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I was recently summoned for jury duty and initially selected to be on the jury for a criminal trial that was expected to go through Tisha b'Av. If I were selected, what issues would I face in serving jury duty on that day? Suppose I was able to go to an early minyan and say kinot before the trial begins. Would it be permissible to sit on my chair in the jury box? Any other issues?

As it happens, the judge immediately consented to excuse me when I told him a bit about the very strict prohibitions of Tisha b'Av and that I would likely have difficulty concentrating on that day.

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not being able to sit on regular chair before CHatzos would be a real Issue –  simchastorah Aug 5 '11 at 20:27
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sheegaon, Welcome to Judaism.SE, and thanks very much for the interesting question! I look forward to seeing you around. –  Isaac Moses Aug 5 '11 at 20:35
    
Good job with the site, Isaac. Thanks to @Sam for pointing it out to me. –  Tal Fishman Aug 5 '11 at 20:38
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Jury duty is torture enough, and they expect you to mourn also? Oi, what has befallen us!? –  avi Aug 8 '11 at 12:50
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3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

We find that even washing, which is one the actual prohibitions of Tisha B'Av, is permitted in certain cases of necessity (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 554:12-14); sitting on a chair, which is only a custom (albeit a strong one), is surely not more stringent than that.

On the other hand, though, sitting on a jury is certainly a distraction from the mourning of Tisha B'Av, and Levush (cited in Mishnah Berurah, Beur Halachah 559 s.v. le'achar chatzos') points out that at least for the first half of the day one should not get involved in such distracting matters.

(In 559:5 the Mechaber says that during the time when Kinos is being said, "one should certainly not converse with a gentile," although I don't know whether that means just while one personally is still saying Kinos - in your example that wouldn't be an issue, since you'd have said them earlier - or whether it means during the entire time in which Kinos are said, which as he says in par. 3 is until close to chatzos.)

All told, then, I suppose if you can be excused, as you were, then so much the better. Otherwise, CYLOR.

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From the Shulchan Aruch (S' 22)

מקום שנהגו לעשות מלאכה בתשעה באב, עושין; במקום שנהגו שלא לעשות, אין עושין. ובכל מקום תלמידי חכמים בטלים. וכל הרוצה לעשות עצמו תלמיד חכם לעניין זה, עושה.

[..]

הגה: ולא נהגו באיסור מלאכה כי אם עד חצות ונהגו להחמיר עד חצות בכל מלאכה שיש בה שיהוי קצת, אפילו מעשה הדיוט. אבל דבר שאין בה שיהוי, כגון הדלקת נרות או קשירה וכדומה, מותרת

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You seem to have boldfaced the wrong parts.... –  msh210 Aug 8 '11 at 4:05
    
Beer4All, Welcome to Judaism.SE, and thanks very much for bringing this reference up! Your answer would be much more valuable if you'd explain in English how the quoted passage addresses the question at hand. –  Isaac Moses Aug 8 '11 at 14:47
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Try to explain your situation and see if you can be postponed a day.

If there's no good way out of it, then do it.

Anything that is done only for half a day on Tisha B'Av has the force of custom; if you're able to explain why you're standing, fine; but if the alternative is being found in contempt, then sit down.

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