Friday, July 16, 2010

Tisha BeAv: what can't we do on Tisha BeAv

Today is the 5th day of Av, Erev Shabbat Chazon

On Tisha BeAv (begins Monday July 19th at night) , the national Jewish day of mourning, we behave almost as mourners do.

All these restrictions actually help us to feel and internalize sadness and grief as if our Bet haMikdash was destroyed 'yesterday'.

WORK: That is why on Tisha BeAv it is not recommended to work. The reason for avoiding work is not the same as for Shabbbat or Yom Tov but because working will divert our minds from the mood/feeling of grief. Refraining from work on Tisha BeAv is not an established prohibition, but ultimately depends on one's family tradition.

LIMUD TORAH: On Tisha BeAv We don't study Torah, because studying Torah is considered an activity which triggers happiness. We can read and study, however, books or texts with a suitable 'sad' content such as the book of Iyov or Ekha, etc.

TEFILIN: We do not use Tefilin in the morning, same way as a mourner proceeds during the first day of his Abelut. We do use Talit and Tefilin for Mincha.

In Yerushalaim the Sepharadic Minhag is to wear Talit and Tefilin privately, before one goes to the Synagogue and say the Shema Israel at home with Talit and Tefilin.

SHE-ELAT SHALOM: We don't greet each other as usual, because our mood should be a mourner's mood.

Our Chakhamim assured us that those who cry for Yerushalaim will have the merit to rejoice with Yerushalaim, seeing BH soon, the reconstruction of our Bet haMikdash.

Shabbat Shalom from Yerushalaim!!!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tisha BeAv : Avoiding ‘pleasure’.

Today is the 4th of Av

To express and feel our grief on this day we avoid two categories of activities: 1. Those activities which bring us 'Pleasure'. 2. And those which bring us 'Happiness'.

Today we will cover the first category.

WASHING: Same as Yom Kippur, bathing or washing done for pleasure is forbidden. However, if a part of the body is unclean, one can wash it because it's not doing it for pleasure but for hygiene.
Many rabbis authorize to use baby wipes to clean one's face, hands, etc. because it is not considered washing. Deodorant is permitted.
We can also wash our hands for Netilat Yadaim, because it is for Mitzva and not for pleasure. The custom, however, is to wash only the fingers.

SIKHA: Using fragrances or creams for pleasure is no permitted. But medical creams are permitted.

LEATHER SHOES are considered a luxurious item so during Tisha BeAv we don't wear leather shoes. Other leather items, like a belt are permitted.

MARITAL RELATIONS are suspended on Tisha beAv as if it was Niddah time. When the Mikveh night falls on the eve of Tisha Beav (Monday July 19th) it has to be postponed for the next night (Tuesday 20th).

Recommended link:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Who should observe the fast of Tisha beAv and who is exempt?

Today is the 3rd day of Av, 5770

The fast of Tisha beAv should be observed by all those who are in good health.

Pregnant and nursing women: Similar to Yom Kippur, pregnant and nursing women, in principle, should do this fast. But in case of any complication or physical weakness or any doubt whether the fast will affect their health or their baby's health, they should ask their doctors and proceed as the physician recommends.

Yoledet: During the first 30 days after birth, a woman is exempted from doing the fast.

Minors: boys before 13 and girls before 12 are completely exempted from fasting. Unlike Yom Kippur, there is no need for children to fast a few hours.

Chole She-en Bo Sakana: People with a chronic illness like diabetes or patients under treatment or somebody with high fever should not do this fast. Many rabbis recommend that in these cases, when possible, one should try to fast only until the next morning.
On Tisha BeAv, when exempted from the fast, one can eat normally and does not have to eat in small portions, as it's required on Yom Kippur. However, one should eat whatever necessary for his or her health but obviously not in excess.

Elders should consult with their physicians to make sure that the fast will not affect their health. If it will, they are exempted (or forbidden) from fasting.

For questions or clarifications write to:

READ: "Let them eat fish" for recipes for days without meat.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tisha BeAv (Monday July 19th and Tuesday July 20th, 2010)

Today is the 2nd day of Av

Tisha BeAv is the day of national mourning for the Jewish people.

On this day, five tragedies occurred to Am Israel

1. CHET HAMERAGELIM: The Jews in the desert accepted the slanderous report of the 10 explorers, and they cried a whole night complaining to God that He took them out of Egypt hinting that He won't be able to take them to the Land of Israel (1312 BCE). The whole generation that left Egypt was condemned to die in the dessert. The night on which they cried, was Tisha BeAv.

2. CHURBAN HABAYIT HARISHON: The First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians, led by their king Nebuchadnezzar. 100,000 Jews were slaughtered and millions were exiled (586 BCE) to the Babylonian empire.

3. CHURBAN HABAYIT HASHENI: The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans, led by Titus. Close to two million Jews were killed, and one million Jews were exiled (68-70 CE).

4. NILKEDA BETAR: The Bar Kochba revolt was crushed by Roman Emperor Hadrian. The city of Betar - the Jews' last stand against the Romans - was captured and liquidated. Over 100,000 Jews were slaughtered (135 CE).

5. NECHERASH HAHEKHAL: Around the same time, the Temple's holiest area and its surroundings was plowed by the Roman general Turnus Rufus. Jerusalem was rebuilt as a pagan city, renamed Aelia Capitolina, and access to Jews was forbidden.

The rabbis, therefore, established Tisha beAv as a day of fast and mourning.

The 7 Reasons to Support Israel

Monday, July 12, 2010


Today is the 1st day –Rosh Chodesh- of the month of Av.

This Shabbat I prayed in the Synagogue 'Rabban Yochanan ben Zakay'. I would like to share with you a Debar Torah I heard there from Rabbi Eliyahu Medina, the Sephardic Chief Rabbi of the Old City.

The days of Av are days of mourning and introspection (teshuva). Mourning because our two Bet haMikdash were destroyed on Tisha beAv. We avoid having extra happiness these days... And introspection because we know that God would not have allowed His Holy House to be destroyed if we would have kept our Torah in holiness and righteousness. And since God Almighty does not allow NOW the third Bet haMikdash to be rebuilt, we should assume that we are still accountable for the same transgressions our ancestors were.

Let me explain: the first Bet haMikdash was destroyed because the Jews of the time incurred on the sins of idolatry, murder and promiscuity. But we know that they repented and amended their ways, and this is why the Almighty allowed them to have a second Bet haMikdash.

The second Bet haMikdash was destroyed because of 'Sinat Chinam': animosity between a Jew and his brother. Hatred, jealousy, disrespect.

Now, if the Almighty does not allow 'the third Bet haMikdash' to be rebuild, it can mean only one thing: that, unfortunately, we are still practicing 'Sinat Chinam'.

That we have not YET amended our ways, at least, in that specific aspect.