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The Eve of Tisha B'Av: Halachot and Customs

The Eve of Tisha B'Av: Halachot and Customs

The Eve of Tisha B'Av


The 9th of Av is referred to as "Moed - celebration" (Eichha 1, verse 15).

For this reason, Vidui is not said on this day because the Holy One, blessed be He, will transform this painful event into a joyful future.

This is the same in the Mincha service on the eve of the 9th of Av, during which Vidui is not said, because the Halacha is that every day that Vidui is not said, it should also not be said, the day before], during the Mincha service.

The same is true when the date of 9 Av coincides with the end of Shabbat, the Tziduk Ha-Din is not said during the Shabbat Mincha service.

The Study of Torah

The study of Torah on the 9th of Av is not permitted except for topics dealing with grief or distressing events. It is thus desirable to stop learning the day before the 9th Av from noon (around 12:45), because men usually continue reflecting on what they have learnt well after having stopped learning.

Thus, this is likely to cause a person to approach this day of collective mourning with a certain joy that he procured from the pleasure of his study. A person must be content to study only the subjects authorized on that day.

If the eve of the 9th Av coincides with Shabbos it is desirable to be stringent and to only learn subjects that evoke the pain of the event. However, if whilst one is learning it is difficult for him to deviate from his usual habits, he is permitted to vary his learning, which remains in itself a priority.

Taking a Walk

It is forbidden to go for a walk on the eve of the 9th of Av or if it coincides with Shabbat.

Wearing leather shoes

In case one does not have canvas or rubber shoes, one may buy new ones and put them on a few minutes before the 9th of Av.

The closing meal or the Seudah Hamafseket

What is the Seudah Hamafseket?

The last meal consumed on the eve of the 9th of Av after Chatzot (mid-day) before the beginning of the fast is called the Seudah Mafseket (the last meal before the fast). However, after eating this meal, it is still possible to drink or eat.

Customs According to the Kadmonim

The Gemara in Ta'anit (P.30, 1) reports the following fact: "Here is the custom of Rabbi Yehuda Ben Rabbi Ilai, the day before the 9th of Av a piece of stale bread with salt was placed before him. He took his place between the embers of the oven and the ashes, eating and drinking with a jar, like a mourner, mourning his dead. "

The Rambam in his collection of laws writes: "Such was the custom of the Hasidim Harishonim: on the eve of the 9th of Av stale bread with salt was places in front of them and they dipped it in water. They then took their place between the embers of the oven and the ashes eating and drinking water with a jar, before being carried away by melancholy, and the sobs as a mourner, mourning his dead. Thus, the wise must adopt this attitude, or at least get close to it. Today, we do not eat cooked dishes or even a dish of lentils the day before the 9th of Av except on Shabbos. (Ta'anit Laws Chap.5, Hal.9)


It is customary to sit on the floor during the Seudah Mafseket in order to portray an indigent meal that invites both meditation and humility. This is the reason why our Sages forbade the consumption of two cooked dishes during this meal.

Nevertheless, this is not a comportment of mourning as the 9th of Av has not yet begun. Some people put a carpet or piece of cloth on the floor to avoid sitting on the floor. Women must adopt a similar behavior.


Three people will abstain from taking part collectively in the meal; each will therefore sit individually in order to prevent the obligation of a Zimun. If not, everyone will recite Birkat Hamazon without a Zimun.

Consumption of Fish and Alcoholic Beverages

It is forbidden to consume fish, beer or other alcoholic beverages. Nevertheless, the consumption of liqueurs is allowed.

Two Cooked Meals

Our Sages forbade the consumption of cooked dishes during the Seudah Mafseket. One may also not consume hard boiled eggs or eggs in the form of an omelet or in any other form.

The ban on two cooked meals is limited to foods that are usually cooked using a single pot. Nevertheless, the consumption of foods that are cooked using a single pot is permitted because they are considered a single dish. Therefore, if one has cooked different kinds of vegetables in a single pot, this is considered as a single dish and therefore suitable for consumption during the Seudah Mafseket. This restriction only applies to cooking food and not to pastries. Thus, it is permitted to consume a cooked dish with all kinds of breads. The consumption of pastries is also allowed.

Some people usually eat a dish of lentils accompanied by eggs during the Seudah Mafseket because it is a dish of mourning. Nevertheless, one may only do so if it was the custom during the year. Otherwise, if the intention was to consume these two types of food, they are considered as two dishes in their own right and therefore cannot be consumed during the Seudah. It is of course permitted to consume at first a dish of lentils and then cooked eggs, because these are considered two dishes that were cooked separately. One may not consume cooked eggs after reciting Birkat Hamazon because this would be that one indirectly recited a blessing that was not necessary.

One may eat a salad of raw vegetables or different kinds of fruits without these having been previously cooked or marinated. Thus, one should abstain from eating eggs accompanied by olives or gherkins marinated in vinegar. Eggs and cheese can be consumed because dairy products are not considered cooked; therefore, the consumption of all varieties of cheese or other dairy products is permitted during the Seudah Mafseket.

The Seudah Mafseket on Shabbat

If the eve of the 9th of Av coincides with Shabbat, it is permitted to consume meat and wine, even during Seudah Shlishit. Therefore, it would be equivalent to breaking a ban if one refrains from consuming such foods in anticipation of the 9th of Av. It is also permitted to sing Shabbat songs and to recite the Birkat Hamazon with a Zimun, regardless of prior prohibitions. Nevertheless, it is necessary to try to finish the Seuda a few minutes before nightfall.

The 9th of Av: Prohibitions and Restrictions

The Five Afflictions

On the 9th of Av, by day and night, is strictly forbidden to eat, drink, wash, spread all substances on the skin, put on leather shoes, and have intimate relationships. All of these restrictions are equally applicable to women.

Washing Oneself

It is forbidden to wash in hot or cold water, even a tiny part of the body, or to soak a finger in water. Nevertheless, this prohibition includes only the washing for pleasure, therefore one may wash one's hands if they were soiled, or to wash blood emanating from a wound.

Washing One's Hands in the Morning

When waking up in the early morning, one may wash one's hands to the ends of the joints, by washing three times on each hand alternately (by pouring the water once on the right hand, then the left hand and vice versa three times). One must not neglet to recite the blessing.

Washing One's Face

One may not wash one's face with water in the morning after waking up. However, in the case where some stains have been deposited on the eyes causing some inconvenience, only the soiled places may be rinsed with water. In some exceptional cases, for example for people for whom a lack of hygiene is difficult to tolerate, they may wash their face. The Ashkenazim, who even in this case remain stringent on Yom Kippur, adopt a tolerant attitude on the 9th of Av.

Asher Yatzar blessing

After satisfying one's needs, one must wash one's hands until the knuckles and recite the blessing of Asher Yatzar. In the case where the hands are soiled, it is permissible to wash only the soiled places. If, in times of great need, the use of water proves indispensable, it is obvious that one may do so, in addition to the use of paper towels..

Washing of the Hands Preceding the Blessing of the Kohanim

The Kohen, who is to bless the congregation, will wash his hands as he usually does during the year.

Washing the Hands before the Meal

A person who is ill and must eat bread on this day, must wash their hands until their knuckles.

The Ritual Bath

It is strictly forbidden to immerse into a ritual bath on the night of the 9th of Av. Likewise, a person used to immersing themselves daily in a mikvah during the year may not do so on the 9th of Av. Thus, a woman whose date of ritual immersion corresponds to the evening of the 9th of Av may not in any case immerse herself that night and must therefore postpone her immersion after 9 Av.

Spreading Substance on the Skin

One may not spread any oils or creams on one's body that can moisturize the skin, even on a tiny part of the body.

Wearing Leather Shoes

It is also forbidden to wear leather shoes or leather sandals.

On the other hand, canvas or rubber shoes may be worn even if they are comfortable on the feet.

An Ill Person

An ill person may wear leather shoes, and a woman in the period of 30 days after giving birth may also do so.

Marital Relations

Marital relations are forbidden the night of the 9th of Av. As for the laws governing the separation between the couple during the period of the wife's impurity, this should be taken into account only when the latter is in fact in a state of impurity, thus making her forbidden to her husband.


The Shulchan Aruch reports the custom that some people sleep the night of the 9th of Av on the floor, putting a stone under their head as a pillow. Moreover, the Rama records in his writings laws that it is appropriate for everyone to adopt a more restrictive behavior at bedtime by changing his regular sleeping habits; in the case where a person would usually use two pillows, that night they should settle for a single pillow. Some people usually place a stone under their pillow to remember the verse about our patriarch Ya'acov Avinu: "He carried some stones under his head as a pillow" because he was animated by the divine spirit, he perceived the future presence of the Beit Hamikdash as confirmed by the verse: "How holy is this place", as well as its destruction. Nevertheless, any person in a state of weakness is exempt from such customs. Each person must take care on this day to adopt a humble behavior and will have to strive to diminish their conveniences.

The Mitzvah of Torah Study

The obligation to perform the Mitzvah of learning Torah throughout the year, also includes the day of the 9th of Av (as ruled by the greatest decision-makers of the time, including the Chacham Tzvi, Rabbi Haim Palaji, Sdei Chemed and many others). However, people truly versed in Torah study, feel the joy of the Torah, as evidenced by the verse: "The precepts of Hashem are full of righteousness and rejoice the heart of man ". It is also mentioned in another verse: "Without your Torah which is my toy". Or HaChaim Hakadosh wrote on this subject: "If men felt the sweetness and delights of the Torah, they would lose their reason and exalt themselves by pursuing it, the riches of this world like gold and silver. Money would suddenly become obsolete in their eyes, because the Torah contains in it all the riches of this world.'' Thus, since all joy and rejoicing are forbidden on the 9th of Av, our Sages did not allow the learning of Torah on that day, except certain subjects that do not cause any joy.

Authorized Subjects to Study

One may learn the third chapter of Moed Katan that deals mainly with subjects of mourning, and the treatise on Gitin (pages 56-58) that deals mainly with the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash. Collections of laws regarding the rules of mourning, the comments of our Sages on Job and Megillah Echa may also be learn. It is also permissible to study books of Mussar awakening repentance (as stated in Meiri, Moed Katan, P.21,1).

Writing Torah

Innovative ideas derived from the study of subjects allowed on the 9th of Av, which might be forgotten, may be recorded in writing before the end of the fast.

Learning the Work Chok Le-Yisroel

Instituted by the Arizal and the Chida, this daily study brings together in a reduced volume all the subjects of the Torah. It is of inestimable value and provides a great spiritual elevation. However, due to restrictions on what may be learnt that day, this study must be completed the day before the 9 Av or at its end.

Reading Psalms

There is no need to begin reading the Psalms on the 9th of Av, however, in the event that this reading is formulated in the manner of a prayer for the healing of a sick person, it is possible to do so according to certain decision-makers authorizing this.

The Formulation of Greetings

One will not inquire about his friend by greeting him on that day. In the case where a person does not know this rule of conduct, they must gently be told that the circumstances of the day do not lend themselves to this form of dialogue.

Early Morning or Evening

It is permitted to greet a person with a "good morning" or a "good evening". (according to the Terumat Hadeshen).


The custom forbids working or carrying out other domestic tasks in the evening and during the day of the 9th of Av in order not to detach one's thoughts from mourning. Some Ashkenazi communities permit domestic chores after midday. Nevertheless, Chaye Adam writes in his work, that it is appropriate for any person with a fear of heaven not to work the whole day so as not to detach his thought from mourning. It is related in this regard in the treatise of Taanit: "Rabbi Akiva teaches: ''Anyone who does a job on the 9th of Av, will not see blessing crowning his work forever". This is valid even in places where the custom allows work to be done during the day.

Walking promenades

It is forbidden to take leisurely walks on the 9th of Av, even alone, or in case this date coincides with Shabbos. As for those who go to the Western Wall, remains of the ruins of our Temple, and meet friends with whom they engage in futile discussions, they violate a serious prohibition and cannot justify this in any way.

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