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What is forbidden on Tishah B'Av?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

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Tishah b’Av is a major fast day. All1 adults over Bar/Bat Mitzvah age may not eat or drink beginning at sunset on the eve of Tishah b'Av until nightfall the next day.


Also, since we are mourning the destruction of the Holy Temples we adopt many of the laws and customs of Shivah.


We don't:


1. Wear leather footwear.


2. Sit on a normal-height chair. After midday of Tishah b’Av (click here for the exact time for your location), it is permitted to sit on a regular chair. (See Why are the mourning laws of Tishah b'Av relaxed after midday?


3. Bathe or wash oneself, even with cold water – “even to insert a finger in water is forbidden.” A person who has become soiled may rinse the affected area with cold water.


4. Apply ointment, lotions or creams (aside for medicinal creams).


5. Engage in any physical acts of intimacy.


7. Greet another with the customary “hello” or “how are you doing?”2 


8. Engage in any pleasurable activities, such as outings or trips.


9. Study Torah. Because “the commandments of the Lord are upright, causing the heart to rejoice”.3 It is however permitted – and encouraged – to study sections of the Torah which discuss the tragedies which befell the Jewish people throughout our history. This prohibition begins at midday of the day before Tishah B’Av.


See also Is it permitted to work on Tishah b'Av?

Footnotes

  • 1. This includes pregnant or nursing women, who must also fast on this day (unless there is a serious health risk, in which case a rabbi must be consulted). Someone who is ill should consult a rabbi.
  • 2. If greeted and not answering would be taken in offense then one may respond with a nod of the head, or reply in a quieter tone of voice than common. Otherwise you can greet them in a normal, non excited fashion.
  • 3. Psalms 19:9

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Mitzvah
(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
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.