Beit Midrash

  • Shabbat and Holidays
  • The Laws of Three Weeks
To dedicate this lesson

The Torah study is dedicated in the memory of

Asher ben Chaim

Where’s the Beef? - Eating Meat During the Nine Days

Halachot regarding the Nine days: marriage and Seudat Mitzva, eating meat and drinking wine, Shabbat leftovers, Havdala wine And the reward for observing the Nine days.


Rabbi Yirmiyohu Kaganoff

3 Av 5768
Question 1 : A frum person invited me to a fleishig sheva brachos during the first days of Av. Can he make a sheva brachos and serve meat during this week? How can they possibly be making a sheva brachos now when you cannot schedule a wedding during the Three Weeks? May I eat meat there?

Question 2 : I am traveling during the Nine Days, and the airline serves me a fleishig meal. May I eat it?

Question 3 : What should I do if I make a bracha on meat and then realize that it is the Nine Days and that I may not eat it?

The Mishnah (Taanis 26b) teaches that Mishenichnas Av mema’atim b’simcha, when Av enters, we decrease our happiness. Although the Mishnah does not specify what this entails, the Gemara (Yevamos 43a, as interpreted by Tur Orach Chayim 551; cf. Rashi ad loc.) mentions four activities that are banned:

1. We should decrease business activities.
2. We refrain from construction and planting intended for joyous reasons (Yerushalmi Taanis, cited by Tosafos to Yevamos 43a s.v. Milisa).
3. We do not conduct weddings.
4. We do not make a festive meal to celebrate an engagement.

It should be noted that the Mishnah and the Gemara say nothing about not eating meat or drinking wine during the Nine Days. We will discuss the origin of this minhag shortly.

The Rama (Darchei Moshe 551:5 and Hagahos 551:2) reports that Ashkenazim do not make weddings during the entire Three Weeks, a practice that has also become accepted by most Sefardic communities (Ben Ish Chai, Parshas Devorim #4; Knesses Hagedolah). However, many Sefardic communities permit making a wedding until Rosh Chodesh Av, and other communities permit making a wedding even after Rosh Chodesh if the choson has no children yet (Shu"t Yabia Omer 6:Orach Chaim #43). Sdei Chemed (Vol. 5, pg. 279 #14) reports that before he moved to the Crimea he assumed that Sefardim do not conduct weddings during the entire Three Weeks, but he discovered written records of the Crimean Jewish community verifying that they conducted weddings until Rosh Chodesh.

We now understand part of our first question: I was invited by a frum person to a fleishig sheva brachos during the Nine Days. How could this be? The answer is that the people getting married are members of a Sefardic community where weddings are conducted even during the Three Weeks, and possibly even during the Nine Days.

Now, the question is, if I am an Ashkenazi, may I eat meat at this sheva brachos?

Let us first explain why we refrain from eating meat during the Nine Days.

As noted above, refraining from eating meat and drinking wine during the Nine Days is not mentioned in either the Mishnah or the Gemara. The Gemara prohibits eating meat and drinking wine only on the day before Tisha B’Av at the last meal before the fast,¬- the seudah hamafsekes, the meal that separates. (Note that we follow the opinion that this year there is no seudah hamafsekes since Tisha B’Av falls on Sunday. Thus, one is permitted to eat meat and drink wine at Seudah Shlishis on Shabbos Chazon afternoon. Some rishonim rule that there is a seudah hamafsekes this year and that one should refrain from meat and wine at Seudah Shlishis on Shabbos Chazon afternoon, see Mordechai, Taanis #638).

However, Ashkenazim refrain from eating meat and drinking wine or grape juice from Rosh Chodesh. Many Sefardim permit eating meat on Rosh Chodesh itself and refrain from the second of Av. This is the prevalent minhag of the Sefardim in Yerushalayim (Kaf Hachayim 551:126). They permit eating meat on Rosh Chodesh because this meal is considered a seudas mitzvah (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim Chapter 419). The fact that a Rosh Chodesh meal is considered a seudas mitzvah is the reason why people serve special treats at the meals served every Rosh Chodesh.

Other Sefardic poskim permit eating meat until the Motzei Shabbos before Tisha B’Av (Shulchan Aruch 551:9). According to this last mentioned minhag, there is no prohibition to eat meat or drink wine at all this year, since there is no "week in which Tisha B’Av falls."

Early Ashkenazic poskim rule that someone who ignores the minhag and eats meat or drinks wine from Rosh Chodesh Av violates the prohibition of al titosh toras imecha, do not forsake the law of your mother (Mordechai, Taanis #639). The "law of your mother" means minhagim that the Jewish people have accepted upon ourselves even if Chazal never forbade them (see Gemara Berachos 36b). Following these customs is halachically compulsory.

In addition, some poskim rule that a person who eats meat or drinks wine during the Nine Days violates a Torah law, since Ashkenazim have accepted this custom as a vow (Aruch Hashulchan 551:23).

Let us stop for a moment and consider. I understand that we are mourning the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash and that is why we decrease our celebration. But why does that prohibit us from eating meat and drinking wine? Even someone in mourning for a close relative is permitted to eat meat and drink wine (after the funeral when he is no longer an onein).

This is a very good question. The halachos of mourning indeed do not prohibit a mourner from eating meat or drinking wine. But there is a difference. We refrain from meat and wine during the Nine Days to remind us of the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash where Hashem was served by offering korbanos of meat and wine (Aruch Hashulchan 551:23).

Another reason we refrain from meat and wine is that by forgoing meat and wine we make certain to remember the loss of the Beis Hamikdash (Tur Orach Chayim 552). A mourner will certainly not forget his loss during the shivah week, and therefore he has no need of such a reminder.

In addition, refraining from eating meat and drinking wine ensures that one maintains the atmosphere appropriate to these days (see Mishnah Berurah 551:57,65). A mourner does not need this guarantee since his loss is so recent.

May we drink beer and other intoxicating beverages during the Nine Days? This is a good question, since although these drinks provide simcha, they were not offered in the Beis Hamikdash. Thus, whether we may drink them during the Nine Days seems to depend on the different reasons mentioned above. The halachic conclusion is that we may drink them even though they provide simcha. Since these items are not offered in the Beis Hamikdash, no minhag was ever established to refrain from drinking them during the Nine Days (Rama 511:11).

Although an Ashkenazi must be very careful to observe the practices of the Nine Days such as refraining from meat and wine, there are exceptions when one may eat meat and drink wine during the Nine Days. For example, it is permitted to eat meat at a seudas mitzvah such as the Shabbos meals, a bris, a pidyon haben, or a siyum (Rama 551:10).

Why is it permitted to eat meat and drink wine at a seudas mitzvah?

When Jews adopted the minhag to refrain from meat and wine during the Nine days,the minhag included that a seudas mitzvah should still take place even though it is a period of mourning. These celebrations are incomplete if performed without meat and wine. Thus, the minhag was to exclude these events from these abstentions (Aruch Hashulchan 551:26).

Incidentally, one sees from these sources that a bris should be celebrated with a fleishig meal, because if not, why are allowances made to eat meat at a seudas bris during the Nine Days? This demonstrates that the seudas bris is incomplete without meat.

Anyone may attend a seudas mitzvah conducted during the Nine Days. However, not everyone who attends is necessarily permitted to eat meat and drink wine.

People who would usually attend the seudah no matter when it is conducted may join and eat meat. Other people, who might have chosen to not attend the whole year round, may attend during the Nine Days, but may not eat meat or drink wine (Rama and Taz 551:10). It seems that a sheva brachos held during the Nine Days (see our original question) follows the same guidelines. Thus, if you are invited to the sheva brachos, you may attend and eat mat, unless it is a sheva brachos you might normally not attend. If so, you may attend it during the Nine Days, but you may not eat meat or drink wine while there.

If the seudas mitzvah occurs during the week of Tisha B’Av (which cannot happen this year), the rules are more restrictive. Only a minyan of people are permitted to eat meat and drink wine, while the rest should eat pareve. Most poskim rule that the minyan permitted to eat meat does not include the mohel, sandak and family members (Taz; Mishnah Berurah). According to this view, one will prepare meat meals for the family members, the mohel, the sandak, plus an additional minyan, and everyone else will be served a pareve meal. The minyan of fleishig eaters can be made up of men or women, or a combination thereof.

Some poskim contend that the minyan of meat eaters is all-inclusive (Magen Avraham). This means, that one prepares exactly ten fleishig meals and serves them to whoever one chooses to. Everyone else eats pareve.

One may serve meat at a siyum where the completion of the learning coincides with the Nine Days and where one would usually serve a festive fleishig meal. One should not deliberately rush or slow down the learning in order to have a fleishig siyum during the Nine Days (Eliyahu Rabbah 551:26; Mishnah Berurah 551:73; Aruch Hashulchan 551:28). However, it is permitted to deliberately schedule a seder of learning in advance so that its siyum falls during the Nine Days if this will encourage more Torah learning (Aruch Hashulchan 551:28). Some poskim record that they deliberately delayed siyumim that fell during the Nine Days in order to celebrate them after Tisha B’Av (Aruch Hashulchan 551:28).

Many poskim contend that in order to encourage the proper celebration of a seudas mitzvah, the meat leftovers may be eaten even afterwards (Birkei Yosef 551:6). According to these poskim, one may eat the fleishig Shabbos leftovers during the following week. However, the prevalent practice is to eat meat only at the seudas mitzvah itself (Eliyahu Rabbah 551:26; Mishnah Berurah 551:73) and not to eat the meat leftovers until after the Nine Days (Igros Moshe, Orach Chayim 4:21:4).

Some poskim contend that since the reason we refrain from meat and wine is to remember the Beis Hamikdash, this rationale does not apply to eating something that has a meat taste but where there are no tangible pieces of meat or fat (Aruch Hashulchan 551:24). However, others contend that one may not eat soup made with meat or chicken. However, it is permitted to eat food cooked in a fleishig pot that contains only pareve ingredients (Mishnah Berurah 511:63).

The same dispute applies to foods that include wine as an ingredient, as long as the wine itself is not evident in the end product. However, it is permitted to use wine vinegar as a cooking or salad ingredient since a person does not feel simcha when eating or drinking vinegar (Rama 551:9 and Mishnah Berurah).

In general, it is not permitted to feed children meat during the Nine Days, including erev Shabbos, unless the child is weak (Mishnah Berurah 551:70). The poskim dispute whether one may feed meat to a child who is not old enough to understand that we are mourning for the Beis Hamikdash. (Dagul Meirevavah and Mishnah Berurah 551:70 rule that one may not, whereas Magen Avraham 551:31 permits.)

May one serve young children their Friday evening meal before Shabbos? Is this considered serving a Shabbos meal, in which case it may be fleishig?

Rav Moshe Feinstein ruled that if the children are fed their Shabbos evening meal before the rest of the family has accepted Shabbos because it will be too late for them to wait for the Shabbos meal, one may feed them meat at this meal because this is their Shabbos meal (Igros Moshe, Orach Chayim 4:21:4). However, one may not serve them fleishigs on Friday afternoon if it is not being used as their Shabbos meal.

In general, it is a mitzvah of kavod Shabbos to taste the food being cooked for Shabbos to make sure that it tastes good (Magen Avraham 250:1, quoting the Ari za"l). On Erev Shabbos during the Nine Days, one may also taste the food since this is considered part of the seudas mitzvah. However, one should try not to swallow food containing meat ingredients (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasah 42:61).

In general, one does not recite a bracha when tasting a small amount of food unless one swallows it (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 210:2).

According to the Shulchan Aruch (551:10), an adult may drink the cup of havdalah wine since it is a mitzvah. In his opinion, any mitzvah is excluded from the custom of refraining from meat and wine during the Nine Days. The Rama disagrees, and says that one should give the wine to a child to drink. If no child is available one drinks the wine himself.

The Rama’s position’s here is a bit complicated. If the child is too young to understand that we recite a bracha before drinking, then the bracha on the wine will be a bracha l’vatalah (in vain) unless the adult drinks the wine. Thus, giving it to the child to drink accomplishes nothing. On the other hand, if the child is old enough to understand that we are in mourning over the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, there is no advantage in having him drink the cup rather than an adult. Thus, the Rama must be referring to a child old enough to understand why we recite brachos, and young enough to not understand that we are mourning the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash (Mishnah Berurah 551:70). The poskim dispute exactly what age this is. (For a listing of different opinions, see Piskei Tshuvos pg. 87 ftn. 179.) Since the matter is unclear, many poskim advise that an adult drink the havdalah wine. For this motzei Shabbos, someone who needs to recite havdalah because they are not allowed to fast on Tisha B’Av should make havdalah on grape juice and drink it themselves if there is no child available in the age range previously discussed.

Other poskim recommend drinking beer for havdalah during the Nine Days (Aruch Hashulchan 551:26). However, the consensus of poskim is that this is not necessary and that one may recite havdalah over wine or grape juice. Since many poskim are hesitant about fulfilling the mitzvah of havdalah with beer today, many feel it is preferable to recite havdalah on grape juice and drink it oneself.

People who require more protein in their diet that they can get without meat may eat meat during the Nine Days. If poultry will provide their needs, it is better that they eat poultry and refrain from meat or veal. However, if they must eat beef to provide enough protein they may do so.

A sick person is permitted to eat meat during the Nine Days. Similarly, someone who has a digestive disorder and can only tolerate poultry may eat poultry during the Nine Days. Also, a woman who is nursing or pregnant and is having difficulty obtaining enough protein in her diet may eat poultry or meat during the Nine Days, with poulty being the preferable protein source if it will satisfy her protein requirements (Aruch Hashulchan 551:26).

A person who is traveling should refrain from eating meat like anyone else. However, if because of his travels he has nothing to eat and will go hungry, he may eat meat. Thus, someone flying on an airline who and is served a kosher fleishig meal may eat if he has nothing else to eat and will go hungry otherwise. However, he should plan in advance to take food along so that he does not end up in this predicament.

A person who recites a bracha on meat and then realizes that it is the Nine Days, should eat a little of the meat so that his bracha is not in vain, a bracha l‘vatalah. Eating a tiny bit does not provide any simcha and therefore does not conflict with mourning (Sdei Chemed 5:278:5 and 368:4). Furthermore, the person is eating the meat only in order to avoid reciting a bracha in vain.

Although the Beis Hamikdash was set ablaze on Tisha B’Av, most of the actual conflagration took place on the Tenth of Av. Indeed, the Amora Rabbi Yochanan declared that if he had been alive at the time of the Churban, he would have declared the fast for the Tenth of Av, rather than the Ninth (Gemara Taanis 29a). For this reason, Ashkenazim treat the morning of the Tenth of Av, until chatzos, with the stringencies of the Nine Days, whereas Sefardim apply these stringencies to the entire tenth day until nightfall.

The Medrash (Medrash Rabbah Shmos 15:21) teaches that Hashem will bring forth ten new creations in the era of Moshiach:
1. He will endow the world with a new light.
2. Hashem will create a spring in Yerushalayim whose waters will heal all illness.
3. He will create trees that will produce new fruits every month that cure disease.
4. All the cities of Eretz Yisroel will be rebuilt, including even Sodom and Amora.
5. Hashem will rebuild Yerushalayim with glowing sapphire stone. It will attract all the nations of the world to come and marvel at the beauty of the city.
6. The cow and the bear will graze together, and their young will play together. (See Yeshaya 11:7). The Rishonim dispute whether this pasuk is meant to be understood literally or a parable for the nations of the earth.
7. Hashem will make a covenant with all the creatures of the world and banish all weapons and warfare. (See Hoshea 2:20.)
8. There will be no more crying in the city of Yerushalayim.
9. Death will perish forever.
10. Everyone will be joyful, and there will be an end to all sighing or worry.

The Kaf Hachayim (551:1) states that everyone who meticulously observes the halachos of the first ten days of Av, thereby demonstrating his personal mourning over the churban of Yerushalayim, will merit to witness these ten miracles. May we all merit to see these miracles speedily and in our days.

This Shiur is published also at Rabbi Kaganof's site
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