Tisha B'Av: Customs and Practice
The fast of Tisha B'Av (Ninth of Av) will begin at 7:42 P.M. Jerusalem time Monday and ends at 8:15 P.M. Tuesday. In the Jewish calendar, Tisha B'Av is a day of lamentations that marks the anniversaries of the destruction of the First and Second Temples by the armies of Babylon and Rome, respectively.
Tisha B'Av Laws
The Sages enacted Yom Kippur-like restrictions on Tisha B'Av, including no eating, drinking, washing, or marital relations. Leather shoes are not worn, and even Torah study -- a major source of Jewish joy -- is restricted to topics connected with the Destruction of the Temples, prophecies of rebuke, Tisha B’Av, and the like. Sitting on chairs is not permitted until the afternoon.
The hour before the onset of Tisha B'Av is marked by a “mourning meal,” consisting only of a hard-boiled egg dipped in ashes, bread, and water. It should be eaten while sitting on low stools or on the floor, with each person sitting alone in a different corner of the room.
The regular evening prayer service is followed by the reading aloud, in a traditional mournful melody, of Eichah
Israeli law forbids the opening of restaurants, clubs and theaters on Tisha B’Av
The Magen David Adom emergency service has published the following guidelines for a safe fast during these days of intense summer heat:
Sick and elderly people: MDA recommends consulting a doctor before fasting. People with kidney problems, heart conditions, arteriosclerosis, problems with the coronary arteries, cancer, and recipients of kidney, heart or liver transplants should continue to take their medications as usual or risk worsening their conditions.
Pregnant women in the third trimester should not fast, according to MDA. Rabbinic opinions regarding fasting during pregnancy vary, with many rabbis suggesting that women attempt to fast but end their fast early if they experience symptoms of dehydration.
People who fast should try to remain in shaded and air conditioned places. The extra-high temperatures expected throughout Israel Tuesday mean that there is a heightened risk of dehydration. The first signs that the bodily systems are adversely affected because of lack of fluids are headaches and blurry vision. More advanced signs are difficulty in passing urine and, in some cases, pain indicating a kidney stone.
During the day that precedes the fast, large amounts of fluids should be taken in. Immediately before the fast, one should drink at least 1½ liters of liquid but limit the intake of caffeine, which is present in coffee, cocoa, cola and tea. Sweet drinks that increase thirst should be avoided, as should salty food like pickled vegetables and salted nuts. Complex carbohydrates with proteins and vegetables are recommended for those wishing to delay the onset of hunger.
Breaking the fast should be done with a light meal. MDA recommends starting with a lukewarm drink and a slice of simple cake, or two slices of bread with cheese. One hour later, a light meal can be eaten.
In case of general weakness, signs of dehydration, chest pain, increased sweating or difficulty breathing, dial 101 on your land line or cellular phone for MDA.