Shulchan Aruch Yoreh De'ah 400:2 rules that a mourner observes the private mourning practices of shiv'ah on shabbat. This includes not engaging in marital relations, not washing in warm water and not studying (most parts of) Torah.

Rema to Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 554:19 notes a custom to refrain from marital relations on 9 Av which falls on shabbat. Mishnah Berurah 554:39 explains that this custom holds that private mourning practices apply on Shabbat 9 Av, and thus washing hands in warm water would also be forbidden.

However, with regards to Torah study on this shabbat, Mishnah Berurah 553:9 prohibits only after midday.

Why does Mishnah Berurah allow Torah study before midday on Shabbat 9 Av, but forbids marital relations and washing?

A hint towards one possible answer:

Magen Avraham 553:7 provides a justification for such a practice by positing that Shabbat 9 Av has the status of erev tish'ah b'av, but that marital relations are prohibited due to stringency.

In order to use this Magen Avraham to explain Mishnah Berurah's position, one would need to explain why marital relations and washing would be more deserving of stringency than Torah study.

  • Very related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/94107/… – Joel K Aug 5 '19 at 13:10
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    Mishna Berura is lenient about marital relations if it's a mikvah night. When is Torah study not at least as strong a Mitzva as mikvah? – Double AA Aug 5 '19 at 13:44
  • @DoubleAA Sounds like a possible answer. Although of course one has the option of learning devarim hamutarim (with all the caveats around אין אדם לומד אלא במקום שלבו חפץ). – Joel K Aug 5 '19 at 13:47
  • The biur halach at the end of 554 brings a lengthy "complaint" from the Mamar Mordechai against only learning things allowed on Tisha B'av for any erev Tisha b'av, because it leads to bitul Torah (sitting around doing nothing). He goes as far as to say he wishes he could allow learning on Tisha b'av. The quote is very long and not strictly necessary for a halachic clarification. One gets the impression that the Chometz Chaim (author of Mishna Brura and Biur Halacha) felt very strongly about this point. – Mordechai Aug 5 '19 at 22:02

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