A person must fast on the Ninth of Av, the Seventeenth of Tamuz, the Third of Tishrei, and the Tenth of Teves because of the national tragedies that took place on those dates; see 549:1-2. On the Ninth of Av washing, anointing, wearing leather shoes, and sexual relations are also forbidden, and a person should fast even if it is painful to do so; see 550:1-2 and 554:5-6. If any of these fasts falls on a Sabbath it is postponed to Sunday; see 550:3-4.
From the first of Av until after the fast, business activities (see also 554:22) and celebrations should be minimized (551:1-2). It is customary not to wash clothes or wear new clothes during that period (see 551:3-7,14-15), or to cut the hair or marry from the Seventeenth of Tamuz until after the Ninth of Av (see 551:2,4,12-15,18). On eating meat and drinking wine during that period see 551:8-11 and 558:1; on fasting and bathing see 551:16; on reciting the blessing “…Who kept us alive…” see 551:17.
At the last meal before the fast of the Ninth of Av, less than usual should be drunk, and extra cooked dishes should not be eaten; see 552:1-4. It is customary to sit on the ground (552:7) and eat eggs (see 552:5) and bread dipped in ashes (552:6), and not to say grace as a group (552:8). It is customary to eat a meal before the afternoon service and to eat the last meal afterward; see 552:9. A person is permitted to eat after the last meal if he has not yet accepted the fast (553:1). When the Ninth of Av occurs on Sunday, or is postponed from the Sabbath to Sunday, these customs are not observed, but eating must stop while it is still day (552:10). On what to do if a personal fast falls on the eighth of Av see 552:11. TACHANUN is not recited on the afternoon of the eighth of Av (552:12;559:1).
The fast of the Ninth of Av begins as soon as it is no longer day (553:2). Shoes are removed before the evening prayer; see 553:2. A person should refrain from recreation all of the day preceding the fast (see also 554:21), and from Torah study all of that afternoon (553:2). On what Torah study is forbidden see 554:1-4; on washing see 554:7-15; on wearing shoes see 554:16-17; on sexual relations see 554:18-19; on greeting others see 554:20; on doing work see 554:22-24; on eating see 554:25; on wearing TALLIS and TEFILLIN see 555:1; on sleeping see 555:2. On HAVDALAH when the Ninth of Av occurs on or is postponed to Sunday see 556:1 and 559:1.
The evening service on the Ninth of Av is recited quietly and in a dim light; the Book of Lamentations is read; and mournful poems (KINOS) are recited, followed by VE-ATAH KADOSH (559:1-3). The congregation sit on the ground during the evening and morning services, and KINOS are recited until shortly before noon; see 559:3,5. TACHANUN and penitential prayers (SELICHOS) are not recited, and “May it be received…” is omitted from KADDISH (559:4). On the readings from the Torah and Prophets see 559:4. On what mourners do on the 9th of Av see 559:6; on circumcisions see 559:7-9; on burials see 559:10. Food should not be prepared until the afternoon (559:10). In the afternoon service, “Comfort…” is added to the 14th blessing of SHEMONEH ESREH, and “Answer us…” to the 16th blessing (557:1).
Since the destruction of the Temple, decorations and celebrations must be restrained, and signs of mourning should be present even at weddings, in commemoration of Jerusalem (560:1-2,4). Music is permitted at religious celebrations (see 560:3), but excessive levity is forbidden (see 560:5). A person who sees destroyed cities of Judah, Jerusalem, or the Temple must recite the appropriate verses (from Isaiah Ch.64) and tear his clothes if he has not seen them for 30 days; see 561:1-5.
Shulchan Aruch, Copyright (c) 2000 Project Genesis, Inc.