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What are the customary Tishah b'Av observances?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

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– Immediately before the fast begins we eat the “separation meal.” At the conclusion of this meal, a piece of bread dipped in ashes1 and an egg – symbols of mourning – are eaten. If Tishah b'Av falls on a Sunday, then the Separation Meal does not contain any symbols of mourning.

– The curtain is removed from the Ark, and the lights in the synagogue are dimmed. After the evening prayers, Eichah (the Book of Lamentations) is read. The leader reads aloud and the congregation reads along in an undertone.

– When ritually washing the hands in the morning, the water should only be poured on the entire fingers until the knuckles of the hand.

Tallit and Tefillin are not worn during the morning services. Instead, we wear them for Minchah. (See Why are the mourning laws of Tishah b'Av relaxed after midday?)

- Tachanun is not recited. The Torah is read during Shacharit, followed by a Haftorah. (See What is the order of the Tishah b'Av prayers?)

– After Shacharit, it is customary to read the Kinnot (Tishah B’Av elegies).

– The Torah and a Haftorah is read again (different sections) during Minchah. The sections of “Nachem” and “Aneinu” are added to the Amidah of the Minchah prayer. Aneinu is only recited by one who is actually fasting.

The above is in addition to the basic laws of mourning observed on Tishah b'Av, described in What's the proper way to mourn on Tishah B'Av?

Footnotes

  • 1. A small piece of paper is burnt to produce a minimal amount of ash.

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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.
Tachanun
Sections of the prayers involving confession and asking for forgiveness. Tachanun is omitted from the prayers on the festive days of the Jewish calendar.
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.
Amidah
Highlight of every prayer, recited silently while standing. Weekday Amidah consists of nineteen blessings, Sabbath and holiday Amidah contains seven blessings.
Shacharit
Morning prayer service. One of the three prayers a Jew is obligated to pray every day.
Haftorah
Section from the prophetic writings that is read at the conclusion of the Torah reading on the Sabbath, Jewish holidays and fast days. The Haftorah contains a message similar to the weekly reading, or speaks of the current holiday.
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.
Lamentations
One of the 24 books of the Bible, this poetic scripture, authored by Jeremiah, prophetically details the destruction of Jerusalem.
Minchah
Afternoon prayer service. One of the three prayers a Jew is obligated to pray every day.