I just learned a Gemara (Taanit 30a) that seems to pretty clearly state that the mourning for tisha b'av starts the beginning of the week that Tisha B'av falls out on, and ends with Tisha B'av itself.

Even the braitot after that discuss how much meat and wine one may have at the seudah ha'mafseket (it seems to state the for the rest of the day there are no restrictions regarding meat and wine).

So where does the idea of the nine days come from (I understand that it is an opinion in the Gemara, but it seems to explicitly conclude that that is not the halacha)?

Note: I am aware (thanks to DoubleAA) that this extension is a later minhag. The question remains then, if the gemara considered this as a possibility and explicitly rejected it, why was it later instituted?

Clarification: It seems from the Gemara that there are two different periods where there are restrictions. The first concerns laundry (where one opinion says 9 days), and the second concerns meat and wine (where there is no opinion that says that it lasts nine days, the most machmir opinion says that for the whole day one should not have either of these items (and two cooked foods) and the most makil opinion says that one can have these foods, even at the seudah ha'mafseket, but less than normal).

It therefore seems that there are really three related questions:

  • Why did the laundry mourning period get extended to 9 days
  • Why was the meat and wine restriction extended to 9 days
  • Why (to the best of my knowledge) was the "two cooked foods" restriction not extended to the nine days (the gemara seems to lump meat wine and cooked foods together)
  • The three weeks and nine days are all later customs adopted by different parts of Jewry.
    – Double AA
    Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 4:07
  • @DoubleAA If the gemara seems to have considered the nine days and rejected it, why was it later instituted?
    – soandos
    Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 4:15
  • That's a good question (and IMO worth adding to the post). Perhaps people desired a bigger outlet for their feelings, and went beyond the letter of the law.
    – Double AA
    Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 4:18
  • @DoubleAA, thanks for the info, and edited. It is one thing to make it is a nice thing to do, some sort of chumra, or the like. It is a different thing to impost it on everyone (other than Sepharadim I believe, but I am not sure about that)
    – soandos
    Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 4:27
  • Looks good and +1. (Just for the record, you can note the Rama's use of the word "accustomed" in OC 551:2-4. See also the Tur there for a number of different customs regarding how early to shift different prohibitions in different communities.)
    – Double AA
    Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 4:32

1 Answer 1


Each of the opinions in the braisa learned their law from the pasuk:

והשבתי כל משושה חגה חדשה ושבתה

R' Meir- we start mourning from the chag of Rosh Chodesh R' Yehuda- we morn the entire month R' Shimon b. Gamliel- we mourn the entire week

Normally we should only rule like one of the tanaim (The law is usually like R' S.b.G). Here, we go like R' S.b.G. regarding the start point of that week, but like R' Meir regarding not extending the mourning period past 9-Av. This goes like no one in the gemara!

Apparently, these are not real drashos. The tanaim are using the pasuk to clarify a mandatory rabbinic mourning period (asmachta), so the final law need not take the verse into account, only the law. The gemara then follows the general rule of leniency for mourning periods of R' SbG who limits mourning to that week, and to R'Meir not to extend the mourning past 9-Av- the verse notwithstanding.

The upshot is that the gemara did not make a merit based rejection of the "9 days", it simply followed the rule to be halachically lenient by mourning. Whoever does more- harei ze messhubach, more power to them!

  • I would understand if it really was "Whoever does more- harei ze messhubach" but my understanding is that it is mandatory. Additionally, it would seem that there are two mourning "periods." 1) laundry 2) eating meat and drinking wine. What you are mentioning only refers to the first one. Perhaps I should expand the question to note this.
    – soandos
    Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 16:14
  • From the question and comments above (prior to your edit), your question seemed to be: I understand that originally the law was less and then people added on, but why would people add on something that was rejected by the gemara. My answer targeted that- it is something meritorious, but not required from the gemara. You now seem to be asking a different question.
    – YDK
    Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 16:51
  • I hear your answer, and it makes sense, except that is mandatory, and not just meritorious. I realized when reading your answer that there was more to it, and then updated my question. Sorry for the confusion.
    – soandos
    Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 16:53
  • @soandos, it wasn't extended. Communities took upon themselves to mourn more that. The extent of the mourning was up to the communities. Obviously some mourning periods were extended since restricting ones self for a small amount of time would not show mourning (such as doing laundry and haircutting). Others did show mourning and were too burdensome to extend (like eating 2 foods). You may want to ask something like how do customs develop, how are they incorporated into law and what status do they have in relation to talmudic law.
    – YDK
    Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 17:18

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