Bathing before ‘Shabbat Chazon’
The custom of the ‘Rishonim’ (leading rabbis who were deciders of Jewish law and lived between 1050 and 1500) was not to bathe on the days before Tisha B’Av. However, before ‘Shabbat Chazon’ (the Shabbat preceding Tisha B’Av), all Jews are accustomed to bathe.
According to the Sephardic ‘minhag’ (custom), one can bathe as he normally does in hot water. The ‘minhag’ of Ashkenazim is to bathe in lukewarm water, in a way that, on the one hand, the bathing is not pleasurable, but conversely, does not cause distress (see, ‘Pininei Halacha: Z’manim’ 8:21).
Customary Meal before the Fast when the Eve of Tisha B’Av Falls on a Weekday
When the eve of Tisha B’Av falls on a weekday, already from the time of the ‘seudah mafseket’ (meal before the fast), mourning customs begin: it is forbidden to eat two cooked dishes together – at the very most, only one is allowed. The custom is to sit on the ground, unaccompanied, similar to a mourner who sits in front of someone who has died, alone. And even if three people sat had together, they do not recite the ‘zimun’ before ‘Birkat Hamazone’ (prayer after the meal). From midday before Tisha B’Av, ‘l’chatchila’ (ideally), Torah is not studied, except for sad matters associated with the Destruction of the Temple, and the laws of mourning (see, ‘Pininei Halacha: Z’manim’ 9:1-3).
The Laws of the Eve of Tisha B’Av which Falls on Shabbat
However, when the eve of Tisha B’Av falls on Shabbat, no signs of mourning are exhibited on, because the general rule is ‘there is no mourning on Shabbat’. Consequently, if Tisha B’Av falls on Shabbat, the fast is postponed to Sunday, and on that Shabbat, one can eat meat and drink wine – one can even serve a feast similar to that of King Solomon in his prime. Shabbat songs are sung as usual, for there is no mourning on Shabbat.
Intermediate Time between Shabbat and the Fast
Between Shabbat and the start of the fast, there is an intermediate period of time, where on the one hand, Shabbat is not yet over, but on the other hand, prohibitions of the fast already apply. This is because there is a ‘safake’ (doubt) regarding when exactly the previous day ends, and the new one begins. Is it at sundown, or at nightfall? Consequently, the time period between sundown and nightfall, termed ‘bein hashmashot’ (twilight) is a period of doubt whether it is day or night. Now, since there is a mitzvah to add on a certain amount of time – both in the beginning and end of the Sabbath – from the weekday, Shabbat continues a few minutes after nightfall (this is the time of the end of Shabbat which appears on calendars). Thus, the period of time from sunset until the end of Shabbat is shared by both Shabbat and the fast. At that time it is forbidden to do anything that appears to be an act of mourning, for there is no mourning on Shabbat. On the other hand, from the time of sunset, one must avoid actions forbidden on Tisha B’Av that Shabbat does not necessitate, such as eating, drinking, washing and anointing.
‘Seudah Shlishit’ (Third Shabbat Meal)
Therefore, ‘seudah shlishit’ is eaten normally as on every Shabbat, and Shabbat songs are sung, but one must stop eating and drinking before sunset (19:44 in Jerusalem, 19:42 in Tel Aviv). This does not create a concern of dishonoring Shabbat, because there is no obligation on Shabbat to continue eating ‘seudah shlishit’ after sunset (Shulchan Aruch 552:10, see Mishna Berura 23). It is also appropriate not to sing happy songs after sunset, and this is not a sign of mourning because, in any case, happy Shabbat songs are not sung at every moment throughout the entire Shabbat.
Bathing during the Intermediate Time
Bathing and anointing is also avoided between sunset and the end of Shabbat, and it is not considered dishonorable to Shabbat, since in any case, one does not bathe all the time on Shabbat. But a person who went to the bathroom during ‘bein hashmashot’ should wash his hands normally for if not, in effect, he has mourned on Shabbat.
Changing Clothes and Shoes
We remain dressed in Shabbat clothes and shoes, and continue sitting on chairs and greeting one another, until three medium-sized stars appear in the sky, and a few more minutes have passed to add on to the Shabbat (20:07 in Jerusalem, 20:10 in Tel Aviv). At that time, one must say ‘Baruch ha’mavdil bein kodesh l’chol’ (Blessed who separates between holy and secular), thereby departing from Shabbat. Afterwards, shoes should be taken off and Shabbat clothes changed to regular weekday clothing.
Some have the custom of removing shoes already at sunset, because wearing shoes is one of the prohibitions on Tisha B’Av, and since in any case there is no obligation to always wear shoes on Shabbat – it is not a sign of disrespect for the Shabbat if one takes off his shoes at sunset. But is clear that if there are people present who would consider removing shoes as a sign of mourning, it would be prohibited. Therefore, the custom is to take off one’s shoes only after Shabbat has departed.
When changing out of Shabbat clothes, one should put on garments that he has already worn the previous week, because it is forbidden to wear laundered clothes on Tisha B’Av.
It is customary to delay the evening prayer about 15 minutes after Shabbat has departed, as indicated on the calendars, so that the entire congregation has enough time to depart from Shabbat at home, take off their shoes, remove their Shabbat clothes, and come to the synagogue for the evening prayer and the reading of ‘Megillat Eicha’ (Lamentations) in weekday clothes.
‘Havdalah’ in Prayer and Over Wine
Since after Shabbat has departed the fast begins, it is impossible to make ‘havdalah’ over wine; therefore, it is postponed until after the fast of Tisha B’Av has concluded. However, the text of ‘havdalah’ within the evening prayer – “Ata chonantonu”, is of course, recited. Some authorities say that it is good for women to pray the evening prayer this Motzei Shabbat, in order to recite the ‘havdalah’ text in “Ata chonantonu”. A women who does not pray the evening prayer should say “Baruch ha’mavdil bein kodesh l’chol”, and then she can do ‘melacha’ (work) (Mishna Berura 556:2).
Blessing on the Candle
We make the blessing over the candle on Motzei Shabbat, because the blessing over the candle is not dependent on the cup of wine, rather, it is a thanksgiving for the creation of fire which was revealed to man on Motzei Shabbat. The custom is to recite a blessing over the candle after the conclusion of the evening service and before the reading of ‘Eicha’, for at that time, candles are lit in the synagogue. Women also recite the blessing over the candle. If they are in the synagogue, they can hear the blessing from the ‘chazan’, and gain pleasure from the candle lit there. And if they are at home, they should light a candle and recite the blessing (see, ‘Pininei Halacha Shabbat’ 8:1, footnote 1).
‘Havdalah’ Over a Cup of Wine at the End of the Fast
At the end of the fast, one must make ‘havdalah’ over a cup. Two blessings are recited – ‘Borei pri hagefen’ and ‘Ha’mavdil’ – but blessings are not recited over spices and the candle.
When the fast is over, it is forbidden to eat before reciting ‘havdalah’ over the cup, because the saying of “Ata chonantonu” or “Baruch ha’mavdil bein kodesh l’chol” permits ‘melacha’, while ‘havdalah’ over the cup permits eating and drinking.
‘Havdalah’ for an Ill Person who must eat on Tisha B’Av
A person who is ill and needs to eat on Tisha B’Av, before eating, must make ‘havdalah’ over a cup. Since one of the customs of mourning is that we do not drink wine during the ‘Nine Days’, it is proper to make ‘havdalah’ on ‘mashkeh medina’ (common beverage), in other words, a drink that contains alcohol but is not wine – such as beer. ‘Bidiavad’ (after the fact), one can make ‘havdalah’ on coffee, for there are authorities who consider it a ‘mashkeh medina’ (‘Pininei Halacha: Shabbat’ 8:4). If one does not have ‘mashkeh medina’, he should make ‘havdalah’ on grape juice, for it is not intoxicating. When there is no other option, one should make ‘havdalah’ on wine, and drink ‘m’lo logmov’ (approximately 40 milliliters), but not more. If a child who has reached the age of learning about ‘brachot’ (blessings) is present, it is preferable for him to drink the wine, and not the ill person.
A ‘katan’ (child) who eats on the fast day does not need to make ‘havdalah’ before eating.
The custom is to postpone ‘kiddush levana’ (blessing over the new moon) until after the fast, because the blessing should be recited in happiness, and during the ‘Nine Days’ we diminish joy.
Many people recite ‘kiddush levana’ immediately after the evening prayers at the end of the fast. But ‘l’chatchila’ (ideally), it is not proper to do so, because after the fast it is difficult to be happy, for people haven’t had a chance to drink or eat something, wash their faces and hands, or put on their shoes. Therefore, it is proper to set the time for ‘kiddush levana’ an hour or two after the fast, and in the meantime, people can eat and wash a little, and thus be able to recite ‘kiddush levana’ happily. If there is a worry that if ‘kiddush levana’ is postponed, people will forget to say it, it can be said immediately after the fast.
Customs of Mourning the Day after Tisha B’Av
Most of the Temple was burned on the 10th of Av. Indeed, the fast was set for the 9th of Av according to the time of the beginning of the fire, but in actuality, since most of the Temple was burned on the 10th, the custom is not to eat meat or drink wine on that day. According to the ‘minhag’ of Sephardim, the prohibition lasts all of the 10th of Av, while the Ashkenazi ‘minhag’ is only until midday (Shulchan Aruch, R’ma 558:1). Many people are accustomed not take a haircut or bathe in hot water, and also not to do laundry or wear laundered clothing on the 10th of Av.
This year, however, when the fast is postponed to the 10th of Av, the customs of mourning do not continue after the fast has been completed, and it is permitted immediately after the fast to wash in hot water, do laundry, and wear laundered clothes. Although, according to the opinion of many authorities, one should avoid eating meat and drinking wine after the fast, seeing as they fasted on the same day , it is not proper for them to rejoice in meat and wine right away (R’ma 558:1; Mishna Berura 4-5; Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu). Some authorities are lenient in regards to eating meat and drinking wine after a fast that was postponed.
Children on Tisha B’Av
It is a mitzvah to educate children about the mitzvoth relating to Tisha B’Av and mourning over the Destruction, but because of their weakness, it is impossible to educate them to fast. Only from the age of nine and above can they be taught to fast for a number of hours, according to their ability, but they should not fast all day (R’ma m’Pano 111). When feeding children, they should be fed only simple foods, in order to educate them to grieve with the public (Mishna Berura 550:5). Many people attempt to enhance the mitzvah by teaching their children who have reached the age ‘chinuch’, i.e., six years old, not to eat or drink on the evening of the fast. From the age of six, we teach the children not to wear sandals or leather shoes, not to apply creams or oils, and not to bathe for pleasure (‘Pininei Halacha: Z’manim’ 10:21).
May it be His will that, from within our mourning over the Destruction of the Temple, we will speedily merit its’ building in joy.