Halacha for Tuesday 5 Av 5779 August 6 2019

The Laws of the Last Meal Before the Fast of Tisha Be’av This Year (5779)

On Erev Tisha Be’av, our Sages prohibited eating meat and drinking wine during the last meal before the onset of the fast of Tisha Be’av held after halachic midday. They likewise forbade eating two cooked foods during this meal. Nevertheless, this year, 5779, since the fast of Tisha Be’av is observed on Sunday, “Erev Tisha Be’av” will thus coincide with Shabbat. Thus, in honor of Shabbat during which observance of mourning customs is forbidden, our Sages said that during this meal (which is actually Seuda Shelishit, the third Shabbat meal and the last meal before the fast) one may eat and drink one’s fill and “one may serve on his table like a feast of King Solomon during his reign.”

Among the Rishonim, we find two different ways to explain this statement of our Sages: Some explain that when they said that “one may serve on his table like a feast of King Solomon during his reign,” this does not mean that one may not abstain from eating meat and drinking wine; rather, if one wishes, one may eat meat and drink wine during this meal. It is nevertheless preferable to abstain from eating meat and drinking wine during the last meal before the fast of Tisha Be’av even when Erev Tisha Be’av falls out on Shabbat in commemoration of the great tragedy of the destruction of the Bet Hamikdash.

On the other hand, most Rishonim explain that one should not abstain from eating meat and drinking wine on Shabbat, even during the last meal before the fast of Tisha Be’av, in honor of Shabbat. The Sefer Shiboleh Ha’Leket (authored by Rabbeinu Tzidkiyah ben Rabbi Avraham Ha’Rofeh who lived in Rome approximately eight hundred years ago) quotes a responsa of Rabbeinu Klonimus of Rome who wrote to Rabbeinu Yakar that if Tisha Be’av falls out on Sunday, the Geonim permitted one to eat meat and drink wine during the last meal before the fast in honor of Shabbat. One need not spare anything from one’s table as long as one sits and eats solemnly and does not act joyfully.

The Halacha indeed follows this opinion that during the last meal before the fast of Tisha Be’av which is held on Shabbat as is the case this year, 5779, one should not abstain from eating meat and the like (one may likewise sing Shabbat songs during this meal in honor of Shabbat).

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