Sitting on a Chair on Tisha b’Av

Why is it forbidden to sit on a chair?

A mourner during the week of shiva may not sit on a chair. On Tisha b’Av we are all mourners over the destruction of the Temple.

When does this restriction apply?

From the commencement of the fast until halachic noon on Tisha b’Av. After noon one may sit on a regular chair.

Must one sit directly on the floor?

  • If possible, one should sit on the floor, but it is permitted to sit on a pillow or cushion. According to some opinions, one should not sit on the bare floor.
  • If this is too difficult, one may sit on a low chair or stool.

How low should the chair be?

According to most opinions it should be less than twelve inches high (30cm). According to some opinions, one may use any chair that is lower than usual, irrespective of its height.

What if this is also too difficult?

A person who is unable to sit on a low chair may sit on a regular chair. This includes sick or elderly people, and pregnant or nursing mothers.

What if a person is traveling?

It is permitted to sit normally while traveling (e.g. in a car, bus, etc.). According to some opinions, it is praiseworthy to stand if possible.

Must a person who is sitting on the floor stand up for a rav or elderly person?

Yes. This mitzvah applies even on Tisha b’Av.

Is there any restriction about sleeping in bed?

A person should deprive himself of some comfort when sleeping on the night of Tisha b’Av. For example, if he usually uses two pillows, he should remove one. If he usually uses one pillow, he should sleep without it. Some have the custom to place the mattress on the floor, and some place a stone under the pillow or mattress.

What if this is too difficult?

People who are weak and pregnant women are not required to make such changes. Similarly, if these changes will prevent a person from sleeping, he may sleep as usual.

Do these restrictions apply when sleeping during the day?

According to some opinions, yes.

Are there any other restrictions to pleasure?

A person should refrain from all pleasurable activities on Tisha b’Av. For example, one may not go for a stroll, read a newspaper, or listen to the radio.

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