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Tisha B'Av Primer

Tisha B’Av (9 of the Hebrew month of Av) is the saddest day on the Jewish Calendar. It commemorates the tragedies of the failed entry into the land of Israel and the sin of the Spies, the Destruction of both the first and second Temples, the fall of Beitar, the Bar Kochba stronghold, the plowing under of Jerusalem, as well as the expulsion of the Jews from Spain. Furthermore, the day has become a day to mourn many other tragedies in our history, including the slaughter of Jews during the Crusades, the burning of the Talmud in Paris in 1242, the fall of Shiloh, and the Shoah. As such, there are many mourning practices that are observed on this day and the days leading up to the 9 of Av.  

The final meal before the 9 of Av begins should be a calorically rich meal. There are two different way to accomplish this meal

The Two Meal Method: Eat a calorie rich meal of parve or dairy foods around 120-90 minutes (e.g. 6:50 pm) before the beginning of the fast. The foods at this meal can be to the diner’s choice, but tradition dictates that the foods should not be particularly luxurious. Thus a seared tuna steak would be the kind of food that is not in the spirit of the day. This meal concludes with Birkat Hamazon. One would then engage in a separate activity such as Michah, the study of the book of Lamentations or even cleaning the kitchen. 20 minutes before the fast begins one should eat the concluding meal, Seudah Hamafseket. At this meal one eats only bread and egg dipped in ash, and sits on the floor or low stool. At the conclusion of the meal the Birkat Hamazon, or grace after meals, is recited with the introduction of Al Naharot Bavel, which is printed in most benchers, should be recited with the Birkat Hamazon, grace after meals. The meal should conclude before sunset (in Vancouver the fast begins 8:56 PM).

The One Meal Method: One eats a single meal as the concluding meal, and the meal is eaten entirely on the floor or low seat. The meal should consist of a single cooked dish, such as pasta and marinara sauce. The simplicity of the meal is also a way of expressing grief. Though drinks, bread and uncooked foods are not considered new dishes and can be served along with the single dish. The bread and eggs dipped in ash are eaten at the end of the meal. At the conclusion of the meal the Birkat Hamazon, or grace after meals, is recited with the introduction of Al Naharot Bavel, which is printed in most benchers, should be recited with the Birkat Hamazon, grace after meals. The meal should conclude before sunset (in Vancouver the fast begins 8:56 PM).

One should be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. 

Practices of 9 of Av Itself

Before attending services we take off our leather shoes. Leather shoes were seen by the Rabbis as luxury item from which we divest ourselves during mourning. They are one of the five aspects of mourning shared between the 9 of Av and Yom Kippur.

The Five afflictions or Inuyim. These five categories are the formal actions of the most intense fast days of the year. On the 9 of Av they are for mourning, and on Yom Kippur they are the agents of atonement and an attempt to live like angels free from the material needs of this world. They are:

  1. Eating and drinking is prohibited from sundown to stars out. One who is ill, pregnant or nursing should consult their Rabbi to determine if fasting is required or for an appropriate contingency plan. 
  2. Bathing is prohibited except in cases of obvious and obstructive dirt. More to the point, you can wash your hands after the washroom. You can also do the ritual washing of your hands up to the finger joints, as well if your hands or another part of the body gets extra dirty. Sadly, washing the face, or other parts of the body is prohibited. Individuals who have been vigilant in following the updated CDC recommendations would be allowed to wash or sanitize their hands on Tisha B’Av as they otherwise would. There is no allowance for those who have disregarded the CDC recommendations as this would be categorized as rechitzah which is Rabbinically prohibited. All people entertaining will still be required to sanitize.
  3. Wearing leather shoes; in cases where one might be exposed to danger and protective footwear is required, should consult their Rabbi to determine the right course of action.
  4. Marital relations including the “Harchakot.” or measures of separation observed during the Nida period are also observed. Frankly, this one is too complicated to explain in short or in public. Feel free to inquire further of your Rabbi or Mikveh teacher for more information.
  5. The use of creams and oils is prohibited. One who has a dermatological issue is likely exempted from this prohibition when using medication, however a consult with a Rabbi is wise. 
  6. We also refrain from extending greetings of even “hello,” or even “ how are you?” on the 9 of Av. This accentuates our feelings of loneliness, mourning and the importance of courtesy and connection for after the fast.
  7. The study of Torah is considered extremely joyous, thus on the 9 of Av we only permitted to study the 9 of Av related material, including the descriptions of the tragedies in the Bible, Josephus and as well the laws of mourning. 

 

Prayers

At night we read the scroll of Lamentations or Eicha in its unique tune. The Curtain or Parochet is removed from the Ark and the lights are dimmed. In the morning, we read the Kinot, the poem/ prayers recounting tragedies. These include Kinot for the slaughter of Josiah, the Fall of Shiloh, the destructions of the Temples, the massacres of the crusades, the burning of the Talmud in 1242, the assassination of Zecharyah Ben Yohoyada. At Schara Tzedeck we do a deep exploration of much of this history. 

We do not wear Talit and Tefilin until after midday and repeat the Shema while wearing Tefilin.

After the fast

We do not eat meat or drink wine until Friday around mid-day or 1:19 pm, as this was the approximate time that the Temple flames stopped burning. The other prohibitions of the week leading to the 9 of Av should be observed at this time as well.  

Kiddush Levanah a prayer celebrating the lunar cycle (weather permitting) is typically said after the fast. 

Tisha B'Av   Schedule

Wednesday, July 29 - Erev Tisha B’Av

6:30 pm - Rabbi Rosenblatt's History Class - Events Leading to the Destruction of the Second Temple
Click here to connect online
Zoom Meeting ID 7788367607

8:45 pm - Mincha (If you wish to participate in-person, register here)

8:56 pm - Fast Begins

9:00 pm - Maariv / Eicha Kinot - (Please note: for those not attending in-person live streaming will be available on our Schara Tzedeck website) (to download free Kinot click here)
Click here to view online live streaming

Thursday, July 30 - Tisha B’Av

7:00 am - Shacharit (If you wish to participate in-person, register here)

8:15 am- approx. 11:15 am- Tisha B’Av Prayers/ Kinot Presentation 
Click here to connect online - Zoom Meeting ID 7788367607
(this is a virtual event only)

4:00 pm - 6:00 pm - Movie followed by discussion with Rabbi Rosenblatt
Revenge Of The 1972 Munich Olympics

Click here to connect online 
Zoom Meeting ID 7788367607

6:30 pm - Rabbi Rosenblatt's History Class - The Early History of the Palestinian/Israeli Conflict
Click here to connect online
Zoom Meeting ID 7788367607

8:30 pm - Mincha (If you wish to participate in-person, register here)

9:35 pm - Fast Ends

Mon, 3 August 2020 13 Av 5780