben Kodeh L’chol. Havdalah is not made until the conclusion of the fast. Remove leather shoes and change from Shabbat clothing to weekday clothing that is not freshly laundered (previously been worn).
This year being that Tisha B’Av is nidche – pushed off to Sunday, the following halachot apply:
The following categories of people should not fast:
- Ill people (including those suffering from long Covid).
- Pregnant or nursing women that do not feel well.
- Older people that are weak (or that get weakened from fasting more than ordinary people do).
The following categories of people should fast until Chatzot, or at least until morning:
- Pregnant or nursing women that feel well.
- People that are slightly ill.
Anyone with a situation that makes it difficult to fast should consult their Rabbi.
A person who is not fasting should refrain from eating delicacies and should eat only what is necessary for his physical well-being. Someone who needs to take pills may take them if they have an unpleasant taste, if liquid is required to swallow, one may drink a bitter liquid.
Someone who cannot fast or needs to break the fast should make Havdalah and drink the majority of a revieet – 44ml of wine/grape juice, without reciting the blessing on spices (and if made during the day, does not recite the blessing on a candle either).
Specifically, we don’t:
- Eat or drink—all adults – even pregnant and nursing women – fast on this day. One who is ill, or a pregnant or nursing woman who feels excessive weakness, should consult with a rabbi.
- Bathe or wash ” even insert a finger in cold water.”
1. One who becomes soiled may rinse the affected area with cold water.
2. Upon awakening in the morning or after using the washroom throughout the day, one is permitted to wash one’s fingers until the knuckles.
3. When preparing food – for children or the post-fast meal – one may wash the food, even though their hands will get wet. However, one should refrain from washing the dishes that were used on Shabbat.
- Apply ointment, lotions, creams or perfume. However, it is permissible to put a liquid scent (deodorant) to remove an unpleasant odour and apply insect repellent on one’s body.
- Wear leather footwear or footwear that contains any leather (even if it is only a leather sole).
- Engage in marital relations or any form of intimacy.
- Study Torah because “the commandments of G‑d are upright, causing the heart to rejoice” (Psalms 19:9). It is, however, permitted – and encouraged – to study sections of the Torah which discuss the laws of mourning, the destruction of the Temples, and the tragedies which befell the Jewish people throughout our history.
- Send gifts, or even greet another with the customary “hello,” “good night/morning,” or “how are you doing?”. If one is greeted by someone uninformed about the prohibition, one should respond in a subdued manner.
- The widespread custom is to refrain from working all night and all day to not dismiss the mourning from one’s mind. However, some opinions allow working after midday – 1:17 pm, although it is said that no blessing will come from that work. It is also permissible to work to prevent loss.
- Sit on an ordinary chair until midday – 1:17 pm, instead sit on a low chair or the floor.
- Sleep with one’s usual comfortable habit rather one should minimize, e.g., if one sleeps with two pillows, one should sleep with only one, during the night and up until midday.
- In the Amidah, by the blessing of Shema Koleinu, we insert Anenu Avinu (for those that are fasting).
- After the Amidah, the Chazzan blesses Boreh m’orai ha’esh on a candle. If one could not attend synagogue, or women at home should bless on a candle themselves.
- In the morning blessings, one does not recite the blessing (on shoes) Sheasah li kol tzorki.
- There are various customs regarding Talit and Tefilin on Tisha B’av. The widespread custom is not to put on Tallit and Tefillin for Shacharit services and instead put them on for Mincha prayers. Some have the custom of putting them on before Shacharit prayers at home (Ben ish Chai).
- In Mincha in the Amidah in the blessing of ‘Tishcon,’ we insert ‘Nachem’ (as well as Anenu – if one who is fasting).
- At the conclusion of the fast – 9:23 pm, all prohibitions terminate, including washing clothes, taking a haircut, eating meat and drinking wine (specifically this year for Sepharadim).
- One makes Havdalah over a cup of wine, starting directly from Hagefen and Hamavdil, omitting the blessings on spices and candle. For the cup of Havdalah, one may drink the wine.
By carefully observing the laws and customs instituted by our Chachamim (Sages), we can feel the full impact of our loss. May this be the final Tisha b’Av we sit on the floor before we merit to see the coming of Mashiach with the building of the Third Temple speedily in our days.
Wishing you all a meaningful and uplifting fast.
Rabbi Shlomo Gabay