Selected Halachos Related to Parshas Devarim
By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt
A discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the
week. For final rulings, consult your Rav.
EATING MEAT AND DRINKING WINE DURING THE NINE DAYS
The first nine days of the month of Av, known as the Nine Days, is a period
of time established by the Rabbis to mourn the destruction of the two Batei
ha-Mikdash. There are certain activities which are prohibited during this
period. Since the Talmud tells us that only one who has properly mourned the
Temple's destruction will merit to see its rebuilding, it is important to
become more knowledgeable about the exact nature of the prohibitions of the
Nine Days. One of them, the injunction against eating meat and drinking
wine, is reviewed here.
1. Although this prohibition is not clearly mentioned in the Talmud as
binding halachah, it is an age-old custom which is recorded by many
Rishonim(1) and has become universally accepted. Thus, today it may not be
compromised in any way, and one who does so is considered a poreitz geder,
literally, a "fence-breaker."(2)
2. The restriction against eating meat and drinking wine begins at sunset
[or after davening Ma'ariv(3)] on Rosh Chodesh Av and ends at midday on the
tenth of Av.
3. All meat and poultry and their derivatives, even if no meat or poultry is
actually visible, e.g., chicken soup, are included. Pareve dishes cooked in
a utensil used for meat are permitted.(4) [If a small piece of meat
accidentally fell into a pareve dish and its taste will not be sensed, the
dish may be eaten.(5)]
4. All wines and grape juices are prohibited. Beer, whiskey, and wine
vinegar are permitted.(6)
5. The restriction applies to men, women and children, even to children who
are under the age of chinuch and who do not understand the concept of
mourning for the destruction of the Beis ha-Mikdash.(7)
6. A child, a pregnant or nursing woman, or an elderly or sick person who
cannot eat dairy foods or who needs to eat meat for health reasons, may eat
meat. If possible, they should limit themselves to meat derivatives or to
poultry rather than to actual meat.(8)
7. On Friday afternoon close to the onset of Shabbos, it is permitted to
feed children - who normally eat at that time - the regular meaty Shabbos
foods.(9) A woman who needs to taste the Shabbos foods while cooking may do
so on Friday afternoon after midday.(10)
8. On Shabbos there is no restriction against eating meat or drinking wine
even if one began Shabbos early - any time after plag ha-Minchah. It is
forbidden, however, to eat food left over from Shabbos even for melaveh
9. If, by mistake, one recited a blessing over meat or wine, he should taste
a bit so that his blessing will not have been in vain.(12)
10. Butcher shops may remain open during the Nine Days.(13) Proprietors of
meat restaurants should consult a rabbi.
MEAT AND WINE AT A SEUDAS MITZVAH
The restriction against eating meat and drinking wine is lifted when a
seudas mitzvah takes place. This includes a siyum,(14) a bris,(15) or a
pidyon ha-ben. Several poskim also include a bar mitzvah dinner which takes
place on the day the boy becomes bar mitzvah.(16)
For a seudas mitzvah one may invite any man or woman who would normally be
invited at any other time of the year, e.g., relatives or friends. Thus all
campers and staff of a summer camp, both men and women, may join in a public
siyum.(17) During the week in which Tishah b'Av occurs, only a minyan of
people plus close relatives may partake of meat and wine at a seudas mitzvah
There are conflicting opinions about whether or not it is permitted to make
a siyum specifically in order to partake of meat and wine.(19) While it is
preferable to be stringent, one should follow the custom and the directives
of his rabbi.
Regarding the nature of the text upon which it is permitted to make a
siyum, the custom follows the halachically preferred option that a siyum be
made only on a tractate of the Talmud, either Bavli or Yerushalmi. But there
are poskim who allow a siyum to be made upon completing the intensive study
of either an entire seder of Mishnayos or on an entire book of Tanach. Some
allow a siyum even on three tractates of Mishnayos while others allow it
even on one.(20)
L'chatchilah, all the participants should listen to and understand the
siyum of the text as it is being read.(21) B'diavad, some poskim permit
even those who were not present at the siyum to eat meat and drink wine at
the siyum meal,(22) while other poskim are stringent.(23)
When a seudas mitzvah takes place, it is also permitted to drink the wine
after Birkas ha-Mazon.(24) But the cup of wine which is usually drunk at a
bris [or pidyon ha-ben] should be given either to a minor or to the mother
of the child.(25)
Those who are particular to recite Havdalah every week over wine or grape
juice should do so during the Nine Days as well,(26) since this too is
permitted, just as it is permitted to drink wine at a seudas mitzvah.(27) In
some places it is customary for a minor,(28) if one is present, to drink the
wine,(29) while in other places an adult drinks the Havdalah wine.(30)
Those who make Havdalah on beer or another chamar medinah year-round should
do so this week as well.(31)
AFTER TISHAH B'AV
It is customary not to eat meat(32) or drink wine until midday of the tenth
of Av, even when the tenth of Av falls on a Friday. This is because the
destruction of the Beis ha-Mikdash, which began on the ninth of Av,
continued throughout the night and most of the next day.(33) All of the
aforementioned leniencies regarding eating meat and drinking wine during the
Nine Days apply to motzaei Tishah b'Av until midday of the tenth of Av.(34)
1 Several reasons for this custom are given: To minimize joyfulness; to
mourn the abolishment of the Korban Tamid and Nissuch ha-Yayin; to mark the
loss of the Even Shesiya (see Orchos Chayim, Kol Bo and Avudraham).
2 O.C. 551:11. Most Sephardim, too, follow this custom for all of the Nine
Days, although some Sephardim do not observe it on Rosh Chodesh day itself;
Kaf ha-Chayim 551:125; Yechaveh Da'as 1:41.
3 Kaf ha-Chayim 551:122.
4 Mishnah Berurah 551:63. It makes no difference whether the pareve food is
sharp or bland; Orchos Chayim 31.
5 Sha'ar ha-Tziyun 551:68. Some poskim hold that even l'chatchilah it is
permitted to put a small amount of meat or wine into a dish if its taste
will not be detected.
6 Sha'arei Teshuvah 551:10.
7 Mishnah Berurah 551:70. Some poskim allow children under the age of three
to eat meat and some allow it up until age six; Divrei Yatziv O.C. 2:236.
8 Mishnah Berurah 551:61,64 and Sha'ar ha-Tziyun 69. Most poskim hold that
hataras nedarim is not required; Yechaveh Da'as 1:41.
9 Igros Moshe O.C. 4:21-4.
10 Mekor Chayim 551:9.
11 Igros Moshe O.C. 4:21-4.
12 Sdei Chemed (Bein ha-Metzarim 1:4).
13 Igros Moshe O.C. 4:112-3.
14 Some poskim recommend that no siyum take place after the sixth of Av
(Harav M. Feinstein, Moadei Yeshurun, pg. 132). See also Aruch ha-Shulchan
551:28, who advises that a siyum should not take place at all during the
Nine Days, since we cannot properly rejoice and honor the Torah during this
time of mourning.
15 Even if it was deferred due to illness, etc.; Sha'arei Teshuvah 551:15.
16 Yad Efrayim 551:31; Divrei Yatziv 2:238.
17 Harav M. Feinstein and Harav S.Z. Auerbach (quoted in Nitei Gavriel
18 Mishnah Berurah 551:77. Some poskim hold that only a minyan - including
the relatives - may eat meat or drink wine; Sha'ar ha-Tziyun 84.
19 See Mishnah Berurah 551:73, Aruch ha-Shulchan 551:28 and Kaf ha-Chayim
20 See the various opinions in Ha-elef Lecha Shelomo 386; Igros Moshe O.C.
157 and O.C. 2:12, Yabia Omer 1:26, Yechaveh Da'as 1:40 and B'tzeil
21 Mishnah Berurah 470:10.
22 Minchas Yitzchak 9:45; Teshuvos v'Hanhagos 1:300 quoting Harav Y.Y.
Kanievsky, who says that it is customary to be lenient in this matter,
provided that the participant is sincerely "happy" with the siyum taking
place. See also the lenient ruling of Harav Y.Y. Fisher concerning a mourner
(Pnei Baruch, pg. 463). Harav M. Feinstein is also quoted as being lenient
(Moadei Yeshurun, pg. 132).
23 Ben Ish Chai 1:96-25; Chazon Ovadiah, pg. 99; Harav Y.S. Elyashiv (Siddur
Pesach K'hilchaso, pg. 168).
24 Mishnah Berurah 551:72.
25 Harav Y.S. Elyashiv (quoted in Otzar ha-Bris, pg. 187).
26 Eishel Avraham 551; Chazon Ish (quoted in Imrei Yosher, pg. 4).
27 Mishnah Berurah 551:67.
28 The preferred minor for this purpose is a boy beyond the age of chinuch
but who is not yet old enough to understand the concept of mourning the
destruction of the Beis ha-Mikdash; Mishnah Berurah 551:70. [It is difficult
to define the age of such a child.] If such a child is not present, any boy
under bar mitzvah age will do.
29 Rama O.C. 551:10.
30 Harav M. Feinstein (Moadei Yeshurun, pg. 154).
31 See Aruch ha-Shulchan 551:26.
32 But a meaty food which presently contains no meat is permitted; Beiur
Halachah 558:1 (s.v. shelo).
33 O.C. 558:1.
34 Mishnah Berurah 558:2.
Weekly-Halacha, Copyright © 2002 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross and
Project Genesis, Inc.
Rabbi Neustadt is the principal of Yavne
Teachers' College in Cleveland, Ohio. He is also the Magid Shiur of a daily
Mishna Berurah class at Congregation Shomre Shabbos.
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