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Why are the mourning laws of Tishah b'Av relaxed after midday?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

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Indeed, after midday (Halachic time) of Tishah b'Av some of the restrictions are lifted.

Several examples:

  • If one must go to work on Tishah b'Av, it should preferably be delayed until after midday.
  • Tallit and Tefillin are worn during the afternoon prayers -- instead of the customary morning.
  • One may not sit on a normal-height chair on Tishah b'Av until midday.

According to the Midrash, The birth of Moshiach occurred on the afternoon of Tishah b'Av
Interestingly, this is because according to the Midrash1, The birth of Moshiach occurred on the afternoon of Tishah b'Av.2 According to the writings of the Arizal, this is why the Nachem prayer is inserted into the Tishah b'Av Minchah service -- "because then, Tishah b'Av afternoon, was born the Moshiach, whose name is 'Menachem'."3

Footnotes

  • 1. Midrash Eicha Rabba 1:51
  • 2. See http://www.askmoses.com/article/110,43879/Is-it-true-that-the-Messiah-will-be-born-or-was-born-on-Tisha-bAv.html
  • 3. "Menachem" and "Nachem" are variations of the word "nechamah", consolation.

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Moshiach
The Messiah. Moshiach is the person who will usher in an era of peace and tranquility for all of humanity when there will be no jealousy or hate, wars or famine. This is a fundamental Jewish belief.
Tefillin
Black leather boxes containing small scrolls with passages of the Bible written on them. Every day, aside for Sabbath and Jewish holidays, the adult Jewish male is required to wrap the Tefillin--by means of black leather straps--around the weaker arm and atop the forehead.
Midrash
(Pl. Midrashim). Non-legal material of anecdotal or allegorical nature, designed either to clarify historical material, or to teach a moral point. The Midrashim were compiled by the sages who authored the Mishna and Talmud (200 BCE-500 CE).
Av
The fifth month of the Jewish calendar, normally corresponding to July-August. The saddest month of the year due to the destruction of the Temples, and the many other tragedies which befell the Jews in this month.
Tallit
A prayer shawl. A large four-cornered woolen garment with fringes attached to its corners in a specific manner. This garment is worn by males during the morning prayers, fulfilling the Biblical obligation of attaching fringes to four-cornered garments.
Minchah
Afternoon prayer service. One of the three prayers a Jew is obligated to pray every day.
Arizal
Rabbi Isaac Luria, the 15th Century founder of Modern Kabbalah.