Ed. In these slightly abridged lessons on siman 552 and 553, we will present the pertinent halachos related to Erev Tisha B’Av and the Seuda Hamafsekes (i.e. the final meal). Once again, we quote heavily from A Summary of the Halachos of the Three Weeks, by Rav Shimon Eider zt”l, pp. 14-17.
Erev Tisha B’Av
1) Erev Tisha B’Av afternoon assumes some of the characteristics of Tisha B’Av. Since Tisha B’Av is called a ‘moed’ (holiday or designated day – see Eicha 1:15), no Tachanun is said on Tisha B’Av or on Erev Tisha B’Av at Mincha. Similarly, when Tisha B’Av falls on Shabbos or Sunday, ‘Tzidkasecha tzedek’ is not said on Shabbos.
2) The heart rejoices from the study of Torah (right?!). Therefore, on Tisha B’Av one may only learn those portions and topics of Torah relevant to Tisha B’Av or mourning. Some Poskim hold that although on Tisha B’Av itself one is limited in what he may learn, on Erev Tisha B’Av afternoon, however, one may learn all portions and topics of Torah. This is how many Poskim conducted themselves – even when Erev Tisha B’Av occurred on a weekday and certainly when it occurred on Shabbos. It goes without saying that one should not, instead of learning, take pleasure walks or otherwise spend this time in diversions of leisure and pleasure.
The Seuda Hamafsekes
3) The final meal before Tisha B’Av is called ‘Seuda Hamafsekes’ (henceforth S”hM) and has special requirements. For the meal to be considered the S”hM, it ust be eaten after noon and he must intend not eating anything (Ed. significant) thereafter. The S”hM may be preceded by a regular meal. Many Poskim wrote that the minhag is to eat a regular meal before Mincha and to eat the S”hM after Mincha. The purpose of this regular meal is to prevent the fast from being harmful. (Ed. Remember, Tisha B’Av is a full fast, just as Yom Kippur!) However, one should not fill himself in this meal, in order to allow room for the S”hM.
4) The minhag is to eat the S”hM while seated on the ground. However, if one is weak, he may sit on a pillow. There is no requirement to remove one’s shoes for the S”hM – since the mourning does not begin until evening.
5) The purpose of the S”hM is to experience sorrow and mourning for the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash. Therefore, although the minhag is not to eat meat or drink wine all Nine Days, the halacha prohibits eating meat and drinking wine at the S”hM. In addition, one may eat only one type of cooked food – so that the meal should not be one of honor and pleasure.
6) The minhag is for the S”hM to consist only of bread, cold hard-boiled eggs and water. A portion of the bread should be dipped in ashes and eaten; one should say, “This is the Tisha B’Av meal.”
7) Three men should avoid eating the S”hM together in order not to be required to recite Birkas Hamazon as a ‘mezuman’. Even if they did eat together, Birkas Hamazon should not be recited as a ‘mezuman’.
After the Seuda Hamafsekes
8) Although one has already completed the S”hM, he may eat or drink until sunset, unless he expressly decided not to eat anymore on that day or said that he is accepting the fast. Even if he did not express this orally but decided firmly in his mind that he is accepting the fast, many Poskim hold that it is considered acceptance. Therefore, all prohibitions of Tisha B’Av apply to him – except for wearing shoes. If he did not decide firmly in his mind but merely thought that he will not eat, this does not constitute acceptance of the fast. It is preferable to say orally or even to think to himself that he is not accepting the fast until sunset.
When Erev Tisha B’Av occurs on Shabbos
9) When Tisha B’Av occurs on Shabbos (and the fast is postponed until Motzei Shabbos) or Sunday, the final meal has none of the restrictions of the S”hM. One may eat meat and drink wine, and his meal may consist of many cooked dishes. He may recite Birkas Hamazon in a ‘mezuman’. Unlike other Shabbosos, however, he must stop eating before sunset (!), and begin to observe the restrictions of Tisha B’Av, (with the exception of removing his shoes - because that would be an overt slight to the sanctity of Shabbos. Rather,) individuals must wait until after ‘Borchu’ (of Maariv) to remove their shoes. The Shaliach Tzibur should say ‘Baruch haMavdil bein Kodesh l’chol’, remove his shoes and then say ‘Borchu’.
Isn’t it great to get a shiur about the halachos of Tisha B’Av right before Chanukah?! Well, if you have any Chanukah questions, I’ve got plenty of material