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9 Days and Tisha B'Av

The Rebbe Rashab used to time the conclusion of his study of various Talmudic tractates to coincide with the 9 Days

On[341] the Four Fasts [viz., the Fast of Gedaliah, the Tenth of Teves, the Seventeenth of Tammuz and the Ninth of Av], the maximum quantity of food that a sick person may eat [at prescribed minimal intervals] corresponds to the volume of a certain kind of date (lit., "like a [certain kind of] date").[342]

There are numerous opinions[343] as to the minimal interval of time. The Responsa of the Tzemach Tzedek on Tishah BeAv at one point speak of six minutes, and elsewhere of seven.[344]

A person undertaking a penitential fast in the [short] winter days may eat a little [until] about three hours before sunrise, and this is still considered a fast, if he so stipulated [during the preceding Minchah].[345]

On the Seventeenth of Tammuz (and likewise on the Fast of Gedaliah, the Tenth of Teves, the Fast of Esther, the fasts of Behab, and so on [i.e., on all public fast days except for Tishah BeAv and Yom Kippur]), one says Selichos,[346] and the full version of Avinu Malkeinu (Siddur, p. 277).[347]

When reading the full version of Avinu Malkeinu on a fast day, instead of zachreinu besefer chayim tovim, and so on, one reads zachreinu lechayim tovim, and so on.[348]

On the four public fast days [listed at the beginning of this section], the passage from the Torah beginning vayechal (Siddur, p. 366) is read even if only three of the congregants are fasting.[349]

On the same four fast days, the sheliach tzibbur reads the paragraph beginning aneinu (that appears on pp. 53 and 98 as a separate blessing in the Repetition of the Shemoneh Esreh) even if only three of the congregants are fasting,[350] provided that there are seven others who have eaten no more than the permissible quota.[351]

The Alter Rebbe (on the authority of earlier poskim) has prescribed[352] that to redeem each penitential fast[353] one should donate to charity the equivalent of 18 "gedolim Polish."[354]

Throughout the Three Weeks [from the Seventeenth of Tammuz to the Ninth of Av inclusive] we make a point of not reciting the blessing shehechiyanu over a new fruit or the like, even on a Shabbos.[355]

When Rosh Chodesh Menachem Av falls on Shabbos, the Haftorah read is the passage that begins shimu devar Hashem (Yirmeyahu 2:4-28 and 4:1-2).[356]

The Rebbe Rashab used to time the festive conclusion of his study of various Talmudic tractates to coincide with the Nine Days from Rosh Chodesh Menachem Av until Tishah BeAv. The meal that honored each such siyum, however, included neither wine nor meat.[357]

On Shabbos Chazon,[358] the Shabbos before Tishah BeAv, Shabbos clothes are worn as usual.[359]

Once, when the fast of Tishah BeAv fell on Shabbos and was therefore deferred to Sunday, the Rebbe Rashab delivered a maamar at the usual time, which was Friday evening. [Before sunset the following day,] after the seudah mafsekes (i.e., after the last meal eaten before the fast), the chassidim who had memorized that discourse joined him in his study in order to receive his confirmation of the version that they now repeated in his presence. This meeting, which is known as chazarah ("repetition"), extended beyond nightfall.[360]

On Tishah BeAv it is our custom to wear galoshes (overshoes) or footwear not made of leather. This practice varies from the stricter view which would ban all footwear.[361]

It is not our custom to sleep on the ground, nor to lay one's head on a stone.[362]

At netilas yadayim in the morning one washes the fingers only.[363]

The blessing she'asah li kol tzarki is omitted[364] until the next morning.[365]

After reading all the Kinos ("dirges"), one reads Eichah.[366]

After midday, and after completing the Kinos, one sits on a regular chair.[367]

I never saw my father-in-law, the Previous Rebbe of blessed memory, visit the cemetery on Tishah BeAv.[368]

At Minchah time one puts on one's tallis and tefillin and says the [three paragraphs of] Shema, followed by Shir shel Yom (the daily Psalm) and Ein K'Elokeinu. One then studies the passages of the daily study cycles [e.g., Chitas] that pertain to Shacharis. These are followed by Minchah.

Those who are accustomed to wear the tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam, Shimusha Rabbah and Raavad, do so likewise on Tishah BeAv.[369]

It would appear that after the fast one washes the hands with a vessel, three times alternately, as one usually does in the morning, though without a blessing.[370]

"[On Tishah BeAv] my revered father, the Rebbe Rashab, would put on his tallis in the morning, and remove it. He would then[371] put on his tefillin, and wear them while he prayed. This was done in the privacy of his room so that it should not be noticed. When he then joined the congregation at Shacharis, he would read Tehillim and the like."[372]

"Shacharis [in Lubavitch on Tishah BeAv] began at eight o'clock, and never later than 8:30. [My father] would read all the Kinos, which would take until about 12:30, and then read Eichah for about an hour and a half. Only then would he sit on a regular chair."372

"Minchah would begin later than usual."[373]

"My father used to be called to Maftir, sometimes both at Shacharis and at Minchah."[374]

"On Tishah BeAv every year my father would study the Midrash Eichah Rabbah as well as the Talmudic passage taught by R. Yochanan in Perek HaNizakin (Gittin 55b, ff.)."374


The Tzemach Tzedek, who used to refer to the Rebbe [R. Yisrael] of Ruzhin as "the holy Ruzhiner," once related: "The holy Ruzhiner would not brook any melancholy nor even bitterness - with the result that his chassidim became playful. One Tishah BeAv they occupied themselves for a while tossing burs at each other. They then decided to clamber on to the roof of the beis midrash, and to lower a noose over the entrance. Whoever walked in the door could then be lassoed and promptly hoisted on to the roof. The prank succeeded until, sure enough, who should walk in but - their Rebbe, the Ruzhiner. From up there it was hard to tell one hat from another, and only when the tzaddik was halfway up did they identify him.

"When they had lowered him to the ground he exclaimed: 'Master of the Universe! If Your children do not observe Your Yom-Tov, then take it away from them!'"[375]


When the Ten Commandments are read on Shabbos Nachamu, the Shabbos following Tishah BeAv, the congregants stand and face the Sefer Torah.[376]




  1. (Back to text) HaYom Yom, p. 73.


  2. (Back to text) From this point until the end of the section on the Three Weeks and Public Fasts, the text and footnotes were mainly written by the Rebbe Shlita, and first published as an Appendix to Reshimos al Megillas Eichah.


  3. (Back to text) In his Responsa, Shaar HaMiluim, Part I, sec. 8-10, the Tzemach Tzedek rules thus concerning Tishah BeAv; likewise in Halachos Ketanos [Responsa by R. Yaakov ben R. Shmuel Chagiz], Part II, sec. 100. See also the Responsa entitled Divrei Nechemiah, sec. 42; Sdei Chemed, Klalim, Os Alef, sec. 370. The reason for this standard is that "the Sages made their ordinances correspond to the mitzvos explicit in the Torah" (Pesachim 30b) - in this case, to the fast of Yom Kippur. It follows that the same standard (kakoseves) should apply likewise to the Fast of Esther, the fasts of Behab, and so on, whereas the [smaller and hence more stringent] minimal quantity of kazayis would apply only to a person fasting in discharge of a vow (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, sec. 568). The standard applicable to a fast undertaken in the wake of a dream, and to penitential fasts, requires further consideration, but this is not the place for an extensive discussion.


  4. (Back to text) These opinions have all been assembled in Shiurei Torah (by R. Avraham Chayim Naeh) 3:15; viz., 9, 8, 7 1/2, 7, 6, 5, 4 1/2, and 4 minutes, respectively. To this should be added:



    1. 3 minutes (see note 344, below), and


    2. 11 minutes and 9 seconds (as in Darchei Horaah, cited in Sdei Chemed, Aseifas Dinim: Maareches Achilah, sec. 103).



  5. (Back to text) Responsa of the Tzemach Tzedek, loc. cit., sec. 9. A responsum of his son [R. Yisrael Noach], citing the Tzemach Tzedek, and appearing as a gloss to the above responsum - and so too Sdei Chemed, Pe'as HaSadeh, at the end of Aseifas Dinim: Maareches Achilah - records an unsubstantiated oral tradition according to which R. Hillel of Paritch once quoted the Tzemach Tzedek as having said that the minimal interval of time for the above purposes was "no less than three minutes and no more than seven." Though no man can vouch for any and all unsubstantiated oral traditions, especially since this particular one differs from the above responsum of the Tzemach Tzedek, it would be wise to be cautious.


  6. (Back to text) The above sentence was written by the compilers of [the Hebrew original of] this volume, on the authority of Iggeres HaTeshuvah, ch. 3. The question whether this applies to all fasts requires further consideration.


  7. (Back to text) I have not heard an explicit directive as to whether Selichos is to be said early in the morning, before Shacharis, or in the course of Tachanun, after Shemoneh Esreh. In the latter case, at any rate, the confession beginning Ashamnu is omitted from Selichos, since it has already been said in the course of the regular prayers (i.e., earlier in Tachanun).


  8. (Back to text) It is true that the version of Avinu Malkeinu appearing in the Alter Rebbe's Siddur does not indicate (in line 4) that on a fast one says bareich aleinu [instead of chadeish aleinu; i.e., "Bless us with a good year" instead of "Renew for us a good year"], and that certain chassidim were therefore accustomed to omit it on fast days. Nevertheless, my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe, explicitly ruled that it should be said. Likewise, in the Siddur which the Rebbe Rashab published whilst in Rostov, the above addition was included.


  9. (Back to text) The above sentence was written by the compilers of [the Hebrew original of] this volume, following a directive of the Rebbe Shlita, "because the phrase 'remember us in the book [of good life, etc.]' does not read well, unlike the requests to 'inscribe us' and 'seal us' in the book [of good life, etc.]."


  10. (Back to text) Responsa of the Tzemach Tzedek, ad loc., ch. 8. See also the Responsa of the Chasam Sofer, Orach Chayim 157; the Responsa of Maharam Shik 289; Sdei Chemed, Pe'as HaSadeh, Aseifas Dinim: Bein HaMetzarim 2:3.


  11. (Back to text) Piskei Dinim of the Tzemach Tzedek, Orach Chayim 566.


  12. (Back to text) Responsa of the Tzemach Tzedek, loc. cit., ch. 8.


  13. (Back to text) Iggeres HaTeshuvah, ch. 3. The following notes are by the Rebbe Shlita (and first appeared in Kovetz Lubavitch, Vol. 8, p. 135). The source for the Alter Rebbe's ruling is a gloss of the Rama in the Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 334:26.


  14. (Back to text) Specifically a penitential fast, for only such a fast can be redeemed in this way by a person who finds fasting very difficult. A vow to fast, however, must be honored (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 568, end of para. 2).


  15. (Back to text) I.e., three large Polish coins. Their equivalent in contemporary currency may be evaluated by reference to the Alter Rebbe's statement at the end of sec. 334 in his Shulchan Aruch, that 18 pshitim equal one Biblical sela. Thus 18 Polish gedolim are 2/3 of a sela (since one pashit equals 1 1/2 Polish gedolim; so writes the Magen Avraham, quoting the Levush). The value of the sela is universally known, by the amount given to the Kohen for Pidyon HaBen (the redemption of a firstborn son), viz., five sela'im. The calculations for Pidyon HaBen, however, are stringent, since this is a mitzvah explicitly stated in the Torah; this is not so in the case of the redemption of these fasts. (From a letter of the Rebbe Shlita, which appears in full in Kovetz Lubavitch, Booklet 7.)

    [Hence, if at a given time a sela is worth (say) US$5.00, the value of 18 "gedolim Polish" would be US$3.33.]


  16. (Back to text) For the various opinions on this subject see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 551:17 and its commentaries. See also the sources cited in Sdei Chemed, at the beginning of Aseifas Dinim: Maareches Bein HaMetzarim (the laws of the "Three Weeks").

    I have not heard a ruling as to whether it is our custom to say Shehecheyanu when the fast of the Seventeenth of Tammuz falls on a Shabbos and is deferred to Sunday. The range of views here is cited in Sdei Chemed and Pe'as HaSadeh, op. cit.


  17. (Back to text) For the various opinions see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, sec. 425 and its commentaries; Shaarei Ephraim, Shaar 9, sec. 22. See also footnote 258, above.


  18. (Back to text) In relating this, the Previous Rebbe did not specify how many tractates were studied nor on which days they were completed, and so on; perhaps no standard procedure was involved.


  19. (Back to text) [Concerning the Torah Reading of Shabbos Chazon, see the paragraph beginning "When reading..." on p. 61 above, and footnote 251 there.]


  20. (Back to text) The Rama in Shulchan Aruch 551:1 forbids this. However Nimukei Orach Chayim (by the author of Minchas Elazar) quotes the Responsa of the Ridbaz (in Vol. II, sec. 693), who vehemently opposes this practice as constituting public mourning, who points out that the Vilna Gaon holds likewise (in subsec. 3, and in Shaarei Rachamim, Hilchos Shabbos, sec. 73), and who cites the custom of the Rebbeim of his country. See Divrei Nechemiah, quoted in the Alter Rebbe's Shulchan Aruch, Vol. 6. The calendar of laws and customs published by Kollel Chabad [which enumerates many Chabad practices] records that even on Shabbos Chazon [which precedes Tishah BeAv] the Alter Rebbe wore all his usual Shabbos attire.


  21. (Back to text) This episode dates from the year 5674 (1914), and was recounted by R. Eliyahu Simpson, who was present as one of the chozrim - one of the young men who repeated these discourses from memory. The above maamar, based on the verse tziyun bemishpat tipadeh, was part of a series (a hemshech) being delivered at that period, and does not discuss Tishah BeAv or related subjects.


  22. (Back to text) See Shaarei Teshuvah and the Acharonim, sec. 614; Darchei Chayim VeShalom, subsec. 673.


  23. (Back to text) See Shulchan Aruch 555 and its commentaries.


  24. (Back to text) The Alter Rebbe writes in his Siddur that at netilas yadayim on a regular morning one should wash the hands "up to the wrist, for until there the impurity extends." One would expect the same to apply to Tishah BeAv. As far as Yom Kippur is concerned, Mikdash Melech (on the Zohar II, 173a) has explained why it should be an exception. As to Tishah BeAv, it could be argued that since on that day the manifestation of spirituality is tenuous, its unholy counterpart is less motivated to make its presence felt. [Hence the more limited netilas yadayim suffices.] This explanation is in line with a statement of the Alter Rebbe towards the end of the second edition of his Shulchan Aruch. (This entire subject is discussed at length in a letter of the Rebbe Shlita which appears in the He'aros VeTziyunim ("Notes and Sources") appended to the Siddur im Dach, p. [shin nun ches].) [It also appears in Igrois Koidesh (Letters of the Rebbe Shlita), Vol. III, p. 147.]


  25. (Back to text) The Alter Rebbe's Siddur, and so too in the writings of the AriZal. The differing views on this may be traced through the sources cited in Sdei Chemed, Pe'as HaSadeh, Aseifas Dinim: Bein HaMetzarim, 2:9.


  26. (Back to text) A ruling of the Tzemach Tzedek, on the authority of the Alter Rebbe, which differs from the custom of those who recite the blessing when putting on leather shoes after the fast.


  27. (Back to text) See the customs of the Rebbe Rashab listed below.


  28. (Back to text) See Shulchan Aruch 599:3 and its commentaries. Indeed, there are those who hold that it is forbidden to adopt the stringency of sitting on the ground after this time. (Cf. Sdei Chemed, Pe'as HaSadeh, Bein HaMetzarim 2:21.)


  29. (Back to text) This was so, even though the custom is recorded in the Shulchan Aruch, end of sec. 599, and cited as well in Inyan HaHishtatchus by the Mitteler Rebbe. On the other hand, Nimukei Orach Chayim 599 explains at length why men of piety and zeal do not follow this custom.


  30. (Back to text) As related by the Previous Rebbe, describing the practice of his father, the Rebbe Rashab. This differs from the ruling given in Mishmeres Shalom, sec. 40, which cites the Responsa of R. Menachem Azariah of Fano.


  31. (Back to text) Though I have not hear this specified, it may be deduced from the practice of Motzaei Yom Kippur.


  32. (Back to text) Since the precept of tzitzis is fulfilled by wearing a tallis katan, putting on the tallis gadol even though he did not wear it while praying requires explanation - perhaps according to Shaar HaKavanos: Inyan Tzitzis, Derush 2 and 5, which states that the tallis gadol (and not only the tallis katan) has to be worn before one puts on tefillin. (Cf. Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 25:2, and Beis Yosef, ad loc., citing the major Kabbalists of Spain.)

    However, we do not observe that this rule is followed by people who put on tefillin when they recite the Shema alone early in the morning [since they are anxious lest in the course of Shacharis they will not be able to reach Shema within the prescribed time limit]. The reason, perhaps, is that in that case the tefillin are worn only in order that the Shema should not be recited without tefillin. This was not the case, however, with the Rebbe Rashab on the morning of Tishah BeAv, since he wore them throughout the entire Shacharis.


  33. (Back to text) From a talk of the Previous Rebbe.


  34. (Back to text) "On fast-days in Lubavitch we used to daven Minchah late, and intentionally so. I don't mean after sunset, but in the late afternoon, such as eight o'clock on the Seventeenth of Tammuz and seven o'clock on Tishah BeAv." (Likkutei Dibburim, Vol. I, p. 108b; [English translation: Vol. I, ch. 4b, sec. 8].)


  35. (Back to text) [HaYom Yom, p. 77.]


  36. (Back to text) From a talk of the Previous Rebbe at the close of Tishah BeAv (deferred from Shabbos to Sunday), 5701 (1941).


  37. (Back to text) HaYom Yom, p. 78.


Source: Sichos in English
5 Av 5767