Tisha B’Av

Ninth of Av Fast
  • Days of Mourning
Tisha B’Av

Tisha B’Av

תשעה באב

Tish-Ah Be-Av

“The Ninth of [The Month of] Av”

What is Tisha B’Av

Tisha B’Av, the 9th day of Av, commemorates the destruction of the first (587 BCE) and second (70 CE) Temples in Jerusalem, the exile of the Jews from the Land of Israel and Jewish tragedies and suffering throughout the ages. The Scroll of Lamentations, describing the horrors that accompanied the destruction of the first Temple, is read publicly at the beginning of the fast. Because fasting on Shabbat is prohibited (with the exception of Yom Kippur) when this fast falls on a Saturday it is postponed to Sunday.

When is Tisha B’Av

Av 9



Source and Origin of Tisha B’Av

  • Many of the prophets including Jeremiah and Zechariah discuss the Temple’s destruction. In the run-up to the destruction, the prophet Isiah even forewarned the Jews to repent, imploring them that if they did not change their ways, then they would lose the right to have the Temple. The Talmud records other sad events that also took place on Tisha B’Av, and also goes into detail about the incidents which brought about the destruction of both Temples.
  • The book of Eichah (lamentations), composed by Jeremiah himself, expresses the sorrow and grief felt towards the Temple’s destruction.

Commandments (Mitzvot) of Tisha B’Av

  • In many ways Tisha B’Av is considered a public day of mourning, and thus under Jewish law, multiple restrictions are in place, similar to the restrictions that pertain to someone whose close relative has passed away. These laws are designed to engender the feeling of sadness and seriousness which should accompany the day. 
  • Seuda Hamafsekes (Meal of Stopping) – This meal acts as a way to initiate the fast. One cooked dish, traditionally a hard-boiled egg, is eaten. Bread and water are also consumed.
  • The following 5 restrictions are in force from sundown preceding the 9th, until nightfall the next day.
  • Fasting – Although the requirement to fast is not explicitly mandated in the Bible, it nonetheless parallels with Judaism’s other major fast day, Yom Kippur. All healthy men and women over the age of 12/13 abstain from eating or drinking. Though there are dispensations for serious medical needs.
  • Washing & Bathing – It is prohibited to wash and bathe any part of the body. Washing a dirty area of one’s hands is permitted.
  • Anointing – One may not anoint themselves. This includes, using deodorant, women wearing makeup, and using body creams for pleasure.
  • Leather Shoes – It is prohibited to wear leather shoes.
  • Marital Relations – It is prohibited for a couple to have marital relations.
  • Learning Torah – Although during the year the study of Torah is greatly encouraged, on Tisha B’Av study is restricted to areas discussing the sad events of the day or other dispiriting topics. The study of Torah brings happiness to those engaged in it, and given the nature of the day, this joyous activity is curtailed.
  • Sitting on low chairs – In accordance with Jewish practices of mourning, it is prohibited to sit on a regular chair from the start of Tisha B’Av until the middle of Tisha B’Av day. People either sit on the floor, or on very low chairs.
  • Prayer – There are a number of additions to the prayer service, during both the evening and the morning. Following evening prayers, the book of Eicha, lamentations, is read out loud, and kinnot, Hebrew dirges/elegies, are recited by the congregation. The morning service also includes many additional kinnot and men do not wear the Tefillin (phylacteries).

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