Tisha B'Av should be spent focusing on the destruction of Jerusalem and Beit haMikdash; but is it permissible to do daily chores as well? For example, this year, Tisha B'Av is postponed one day because of Shabbos, so naturally there will be dishes to clean leftover from Shabbos. Is it permissible to do those dishes on Tisha B'Av?

  • 11
    doing dishes on a fast day is a pretty mournful activity if you ask me... Jul 26, 2012 at 22:21

2 Answers 2


The Rama (OC 553:2) writes that one should not לטייל = "take pleasure strolls" even on Erev Tisha b"Av that falls on Shabbat; how much more so must one avoid extraneous activity on Tisha b'Av itself!

The Biur Halacha there quoting the Ma'amar Mordechai drives this point home:

ואי לאו דמיסתפינא מחברייא הו"א דאפילו ביום ט"ב עצמו היה לנו להקל דבעוה"ר נתקלקלו הדורות וביום ט"ב מטיילין בשווקים ומשיחין שיחת חולין ואפילו היודעים ספר וקצת הלומדים מקילין בזה ופשיטא דבאופן זה טפי הוי עדיף להו ללמוד וכיוצא בדבר מצינו בירושלמי א"ר אבא בר ממל אלו היה מי שיתמנה עמי הייתי מתיר מלאכה בחוה"מ כלום אסרו אלא כדי שיהא אוכלין ושותין ושמחין ועוסקין בתורה וכדון אינון אוכלין ושותין ופוחזין ע"כ ואף אנו נאמר כלום אסרו הלמוד אלא כדי שיהיו יושבין בעניני צער ואבילות ומתוך כך זוכרין ודואגין על חורבן הבית והנה מטיילין ומשיחין שיחת חולין ומסיחין דעתן מן האבלות ומתוך כך באים לידי שחוק והיתול.‏
If I were able, I would have thought to be lenient [and allow] learning Torah on Tisha b'Av itself, for in our many sins we have become problematic in that on Tisha b'Av people stroll through the market and speak mundane things; even those who are somewhat learning are lenient in this regard. It is obvious that in this case it would be prefered that they learn [things that would otherwise be prohibited on Tisha b'Av]. A similar instance can be found in the Yerushalmi which states:

R Abba bar Mamal said: if only there were anyone with me, I would permit work to be done on Chol HaMoed for it was only forbidden [to do work on Chol HaMoed] so that people could rejoice [in the holiday] and [have time to] learn Torah, yet we eat and drink and are 'irresponsible'.

So too us, wasn't learning Torah only forbidden on Tisha b'Av so that people would dwell on matters of pain and mourning and ultimately come to remember and worry about the destruction of the Temple? Yet we stroll about, discuss mundane matters and distract our minds from the mourning. Through this we come to inappropriate levity and humor.

He concludes that despite his wishes, the prohibition on learning Torah on Tisha b'Av is the law and unfortunately cannot be altered.

  • What does this have to do with my question?
    – Daniel
    Jul 27, 2012 at 16:59
  • @Daniel You asked about performing non-fast related mundane activities. The answer says that the maamar mordechai was so disamayed that people were doing these things, that he had half a mind to permit an issur derabanan.
    – Double AA
    Jul 27, 2012 at 17:00
  • Isn't strolling through the market kind of different from chores in which people don't take any pleasure?
    – Daniel
    Jul 27, 2012 at 17:09
  • @Daniel Perhaps in the level of enjoyment gained, but A) it's a tough line to draw, and more importantly B) both share the common characteristic of distracting one from the mourning. See the longer piece at the end: Yet we stroll about, discuss mundane matters and distract our minds from the mourning. His point is that we should be focusing on the meaning of the day and not distracting ourselves from it.
    – Double AA
    Jul 27, 2012 at 18:27
  • Didn't the Ragachaver learn "normally" on Tisha B'Av?
    – Yehoshua
    Jul 26, 2015 at 13:06

The Mishna (Pesachim 4:5) states the following:

מקום שנהגו לעשות מלאכה בתשעה באב עושין, מקום שנהגו שלא לעשות מלאכה אין עושין, ובכל מקום תלמידי חכמים בטלים. רבן שמעון בן גמליאל אומר: לעולם יעשה אדם עצמו תלמיד חכם

In a place where people work on the 9th of Av, one may [work]. In a place where people do not work, one may not. In all places, Torah scholars are idle [Meiri: since they feel the loss of the temple the keenest]. Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel says: as a rule, one should make himself a Torah scholar [and not work on the 9th of Av].

To this principle, the Tur adds (OC 554:22, 24) that this is unlikely to cause machloket (in reference to concerns voiced by the Mishna in Pesachim 4:1) - literally, ולא חיישינן ליוהרא ("and he will not be thought arrogant"). He also quotes Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel as saying that those who work on the 9th of Av will never receive a blessing (אינו רואה סימן ברכה לעולם - quoting Taanit 30b).

The Shulchan Arukh (ibid.) clarifies that latter point by saying that it is the labour they are performing that will not be blessed (אינו רואה סימן ברכה מאותה מלאכה). So far as the former principle is concerned, the following is the language of the mechaber:

מקום שנהגו לעשות מלאכה בתשעה באב עושין, במקום שנהגו שלא לעשות אין עושין, ובכל מקום תלמידי חכמים בטלים, וכל הרוצה לעשות עצמו תלמיד חכם לענין זה עושה. ואפילו במקום שנהגו שלא לעשות, מותר על-ידי אינו-יהודי אפילו בביתו. ופרקמטיא להרויח ולהשתכר, במקום שנהגו שלא לעשות מלאכה אסור, ובמקום שנהגו לעשות מותר אלא שממעט, שאפילו משנכנס אב ממעטין מלישא וליתן

In a place where people work on the 9th of Av, one may [work]. In a place where people do not work, one may not. In all places, Torah scholars are idle, and all who wish to make themselves a Torah scholar in this respect may do so. Even in a place where people do not work, it is permissible for one to have a non-Jew work for him, even in his house. And a merchant woman [likewise, when she wishes] to earn money and to profit: in a place where people do not do work it is forbidden, while in a place where people do [work] it is permissible - but one should reduce [their labour], since we reduce our business activities with the onset of Av.

The foregoing quite clearly only deals with business transactions, as is made clear in the Mishna Berurah, where it understands the stipulation that one will not see a blessing from this work as meaning that one will not see a blessing מאותן מעות שמרויח מאותה מלאכה (from the money that one gains from [doing] that work). That said, however, consider the language of the Rema (OC 554:22):

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

We are not accustomed to the prohibition on work except for until chatzot¹. Also, we are accustomed to be strict until chatzot concerning all work that entails a small amount of delay - even if it be simple labour. Concerning something that entails no delay, such as lighting candles or tying knots or so on, it is permissible.

¹ Based on the Mishna's foregoing discussion of working on the 14th of Nissan (Pesachim 4:1), I am tempted to understand chatzot here as chatzot hayyom, rather than chatzot hallayla. In actual fact, I do not know which of the two it is that the Rema is referring to.

It seems to me that, based on the foregoing, you could find avenues to be both lenient or to be strict as regards the washing of dishes and the cleaning of the house. The Mishna Berurah observes that the foregoing gloss of the Rema constitutes normative halakha, so if it is your custom to rule in accordance with the Mishna Berurah, you may wish to be strict in this matter - at least until chatzot hayyom.

  • I think "אלא שממעט שאפילו משנכנס אב ממעטין מלישא וליתן" lost something in the translation to "but one should reduce [their labour], since we reduce our business activities with the onset of Av". It's not (I think) that he reduces his labor because he's in Av. It's (I think) that mourning periods decrease labor (as we see about Av) so now there's a further reduction.
    – msh210
    Jul 27, 2012 at 5:33
  • I also don't like my translation, but for different reasons. I'm not sure how I feel about your suggestion... I think that's a nice idea, but I don't think the mechaber is making an observation about what people do so much as he's prescribing what they should do.
    – Shimon bM
    Jul 27, 2012 at 6:07
  • I agree he's being prescriptive: even when Av starts we must diminish, the more so now that the mourning is deeper.
    – msh210
    Jul 27, 2012 at 6:09

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .