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What are the (laws of the) Nine Days?

by Rabbi Yossi Marcus

  

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The first nine days of the month of Av (and half of the tenth1) are days of mourning for the two Jewish Temples in Jerusalem that were destroyed during this time.2

During this time, we do not do the following:3

  • Eat meat or poultry or drink wine (excluding Shabbat and celebrations of a Mitzvah, such as a circumcision, Bar Mitzvah, completion of a tractate of Talmud etc.).
  • Launder clothing (except for a baby's), or wear new or freshly laundered clothing. Those who want to change their clothing daily (who doesn't?) should prepare a number of garments and wear each of them briefly before the onset of the Nine Days. Then it is permitted to wear them during the Nine Days.
  • Bathe for pleasure or swim;
  • Remodel or expand home;
  • Plant trees to be used for shade or fragrance (as opposed to fruit trees).
  • Buy (unless you will miss a major sale), sew, weave, or knit new clothing.
  • Cut nails on the actual week of the fast of Tishah b'Av (starting from the Saturday night beforehand).
  • The Kiddush Levanah is recited after Tishah b'Av.

There is no law forbidding traveling during the Nine Days; however it is customary to refrain from traveling (or engaging in any potentially perilous activity) during these days unless it is absolutely necessary.


"When the month of Av begins, we reduce our joy".4 Also, the entire month of Av is considered a time of bad luck for Jews so if you are having a court case or something of that sort it is best not to have it during Av (or at least not until after the ninth of Av).

On the positive side, as we get closer and closer to the Messianic era, when these days will be transformed from days of sadness to days of joy, we start to focus on the future rebuilding, and the inner purpose of the original destruction, which was to bring us to a higher level through greater challenge.

We should try to diminish the sadness with permitted celebrations. It is therefore a (Chabad) custom to try to have someone complete a tractate of Talmud each day of the nine days so as to bring whatever joy is allowed into these days.

Footnotes

  • 1. The Temple was set on fire on the afternoon of the 9th of Av, and burned through the 10th. Therefore, the laws of the Nine Days extend until midday of the 10th of Av. See http://www.chabad.org/calendar/location.asp?AID=143790 to find out the exact time for midday on the 10th of Av.
  • 2. See www.chabad.org/calendar for a Jewish-to-Gregorian date converter.
  • 3. Ed. note: Askmoses offers general Jewish information; our information doesn't preclude the possibility for other customs.
  • 4. Talmud tractate Ta'anit 26
TAGS: Nine Days

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9 days

Posted by: Leah, israel on Aug 08, 2005

These are the Ashkenazi traditions for the nine days, what about the Sephardi?

Editor's Comment

Whereas there is relative uniformity amongst Ashkenazi communities with regards to the customs of the Nine Days, every Sephardi community -- Moroccan, Syrian, Yemenite, etc. -- maintains its own customs. If you are Sephardic, consult with your rabbi as to the customs of your ancestors.
Mitzvah
(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
Shabbat
(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
Talmud
Usually referring to the Babylonian edition, it is a compilation of Rabbinic law, commentary and analysis compiled over a 600 year period (200 BCE - 427 CE). Talmudic verse serves as the bedrock of all classic and modern-day Torah-Jewish literature.
Chabad
Chabad, an acronym for Wisdom, Knowledge, and Understanding, is the name of a Chassidic Group founded in the 1770s. Two of the most fundamental teachings of Chabad are the intellectual pursuit of understanding the divine and the willingness to help every Jew who has a spiritual or material need.
Kiddush
Prayer recited at the beginning of the Sabbath or Holiday meal--both the evening and afternoon meals. This prayer, acknowledging the sanctity of the day, is recited over a cup of wine or grape juice.
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.
Bar Mitzvah
The thirteenth birthday of a Jewish male. On this day -- customarily celebrated with a modest party -- the adolescent reaches adulthood and is responsible to observe all the commandments of the Torah.
Jerusalem
Established by King David to be the eternal capital of Israel. Both Temples were built there, and the third Temple will be situated there when the Messiah comes.