Prayers on Tisha b’Av
Why is there a custom to remove the curtain from the Ark?
The verse in Eicha (2:17) says “בצע אמרתו” which means, “He carried out His decree”. However, the midrash interprets the words to mean “He tore His royal garments”, referring to the piercing of the curtain in the holy Temple by the Roman emperor Titus. As a symbol of this desecration, there is a custom to remove the curtain from the holy Ark.
When should the curtain be removed?
Before the commencement of ma’ariv. When Tisha b’Av is on motzai Shabbos, it should not be removed before the termination of Shabbos.
When should the curtain be returned?
Before the commencement of mincha on Tisha b’Av afternoon.
Should anything else be removed?
Some have the custom to remove the coverings of the bimah and the chazan’s pulpit.
Are there any other changes to the shul?
The lighting is reduced. Only the minimum amount of lights should be used to enable people to daven without difficulty.
Should the special lights by the chazan’s pulpit be lit?
No. However, they are lit for mincha.
Why is the lighting reduced?
One reason is based on the verse in Eicha (3:6), which says “He placed me in darkness”. Another reason is based on the midrash, that at the time of the destruction, Hashem asked the angels what a king should do when mourning. When they replied that he extinguishes the lights, Hashem said “I will do the same”, as it says “The sun and the moon became dark” (Yoel 2:10).
Should the lighting also be reduced at home?
This is not necessary, but some have the custom to do so.
May a mourner go to shul during the week of shiva?
- During the first three days of shiva he may go in the morning but not in the evening.
- After the first three days, he may go also in the evening.
How should one dress for shul?
One should wear plain weekday clothes as a sign of mourning. Men should not wear a tie and women should not wear jewelry. Some have a custom to wear old clothes that are torn or ragged.
Is there any change to ma’ariv?
Ma’ariv is said as usual until the kaddish after shemoneh esrei. However, the prayers should be said slowly and in a quiet mournful voice.
May one sit on the chairs in the shul?
No. This is forbidden until Tisha b’Av afternoon. During ma’ariv and shacharis one should sit on the floor or a low chair. If one prefers, he may stand during the prayers, but during the recital of Eicha and kinnos one should sit on the floor or a low chair as a sign of mourning.
May one sit on the stairs next to the Ark?
What is said after shemonei esrei ?
The book of Eicha is read by the chazan, and in some communities it is read from a scroll of parchment. Some have the custom that a b’racha is recited by the chazan before the reading (על מקרא מגילה) in which case the congregation should listen carefully to the b’racha.
Should the b’racha be recited while standing?
No, the chazan and the congregation should sit on the floor. (This is an exception to the rule, which usually requires one to stand for such a b’racha.)
Should the congregation recite Eicha together with the chazan?
- If it is read from parchment, the congregation should listen.
- If it is not read from parchment, the congregation may listen or recite it quietly with the chazan.
What if a person missed some words?
Nothing needs to be done.
How should Eicha be recited?
It should be recited in a low voice with the traditional mournful tone. One should pause briefly between one verse and the next. The last verse of each chapter should be read louder, and each succeeding chapter should be read slightly louder than the previous one.
How is Eicha concluded?
The verse Hashiveinu is recited aloud by the congregation and then by the chazan. The final verse is then recited quietly by the chazan. Finally, the verse Hashiveinu is repeated aloud by the congregation and chazan.
What is said after Eicha?
A few kinnos are said by the congregation led by the chazan. The ma’ariv service is concluded with ve’ata kadosh, kaddish by the chazan without tiskabeil, and aleinu.
Why is tiskabeil omitted from kaddish?
The verse in Eicha (3:8) says “He shut out my prayer”. It is therefore inappropriate to recite the line tiskabeil, which means “our prayers should be accepted”. This is also omitted during shacharis, but recited at mincha.
Is viyhi no’am recited when Tisha b’Av is motzai Shabbos?
No. This verse was composed when the mishkan was erected, and it is inappropriate to say it on the day the Temples were destroyed.
Is veyiten lecha recited when Tisha b’Av is motzai Shabbos?
No, since it is not a time of blessing and joy. Similarly, those who have the custom to bless their children on moztai Shabbos should not do so on Tisha b’Av.
Are women required to go to shul?
Although there is no obligation, it is praiseworthy for them to go, in order to hear the recital of Eicha.
Should children be brought to shul?
Young children should not be brought, since they are prone to playing games and making noise. This greatly disturbs the serious atmosphere of mourning. Older children who can behave properly should be trained to participate in the service.
How should one leave shul?
If possible, people should go home on their own and not in groups. They should go silently, and certainly not engage in idle conversation.
Should Eicha and kinnos be recited by a person who must remain at home?
A person at home should try to recite them, if possible.
Are there any changes to the morning brachos?
- The tallis and tefillin are not worn.
- Opinions differ whether a b’racha should be recited over the tallis koton. It is therefore advisable to avoid the problem by continuing to wear the tallis koton while sleeping at night. In this case, the b’racha is definitely not recited.
- Some people have the custom to omit the b’rachaשעשה לי כל צרכי since this refers to leather shoes, which may not be worn on Tisha b’Av. Those who follow this custom should recite the b’racha when putting on leather shoes after the fast. However, the main custom is to recite the b’racha as usual in the morning.
Are all the sections of korbanos said?
It is permitted to say whichever sections one is accustomed to say during the year.
Should one kiss the tzitzis at the conclusion of baruch she’amar?
The main custom is not to kiss them, and this applies also when reciting the shema. Some have the custom not to wear the tzitzis out of their garment until the afternoon.
Are there any changes to shemoneh esrei ?
- The quiet shemoneh esrei is said without change. During the repetition, the chazan adds the prayer aneinu.
- The chazan omits the paragraph containing the priestly blessing and the Cohanim do not bless the congregation.
What is the order of prayers after shemoneh esrei ?
- Avinu malkeinu is not recited.
- Tachanun is omitted.
- The Torah is read (Devarim 4:25-40).
- The haftarah is read (Jeremiah 8:13-9:23).
- Kinnos are recited.
May a mourner during shiva be called to the Torah?
Yes. He may also read the Torah.
May a bar mitzva boy be called to the Torah?
He should be called up at mincha and not at shacharis. The father may then recite the b’racha baruch shepetarani.
May a person recite the b’racha hagomeil?
He should recite it at mincha and not at shacharis.
May a mi shebeirach be said?
- For a simcha (e.g. bris, birth) it may be said at mincha but not at shacharis.
- For a sick person it may be said at shacharis.
May a person who was called to the Torah thank the gabbai ?
May a person who has yahrzeit recite the prayer for the deceased (Eil malei rachamim)?
Should the person who lifts up the sefer Torah sit on a regular chair?
How much time should be spent reciting the kinnos?
The kinnos should be recited slowly and mournfully, and certainly not rushed. If possible, the recital should continue until close to midday.
Are women obligated to say the kinnos?
Yes, if possible.
What if a person does not understand the kinnos?
The kinnos are recited in order to arouse feelings of mourning and grief over the destruction of the Temples, the persecutions suffered by the Jewish nation, and the pain caused to the Holy Shechinah. Therefore, there is little or no point in reciting the kinnos by rote. A person who does not understand them should use a translation, and recite the kinnos in a language with which he is familiar.
What if a person cannot keep up with the congregation?
He should say the kinnos slowly at his pace in a way that will arouse the appropriate emotions. There is no obligation to recite the entire kinnos.
May one leave shul during kinnos in order to take a break?
Except for an emergency, it is forbidden to leave shul during kinnos, since one must not divert his mind from the mourning. Similarly, it is forbidden to engage in conversation about any other subject.
May the kinnos be said while standing?
No, they should be said while sitting on the floor or on a low chair. The custom is to arise before reciting the kinnah Eli tziyon.
What is the order of prayers after kinnos?
- Ashrei is said, followed by uva le’tziyon.
- Lamnatzeach is omitted. The second verse of uva le’tziyon (va’ani zos) is also omitted, unless there is a bris is shul.
- Kaddish is recited by the chazan, omitting tiskabeil.
- Aleinu is said.
- The psalm of the day and pitum haketores are omitted.
Should Eicha be recited after shacharis?
There is a widespread custom to do so. A b’racha should not be recited even if a scroll of parchment is used. If a person is unable to daven in shul, it is correct for him to say Eicha after shacharis.
May one say the six remembrances and the thirteen principles of faith?
A person who says them every day may say them at mincha but not after shacharis.
Should the shul be re-organized before mincha?
Yes. The curtain should be returned to the Ark and the coverings to the bimah and chazan’s pulpit. All the lights are lit, including the special lights by the chazan’s pulpit.
May a mourner during shiva go to shul for mincha?
No. He should organize a minyan at home.
May one wash the hands before mincha?
It is correct to wash them up to the knuckles.
Are the tallis and tefillin worn at mincha?
Are brachos recited over the tallis and tefillin?
Yes. When reciting the b’racha over the tallis, one should have in mind to include the tallis koton. A person who does not wear a tallis should ask someone who does to include him with his b’racha.
May one say the verses when putting on the tallis and tefillin?
May one say the usual four paragraphs from the Torah while wearing the tefillin?
There are different customs about this.
Should anything be said before mincha?
- The psalm of the day and pitum haketores are said.
- Korbanos may be said by people who say them regularly at mincha.
What is the order of prayers?
- Ashrei is recited.
- The Torah and haftarah are read as on other fast days.
- Shemoneh esrei is recited.
- Avinu malkeinu is not recited.
- Tachanun is omitted.
- Kaddish is said by the chazan including tiskabeil.
- Aleinu is recited.
Are there any changes to shemoneh esrei ?
- A special prayer nacheim is added in the b’racha of veliyrushalayim.
- Aneinu is added in the b’racha of shema koleinu. (The chazan adds it as a separate b’racha before refa’einu.)
- Sim shalom is said instead of shalom rav, even if one is not fasting, nor davening with a minyan.
- A special prayer is inserted before the end of shemoneh esrei. This beginsרבון כל העולמים גלוי וידוע לפניך.
What if one forgot to say nacheim?
- He should insert it before vesechezena eineinu, but the special conclusion of nacheim should not be said.
- If he forgot to say it there, he should say it just before the verse yihyu leratzon at the end of shemoneh esrei.
- If he forgot to say it there, he does not repeat shemoneh esrei.
What if he forgot to say aneinu?
If he has already concluded the b’racha of shema koleinu, he should continue and say aneinu just before the verse yihyu leratzon at the end of shemoneh esrei. If he forgot to say it there also, shemoneh esrei is not repeated.
Should a person who is exempt from fasting say nacheim?
May a person who is exempt from fasting say aneinu?
No, he should omit it. Similarly, he should omit the prayer רבון כל העולמים.
May one wear tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam?
A person who wears them throughout the year may wear them on Tisha b’Av.
When should one take off his tefillin?
Before ma’ariv. According to some opinions, tefillin should be taken off before sunset.
Which laws apply after the fast?
- It is praiseworthy to wash the entire hand three times, since the hands were not washed fully in the morning.
- A person who did not say the b’racha שעשה לי כל צרכי in the morning should say it in the evening when putting on leather shoes.
- Kiddush levana is recited.
- Havdalah is recited if the fast is on Sunday.
- The laws of the nine days continue .
May one recite kiddush levana before eating?
It is preferable to put on leather shoes and eat before reciting kiddush levana. However, if by doing so one will not be able to say it with a minyan, he may say it immediately.