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The Yalkut Shimoni on our parashah brings the Midrash that Moshe Rabbenu prayed 515 prayers, the numerical value of the opening word of the parashah, "va'ethanan." The Penei Yehoshua (Berachot 32a) offers a beautiful explanation of the significance of this number. The Midrash says that after Hashem informed Moshe of Benei Yisrael's imminent victory over Sihon and Og, Moshe thought that once he has remained alive for this battle he has been granted permission to continue into Eress Yisrael. Now Moshe received this prophecy of the battle against Sihon and Og on the fifteenth of Av, the day on which the death of the previous generation came to an end. With the joy surrounding the end of the decree came the return of prophecy to Moshe Rabbenu, who hadn't received any prophecy throughout the period of punishment due to his sadness, which prevents prophecy (see Baba Batra 121a). The period between that day, the fifteenth of Av, and the day of Moshe's passing, the seventh of Adar, contains two hundred days (assuming that the months alternate between 30-day months to 29-day months). So, if Moshe begged for mercy in each of his three prayers every day, then he prayed a total of 600 prayers. However, this 200-day period contained twenty-eight Shabbatot, and, as we know, one may not offer private prayers for personal needs on Shabbat. Therefore, we must deduct these days from the total. He thus prayed on 172 days, which amounts to 516 prayers. But, as we know, Moshe was special in that Hashem spoke with him by day. Thus, Hashem first spoke to Moshe on the morning of the 15th of Av, so Moshe prayed only twice on that day. Thus we arrive at a total of 515 prayers.
The Al-mighty answered Moshe: "Enough - do not speak to Me anymore about this matter." Hazal explain that were Moshe to have prayed one more time, the decree would have been annulled. This serves as an example of what the Gemara (Berachot 32b) says, "If a person sees that he prayed but was not answered, he should pray again, as it says, 'Wait for Hashem, strengthen and embolden your heart, and wait for Hashem." One tefilah after another, day after day, month after month. Each tefilah adds something and has an effect. If this is true regarding tefilot of an individual, how much more so does it apply to those of the community at large. The tefilot of Yisrael, of all of Yisrael, are recited throughout the generations, three times a day, including Shabbat and Yom Tov. Who knows which single tefilah for redemption, recited with the proper intention, will be the decisive one?
"Hear O Yisrael, Hashem our G-d, Hashem is one"
The Shulhan Aruch writes: "One who reads the shema and does not concentrate on the first pasuk, that of 'Shema Yisrael,' has not fulfilled his obligation." He writes further, "The custom is to read the first pasuk in a loud voice so as to arouse concentration. The custom is place one's hand over his face during the recitation of the first pasuk, in order to avoid seeing something that may prevent him from concentrating."
On what must one concentrate? Rabbenu Yosef Hayyim zs"l ("Ben Ish Hai," - I, Va'era) explains that one should divide the pasuk into three sections of two words each in order to concentrate on their meaning. "Shema" means acceptance and comprehension. Here, "Shema Yisrael" means, accept these words and understand them and know them, so that you believe in them, that "Hashem Elokenu " - Hashem is our G-d, and, furthermore, "Hashem ehad" - Hashem is one. As it turns out, then, we declare here an acceptance and acknowledgment of two things. The first is the acceptance of the yoke of the Kingdom of heaven, through the recitation of the two words, "Hashem Elokenu" (Hashem is our G-d), which denotes our acceptance of His Godliness, that He is G-d and we are His servants. The second acceptance is the concept of the Al-mighty's oneness and singularity, which we declare when we say, "Hashem ehad."
"Hear O Yisrael, Hashem our G-d, Hashem is one"
According to what we have said, when we recite "Shema Yisrael" we mean that every Jew in Am Yisrael should accept and understand this. The Gemara, however, mentions an additional meaning, one which is brought by the Rambam. We have a tradition that when Yaakov Avinu gathered his children in Egypt before his death, he reinforced for them the notion of Hashem's singularity and the path of G-dliness upon which Avraham and Yis'hak had walked. Yaakov then asked his sons, "Perhaps there is someone here who is not with me in the belief in the singularity of Hashem?" They all answered, "Hear O Yisrael [referring to Yaakov], Hashem our G-d Hashem is one." Yaakov then said, "Blessed be the Name of the Glory of His kingdom forever" ("Baruch Shem Kevod malchuto le'olam va'ed"). The custom thus evolved to always add this praise uttered by Yaakov immediately following the pasuk of Shema Yisrael. The Shulhan Aruch explains that one must recite this silently, since it is not written in the Torah as are the pesukim of shema itself.
"Hear O Yisrael, Hashem our G-d, Hashem, is one"
Rashi explains that this pasuk contains a declaration of belief in the redemption, at which point all mankind will call in Hashem's Name and acknowledge the power of His kingdom. In this pasuk we say as follows: Hashem, who is now only our G-d since the other nations do not recognize Him, will, in the future, be the one G-d over the entire world, as it says, "For then I will bring upon all the nations a clear language that they all call in the Name of Hashem" (Sefanyah 3). It similarly says, "Hashem shall be king over the entire land; on that day, Hashem shall be one and His Name shall be one" (Zecharyah 14).
The Ramban adds that Moshe here speaks of Hashem as 'Hashem our G-d," while generally in Sefer Devarim he says, "Hashem your G-d." The Ramban explains that it appeared as though Hashem dealt with Moshe Rabbenu on a fundamentally different level than He did with the rest of Am Yisrael, as He revealed Himself to Moshe with the Name of "H-V-Y-H," which represents the supernatural aspect of Hashem. Moshe Rabbenu here tells Benei Yisrael that "Hashem Elokenu." Meaning, he includes himself with the rest of the nation, implying that Hashem's supernatural protection will always accompany the nation, just as Hashem always dealt with Moshe on that level. Indeed, Rav Yaakov Emden zs"l wrote that the miracle of Am Yisrael's survival through the last two millennia despite persecution and oppression surpasses all the miracles of Yessi'at Misrayim!
Rabbenu Bahya Ben Asher zs"l
Two of our sages were named "Rabbenu Bahya." Rabbenu Bahya Ibn Pekuda zs"l was a Sefaradi rabbinical judge and author of "Hovot Halevavot," who lived around nine hundred years ago, one generation before the Rambam zs"l. Rabbenu Bahya Ben Asher Halavah zs"l from Saragossa, Spain, lived around two hundred years later and composed the famous commentary, "Rabbenu Bahya" on the Torah. He composed this work in Saragossa in the year 5051, and in it he explains the pesukim on four levels: "peshat" (the straightforward meaning), regarding which he relies primarily on the commentaries of Rashi and Rabbenu Hananel zs"l; "derash" (homiletic interpretation), in the context of which he cites many Midrashim of Hazal; "hochmah" (wisdom), regarding which he emphasizes that the divine origin of the Torah far surpasses all wisdom and study; "sod" (mystical approach), where he follows mainly the path of "the man, Moshe, the wonder of our age, the sweetness of whose words emanates from the sweetness of the manna - the great rabbi, the Ramban." He begins each pasuk by explaining a pasuk from Sefer Mishlei according to the commentary of Rabbenu Yonah that relates to the beginning of the parashah at hand. He explained that he does so "because the entire Torah relates to the personality qualities of man, as they are the material used for the misvot. " The work has earned the privilege of having ten commentaries written on it by leading gedolim, and it has been published in dozens of editions.
In addition, we also have another two of his major works. The book, "Kad Hakemah" consists of sixty entries arranged according to the Hebrew alphabet, and eighty-two essays on the foundations of our faith, misvot and mussar. He also explains the book of Iyov in the entry entitled, "hashgahah" (providence), the book of Yonah in the entry entitled, "Kippurim" (atonement), and Megilat Ester in the entry, "Purim." The book, "Shulhan Shel Arba" is divided into four sections. Three of them discuss the halachot of meals, while the fourth is devoted to the special meal reserved for the sadikim in the future, as well as to the issue of "tehiyat hametim" (the resurrection of the dead).
He also composed other works that we do not have: a commentary to Masechet Avot (portions of which are brought in the work of Rabbenu Shelomoh Alkabess zs"l), "Hoshen Mishpat" on the issues of prophecy and "ru'ah hakodesh" (referred to in his commentary to the end of Sefer Devarim), and a commentary on Sefer Yessirah (mentioned in the commentary of Rabbenu Moshe Bitril zs"l). May his merit protect us, Amen.
A Treasury of Halachot and Customs of the Festivals of Yisrael, Based on the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a
by Rav David Yossef shlit"a
The Halachot of Kiddush on Shabbat and Yom Tov
Kiddush on Shabbat
There is a "misvat aseh" from the Torah to verbally "sanctify" the day of Shabbat, as it says (Shemot 20:8), "Remember the day of Shabbat to sanctify it." This refers to the verbal mention of Shabbat through kiddush. Hazal ordained that we must recite kiddush over a cup of wine, finding an allusion to this idea from other references to "zechirah" ("remembering") in the context of wine, in Hoshea 14:8 and Shir Hashirim 1:4.
Most authorities maintain that kiddush on the night of Yom Tov is also a "misvat aseh" from the Torah. (Therefore, if Yom Tov falls on Friday and a person has only one cup of wine, he should use it for kiddush on Yom Tov eve (Thursday night), even though he will then be unable to recite kiddush on Friday night, since we do not pass up the opportunity to perform a misvah.) Some authorities maintain that on Yom Kippur eve, when obviously one cannot conduct kiddush over wine because of the fast, he must have in mind when reciting in his tefilah the berachah of "Mekadesh Yisrael ve'Yom Hakippurim" to fulfill the Torah obligation of kiddush. This applies whether Yom Kippur falls on Shabbat or on a weekday.
Kiddush in the Morning
The primary obligation of kiddush applies only at nighttime. Nevertheless, Hazal instituted that one repeat kiddush over a cup of wine in the morning. We refer to this kiddush as "kiddusha rabbah," or "the great kiddush." At se'udah shelisheet, however, one need not recite kiddush. In fact, according to the Kabbalists, one should preferably refrain from reciting kiddush over a cup of wine at se'udah shelishet.
One who did not recite kiddush on Friday night is obligated by Torah law to do so on Shabbat day in the morning. In such a situation, one must recite in the morning the berachah, ". asher kideshanu be'missvotav ve'rassah banu." that we say with kiddush on Friday night. He does not, however, say "Vaychulu." If the individual does not recite kiddush on Shabbat morning, either, he must do so at se'udah shelisheet. Even if one has not recited kiddush at all on Shabbat until after sunset, he must do so with a berachah so long as "set hakochavim" (nightfall) - which occurs in Israel around thirteen-and-a-half minutes after sunset - has not arrived. (In this and similar situations where one recites kiddush without eating a meal, he should drink a "revi'it" of wine to fulfill the requirement that kiddush must be recited in the context of a meal, for which a "revi'it" of wine suffices.) If one does not recite kiddush at all on Shabbat until "set hakochavim" of Mossa'ei Shabbat, he can no longer recite kiddush. All this applies to kiddush on Yom Tov, as well.
One Who Cannot Recite Kiddush Over Wine
One who has no wine for kiddush or someone for whom drinking wine is harmful may conduct kiddush on bread. He first washes his hands and then recites "hamossi" followed by the berachah, "asher kideshanu bemisvotav ve'rassah basnu. " If a person cannot drink wine for health reasons but someone else present can drink wine but does not know how to recite kiddush, then the former should recite kiddush and take a sip, and then give the cup to the latter to drink the required quantity ("rov revi'it").
Chemical Communication Among Ants
Who hasn't been surprised upon coming across a long procession of ants stretching along the floor of one's house, with a small crumb of bread on one end? How do the small ants discover such a small crumb, and even more amazing, from where and how do so many ants come in such a short period of time to a place where just minutes ago none were to be found? The answer lies in the mode of communication used by the ants: chemical communication. Ants, like other insects, have a large number of glands that secrete outside the body certain substances that emit a smell. These substances, secreted from one insect, cause behavioral or physiological changes in another insect of the same species.
All ants of a given colony have one defining smell, a special smell that they all share and sets them apart from other nests. Thus, for example, if one would separate several ants from their nest and bring them back some time later, they would immediately come under attack from the ants in their former nest, since they no longer possess the identifying smell.
Signaling food supplies through the emission of these smells is critical for the ants, who march towards the direction of the smell to the source of the food. The signaling process involves all ants of the colony, each one in its turn. When it sees that food still remains in the location where it was initially discovered, the ant continues to signal the path that leads towards the food. This trust in the smell communication brings the ants to walk blindly along the path, as they are assured that food is located at the end of the path. How impressive this is, but how insulting to the crown jewel of creation, the human being. A tiny ant is so confident that its friends have not deceived it, that they have signaled the proper path leading to food, to the point where it follows the path with blind faith. Some Jews, meanwhile, who received the Torah from Sinai which was transmitted to them from their loving parents who are so concerned for their well-being, at some point stop observing the misvot as if to say, "Perhaps my parents aren't trustworthy? Perhaps they did not speak the truth? Perhaps" - Heaven forbid - "there really never was a Ma'amad Har Sinai?" How embarrassing this is, especially when we contrast this attitude with the ants who observe the will of Hashem. Undoubtedly, we can learn important lessons from all of nature, and the primary lesson is the trust in the truth of our tradition, which was transmitted from one generation to the next by great gedolim, lovers of truth, then and now.
Reb Nahumke (10)
Flashback: Nahumke did not find his place in the yeshivah of the city of Beisgelah, the other students scorned him and he fell into a depression. He returned to his parents' home in the Ganker estate, and he was hired as a cantor's assistant, wandering from one community to the next. This period, too, ended in frustration when his voice changed, at which point he could no longer sing in the choir.
Nahumke lost hope in ever being a learned Torah scholar, and at this point he wished simply to find himself a profession that would earn him a proper livelihood and afford him a little extra time to review the Torah learned, so as to avoid becoming a complete ignoramus. He found a job in the house of Moshe Heinen, a wine merchant who agreed to provide Nahumke room and board as payment for his work. Nahumke would make deliveries of bottles and barrels and accompany deliveries to ensure that no gentile hands would come in contact with the wine. The boy was busy with his work all day long without rest, such that at night he would collapse on his bed from exhaustion. On one thing, however, he refused to forego: his impassioned prayers, which would take a full hour, in which he was engrossed in his communication with Hashem, forgetting for those minutes the world around him. His employer became gratefully accustomed to the youngster's honesty and integrity, his fear of G-d and care never to speak any falsehood or words of frivolity. Nahumke, however, found no time for learning.
One day, he was sent to accompany a delivery of barrels to the city of Beisgelah. He set next to the driver and looked behind him to watch the barrels. The carriage reached the city, and suddenly Nahumke saw his mother coming to greet him. She had brought chickens from the estate where she lived to sell in the city. When she saw her dear son, she cried, "My son, Nahumke! Did we shed so many tears for this, that we have a son who would work in a wine cellar? Nahumke, my son, is not Torah study better than sitting in a carriage?!"
The emotional words pierced his sensitive heart like an arrow. Before he could even respond, the carriage continued along its way and his mother's image faded and disappeared. Her words, however, echoed in his ears. The carriage reached its destination, and Nahumke stepped off to begin unloading the cargo. As he stood bent beneath the weight of the barrel, he heard a gentle voice speaking to him: "Is that Nahumke, the son of Uziel?"
Nehumke looked up and saw a distinguished looking, elderly man leaning on his cane. He immediately recognized him as Rabbi Karpel Atlas, among the most prominent members of the community. Long ago - so much has happened since! - when Nahumke came to study in the yeshivah in Beisgelah, the elderly man was very moved by Nahumke's enthusiastic voice as he learned. The man had complimented the boy at the time on his diligence in Torah learning. Since then, however, so much crisis and turmoil had transpired. "I am he," Nahumke humbly replied.
"If so," answered the kindhearted man, "then what is this heavy burden on your back? You should be bearing the yoke of Torah, instead!"
After hearing these words, which mingled with the echoes of his mother's lament still ringing in his ears, Nahumke broke out crying.
To be continued
At the beginning of this week we sat and cried, lamenting the destruction, the exile of the Shechinah, and the two millennia of persecution. "It is a troubled time for Yaakov - and he will be saved from it." Indeed, the Midrash says that the Mashi'ah is born on Tisha Be'Av. Immediately with the destruction we lift our eyes to the prospect of redemption, and already on the first Shabbat we read for our haftarah the prophecy of consolation: "Nahamu nahamu ami. " For good reason Hazal arranged that this Shabbat always occurs on the Shabbat when we read Parashat Vaethanan, which contains the first parashah of keri'at shema.
Pirkei Heichalot (36) teaches us that when the Al-mighty seeks to redeem His children, the other nations of the world say, "Why do you wish to uproot seventy nations on behalf of a single nation? All the ills that exist among us exist among Your nation, as well: there are thieves in both our nation and Yours; there are murderers in both our nation and Yours; there are adulterers in both our nation and Yours." At that moment, the Mashi'ah is silent, as he has no response. Even Michael, the great ministering angel, has no response. The Al-mighty is then filled with compassion for Mashi'ah and gives him an answer: "Fools! You are questioning My children? Do any among you recite shema like My children?!" Indeed, in the merit of the recitation of shema the redemption will come, and in this merit we will be consoled and comforted. Who, therefore, will not actively answer the call of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a to teach this pasuk, of the acceptance of the yoke of Heaven, to every Jewish child, and thereby bring the redemption closer?
The haftarah for this Shabbat opens with the words after which this Shabbat receives its name, "Nahamu, nahamu," and it begins the series of seven Shabbatot of consolation, on which we read haftarot of eternal promises of redemption. The haftarah of "Nahamu" is special in that it not only contains words of consolation, but it opens the series of successive prophecies of consolation in Sefer Yeshayahu. From this point through the end of the sefer, a segment spanning twenty-six chapters, the prophet speaks only words of comfort. After we have suffered so much bitterness and hardship, we wish to bring to a close the chapters dealing with crisis and mourning. From this point on, we lift our eyes to the redemption that has been promised and its accompanying blessings. A careful reading of the prophet's words reveals that it speaks of our generation and current situation. "Comfort, comfort My nation, your G-d says. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and declare to her that her term of service is over, that her iniquity is expiated; for she has received at the hand of G-d double for all her sins." Meaning, the city of Yerushalayim will be populated by the ingathering of the exiles from all over the earth. Indeed, hundreds of thousands of Jews have come to settle in greater Yerushalayim, which has now become the largest city in Israel!
"A voice rings out: clear in the desert a road for Hashem! Level in the wilderness a highway for our G-d!" It is hard to believe that just one hundred years ago Eress Yisrael was a desolate wilderness; a dirt path connected Jaffa to Yerushalayim. "Clear the road for the people; build up, build up the highway," calls Yeshayahu (62:10). Rashi explains this pasuk as a reference to the pavement of roads in anticipation of the ingathering of the exiles. It is doubtful whether the workers of the Israeli Public Works know why they work so hard paving highways, entrance and exit ramps and alternate routes, ensuring that, as the prophet declares, "Let every valley be raised, every hill and mount made low. Let the rugged ground become level and the ridges become a plain."
Hashem has inspired the nation's heart to return to its land. For the first time in two millennia, agriculture in Eress Yisrael blossomed, in fulfillment of Yehezkel's prophecy, "And you, the mountains of Israel, you will give forth your branches and bear your fruit for My nation, Yisrael, for they are soon coming" (Yehezkel 36:8). This promise includes cattle, as well (Tanhuma, Tessaveh 13, Da'at Zekenim Mi'Ba'alei HaTosafot, Shemot 29:1). And, the Gemara states, there is no more explicit sign of redemption than this (Sanhedrin 98a). Hashem has expanded our boundaries in Eress Yisrael, until it suddenly appeared that the wheel has turned backwards, and we retreated. Our enemies have become stronger, we are afraid to walk in our streets, killings take place, and we stand and wonder as to what is happening. However, even this stage was foreseen from the outset, as the prophecy continues, "A voice rings out:
'Proclaim!'" Meaning, proclaim the imminent redemption. But the other voice responds, "What shall I proclaim? All flesh is grass, all its goodness like flowers of the field." The Malbim explains this response as saying, we thought that the redemption would unfold already a generation ago. Everything seemed ripe for the redemption, but years have passed, that generation is gone, and hope seems to have disappeared. But no! "Grass withers, flowers fade, but the word of our G-d is always fulfilled! Ascend a lofty mountain, O herald of joy to Siyon. announce to the cities of Yehudah - behold your G-d!"
Not only may we not despair, as the redemption is closer now than ever, but when it comes our eyes will open and see that all our troubles, suffering and terrorist attacks themselves paved the way for redemption - just as the yoke of bondage was intensified just when Moshe approached Pharaoh, as the redemption began unfolding. A given, prescribed amount of suffering must be met, and Hashem wishes to bring the time closer. The suffering is thus doubled in order to hasten the final redemption. The haftarah thus declares, "Speak tenderly to Jerusalem" - strengthen the people's hearts with anticipation of the imminent redemption, "and declare to her that her term of service is over": the prescribed time will soon arrive, "her iniquity is expiated." How has this happened? "For she has received at the hand of Hashem double for all her sins." The amount of suffering has been doubled in order to hasten the final redemption. The Malbim compares this process to one who was sentenced to ten years of prison with ten lashes every day. The prison ward instead gave him one hundred lashes a day in order that he would go free after just one year.
Thus, two thousand and five hundred years ago Yeshayahu prophesied our generation in detail. May the Creator help us that we soon see the comfort of Siyon and Yerushalayim, that our glory be restored with joy upon our heads, speedily and in our days, Amen.
A Summary of the Shiur Delivered on Mossa'ei Shabbat by Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a
Halachot of Tisha Be'Av
Five calamities occurred in our history on Tisha Be'Av: the decree was issued against the generation of the wilderness forbidding their entry into Eress Yisrael; the first and second Batei Mikdash were destroyed; and the large Jewish population of the city of Betar was destroyed and all its inhabitants were killed.
Some Ashkenazim have the custom of wearing weekday clothing on Shabbat Hazon (the Shabbat immediately preceding Tisha Be'Av), but some authorities ruled that this constitutes a public expression of mourning on Shabbat, which is forbidden. Indeed, throughout the Jewish communities the custom is to wear Shabbat clothing on this Shabbat. Likewise, some communities have the custom of chanting the haftarah on this Shabbat to the melody of Eichah, but this practice is incorrect according to halachah; the haftarah should be read in the standard melody used for haftarot. On Shabbat Hazon, even when it occurs on Erev Tisha Be'Av, and even on the ninth of Av itself (in which case Tisha Be'Av is delayed until Mossa'ei Shabbat), one eats meat and drinks wine as usual. Even at se'udah shelisheet, one may not abstain from wine or meat out of a sense of mourning.
Boys and girls under the age of bar/bat-misvah are not required to fast at all, even for part of the day, and in fact they should not do so. This applies even to youngsters old enough to understand the mourning over the Mikdash. Nevertheless, a child who so desires may delay their first meal of the day for a couple of hours or so. Parents must, however, carefully supervise their children to ensure that they do not, Heaven forbid, endanger their health. More generally, supervision is a must regarding all those who are not perfectly healthy to ensure that they do not dehydrate, Heaven forbid, or become sick in any way as a result of the fast.
Someone who is ill is totally exempt from all four fasts commemorating the destruction - including Tisha Be'Av - even if his illness poses no threat to his life. He need not fast for even part of the day, since Hazal did not apply their decrees in situations of severe discomfort. A woman within thirty days from childbirth has the status of an ill patient and need not fast, even on Tisha Be'Av. Pregnant and nursing women, however, must fast on Tisha B'Av.
Nevertheless, a pregnant woman suffering from bleeding and the like, whose doctor warned that she must eat to prevent a miscarriage, Heaven forbid, may eat.
Similarly, if a mother is nursing a baby who receives all his nourishment from nursing, and the doctor warned that the mother's fasting could harm the child, she may eat. It should be noted, however, that all those exempt from the fast should not indulge in food and drink, but should rather eat and drink only that which they must to maintain proper health.
When Tisha Be'av falls on Mossa'ei Shabbat, one ends se'udah shelisheet a few minutes before sundown, and then around twenty minutes after sundown he changes out of Shabbat clothes and changes his shoes. Arbit services should be delayed on such a Mossa'ei Shabbat to allow for people to change and then come to the Bet Kenesset. Havdalah is not recited on this Mossa'ei Shabbat, but rather on Mossa'ei Tisha Be'Av (Sunday night), with only the berachot over the wine and "hamavdil ben kodesh le'hol. " The paragraph of "Atah honantanu" is added in the Amidah of Arbit, and the blessing over fire is recited in the Bet Kenesset after Arbit before the recitation of Eichah. Women should likewise recite the berachah over fire at home. The lights should be turned off in the Bet Kenesset, leaving only enough light for the recitation of Eichah and Kinot, which should be read with sadness and tears.
It is appropriate to express our pain and anguish over the suffering of Benei Yisrael throughout the years in exile, not only during the time of the destruction, including the current crisis, that we fear traveling on our roads in Eress Yisrael. We must rely on Hashem that He will soon redeem us from our troubles.
One may not wash on Tisha Be'Av with hot or cold water, and one may not even dip one finger in water. In the morning one washes his hands until the knuckles. After he dries his hands but while they are still damp, he may wipe his eyes. If one has crust and the like on his eyes which he normally rinses, he may do so as usual.
One may not wear leather shoes throughout the entirety of Tisha Be'Av, even if he wears socks underneath.
One may not learn Torah on Tisha Be'Av as Torah study brings one joy. He may, however, study Iyov and the chapters in Yirmiyahu dealing with the destruction with the commentaries. One may also study the laws of mourning in the last chapter of Masechet Moed Katan, as well as Midrash Eichah.
It is forbidden to divert one's attention from mourning throughout Tisha Be'Av. Therefore, although strictly speaking smoking on Tisha Be'Av is permitted, it is proper to refrain from doing so, particularly before midday. One who cannot refrain from smoking should smoke in private.
Gamliel Ben Nizhah
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