Beit Midrash

  • Shabbat and Holidays
  • The Ninth of Av
To dedicate this lesson

When Tisha B’Av Eve is on the Sabbath

Even if Shabbat Chazon falls on the eve of Tisha B’Av (Ninth of Av), or if Tisha B’Av itself coincides with Sabbath and the fast is postponed to Sunday, we eat meat, drink wine, and sing Sabbath songs as usual, for mourning is forbidden on the Sabbath.


Rabbi Eliezer Melamed

Av 5768
1. Shabbat Chazon
2. The Transition from Sabbath to Fast
3. Havdalah

Shabbat Chazon
As a rule, we do not mourn on the Sabbath. We therefore delight in Shabbat Chazon just as we do on any other Sabbath. Even if Shabbat Chazon is on the eve of Tisha B’Av (Ninth of Av), or if Tisha B’Av itself coincides with Sabbath and the fast is postponed to Sunday, we eat meat, drink wine, and sing Sabbath songs as usual on Shabbat Chazon, for mourning is forbidden on the Sabbath.

Similarly, when a Bar Mitzvah falls on Shabbat Chazon, the Bar-Mitzvah boy is called up to the Torah, and a Kiddush is held in his honor, just like on any other Sabbath. And if a boy is born, a "Shalom Zakhar" party is held as usual.

Though we do not observe mourning customs on the Sabbath, there were Ashkenazi communities that used to observe some mourning customs pertaining to clothing and bathing in preparation for Shabbat Chazon. This is because, according to Ashkenazic custom, all mourning customs over the destruction of the Holy Temple are observed from the beginning of the month of Av, and Shabbat Chazon hence falls within the mourning period.

However, according to Sephardic custom most mourning practices do not begin until the week of Tisha B’Av. It follows that Shabbat Chazon does not fall in the week of Tisha B’Av, and no mourning customs are practiced thereon.

Sabbath Clothing. Many Ashkanazi Jews used to continue wearing weekday clothing on Shabbat Chazon, and the Rema cites this practice (551:1). However, a number of Ashkanazi authorities disputed this because it is forbidden to shows signs of mourning on the Sabbath.

Today, the prevailing custom is to wear clean Sabbath clothes on Shabbat Chazon just as on any other Sabbath. Some people wear one garment less than usual – a tie, for example – in order to give expression to the grief of this period (Mishnah Berurah 551:6). Sefardi Jews, on the other hand, wear Sabbath clothes as usual on Shabbat Chazon.

Washing. In Sabbath’s honor we shower and bathe as usual, with soap and shampoo. Ashkenazi Jews, however, who avoid "pleasurable" bathing from the beginning of Av, bathe or shower in lukewarm water. Sephardi Jews, on the other hand, who refrain from "pleasurable" bathing only on the week of Tisha B’Av, may bathe or shower in hot water as usual before Shabbat Chazon.

Haircutting and Shaving. Many Ashkanazi Jews refrain from haircutting and shaving during the Three Weeks, and even those who are lenient in this regard on Fridays, in honor of the Sabbath, do not cut their hair or shave for Shabbat Chazon. For Sephardi Jews it is permissible to shave and cut hair for Shabbat Chazon. Even if Shabbat Chazon immediately precedes Tisha B’Av, it is permissible, strictly speaking, according to Sephardic custom, to shave or have one’s hair cut for the Sabbath. One who chooses to behave stringently in this regard merits a divine blessing.

Haftarah . The Ashkenazi custom is to read some of the verses of the Haftarah and to read one verse from the Devarim Torah portion to the cantillation of Eicha (Lamentations). Sephardi Jews, however, refrain from this in order to avoid expressing mourning on Sabbath.

The Transition from Sabbath to Fast
Between Sabbath’s end and the fast’s commencement there is an intermediate period during which, on the one hand, Shabbat has not yet finished and, on the other, some of the prohibitions of the fast have already taken effect. This is because there is uncertainty as to whether the day ends at sundown or when the stars appear. This being the case, we treat the period of time between sundown and darkness as if it were possibly day, possibly night, and we call it "bein hashmashot" (twilight).

Therefore, the Sabbath continues until a few minutes after the stars appear in order to fulfill the obligation of "tosefet Shabbat" (adding to the Sabbath). During that period of time it is forbidden to do anything that appears like a mourning custom, because it is forbidden to mourn on the Sabbath. On the other hand, from sunset we desist from matters unnecessary for the Sabbath – for example, eating, drinking, washing or bathing, and applying cream or oil. If a person relieves himself during this period he washes his hands as usual.

Now let us go into greater detail. We eat the third meal (seudah shlishit) and sing songs as on any other Sabbath (see Mishnah Berurah 552:23). However, we finish eating and drinking before sunset. And even though the Sabbath ends a few minutes after the stars appear, and it is forbidden to display mourning on the Sabbath, one who ceases to eat before sundown does not appear to be fasting on the Sabbath. It is likewise best not to sing joyful songs after sundown, and this is not seen as mourning, for we do not sing such songs continuously on the Sabbath.

We continue, however, to wear our Sabbath clothes and shoes until Sabbath is over, that is, a few minutes after three stars appear. At this point we say "Barukh Hamavdil bein Kodesh LaChol" and exit the Sabbath. Then we change from our Sabbath clothes to weekday clothes, for it is forbidden to wear clean clothes on Tisha B’Av. Some people remove their shoes at sundown; this is permitted so long as it does not appear to be an act of mourning. As said, however, the prevailing custom is to removes shoes when Sabbath ends. Similarly, the custom not to sit on chairs or to say "Shalom" does not begin until Sabbath ends.

The custom is to delay the evening Maariv service by about half an hour after Sabbath ends so that all of the congregants have time to finish the Sabbath at home, change their clothes, and remove their shoes before going to the synagogue to pray and to hear the public reading of Eicha (Lamentations).

When the Sabbath comes to a close, the fast begins and it is impossible to recite Havdalah over wine. Therefore, the Havdalah over wine is postponed until after the fast. We do, however, recite the oral Havdalah "Ata Chonantanu" in Maariv. Some authorities say that it is advisable for women to pray Maariv on Saturday night so that they be able to recite "Ata Chonantanu." A woman who does not pray should say "Baruch HaMavdil, etc." and then she will be permitted to perform labor (Mishnah Berurah 556:2).

In addition, we recite the blessing over the candle with Sabbath’s conclusion because this blessing is not contingent upon the blessing over the wine. Rather, it is an expression of thanks for the creation of fire, which was revealed to humanity on Sabbath’s conclusion.

The custom is to recite this blessing after the Maariv prayer, before the reading of Eicha, for this is when people light candles. Women also bless over the candle. If one does not bless over the candle at the beginning of the night it is possible to bless later, for the entire night is appropriate for blessing over the candle.

At the close of the fast, before eating and drinking, Havdalah must be recited over wine. Two blessings are recited: "Al HaGefen" and "HaMavdil"; we do not bless, however, over the spices and the candle.

There is a rabbinic enactment that forbids performing labor on Sabbath’s conclusion until a specific pronouncement of Havdalah has been made (for example, "Atah Chonantanu"), and forbids eating until Havdalah has been recited over wine. This is true even if the stars have appeared. Therefore, on this particular occasion, the oral Havdalah is sufficient, and with the conclusion of Tisha B’Av, because people will be eating, it is necessary to recite Havdalah over wine.

It follows that a person who must eat on Tisha B’Av due to illness is required to recite Havdalah over wine before eating. If there is a youngster present who has reached the age of education but does not yet grasp the significance of the Temple’s destruction, it is better that he drink from the wine as opposed to the ill person. If there is no such child present, the ill person drinks a "cheekful" (m’lo logmav, i.e., about forty ml.) of the wine. It is best to make this Havdalah over grape juice, because it does not bring joy.

A child who eats during the fast need not perform Havdalah before eating.
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