Seudas Hamafsekes

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Laws pertaining to the final meal:

  • What is defined as the Seudas Hamafsekes?[1]

The Seudas Hamafsekes is the last meal eaten before Tisha B’av, after midday, and it is this last meal eaten after midday that contains all the restrictions that apply to the meal due to mourning, as will be explained. All the other meals eaten prior to the last meal do not carry any of these restrictions, even if it is eaten after midday. Likewise, even the last meal itself only carries the restriction when it is eaten after midday. If, however, one eats the last meal before midday it does not carry any of the restrictions.


  • The menu restrictions-Letter of law:

Below are all the menu restrictions applicable towards the meal of Seudas Hamafsekes, according to the letter of the law. However, the custom is to further restrict the menu of this meal, as explained in C. Thus, ideally one is to follow the accustomed menu brought in C, although in a time of need that he is still hungry, he may follow the letter of the law menu brought below.

Not to eat meat, wine or two cooked foods:[2] It is forbidden from the letter of the law to eat meat, drink wine, or partake in two cooked foods during this meal.

Not to eat fish or chicken:[3] The custom is to forbid eating even chicken and fish [due to their inclusion within the prohibition against meat[4]].

The definition of a cooked food:[5] All cooked foods are included within this prohibition of eating two cooked foods even if it is possible for the foods to also be eaten raw.

Two cooked foods in one dish:[6] Two foods that have been cooked together in the same pot have the status of two cooked foods [and is thus forbidden to be eaten by the Seudas Hamafsekes]. However, if this combination of foods is the most common recipe for this food throughout the year, then it is considered one food, and it may be eaten. Thus, one may eat a cooked legume that contains onions if this is the common recipe of cooking throughout the year.

Raw fruits and vegetables:[7] One may eat an unlimited amount of raw [not cooked] fruits and vegetables during this meal.

Egg:[8] The custom is to eat a [cold[9]] hardboiled egg during this meal.[10] [This egg counts as the cooked food of the meal, and hence one may not eat any other cooked food.]

Diminish in drinking:[11] One is to diminish the amount he drinks during this meal in comparison to the amount he drinks in a regular meal during the year.

Not to drink beer:[12] One may not drink beer during this meal[13] unless the person feels weak[14] [and is doing so in order to garner strength].


May one drink coffee and tea during the Seudas Hamafsekes?

It is permitted to drink coffee and tea during this meal.[15] However, there are Poskim[16] who limit this allowance to only those who are weak. 

  • The accustomed menu:

Bread, salt, and egg:[17] Those who are able should only eat bread with salt [the cold hardboiled egg[18]] and drink water during this meal. [This is the widespread custom amongst those who eat a set meal before Mincha, as explained in the previous Halacha. However, some are accustomed not to eat two meals, one before Mincha and one afterwards, and rather they eat one meal with many uncooked foods, and then at the conclusion of the meal they eat the egg and bread with ash.[19]]

Dipping bread in ash:[20] Many are stringent to conclude their meal by dipping their bread in ash and then eating it. [Upon eating it one says: “This is the meal of Tisha B’av.”[21]]

Sitting on the floor during the meal:[22] The custom is to sit on the ground while eating the Seudas Hamafsekes meal. [However, based on Kabala, one is never to sit directly on the ground and is rather to have an interval between him and the floor.[23] Clothing that one is wearing is not considered a valid interval for this matter.[24] One should be stringent even regarding a tiled floor.[25]]

Not to eat in the forum of three men:[26] One should be careful not to eat the meal with another two men in order to avoid the obligation of making a Zimun. [Nevertheless, in the event that one ate with two other men, a Zimun is not to be made.[27]]


  • Eating after Bentching:[28]

After one finishes his final meal, and recites Birchas Hamazon, he may continue to eat and drink [those foods permitted during the Seudas Hamafsekes[29]] until sundown/Shekia. However, if one explicitly said that he is accepting the fast after his conclusion of the meal, then he may no longer eat and drink [and all the prohibitions that begin by sundown apply to him from that time, other than the prohibition against wearing leather shoes[30]]. This acceptance is valid even if it was not verbalized but simply stated in one’s mind. [31]

Saying that one is not yet accepting the fast prior to finishing eating:[32] It is proper to stipulate during the Seudas Hamafsekes that even after he finishes eating he does not intend to accept the fast [until sundown[33] and] he may thus continue to eat and drink. [This stipulation is valid whether it is said in the heart, or verbalized.[34]]

If one does not feel like eating anymore:[35] Even if one is satiated and does not feel like eating anymore food, it is not considered an acceptance of the fast until he explicitly decides to begin the fast.


The widespread Ashkenazi custom is to eat a large meal on Erev Tisha B’av prior to Mincha and then eat the Seudas Hamafsekes after Mincha. Customarily, the Seudas Hamafsekes consists of merely bread with salt, water, and a cooked egg. One dips the bread [and egg] in ash and states “This is the meal of Tisha B’av”. One is to sit on the floor [with an interval between him and the floor] during this meal and it is not to be eaten with a Zimun. One is to diminish in his normal amount of drinking during the meal.



Is one to initially recite Birchas Hamazon before sunset?

One may recite Birchas Hamazon even after sunset.


May one perform Mayim Achronim after sunset?[36]



Is one to recite Birchas Hamazon with Nachem if he is reciting Birchas Hamazon after nightfall?[38]

No. One only recites Nachem in Birchas Hamazon on Tisha B’av, if he ate on Tisha B’av itself, such as a child, or one who is sick.


Is one to dip the egg in ash?

The Poskim[39] mention dipping the bread in ash and not the egg. Many however today are accustomed to dip the egg in ash [rather than the bread].[40]


[1] Michaber 552:9

[2] Michaber 552:1; Mishneh Taanis 26b

[3] Michaber 552:2

[4] M”A 552:2

[5] Michaber 552:3

[6] Michaber 552:3; M”A 552:4

[7] Michaber 552:4

[8] Rama 552:6

[9] M”A 552:6

[10] The reason: As hardboiled eggs is the food of a mourner [Rama ibid]

[11] Rama 552:1

[12] M”A 552:1

[13] M”A ibid in name of Mahril; Aguda; Rashal; Hagahos Maimanis

[14] M”A ibid in name of Mateh Moshe

[15] Shaareiy Teshuvah 552:2 in name of Machazik Bracha; Aruch Hashulchan 552:9; Shearim Hametzuyanim Behalacha 123:3; Piskeiy Teshuvos 552:5

The reason: As drinks are not included within the two cooked foods. [Machazik Bracha ibid] Alternatively, it is because it is not considered a cooked dish, being that it is not cooked in a Keli Rishon but rather through Iruiy Keli Rishon. [Shearim ibid based on Ashel Avraham Butchach ibid]

[16] Zera Emes brought in Machazik Bracha ibid; Shaareiy Teshuvah ibid

[17] Michaber 552:6; See 552:5-6; It appears that one who will not be satiated with only eating the above, may eat in accordance to the Halachic guidelines mentioned above

[18] Rama ibid

[19] Piskeiy Teshuvos 552:8

[20] Rama 552:6; Kitzur SHU”A 123:3; Nitei Gavriel 51:9

[21] M”B 552:16

[22] Michaber 552:7

[23] Maharash Shaar Aryeh; Birkeiy Yosef 552:8; Shaareiy Teshuvah 552:3 in name of Birkeiy Yosef ibid; Kaf Hachaim 552:39

Other opinions: From the Maharil brought in Beir Heiytiv 559:3 it is implied he held that one may sit directly on the ground. [Shaareiy Teshuvah ibid] Practically, however, one is to be stringent in this matter. [Shaareiy Teshuvah ibid; see P”M 559 A”A for how he explains the Maharil; See also next footnotes from Kaf Hachaim who differentiates between a tiled and earth floor]

[24] Shaareiy Teshuvah 552:3 in name of Birkeiy Yosef

[25] Kaf Hachaim ibid suggests that perhaps the above stringency of Kabala is only by an earth floor and thus there is no contradiction between the Maharil and the Maharash however he concludes “When possible one is to be stringent even regarding a tiled floor”.

[26] Michaber 552:8

[27] M”B 552:19

[28] Michaber 553:1; Admur 608:7

[29] So it seems, that even after one closes his Seudas Hamafsekes he still remains limited in what he can eat.

[30] M”B 553:2; Admur ibid regarding Erev Yom Kippur however there he differentiates between accepting the day of Yom Kippur in which case the above law applies, and when he simply accepts to no longer eat.

[31] M”A 553:2 in name of Bach; Gr”a; M”B 553:2; Admur 608:7 regarding the Seudas Hamafsekes on Erev Yom Kippur however there he differentiates between accepting the day of Yom Kippur in which case even acceptance of the heart is valid, and when he simply accepts to no longer eat in which case it is only valid if verbalized.

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule the acceptance is only valid if one verbalized it with his mouth, as words of the heart have no validity. [Rama 553:1]

[32] Admur 608:7; M”A 553:2; M”B 553:2

[33] M”B ibid

[34] M”B ibid

[35] M”B ibid; see Admur ibid

[36] Taharas Hashulchan 557; Nitei Gavriel 66:10

[37] The reason: As this washing is not a washing of pleasure.

[38] Shaareiy Teshuvah 552:13; Nitei Gavriel 51:21

[39] Rama 552:6; Kitzur SHU”A 123:3

[40] Moed Lekol Chaiy 10:29; Nitei Gavriel 51 footnote 21; Hiskashrus; See Ashel Avraham Butchach 552

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