Rabbi Yossi Slotnick
Former Rosh Kollel in Cape Town (1997-1998)
Currently Ra”m in Yeshivat Ma’ale Gilboa
When Tisha B’Av falls on a Sunday, we are presented with a golden opportunity to listen in on an ancient discussion.
We begin our brief journey with two Braitot. The first one (Tosefta – Taanit 3:13) is cited by several Gemarot:
“Tisha B’Av which falls on Shabbat and also Erev Tisha B’Av which falls on Shabbat – one eats and drinks as much he needs and sets his table even as the seudah (feast) of Shlomo HaMelech in his time.”
This Tosefta stresses that on Shabbat – in contrast to a “regular” Erev Tisha B’Av – one may eat and drink as much as one wishes – regardless of quantity or type of food.
Yet, the second Braita (BT Eruvin 41a) seems to make a different point, in a discussion of Tisha B’Av falling on a Friday:
“R’ Yehuda said, ‘One time we were sitting before R’ Akiva, and it was Tisha B’Av which had fallen on Erev Shabbat. And they brought [R’ Akiva] a rolling egg (i.e. one which was lightly roasted), and he swallowed it without salt. And it was not because he was hungry for it, but to demonstrate the halachah to the students.’ And R’ Yosi says, ‘One should fast and complete [the fast].’ R Yosi said to them, ‘Do you not admit to me that when Tisha B’Av falls on Sunday, one must stop [eating] while it is still day [i.e. still Shabbat]?’ They said to him, ‘It is true.’ [R’ Yosi] said to them, ‘What is it to me to enter [Shabbat] while suffering [from fasting], and what is it to me to depart from [Shabbat] while suffering?’ They said to him, ‘If you said to depart from [Shabbat while fasting, this would be understandable] because one ate and drank the entire day. [But] would you say to enter [Shabbat] while suffering? [After all,] one did not eat or drink the entire day [of Friday].’”
According to this Braita, everyone concurs that when Tisha B’Av falls on Sunday, the fast begins slightly before MotzaiShabbat (“while it is still day”). In other words, this Braita implies that even on Shabbat, there is a restriction on when one may eat.
Do these two Braitot complement each other? The Gemara in Eruvin cites both of them without noting any inherent contradiction between the two. There are basically two general approaches:
- The Braitot disagree with one another. If we rule in accordance with the first, the second must be disregarded. Alternatively, we can rule in accordance with the second and say that when Erev Tisha B’Av falls on Shabbat, the normal restrictions apply to the seudah hamafseket.
- The Braita discuss different issues. The first one states that there are no restrictions in terms of quantity or type of food during the Shabbat meals themselves, but the second one explains that eating after a certain time is prohibited.
Both these approaches can be found in the Rishonim. For example:
The Sefer HaManhig Halachot (402) states:
“But that which Rav Natronai z”l wrote that even on Tisha B’Av which falls on Shabbat or Erev Shabbat, it is forbidden to eat meat or drink wine during the seudah hamafseket – is not a rule. And Rav Hai z”l wrote that this is the case in a place where the custom is not to refrain from meat and wine from Rosh Chodesh until the fast. But in a place where the custom is to refrain from meat and wine from Rosh Chodesh until the fast, they should act according to their custom.”
Rav Natronai holds that one may not consume meat or wine at the seudah hamafseket, but Rav Hai limits this ruling to places where they refrain from meat and wine from Rosh Chodesh. In any event, neither of them rules in accordance with the first Braita, which explicitly says that one may eat as “the seudah of Shlomo HaMelech”.
B. Chachmei Ashkenaz:
The Shibolei HaLeket (Taanit 266) cites the early Chachmei Ashkenaz (Rashi’s teachers) and observes three different customs:
- R’ Yitzchak ben R’ Yehudah ate a regular Shabbat meal and even left his shoes on until after Barchu.
- The custom in Speyer was to eat eggs and fruit – but not meat. However, they would sit at the table rather than on the floor. Rabbenu Meshulam extended this custom by eating alone without a zimun.
- The Roman custom was to eat everything but alone and in sorrow.
The differences between these three customs are based on the aforementioned Braitot. R’ Yitzchak ben R’ Yehudah ruled in accordance with the first Braita and felt that Tisha B’Av’s mourning was not appropriate for Shabbat, which does not end untilBarchu. In contrast, in Speyer, they ruled in accordance with the second Braita and refrained from a full seudah. However, although they did eat alone, they did not sit on the floor, but a Tisha B’Av atmosphere prevailed. Finally, the Roman custom was based on a combination of both Braitot. On one hand, they ate as much as they wanted and did not refrain from any type of food. Yet, on the other hand, they ensured that the meal was eaten in a Tisha B’Av mood. Although they did not begin the fast at this point – as specified by the second Braita (and as suggested by other Rishonim) – they did incorporate the concept of tosefet tzom (adding to the fast).
Subsequent rulings reflect this dichotomy as well. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 552) states:
“If Tisha B’Av either falls on a Sunday or falls on Shabbat but is postponed to Sunday, one eats meat and drinks wine at the seudah hamafseket and sets the table even as the seudah of Shlomo HaMelech during his reign.”
This ruling seems to follow the first Braita.
Yet, the Rama adds one of the second Braita’s qualifications:
“However, he must stop while it is still day.”
Similarly, the Magen Avraham rules:
“And nevertheless, he should sit in sorrow and not conduct himself with happiness. And therefore, he should not sit at a seudat chaverim (literally, feast of friends).”
Thus, while these poskim did not fully adhere to the second Braita, they did attempt to combine the two approaches. Certainly, we must honor Shabbat with food and drink, but at the same time, we must allow the Tisha B’Av atmosphere to penetrate this Shabbat.