The laws of Tisha B’av-Summary-Part 1

The laws of Tisha B’av-Summary-Part 1

The five tragedies that occurred on Tisha B’av:

  1. On Tisha B’av of year 2449 the Meraglim returned and it was decreed that the Jewish people in the desert would not enter Eretz Yisrael.
  2. On Tisha B’av of year 3338 [שלח-422 BCE] the first Temple was destroyed.
  3. On Tisha B’av of year 3828 [68 CE] The second Temple was destroyed.
  4. On Tisha B’av of year 3881 or 3901 the city of Beitar was destroyed.
  5. On Tisha B’av the city [of Jerusalem] was plowed by Turnus Rufus.
  1. Fasting:
  • It is forbidden to eat or drink anything on Tisha B’av.
  • One who is sick: A person who is sick and needs to eat, is not required to fast on Tisha B’av. If he needs to eat he is required to break his fast. [Anyone who feels weak and sick to the point he is bedridden, is considered sick in this regard, even if it is not life threatening.]
  • Pregnant woman: A pregnant woman must fast on Tisha B’av just like on Yom Kippur. [If, however, a pregnant or nursing woman feels weak and will become sick due to the fast, she is not to fast. If a pregnant woman begins to feel dizzy or begins to experience labor [i.e. contractions] or low/high blood pressure, she is to break her fast. Certainly, if she feels sick and needs to lie in bed, she is to break her fast.  Some Poskim are lenient for all pregnant women who are prior to their due date, to not fast if it is very difficult due to the hot weather. Furthermore, some Poskim are lenient in all cases that a pregnant woman prior to her due date is not to fast, due to fear of miscarriage. Practically, such a woman is to contact a Rav for a final ruling.]
  • Nursing woman: A nursing woman must fast on Tisha B’av just like on Yom Kippur. [However, a nursing woman who feels sick and needs to lie in bed, is not to fast. If a nursing mother feels healthy, but she will not have milk for her child if she fasts, then if her child only eats from her, she may break her fast. Some Poskim rule that even if she is able to feed the child formula and the like, nevertheless, she is not required to do so. Practically, such a woman is to contact a Rav for a final ruling.]
  • A woman who is after childbirth: A woman within 30 days of childbirth is not required to fast. Nevertheless, the custom is to fast unless she is experiencing great pain, in which case there is worry of danger. Nonetheless, a woman may choose to be lenient against this custom and not fast within thirty days of birth even if she is not in pain. [Practically, in today’s times all women within thirty days of birth are to be taught not to fast. However, some Poskim rule that a woman who is after seven days, and feels healthy, is to fast. Accordingly, such a woman is to contact a Rav for a final ruling. Certainly, if she is within seven days of birth, and even more so if she is within three days of birth, it is forbidden for her to fast.]
  • Children Fasting: All children who are above the age of Bar or Bas Mitzvah are obligated to fast on all accustomed fast days. All children who are below the age of Bar or Bas Mitzvah, are not required to fast any of the four Rabbinical fasts, including Tisha B’av. [This applies even if the child is within three fasts from his/her Bar/Bas Mitzvah. One is not even required to educate the child to fast for a certain amount of hours into the day [i.e. Taanis Shaos]. Nevertheless, some Poskim rule that regarding Tisha B’av, children who have reached the age of education in this regard, which is approximately nine years old, are to delay their meals a few hours into the day from its set time. However, children below the age of education are to be fed like normal and it is even forbidden to delay their meals from their regular times, being that this can lead them to becoming in a state of danger.]
  • What may the children eat? Some Poskim rule that a child who has reached the age of understanding the mourning is only to be allowed to eat bread and water or other simple staple food. The custom however is not like this opinion. [However, they are not to be given sweets and the like, although one is not required to stop them from eating it if they are in the midst of doing so.]
  • Does one who eats bread on Tisha B’av recite Nachem in Birchas Hamazon? One who eats bread on Tisha B’av is to say Nachem in Birchas Hamazon. It is recited prior to Uvinei Yerushalayim. It is recited each time that one recites Birchas Hamazon on Tisha B’av. [However, some Poskim rule that based on Admur in the Siddur one is not to recite Nacheim in Birchas Hamazon. Practically it is to be recited. Children who ate bread are to recite Nachem in Birchas Hamazon.]
  1. Smelling spices:
  • Some Poskim rule it is permitted to smell spices on Tisha B’av. Other Poskim however rule it is forbidden to smell spices on Tisha B’av.
  • Smoking: If it is not difficult, one is to avoid smoking on Tisha B’av. Accordingly, one who is not overly addicted should not smoke. If, however, one finds this very difficult, he should at the very least delay smoking until after midday, and even then it should only be done in private.
  1. Leather shoes:
  • It is forbidden to wear leather shoes on Tisha B’av. This includes all footwear which contains leather, even if the shoe is mainly of a different material. It is forbidden to wear it even on one foot.
  • Shoes made of other materials: Footwear made of other material, is permitted. However, it is best to be stringent and not wear shoes made of wood. [Likewise, some Poskim rule one is not to wear comfortable sneakers/shoes that prevent the feet from feeling the hardness of the ground, even if they are not made of leather. Other Poskim however rule it is permitted to wear any shoe that does not contain leather, and so is the Chabad custom.]
  • Children: One may not place leather shoes on a child, even if the child is below the age of education. However, some Poskim are lenient to allow all children below Bar and Bas Mitzvah to wear leather shoes. [The custom is like the former opinion.  However, some write that children of a very young age, such as 2-3 years old, may be lenient.]
  • Standing on top of leather cloth: Although there is no prohibition against standing on a cloth made of leather, nevertheless, one who is stringent is blessed.
  1. Bathing & Washing one’s skin:
  • For pleasure: It is forbidden to wash any part of one’s body [for the sake of pleasure] on Tisha B’av. This applies whether with hot or cold water. Even to stick one’s finger in water is forbidden.
  • To clean dirt: If one’s hand is dirty with mud or feces, it is permitted to wash it with water in order to remove the dirt. Nevertheless, one may only wash the dirty areas and not the entire hand. [The same applies for any part of the body that is dirty.]
  • For medical purposes: One who is sick may bathe for medical purposes. 
  • Children: Children are not to be bathed on Tisha B’av even if they are below the age of Chinuch, unless they are dirty.
  • A bride within 30 days: A bride within 30 days after her wedding may rinse her face to beautify herself for her husband. 
  • Mikveh Night on the ninth of Av: A woman whose Mikvah night falls on Tisha B’av, must postpone it until the next night. In such a case, she should perform the Chafifa on the day before Tisha B’av and on the night following Tisha B’av she should again bathe and clean herself, and then immerse.  
  • Hefsek Taharah: A Hefsek Taharah may be performed on Tisha B’av. Nevertheless, she is to only slightly wash between her thighs for this purpose. It is permitted to use either hot or cold water.
  • Washing hands in the morning: Upon awakening on the morning of the 9th of Av one only washes his fingers, up until his knuckles, having intention to remove the impurity which they contain [as on these days the impurity does not extend past the fingers]. [At the conclusion of Tisha B’av, prior to saying Kiddush Levana, one washes his [entire] hand three times inconsecutively.]
  • If one is not fasting, is he to wash hands as usual [until the wrist] when eating bread on Tisha B’av? Yes.
  • Washing hands for the blessing of the Kohanim: A Kohen may wash his [entire] hand prior to the priestly blessings, even if he had already washed them in the morning before prayers, as he is not washing for pleasure purposes.
  • Washing after bathroom: When going to the bathroom before Davening, one may wash his fingers [not hand] prior to Davening, even if they did not become dirty in the process. When going to the bathroom during other times, one may only wash his fingers, up to his knuckles, if he got them dirty in the process of going to the bathroom. It is advisable to do so in order to say asher yatzar in purity.
  • Washing one’s face upon awakening: Rinsing mucus from one’s eyes: One may wash mucus from his eyes if he is careful to do so throughout the year.
  • Rinsing the remainder of the face: One may not wash his face, even if he is a very pampered person, unless he has dirt on his face and desires to wash it off.
  • Cooling oneself off: Cooling oneself off with a cold bottle: One may not cool himself down with the cold walls of an open bottle of liquid, due to fear of spillage. [If the bottle is closed and its walls are dry without condensation, it is permitted to use it to cool oneself off.]
  • Cooling oneself off with a wet towel: One may cool himself down with a dry towel that was wet before Tisha B’av. However, a wet towel is forbidden to use.
  • Rinsing the mouth: It is forbidden to rinse one’s mouth on Tisha B’av. This applies even if one will be using less than a Revius of water. [If, however, this is causing one great discomfort, he may be lenient to rinse his mouth even on Tisha B’av.]
  1. Anointing:

On Tisha B’av, one may not use the following items unless it is for medical purposes:

  • cosmetics
  • lotions
  • oils
  • soap
  • perfumes
  • May one use deodorant during Tisha B’av? Some Poskim rule it is permitted to apply deodorant to ones skin on Tisha B’av in order to prevent a bad odor of sweat.
  1. Marital relations:
  • Night: On the night of Tisha B’av one is not to touch his wife affectionately or sleep with her in the same bed. Some rule one is to also follow the other Harchakos restrictions at night.
  • Day: By the day of Tisha B’av one may be lenient regarding touch, although some rule that one is to be stringent just like by night, even regarding the Harchakos restrictions.

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