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Weekly Halacha

Selected Halachos Related to Parshas Devarim

By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt

The following is a discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the week.For final rulings, consult your Rav.


The first nine days of the month of Av, known as the Nine Days, is a period of time established by the Rabbis to mourn the destruction of the two Batei Mikdash. There are certain activities, normally permitted, which are prohibited during this period. Since the Talmud(1) tells us that only one who has properly mourned the Temple's destruction will merit to see its rebuilding, it is important to become more knowledgeable about the exact nature of the prohibitions of the Nine Days. One of them, the injunction against eating meat and drinking wine, is reviewed here.

Although this prohibition is not clearly mentioned in the Talmud as binding halachah, it is an age-old custom which is recorded by many Rishonim(2) and has become universally accepted. Thus, today it may not be compromised in any way, and one who does so is considered a poreitz geder, lit., a "fence-breaker"(3).

The restriction against eating meat and drinking wine begins at sunset [or after davening Ma'ariv(4)] on Rosh Chodesh Av and ends at the midday of the tenth of Av.

All kinds of meat and poultry and their derivatives, even if no meat or poultry is actually visible, e.g., chicken soup, are included. Parve dishes cooked in a utensil used for meat are permitted(5). [If a small piece of meat accidentally fell into a parve dish and its taste will not be sensed, the dish may be eaten(6).]

All wines and grape juices are prohibited. Beer, whiskey and wine-vinegar are permitted(7).

The restriction applies to men, women and children, even to children who are under the age of chinuch and who do not understand the concept of mourning for the destruction of the Beis ha-Mikdash(8).

A child, a pregnant or nursing woman, or an elderly or sick person who cannot eat dairy foods or who needs to eat meat for health reasons, may eat meat. If possible, they should limit themselves to meat derivatives or to poultry rather than to actual meat(9).

On Friday afternoon close to the onset of Shabbos, it is permitted to feed children - who normally eat at that time - the regular meaty Shabbos foods(10). A woman who needs to taste the Shabbos foods while cooking may do so on Friday afternoon after midday(11).

On Shabbos there is no restriction against eating meat or drinking wine even if one began the Shabbos early - any time after Plag ha-Minchah. It is forbidden, however, to eat food left over from Shabbos even for melaveh malkah(12).

If, by mistake, one recited a blessing over meat or wine, he should taste a bit so that his blessing will not have been in vain(13).

Butcher shops may remain open during the Nine Days(14). Proprietors of fleishig restaurants should consult a rav.


The restriction against eating meat and drinking wine is lifted when a seudas mitzvah takes place. This includes a siyum(15), a bris(16) or a pidyon ha-ben. Several poskim also include a bar mitzvah dinner which takes place on the day the boy becomes bar mitzvah(17).

For a seudas mitzvah one may invite any man or women who would normally be invited at any other time of the year, e.g., relatives or friends. Thus all campers and staff of a summer camp, both men and women, may join in a public siyum(18). During the week of Tishah B'av, only a minyan of people plus close relatives may partake of meat and wine at a seudas mitzvah meal(19).

There are conflicting opinions about whether or not it is permitted to make a siyum specifically in order to partake of meat and wine(20). While it is preferable to be stringent, one should follow the custom and the directives of his rav.

Regarding the nature of the text upon which it is permitted to make a siyum, the custom follows the halachically preferred option that a siyum is made only on a tractate of the Talmud, either Bavli or Yerushalmi. But there are poskim who allow a siyum to be made upon completing the intensive study of either an entire Seder of Mishnayos or on an entire book of Tanach. Some allow a siyum even on three tractates of Mishnayos while others allow it even on one(21).

L'chatchilah, all the participants should listen to and understand the siyum of the tractate as it is being read(22). B'dieved, some poksim permit even those who were not present at the siyum to eat meat and drink wine at the siyum meal(23), while other poskim are stringent(24).

When a seudas mitzvah takes place, it is also permitted to drink the wine after Bircas ha-Mazon(25). But the cup of wine which is usually drunk at a bris [or pidyon ha-ben] should be given either to a minor or to the mother of the child(26).

Those who are particular to recite havdalah every week over wine or grape juice should do so during the Nine Days as well(27), since this too is permitted, just like it is permitted to drink wine at a seudas mitzvah(28). In some places it is customary that if a minor(29) is present, he should drink the wine(30), while others allow an adult to drink the havdalah wine(31).

Those who make havdalah on beer or another chamar medinah year-round should do so this week as well(32).


It is customary not to eat meat(33) or drink wine until midday of the tenth of Av, even when the tenth of Av falls on a Friday. This is because the destruction of the Beis ha-Mikdash, which began on the ninth of Av, continued throughout the night and most of the next day(34).

All of the aforementioned leniencies regarding eating meat and drinking wine in the Nine Days apply to Motzaei Tishah B'av until midday of the tenth of Av(35).

When Tishah B'av falls on Shabbos and the fast is postponed to Sunday, meat and wine are to be avoided only on Sunday night. On Monday morning meat and wine are permitted(36). Drinking the havdalah wine on Sunday night is permitted without restriction(37).


1 Ta'anis 31b, quoted in Shulchan Aruch O.C. 554:25.

2 Several reasons for this custom are given: To minimize joyfulness; to mourn the abolishment of the Korban Tamid and Nissuch ha-Yayin; to mark the loss of the Even Shesiya (see Orchos Chayim, Kol Bo and Avudraham).

3 O.C 551:11. Most Sefardim, too, follow this custom for all of the Nine Days, although some Sefardim do not observe it on Rosh Chodesh day itself; Kaf ha-Chayim 551:125; Yechaveh Da'as 1:41.

4 Kaf ha-Chayim 551:122.

5 Mishnah Berurah 551:63. It makes no difference if the parve food is sharp or bland; Orchos Chayim 31.

6 Sha'ar ha-Tziyun 551:68. Some poskim hold that even l'chatchilah it is permitted to put a small amount of meat or wine into a dish if its taste will not be detected.

7 Sha'arei Teshuvah 551:10.

8 Mishnah Berurah 551:70. Some poskim allow children under the age of three to eat meat and some allow it up till age 6; Divrei Yatziv O.C. 2:236.

9 Mishnah Berurah 551:61,64 and Sha'ar ha-Tziyun 69. Most poskim hold that an hataras nedorim is not required; Yechaveh Da'as 1:41.

10 Igros Moshe O.C. 4:21-4.

11 Mekor Chayim 551:9.

12 Igros Moshe O.C. 4:21-4.

13 S'dei Chemed (Bein ha-Metzarim 1:4).

14 Igros Moshe O.C. 4:112-3.

15 Some poskim recommend that no siyum take place after the sixth of Av (Harav M. Feinstein, Moadei Yeshurun, pg. 132).

16 Even if it was deferred due to illness, etc.; Sha'arei Teshuvah 551:15.

17 Yad Efrayim 551:31; Divrei Yatziv 2:238.

18 Harav M. Feinstein and Harav S.Z. Auerbach (quoted in Nitei Gavriel 18:7).

19 Mishnah Berurah 551:77. Some poskim hold only a minyan - including the relatives - may eat meat or drink wine; Sha'ar ha-Tziyun 84.

20 See Aruch ha-Shulchan 551:28 who advises that a siyum should not take place at all during the Nine Days, since we cannot properly rejoice and honor the Torah during this time of mourning.

21 See the various opinions in ha-Elef Lecha Shelomo 386; Igros Moshe O.C. 157 and O.C. 2:12, Yabia Omer 1:26, Yechaveh Da'as 1:40 and B'tzeil ha-Chochmah 4:99.

22 Mishnah Berurah 470:10.

23 Minchas Yitzchak 9:45; Teshuvos v'Hanhagos 1:300 quoting Harav Y.Y. Kanievsky who says that it is customary to be lenient in this matter, provided that the participant is sincerely "happy" with the siyum taking place. See also the lenient ruling of Harav Y.Y. Fisher concerning a mourner (Pnei Baruch, pg. 463). Harav M. Feinstein is also quoted as being lenient (Moadei Yeshurun, pg. 132).

24 Ben Ish Chai 1:96-25; Chazon Ovadyah, pg. 99; Harav S.Y. Elyashiv (Siddur Pesach K'hilchaso, pg. 168).

25 Mishnah Berurah 551:72.

26 Harav S.Y. Elyashiv (quoted in Otzar ha-Bris, pg. 187).

27 Eishel Avraham 551; Chazon Ish (quoted in Imrei Yosher, pg. 4).

28 Mishnah Berurah 551:67.

29 The preferred minor for this purpose is a boy beyond the age of chinuch but who is not yet old enough to understand the concept of mourning the destruction of the Beis ha-Mikdash; Mishnah Berurah 551:70. [It is difficult to define the age of such a child.] If such a child is not present, any boy under bar-mitzvah age will do.

30 Rama O.C. 551:10.

31 Harav M. Feinstein (Mo'adei Yeshurun, pg. 154).

32 See Aruch ha-Shulchan 551:26.

33 But a meaty food which presently contains no meat is permitted; Beiur Halachah 558:1 (s.v. shelo).

34 O.C. 558:1.

35 Mishnah Berurah 558:2.

36 Rama O.C. 558:1.

37 Mishnah Berurah 556:3.

Weekly-Halacha, Copyright © 2000 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross andProject Genesis, Inc.

Rabbi Neustadt is the principal of YavneTeachers' College in Cleveland, Ohio. He is also the Magid Shiur of a dailyMishna Berurah class at Congregation Shomre Shabbos.

The Weekly-Halacha Series is distributed L'zchus Hayeled Doniel Meir benHinda. Weekly sponsorships are available--please send email to the moderator, Dr.Jeffrey Gross

The series is distributed by the Harbotzas Torah Division of CongregationShomre Shabbos, 1801 South Taylor Road, Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118--HaRavYisroel Grumer, Marah D'Asra



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