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Chapter 122:1
Between the 17th of Tammuz and Tisha B'av

1. Since the calamities accompanying the [Temple's] destruction began on the Seventeenth of Tammuz, certain aspects of mourning are observed from this day until after Tish'ah B'av ("ninth of Av"). It is appropriate that every G-d-fearing individual recite the prayers of "Tikkun Chatzos" at midnight during these days.

One may not marry [during this three week period]. This applies even to an individual who has not fulfilled the mitzvah of procreation. [A couple] is, however, permitted to become engaged ("la'asos shiduchin") (1) and even [to celebrate the engagement] with a meal, until Rosh Chodesh Av (first day of Av). From that date onwards (until Tish'ah B'av), although a couple may become engaged (2), they should not celebrate with a meal (3). They may, however, serve pastries and the like.

A Jew who is employed as a musician is permitted to play for gentiles to earn his livelihood until Rosh Chodesh. From Rosh Chodesh until after the fast [of Tish'ah B'av], however, this is forbidden. Similarly, it is forbidden to do so on the Seventeenth of Tammuz itself, and also on the Tenth of Teves.

Some people follow the custom of not eating meat or drinking wine from the Seventeenth of Tammuz until after Tish'ah B'av, except on Shabbos (4) or at a meal associated with a mitzvah (5).

FOOTNOTES:

(1) Even actual "kiddushin," that is, the first step which legally binds the bride to the groom, is permissible.

(2) Kiddushin can take place even on Tisha B'av itself, because the Sages were concerned that if we force a couple to postpone an engagement, the bride may accept a marriage proposal from someone else (Mishna Berura 551:17).

(3) They may not hold this celebratory meal, even on Shabbos.

(4) It is not permissible to refrain from eating meat and drinking wine on Shabbos as an expression of mourning (Ibid. 59).

(5) The most predominant custom among ashkenazim is to refrain from eating meat and drinking wine from the first day of Av until after Tisha B'av.

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