Wednesday, August 06, 2008

seudah hamafseket on Shabbos?

The Tur (552) quotes the Avi Ezri as holding that on Shabbos immediatly before 9 Av starts(meaning, when 9 Av is on Sunday) the minhag is to eat a regular seudah shlishis and then to eat a seudah hamafesket like on any other erev 9 Av. Even though, explains the Tur, one is permitted to eat meat and drink wine "afilu k'seudas Shlomo" on Shabbos before 9 Av without restriction, who says one has to eat such a seudah? In keeping with the spirit of commemorating churban habayis, one can choose to forgo indulging oneself and instead end the day with a subdued and minimal seudah hamafseket.

The Tur disagrees based on the gemara’s din (Moed Katan 2b3) that a public display of aveilus is prohibited on Shabbos. If one sets out to eat a meal designated specifically to commemorate the aveilus of churban habayis, isn’t that a public display of mourning? The Tur ends the siman by quoting the minhag of his father the Rosh to not eat a seudah hamafseket on Shabbos.

How can one explain the position of the Avi Ezri? Perhaps the A”E considered seudah hamafseket, which the minhag is to eat privately, devarim sheb’tzina, rather than public mourning, and Shabbos does not suspend private mourning.

In a more lomdish vein, perhaps one might explain the machlokes based on the chiddush of the Emek Bracha that the day of tisha b’av is marked by two overlapping themes: aveilus and ta’anis (see Rabbi Maroof’s article here). Each of these halachic themes is demarcated by similar practices of avoiding eating, drinking, wearing shoes, bathing, and having relations (see the Emek Bracha for nafka minos between the two). Within this framework, we might ask how to categorize the seudah hamafseket preceding the fast – is it part of the obligations of a ta’anis tzibur, or is it a special aspect of 9 Av mourning? If seudah hamafseket is part of the obligations of ta’anis, then just as we stop eating while it is yet still Shabbos, we perhaps may eat such a seudah to culminate our preparation for the fast on Shabbos as well. However, if the seudah is part of the obligations of aveilus, it could not be held on Shabbos.

The lomdus sounds nice, but I don’t think it fits the words. The whole point of the seudah (for those Rishonim who opine that it should be eaten even on Shabbos) is to try to demarcate our mourning in some small way even on Shabbos itself. It is for the sake of commemorating churban and not just because of the chiyuv ta'anis.


  1. The lomdish answer you cite is also mentioned in a couple of compendia of the Rav's hiddushim on Tisha B'av.

    In general, there is a whole current of halakhic thought that is premised on the idea that Erev Tisha B'av is the hatchala of the process of avelut, and therefore partakes of dinei avelut in certain ways (limitations on Talmud Torah after hatzot, etc.) It is the entry point into the full observance of mourning on Tisha B'av itself.

    The Rambam underscores this point when he states that he never ate a cooked dish on Erev Tisha B'av in his life unless it fell out on Shabbat. He considers the fact that we limit the dinei avelut to Seudah Hamafseqet to be a concession to the weaknesses of the hamon am.

    So the question, I suppose, could be framed like this: Is the din of Erev Tisha B'av an independent phenomenon which is therefore simply canceled out when it falls on Shabbat, or is it a derivative from and prelude to Tisha B'av itself, in which case it would remain in place even on Shabbat, just as the other aspects of Tisha B'av are observed with sunset even though it is still Shabbat.

  2. More to come on the topic, but you anticipate some of what I was planning to say. This point bothers me -

    >>>or is it a derivative from and prelude to Tisha B'av itself

    Shouldn't that be all the more reason for Shabbos to cancel any such mourning practices?

  3. I don't think so, since the actual qiyum of the seudah is only realized on Tisha B'av itself. There are preparatory actions of avelut but no actual qiyum of avelut on Erev Tisha B'av according to the position that allows/recommends a regular seudah hamafseqet on Shabbat

  4. I don't understand what you mean - either the seudah is done in the spirit of aveilus or its not. Calling it preparatory doesn't remove the fact that eating bread and ashes while sitting on the floor is an overt act of mouring.