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The three-weeks - 5777                     July 10, 2017 – י"ז בתמוז, תשע"ז

Rabbi Yehuda Septimus

Dear Friends:

As summer if in full swing, we are reminded that not all is right in the state of the Jewish People.  Today we usher in the "Bein Ha-Metzarim" – the three-week period sandwiched "between the tragedies," between the penetration of the walls of Yerushalayim on the 17th of Tamuz and the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash on the 9th of Av.  The subdued tone reflected in the halachot of the period gradually crescendos, culminating with Tisha B'Av, the Ninth of Av.  An overview of the basic halakhot of the period follows.  Please reach out (646-418-1633/ with questions or concerns about specific details or about anything else.

The Three Weeks
The three-week period of reduced rejoicing begins with the least restrictive level of mourning, starting today, on the 17th of Tamuz, Shivah Assar B’Tamuz‎, July 10th/11th, and concluding at the end of the Hebrew month, with the onset of the new month of Av.   During this period, we do not listen to music or attend joyous events, and we refrain from engaging in activities that would necessitate a brakhah of shehecheyanu, such as wearing special clothes for the first time.  Additionally, getting a haircut is prohibited during this period.  (There are various customs regarding shaving during this initial period, and when business concerns require shaving it is permissible; I am available to discuss particulars.)

The Nine Days
The Gemara in Taanit (26b) tells us that, "from the onset of the month of Av, we minimize our simkhah (expressions of joy)."  The Nine Days this year begins on Sunday night, July 23rd, Rosh Chodesh Av.  Over and above the prohibitions of the Three Weeks just enumerated, we refrain from eating meat or drinking wine, unless in the context of a seudat mitzvah (a meal which is itself a mitzvah), for example at a brit milah, a siyum (the completion of a body of Torah study), or a Shabbat meal.  Moreover, it is prohibited to launder or to wear freshly laundered clothing during this period.  It is therefore advisable for a person to put on, for just a brief time before the onset of the Nine Days, all the garments he/she will be wearing over the Nine Days.  This procedure is not necessary for undergarments.  One is also prohibited from bathing for pleasure during the nine days.   Bathing because one is unlean is permissible, but one should use water noticeably colder than that to which one is accustomed.  Swimming is prohibited during the nine days.

The Seudah Ha-Mafseket
The final meal before Tisha B'Av – called the Seudah Ha-Mafseket – is eaten after mincha, which will take place at 6:30 pm on the day before Tisha B'Av.  This non-festive meal is small and restricted, and a “regular” meal before mincha is highly recommended.  The Seudah Ha-Mafseket does not have more than one type of cooked food and, according to varying customs, consists of bread dipped in ashes, cold hard-boiled eggs (or lentils), and water.  The custom is to sit on the floor or on a low stool during this final meal.  No zimmun is performed in the blessing after the meal, and the meal should therefore not be eaten in a group large enough to require a zimmun.  After the meal, one may sit normally until sunset. Leather shoes may be worn all day until sunset.   All food and drink must be finished by 8:10 PM, with Mincha at 8:30 PM, followed by Eichah.   For information on Tisha B'Av day, please see schedule below.

Tisha B'Av
On Tisha B’Av, following are prohibited:

  • Eating and drinking
  • Wearing leather shoes Washing or taking a shower; before davenning, one should wash one’s hands by pouring water over the length of one's five fingers, without washing the body of the hand itself.
  • One whose hands are dirty may wash them, and someone who must prepare food on Tisha B'Av may do so even if his/her hands become wet.
  • Anointing; this includes use of perfume.  The use of deodorant, however, is permissible.
  • Marital relations
  • Sitting on a bench or chair until chatzot (midday), which is at 1:01 pm this year. If possible going to work should be pushed off until that time as well.
  • Greeting others, including saying "“good evening" or "good morning."
  • Studying Torah; the Following may be studied:
    • Iyov
    • the parts of Yirmiyah that deal with destruction,
    • Eicha  (commentaries and midrashim for these may also be studied)
    • Kinot
    • the 3rd perek of Moed Kattan
    • the stories in Gittin 54b – 58a and Sandhedrin, 104a-104b
    • the destruction as described by Josephus
    • Yerushalmi at the end of Taanit
    • Halakhot of Tisha B'Av and of mourning
    • Torah reading may be prepared for the Torah portions read on Tisha B'Av.
  • Men do not put on Tefillin in the morning but rather in the afternoon, before Minchah. At that point, the passage Shir shel Yom (which is skipped in the morning) is also recited.

The Tenth of Av
The restrictions of the three weeks continue past Tisha B'Av until midday of the tenth of Av (1:01 pm this year). Haircuts, shaving, washing clothing, eating meat, drinking wine, listening to music, and swimming, are still prohibited until midday (1:01 pm).

As Israel in particular faces threats both from its enemies without and from difference and discord within, we pray for the wisdom, understanding, and spiritual fortitude necessary to hasten the redemption through the power of ahavat chinam, free-flowing love and brotherhood.

Schedule for Tisha B'Av:

July 31, 2017 August 1, 2017

Mincha - 6:30
Fast starts - 8:10
Maariv - 8:30
Eichah - 8:45



Shacharit I/Kinnot - 6:00AM
Shacharit II/Kinnot - 8:30AM
Chatzot -1:01
Five Towns Shiurim – schedule forthcoming
Holocasut movie - 5:30
Mincha - 7:30
Maariv - 8:15
Fast ends - 8:48

Wishing you a safe and meaningful Three Weeks,
Rabbi Yehuda Septimus

Fri, September 22 2023 7 Tishrei 5784