The law of pregnant and nursing women on a postponed Tisha B’Av – is similar to the other minor fasts * After sunset on Shabbat one must refrain from eating and washing, but it is customary to take off one’s shoes only after Shabbat ends * At the end of the fast all the mourning customs of the Nine Days also expire * Anointment that is not for pleasure, such as Vaseline for chapped lips, or an anti-bite ointment, are permitted during the fast
Pregnant and nursing women are obligated to fast on Tisha B’Av, and are exempt from the minor fasts, such as the 17th of Tammuz and the Tenth of Tevet. However, when the Tisha B’Av fast is postponed, as in this year, 2022, the obligation of the Tisha B’Av fast is more similar to the minor fasts, in which pregnant and nursing women are exempt. However, due to the seriousness of the importance of fasting, ideally, when there is no difficulty, it is better for pregnant and nursing women to also fast, but with any difficulty or fear that their milk supply will decrease, they are exempt, even though they are not halachically considered sick. In practice, it turns out that approximately ninety percent of pregnant and partially nursing women do not need to fast.
The Intermediate Time between Shabbat and the Fast
There is a time between Shabbat and the fast, during which Shabbat has not yet ended but the prohibitions of the fast have already begun. This happens because we are unsure when one day ends and the next day begins – at sunset or when the stars emerge. Therefore, the period between sunset and the emergence of the stars is ambiguous, being possibly day, and possibly night. It is called “bein hashmashot” (twilight). And since there is a mitzvah to add time onto Shabbat, the holy day continues until a few minutes after the stars emerge. Consequently, the time between sunset and shortly after the emergence of the stars is both Shabbat and Tish’a B’Av. During that time, it is forbidden to do anything that would appear like a custom of mourning, because we do not mourn on Shabbat. On the other hand, after sunset, we avoid doing anything that is not necessary for the sake of Shabbat, like eating, drinking, washing, and anointing.
Therefore, we eat seudah shlishit (the third Shabbat meal) like we do on any other Shabbat, including the singing of Shabbat songs. However, we stop eating and drinking before sunset because there is no obligation – from a Shabbat perspective – to continue eating seudah shlishit after sunset. It is also fitting not to sing joyous songs after sunset, and doing so does not constitute an expression of mourning, for people do not generally sing happy songs every moment of Shabbat.
We also refrain from washing and anointing ourselves after sunset; after all, we do not bathe or anoint ourselves on Shabbat every moment. However, one who relieves himself during bein hashmashot should wash his hands normally, for if he washes as is required on the fast, in effect, he is mourning on Shabbat.
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Changing Clothes and Shoes
We remain in our Shabbat clothing, keep our shoes on, and continue sitting on chairs and greeting each other until a few minutes after three, mid-sized stars appear in the sky. Then, we say Baruch ha’mavdil bein kodesh le’chol (Blessed is He Who separates between the holy and the mundane), by which we take leave of Shabbat. Afterwards, we remove our shoes, take off our Shabbat garments, and change into weekday clothes.
Some people have a custom to remove their shoes at sunset, provided that they do so without letting others know that it is for the sake of mourning, for it is one of the things prohibited on Tisha B’Av, and since in any case one is not obligated to wear shoes every moment of Shabbat, it does not constitute a disrespect for Shabbat if one removes them at sunset. However, if there are people in the vicinity who think he has removed his shoes for the sake of mourning – this would constitute a prohibition, and therefore the prevalent custom is to remove shoes after Shabbat has ended.
One should wear clothing that was already worn the previous week, because one may not wear freshly laundered clothing on Tish’a B’Av.
Many communities have a custom to delay Ma’ariv until around fifteen minutes after Shabbat ends, in order to give everyone time to take leave of Shabbat at home, remove their shoes, change their clothes, and come to the synagogue for Ma’ariv and the reading of Eichah in weekday clothes.
Verbal Havdalah and on Wine
Every Shabbat we make havdalah verbally and over a cup of wine. Verbal havdalah is done by saying “Ata Chonantanu” – in the Ma’ariv prayers, or by saying “Baruch ha’mavdil bein kodesh le’chol” which permits us to do work, and also havdalah over a cup of wine which permits us to eat and drink. Since this Motzei Shabbat the fast begins, it is impossible to say havdalah over a cup of wine. Therefore, we postpone saying this form of havdalah until after the fast, which permits us to eat. Nevertheless, we say havdalah – “Ata Chonantanu” in the Ma’ariv prayers at the beginning of the fast, after which we are permitted to do work (Peninei Halakha: Z’manim 9: 5).
Blessing over the Candle
We recite the blessing over fire on such a Motzei Shabbat, because this blessing is not dependent on the cup of wine. Rather, it is an expression of thanks to God for creating fire, which was revealed to Adam on the first Motzei Shabbat. The custom is to recite the blessing after Ma’ariv, before the reading of Eichah, because people light candles at that time.
Women also recite the blessing over the candle. If they are in the synagogue – they should hear the blessing from the chazan (cantor) and enjoy the light of the candle lit next to them, and if they are at home – they should light a candle and recite the blessing over it (see, Peninei Halakha: Shabbat 8:1,1).
Havdalah at the End of the Fast
At the end of the fast one should make havdalah over a cup, and recite two blessings: “Al ha’gefen”, and “Hamavdil”. The blessings over the besamim (spices) and the candle are not recited.
At the end of the fast, it is forbidden to eat before reciting havdalah over the cup.
The custom is to postpone Kiddush HaLevanah (the Blessing of the Moon) until after the fast, because the blessing should be recited joyously, and we decrease our joy during the Nine Days.
Many people are accustomed to saying it immediately after the Ma’ariv prayer at the conclusion of the fast, but it is improper to do so, le’chatchilah. After all, it is difficult to be happy then, when we have yet to drink, eat, wash our faces and hands, or put on regular shoes. Therefore, each community should set a time – an hour or two after the fast – for the recitation of Kiddush Levanah, and in the meantime, everyone will have a chance to eat something and wash up. This way, they will be able to say the blessing joyously. Where there is concern that delaying Kiddush Levanah may cause some people to forget to say it, the congregation may say it immediately after the fast.
Mourning on the Day after the Fast
Most of the Beit HaMikdash was burned on the 10th of Av. However, the fast was determined by the time the fire first started, but since most of the Beit HaMikdash was burnt on the 10th, Jews customarily refrained from eating meat or drinking wine on the 10th of Av. The minhag of some Sephardic Jews is that the prohibition continues all day, and the minhag of Ashkenazi Jews and some Sephardic Jews is only until chatzot ha’yom (midday).
In addition, many Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jews are customary to refrain from washing clothes, wearing freshly laundered garments, taking haircuts, listening to joyous music, or bathing in hot water on the 10th of Av. Some people are machmir (act stringently) until chatzot, while others are not machmir at all.
However, this year, when Tish’a B’Av falls out on Shabbat and the fast is postponed until Sunday, the 10th of Av, the customs of mourning do not continue after the fast, and one is allowed to bathe in hot water, do laundry, wear laundered clothes, and listen to regular music. However, many Jews are customary to refrain from eating meat and drinking wine that night, because, seeing as everyone fasted during the day, it is improper to immediately rejoice by consuming meat and wine. Others permit the consumption of meat and wine immediately following the fast when it is postponed (Peninei Halakha: Z’manim 10:20).
One Who Forgot and Recited a Bracha, or Ate
Someone who forgot about the fast and made a bracha over food or drink, but before he put it in his mouth remembered he was fasting – should not taste the food or drink. Someone who forgot and ate or drank during the fast – must continue to fast (Peninei Halakha: Z’manim 7:6).
Any form of washing for the sake of pleasure is forbidden on Tish’a B’Av, whether the water is hot or cold. One may not even wash a small part of his body; it is even forbidden to dip one finger in water. However, someone who got mud, feces, or blood on himself may wash the soiled area, because his intention is not to pamper himself. Similarly, a woman who needs to change her child’s diaper may wash the soiled area, even though her hand will be washed in the process. She may even use soap if the filth or odor does not come off with water alone.
A woman who is preparing food with which to break the fast, or for her children, may rinse food items or dishes, because she is not washing for the sake of pleasure. And even though some pleasure is derived every time one washes a soiled area of the body, it is not considered washing for the sake of pleasure, since her main intent is to remove the filth.
Someone who perspired excessively, to the point where he is very bothered and distressed, may wash the sweaty area, because his intention is not to get pleasure.
In addition, someone who is very sensitive and cannot orientate himself in the morning until he washes his face may do so with plain water. One who is always accustomed to using water to remove the crusty discharge that builds up in the eyes overnight may do so on Tish’a B’Av.
It is forbidden to rinse one’s mouth on Tish’a B’Av. Nevertheless, one who will be very distressed if he does not do so, may rinse out his mouth and brush his teeth, without toothpaste, on Tish’a B’Av. On Yom Kippur, however, when the obligation to fast is biblical, one should not be lenient on this issue.
A bride within the first thirty days of her marriage may wash her face and apply any lotion she needs, to avoid making herself unattractive to her husband.
One may take a slightly damp towel and run it across one’s face, hands, and feet, because the prohibition of washing does not apply to such a small amount of moisture. The only condition is that the towel not be tofei’ach al menat le’hatpi’ach, meaning, it cannot be so wet that it could moisten one’s hand to the extent that his hand could then moisten something else.
Anointing, Smelling Spices, and Smoking
It is forbidden to apply oil or cream on Tish’a B’Av even to a small area of the body. One is also forbidden to use cosmetics, like powders or salves, to beautify the skin or provide a nice fragrance. This prohibition applies specifically to anointing for the sake of pleasure; applying creams for medicinal purposes, however, is permitted. Therefore, one may apply Vaseline to dry lips or put on an anti-itch cream. One may, similarly, put on mosquito repellant. One may not smell spices on Tish’a B’Av, because doing so is pleasurable and one should curtail one’s pursuit of pleasures on the day on which our Holy Temple was destroyed. Granted, there are halachic authorities who rule leniently on this issue because smelling fragrances is not one of the five prohibitions; nonetheless, most poskim hold that one should act strictly on Tish’a B’Av.
On Tish’a B’Av, it is forbidden to wear sandals or shoes made from leather. According to many authorities, only leather shoes are forbidden, while those made from other materials, like rubber and plastic, are permissible, even if they are as good as leather shoes.
Others hold that the prohibition applies to any comfortable shoe that keeps its wearer from feeling the roughness of the road. At the time of Chazal, only leather shoes were considered good. No one made good shoes from other materials; consequently, the prohibition did not apply to such shoes. Today, however, when manufacturers make shoes and sandals from other materials, and they are as good as their leather counterparts, one is forbidden to wear them on Tish’a B’Av. According to this opinion, one may not wear sneakers, “Source” (Shoresh) sandals, or the like on Tish’a B’Av, but one may walk around in slippers or canvas shoes with a thin sole, for one can feel the roughness of the road in them.
In practice, the accepted ruling is that non-leather footwear is permissible. Nonetheless, one who can, without difficulty, make do with slippers or canvas shoes that do not fully protect the feet should act stringently.
Even according to the lenient opinion, one should not walk around in shoes or sandals made from synthetic leather, which look like the real thing, because of mar’it ayin (doing something that appears to be forbidden).
A sick person or a postpartum woman, who are liable to catch a cold if they walk barefoot, may wear leather shoes. Similarly, one who needs to walk in a place where there is a possible danger of scorpions, or the like, may wear leather shoes. So too, one who needs to walk in a muddy place may wear regular shoes in order to avoid soiling his feet. A soldier on active duty may wear army boots. The reason for all these leniencies is because wearing shoes or sandals is prohibited on Tish’a B’Av only if one wears them for the sake of walking or comfort, but when there is another reason for wearing them, the prohibition does not apply. However, even when it is halachically permissible to wear shoes, one should not wear leather shoes if he can suffice with non-leather ones. After all, one may be lenient only when there is a need, and there is no need to wear leather shoes when one has shoes made from some other material.
The fifth way in which we afflict ourselves on Tish’a B’Av is by refraining from marital relations. In order to avoid stumbling in this matter, a couple must act on the night of Tish’a B’Av as they do when the wife is a niddah (a menstrual woman). That is, they may not touch each other, sleep in the same bed, or pass things to each other from hand to hand, etc. During the day, however, they need not observe all the precautionary measures that are in place when a woman is a niddah, but affectionate touching and sleeping in the same bed are still forbidden.
Sitting on the Ground
It is customary to sit on the ground from the beginning of the fast until midday, and some are strict until the Mincha prayer. Those who find it difficult may sit on a low stool. And those for whom this is also difficult, such as those who have back problems, as well as pregnant women, the elderly and the sick, may sit on a regular chair.
Many people practice and express their mourning by sleeping on a mattress that is placed on the ground. And in the afternoon during the day, one may sleep on his bed as usual.
As is true regarding all other mitzvot, we are commanded to educate our children to keep the mitzvot relating to Tish’a B’Av and mourning over the churban. Since children are weak, however, it is impossible to teach them to fast when they are young. Therefore, we train them to fast a few hours, depending on their strength, only starting from age nine. They should not fast the entire day. When feeding children on Tish’a B’Av, one should give them only simple foods, in order to teach them to join with the community in mourning. Many people are careful to teach their children who have reached the age of chinuch (education) – from around six years old – not to eat or drink on the night of the fast.
At the age of chinuch, when a child begins to understand the story of the destruction and the concept of mourning over it, we teach him or her not to wear leather sandals or shoes and not to apply ointments or bathe for the sake of pleasure. Some act strictly in this regard even from the age of two or three. Even though children of this age do not understand the concept of mourning, these acts nonetheless symbolize a sharing in the Jewish people’s anguish and demonstrate our grief over the churban, seeing that even small children participate, in some way, in our mourning.
One is forbidden to study Torah on Tish’a B’Av, because it brings a person joy, and one may only learn sad topics related to the destruction of the Temple and the laws of mourning. The same applies to teaching children: adults may only teach them topics related to the churban and mourning. Some say that adults may not teach children even those topics and laws related to the churban, because adults feel joy when they teach children. According to these authorities, the only thing one may do is tell them the story of the destruction. Since these two opinions are equally represented, every person may choose which one he wants to follow. Everyone agrees, however, that a minor may learn, on his own, whatever an adult may learn.
This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper and was translated from Hebrew.