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The Nine Days—Laws and Customs

The Nine Days—Laws and Customs

Heightened mourning, uplifting visions and rejoicing with mitzvot


The first nine days of the month of Av, and also the morning of the tenth,1 are days of acute mourning for the destruction of the first and second Holy Temples.

During this time, we don’t:

  • Eat meat (including poultry) or drink wine, for during this period the sacrifices and wine libations in the Holy Temple ceased.2 The exceptions to this rule are meat and wine consumed on Shabbat or as part of a meal that celebrates a mitzvah, such as a circumcision, bar mitzvah, or the completion of a tractate of the Talmud.
  • Launder clothing (except for a baby’s)—even if they will not be worn during the Nine Days—or wear freshly laundered outer clothing.3 Those who wish to change their clothing daily should prepare a number of garments and briefly don each of them before the onset of the Nine Days. Then it is permitted to wear these “non-freshly laundered” garments during the Nine Days.We don’t consume meat or wine, for during this period the sacrifices and wine libations ceased
  • Swim or bathe for pleasure.
  • Remodel or expand a home.
  • Plant trees to be used for shade or fragrance (as opposed to fruit trees).
  • Buy, sew, weave or knit new clothing—even if they will be worn only after the Nine Days.
    Exceptions to this rule: (a) If you will miss a major sale, or if the garment will be unavailable later. (b) For the purpose of a mitzvah, such as purchasing new clothing for a bride and groom.
  • Cut nails during the actual week of the fast of Tisha B’Av—i.e., starting from the Saturday night before the fast until the conclusion of the Nine Days.

The Sephardic custom is to observe the stringencies regarding meat, wine and bathing only in the week of Tisha B’Av.

Some more observances:

  • The Sanctification of the Moon is postponed until after Tisha B’Av.
  • There is no law forbidding traveling during the Nine Days; however, it is customary to refrain from traveling (or engaging in any potentially perilous activity) during these days, unless it is absolutely necessary.
  • One may become engaged to be married during this period, but no celebration should be held until after Tisha B’Av.

Note: All these restrictions are in addition to the restrictions that apply during all of the Three Weeks.

Shabbat Chazon

The Shabbat preceding the Ninth of Av is called Shabbat Chazon—“Shabbat of the Vision.” This Shabbat’s reading from the Prophets begins with the words Chazon Yeshayahu, the “vision of Isaiah” regarding the destruction of the Holy Temple. The legendary chassidic master Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev said that on this special Shabbat, every Jewish soul is shown a vision of the third Holy Temple. The purpose of this vision is to arouse within every Jew a yearning to actually see this edifice which will be built by G‑d, and to do as many mitzvot as possible in order to realize this dream. While this vision may not be sensed with the physical eyes, the soul certainly experiences this vision, and it affects the person on the subconscious level.

There is no mourning on Shabbat—click here for more on this topic.

If We try to moderate the sadness through participating in permissible celebrationspossible, this week’s havdalah wine or grape juice should be given to a child—younger than bar/bat mitzvah age—to drink.

Click here for the rules that apply if this Shabbat falls on the eighth or ninth of Av.

The Inner Dimension

“When the month of Av enters, we reduce our joy . . .”

—Talmud, Taanit 26b

The entire month of Av is considered to be an inopportune time for Jews. Our sages advised that a Jew who is scheduled to have a court hearing—or anything of a similar nature—against a gentile during this month should try to postpone it until after Av, or at least until after the Nine Days.

On the positive side, as we get closer and closer to the messianic era, when these days will be transformed from days of sadness to days of joy, we start to focus on the inner purpose of the destruction, which is to bring us to a higher level of sensitivity and spirituality, and ultimately to the rebuilding—with even greater grandeur and glory—of all that was destroyed.

We therefore try to moderate the sadness through participating in permissible celebrations. It is therefore the Chabad custom to have someone complete a tractate of the Talmud each day of the Nine Days, in order to infuse these days with permissible joy.

Click here for more on this topic.


The Temple was set ablaze on the afternoon of the ninth of Av, and burned through the tenth.


Through custom, this prohibition has been expanded to include food cooked with meat. However, one may eat food that was prepared in a meat pot or utensil.


Shoes purchased specifically for the Ninth of Av—e.g., shoes made from canvas or rubber—may be worn even if they are new.

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Discussion (38)
July 31, 2014
Re: what is the 9 days?
While there wasn't a specific occurrence on Rosh Chodesh Av, the Talmud (Taanit 26b) says that when the month of Av begins we decrease in joyous activities.
Eliezer Zalmanov
July 31, 2014
what is the 9 days?
I was just thinking, what actually happened by rosh chodesh Av that we heighten our mourning and all the added restrictions?
Menny Feldman
Sydney, Australia
July 29, 2014
Sepharadic custom is to not eat meat and drink wine 9 days too !
only in the day of Rosh Chodesh they can eat
July 17, 2013
Av July 14, 2013
Thanks. A very powerful essay.

I am the bird who flew quite well for 6 years, full plumage. My children wanted none of it. Didn't bother me.

I lost a few too many feathers a couple years back. maybe they will grow back stronger. Maybe i will become a better flyer.

Thanks again. Leave it to to force you to think about one's Judaism.
July 16, 2013
How are the 9 -day restrictions connected to Hate of another Jew?
If we are mourning the loss of the Temple which fell due to senseless hatred of other Jews, shouldn't we be studying and putting into action... reconciling conflicts with others, rather than not doing laundry??
July 14, 2013
RE: Av
You raise a very good point. Why all the restrictions? Why not just do what we want and serve Him whenever, however feels good?

Here is a nice article that I think sheds some light on the subject.
Menachem Posner
July 13, 2013
It is so restrictive. It is little wonder why young Jews are leaving Judaism in droves and going secular. This is desert Judaism. You can't do this . You can't do that. Sure it works for some people. They are the minority. Any religious holiday that infringes on personal hygiene, whatever standard the person has, is out of touch. Just another religion operating by restrictions. Who needs it ? Better off Reform if it is reasonable.

There are a lot of bright religious Jews outside Chabad and Haredi. They are leaders making changes. That said, is my source for learning, then adding and subtracting.

Anything smelling like it is coming off a pulpit is unimpressive. Dynasties in Judaism are also unimpressive. Dynasties are for monarchies.
July 12, 2013
I have to admit that I have mixed feelings during the three weeks. I grieve for the loss of the Jewish home in Israel-we're here now, but not all of us so it's still a bit of an empty nest. I'd also like to see the temple standing and know that that direct physical pipeline to G-d is there, but I do not long for the resumption of animal sacrifice and temple rites. Yes they are in the Torah as G-d's commandments so should the temple be rebuilt in my day I will do as he commands but I'm not looking forward to it.

If the temple had remained standing would we have needed sages or Talmud's? Would your Rebbe have ever existed? Or the Besht for that matter? What would we be then?

Yes I keep the traditions. But I wonder if G-d would rather have us spend the time being thankful for what we have-and his plan for the world. Even the part that destroyed our temple and led us into diaspora. For if these things hadn't happened, would we be the Jews we are today?
July 11, 2013
RE: Sports
It is not appropriate to go to a sporting event during this period.
Menachem Posner
July 11, 2013
Re: Av
Some pre-planning can make things much easier. For example, make sure you have all your clothing laundered and preworn before the start of the 9 Days so you will have what to wear for the entire period.

About personal hygiene: Deodorant is permitted. Also, if you are actually smelly, you may wash.
Menachem Posner
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