What Every Mother Needs to Know about This Year’s Delayed Tisha B’Av Fast by Rabbi Da’vid Sperling

What Every Mother Needs to Know about This Year’s Delayed Tisha B’Av Fast by Rabbi Da’vid Sperling

This year the fast of Tisha BaÁv falls out on Shabbat, and is postponed until Sunday. So here are a few laws – especially for mothers.

WHO NEEDS TO FAST THIS YEAR
Because this year, the fast is pushed off, we are more lenient than in most years about who is allowed to eat on this fast.

In general, the law is that this year’s Tisha B’Av fast is similar to other minor fasts. Therefore, the practice is that pregnant and nursing women do not fast at all, because of the suffering the fast causes.

Some opinions hold that this includes all women in the two years after childbirth.

Others hold that this applies only to pregnant women, in the month after childbirth, or who are actually nursing.

Others who feel weak, or have a medical condition should contact their Rabbi.

Whoever eats on the fast needs to first make havdalah (find guidelines below).

WHO SHOULD BREAK THE FAST

Nobody should become ill because of this fast.

If a woman (or man) feels so weak that she has to lie down or can’t take care of her kids and carry on with regular life, she should break the fast.

For sure, if a person feels dehydrated, or has a migraine that means she needs to lie down, or her whole body hurts, or feels nauseous–she should break the fast.

In general, if the person cannot continue functioning normally, she should break the fast.

(All of these conditions to break the fast apply equally to men and women).

HAVDALAH FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT FASTING

Someone who is allowed to eat on the fast needs to hear havdalah before eating. Those who only need to drink water, or children who eat on the fast, do not need to hear havdalah, and may rely on the havdalah they will hear after the fast on Sunday night.

A woman who needs to eat on the fast must hear havdalah. There is an argument as to whether she can say this havdalah herself, and therefore the best thing is for a man to make havdalah for her on Saturday night (or during the day if she only needs to eat during the day), and have her drink the cup, or give it to a child to drink. [In such a case, even though they are fasting, the man making the havdalah, and all those listening fulfill their obligation and do not need to make havdalah again on Sunday night]. If there is no man who can make havdalah for her, she should make it herself.

In this case – where havdalah is being said during the fast – one should use beer or another important drink apart from wine or grape juice for the cup (and say Shehakol). If no other drink can be found, one should use grape juice.

This havdalah is said without the introductory verses, without the blessing over the spices. And if the blessing for the candle has already been said (see below for explanation) it is not repeated.

GUIDELINES TO MAKING HAVDALAH FOR THOSE FASTING

Those who pray Maariv will say havdalah during the Amidah (Ata Honantanu) as they do every Motzaei Shabbat.

The regular havdalah is not recited on Saturday night – except for the blessing over the flame, which is said on Saturday night.

In synagogue they will light a candle before saying Eicha, and say the blessing “Borei Meorei HaEish”on it – (it’s enough to use a regular one wick candle, or even join two normal candles together – we don’t use the special multi-wick havdallah candle this week). If you’re not in shul, then one should light a candle at home and say this single blessing over it.

After the fast is over, on Sunday night, we will say the blessing over a cup of wine and the blessing of Havdalah. The introductory verses are omitted this year, and so too is the blessing over spices. The blessing over the candle has already been said on Saturday night. It is better for a woman to hear this havdalah from a man. If she cannot she should make it herself.

Sunday Night After the Fast– for those who fasted, it is forbidden to eat until one hears havdalah. It is preferable to hear havdalah from a man where possible. If the man is delayed coming home to make havdalah, and one needs to, they may drink water before hearing havdalah. In cases of need one may have tea or coffea also. But one should not eat food before hearing havdalah.

In a normal year many of the strictures of the 9 days continue until the day after Tisha BeÁv until midday. This year, all is permitted as soon as the fast is over, except for drinking wine [except for the havdalah wine] and eating meat, which become permitted directly on Monday morning (this is for Ashkanazim. Sephardim allow them on Sunday night). All may bathe, listen to music, shave and cut their hair and do laundry on Sunday night.

GUIDELINES FOR THIS TISHA B’AV SHABBAT

On Shabbat we eat and drink like every Shabbat. Ashkenazi Jews refrain from marital relations on Friday night – unless this is the night of the mikvah, or there are other good reasons for the couple to be together.

There is an argument as too taking “kali zom” or similar natural tablets to ease the fast on Shabbat. Some allow it, other forbid it, and some allow it if the tablet is mixed into other food or drink. One should refrain from saying out loud that they are taking pills for the fast.

The third meal should be finished before sunset – (in Jerusalem, that’s a few minutes before 7:48 PM). From sunset on it is forbidden to eat or drink, wash oneself (except ones fingers after the bathroom) and apply oils and lotions to the body.

Only after Shabbat is over one should say “Baruch hamavidil bein kodesh lechol”, then remove one’s leather shoes, change back into weekday cloths (the one’s you wore on Friday – not new ones), and refrain from sitting on a regular chair.

My we merit to see the rebuilding of the Temple speedily in our days.

Rabbi Da’vid Sperling

Rabbi Sperling is a senior lecturer at Midreshet Nishmat: The Jeanie Schottenstein Center for Advanced Torah Study for Women

2 comments

  1. Just an FYI, my own Rav said that women should fast until chatzos. So it’s probably best to check with your rav to know which one you should do.
    Thanks for posting this ChanaJenny!

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