Sheva Berachos

Question #1: Is it yours?

The wedding ceremony begins with two berachos recited by the mesadar kiddushin. Should he tell the chosson to have in mind to fulfill these berachos?

Question #2: Wine on top or bottom?

Which is the first of the sheva berachos?

Question #3: Is this deliberate inconsistency?

Some of the sheva berachos begin with the words Boruch Attah Hashem Elokeinu Melech ha’olam and others don’t. Some of them end with Boruch Attah Hashem and a closing, whereas others don’t. Is there any rhyme or reason to this seeming chaos?


The time in between the Three Weeks and the Yamim Noraim is a popular time to schedule weddings. We find a source for the recitation of sheva berachos in a discussion in Mesechta Kallah. In parshas Chayei Sarah, the Torah discusses the trip that Eliezer takes to find a wife for Yitzchok. Shortly before Rivkah leaves to marry Yitzchok, the Torah mentions that her family blesses her (Bereishis 24:60). In reference to this posuk, we find the following passage at the beginning of Mesechta Kallah: “Where is a source in the Torah for the blessings [which we call the ‘sheva berachos’] given to the bride: And they blessed Rivkah.” The Mesechta Kallah retorts, “Did Rivkah’s family use a cup [of wine when they blessed her]?” Since they did not, this verse is not a source for sheva berachos, but only an allusion to the mitzvah. In conclusion, the Mesechta Kallah and the Gemara (Kesubos 7b) derive the mitzvah of sheva berachos from other pesukim.

Erusin and nesuin

There are two stages to a Jewish wedding, and each has its appropriate berachos. The first stage, kiddushin or erusin (not to be confused with the Modern Hebrew word erusin, which means “engagement”), is when the chosson places the wedding ring on the kallah’s finger. The second step, nesuin, focuses on the chupah, the kesubah, the sheva berachos and the yichud that takes place immediately after the chupah. In Talmudic times, these two stages were conducted separately – often as much as a year apart. Today, they are conducted as one long ceremony. Each of the two stages has its own berachos, which I will discuss shortly.

Birkos erusin

Prior to the chosson explaining to the witnesses why he is placing a ring on the kallah’s finger, two berachos are recited, borei peri hagafen and the beracha called birkas erusin. They are said by the mesader kiddushin — the rosh yeshivah, rav or other talmid chacham — who is “performing the ceremony,” as people say in English, or, more accurately, the one who is responsible to make sure that everything is done according to correct halachic practice.

According to the Rambam’s opinion, the birkas erusin is a birkas hamitzvah, a beracha recited before fulfilling a mitzvah, and that, therefore, it should be recited by the chosson (Shu”t Harambam, quoted by Shu”t Noda Beyehudah Tinyana, Even Ha’ezer, #1).

A second approach is that, although the birkas erusin is a birkas hamitzvah, the mesader kiddushin recites the beracha, rather than the chosson, to avoid embarrassing a chosson who does not know the beracha by heart (Even Ha’ezer, Taz 34:1; Beis Shmuel, 34:2). Remember that, in earlier days, there were no printed works, and berachos were recited from memory. Thus, many chassanim would not know, by heart, the somewhat complicated and uncommon beracha that is recited before the erusin. Therefore, the mesader kiddushin is motzi the chosson with the beracha, and the chosson, also, should have in mind to be included in the birkas erusin (Shu”t Noda Beyehudah ad loc.).

A third approach disagrees, concluding that the birkas erusin is not a birkas hamitzvah and that, therefore, there is no need for the mesader kiddushin to be motzi the chosson when reciting this beracha (Shu”t Har Tzvi, Orach Chayim #44, quoting many earlier sources).

Who drinks the wine?

When the mesader kiddushin recites the beracha on the cup of wine, he gives the cup (usually via the parents) to the chosson and kallah, who sip from the cup. Since we may not drink or eat without first reciting a beracha (Berachos 35a), the chosson and kallah should be included in the beracha hagafen of the mesader kiddushin.

Thus, we can examine our opening question: The wedding ceremony begins with two berachos recited by the mesader kiddushin. Should he tell the chosson to have in mind to fulfill these berachos?

The answer is that he should tell both the chosson and the kallah to have in mind to fulfill their requirement to recite hagafen. Whether he should also tell the chosson to have in mind to fulfill birkas erusin is disputed.

Text of birkas erusin

The Gemara (Kesubos 7b) records a dispute regarding the text of birkas erusin. The first opinion cites the following text: Baruch Attah Hashem Elokeinu Melech ha’olam asher kideshanu bemitzvosav vetzivanu al ha’arayos, ve’asar lanu es ha’arusos, ve’hitir lanu es hanesuos lanu al yedei chupah vekiddushin. The second opinion, that of Rav Acha the son of Rava, contends that we add to the above text a conclusion, baruch Attah Hashem mekadeish amo Yisrael al yedei chupah vekiddushin. The first opinion rules that this beracha does not require a concluding part, just as berachos prior to performing mitzvos and prior to eating are berachos structured simply, without any conclusion. Rav Acha the son of Rava disagrees, contending that birkas erusin should be treated like the beracha of Kiddush, which has a concluding beracha, Baruch Attah Hashem mekadeish hashabbos.

Why does Rav Acha the son of Rava compare birkas erusin to the beracha of Kiddush? This topic is a subject of dispute. Rashi explains that mentioning the sancitity of the Jewish people, mekadeish amo Yisrael al yedei chupah vekiddushin, is similar in concept to mentioning the sanctity of Shabbos, and therefore this beracha has the added mention of Hashem’s Name at the end. Tosafos explains that both these berachos, Kiddush and birkas erusin, contain multiple themes and, therefore, require a closing beracha also.

Birkas nisuin

Birkas nisuin is another way of referring to what we usually call the “sheva berachos.” These berachos are recited as part of the wedding ceremony, or, more accurately, as part of the nisuin, second part of that program. The sheva berachos are also recited at banquets held in honor of the newly married couple.

Six or seven

Although we are accustomed to referring to this series of berachos as “sheva berachos,” people are surprised to discover that this term is of relatively late origin. This is because the Gemara cites a dispute as to how many berachos are recited.

When we look at the wording of the berachos, we see that two of them, Asher yatzar es ha’adam, and Yotzeir ha’adam, begin with almost identical statements. The Gemara cites a dispute whether we should, indeed, recite both of these berachos, or just the longer one, Asher yatzar es ha’adam. The dispute concerns whether the way man and woman were originally created should require one beracha or two. According to the opinion that this requires only one beracha, there is no beracha Yotzeir ha’adam and, therefore, there are less than seven berachos.

Out of order

Since we recite both berachos, Asher yatzar es ha’adam, and Yotzeir ha’adam, we have six berachos, plus the beracha on wine, for a total of seven (that is why we call it sheva berachos). Under the chupah, the first of the seven berachos recited is the beracha on the wine. However, when sheva berachos is recited after a meal celebrated in honor of the new couple, the hagafen is recited after the other berachos. Why is the order changed?

The Beis Shmuel (62:2) explains that hagafen should really be recited first, as it is during the wedding ceremony, because it is recited more frequently, and the rule is tadir ushe’eino tadir, tadir kodem, that which is recited more frequently comes first (Mishnah Zevachim 89a). However, when reciting hagafen after the celebratory meal, someone might think we recite a beracha over wine only because of the bensching, and not because of the nuptials. In order to clarify that the wine is brought, also, because of the wedding celebration, we postpone its beracha until the end of the sheva berachos.

Where’s the wine?

When sheva berachos are recited at the end of a meal, the prevalent custom is to bring three kosos, and fill two of them to the top with wine. One of the filled kosos is held by the person leading the bensching while the second is left on the table until bensching is completed, and then held by each of the honorees who recite the berachos. When those six berachos have been recited, the person who led the bensching recites the berachaof hagafen, pours a bit from his kos into the empty cup, and drinks the majority of the wine in his kos. The wine from the sheva berachos kos and the small amount of wine that was poured into the third kos are then mixed together, and the wine in the two kosos is presented to the chosson and the kallah to drink (Aruch Hashulchan, Even Ha’ezer 62:18). Some poskim recommend that the honoree leading the bensching hold the kos to be used for the sheva berachos while reciting the prayer dvei hoseir,which is inserted before bensching at a sheva berachos meal,and, then, put that kos down and pick up the first kos for bensching (Taz, Even Ha’ezer 62:7). I have never seen anyone follow this practice (see Derisha, Even Ha’ezer 62:4 who disagrees with the Taz’s practice). According to a third opinion, the second kos should not be filled until after bensching is completed (Magen Avraham 147:11 and Be’er Heiteiv, Even Ha’ezer 62:11).

According to all three approaches we have mentioned, bensching is recited over one kos, and sheva berachos over a different cup. Why do we use two different kosos? Why not use the same goblet for both bensching and sheva berachos?

The poskim dispute this issue: The Gemara (Pesachim 102b) teaches that if someone bensches and recites Kiddush at the same time, he should not recite both blessings over the same cup. Rather, he should recite Kiddush holding one cup of wine and bensch while holding a different one. The Gemara asks why we take two different cups, and answers that we do not “bundle mitzvos together.” Using the same kos for both mitzvos implies that we view these mitzvos as a burden, rather than respecting each mitzvah with its own goblet of wine.

However, when Yom Tov falls on a Sunday, we recite Kiddush of Yom Tov and Havdalah of Shabbos over the same goblet. This is not considered bundling mitzvos together, since Kiddush and Havdalah are considered one topic (Pesachim 102b).

Are birkas nisuin and bensching considered one topic, or two? This is a dispute discussed in Tosafos (Pesachim 102b s.v. she’ein), in which the first opinion views bensching and sheva berachos over the same cup as bundling mitzvos together, and therefore separate kosos need to be used for bensching and sheva berachos. Rabbeinu Meshulam, however, maintains that this is not considered bundling mitzvossince, without bensching, we do not recite sheva berachos. According to Rabbeinu Meshulam, we fill one goblet with wine and hand it to the person leading the bensching. When he finishes bensching, he hands the kos to the honoree who recites the first of the sheva berachos, who hands it to the next honoree to recite the next beracha, and so on. Eventually, the kos returns to the person who led the bensching, who holds the kos while reciting borei peri hagafen.

The Shulchan Aruch (Even Ha’ezer 62:9) quotes both opinions and observes that custom is to use only one cup for both bensching and sheva berachos, following Rabbeinu Meshulam, which apparently was the prevalent practice among Sefardim at the time of the Shulchan Aruch. The Rema notes that the custom among Ashkenazim is to use two different goblets. The Chida (Shu”t Yosef Ometz #47) notes that, although at the time of the Shulchan Aruch,the custom among Sefardim was to recite the sheva berachos on the same goblet as the bensching, in the Chida’s day, a separate goblet was used for sheva berachos. Other Sefardic authors of the last several hundred years (see Otzar Haposkim 62:9:53) record two customs, some following Rabbeinu Meshulam (following Shulchan Aruch) and others using separate cups for the two mitzvos (following Chida).

Inconsistent berachos

At this point, let us look at our third opening question. “Some of the sheva berachos begin with the words Boruch Attah Hashem Elokeinu Melech ha’olam, and others don’t. Some of them end with Boruch Attah Hashem and a closing, whereas others don’t. Is there a rhyme or reason to this seeming chaos?

The structures of the six birkas nisuin appear to be inconsistent. The first two, Sheha’kol bara lichvodo, “that everything was created in His Honor,” and Yotzeir ha’adam, “the Creator of man,” are structured the same way as our berachos before eating food and most of our berachos before performing mitzvos: we recite the words Boruch Attah Hashem Elokeinu Melech ha’olam and then the short closing of the beracha (sheha’kol bara lichvodo or yotzeir ha’adam). However, the third and the sixth berachos both begin with the words Boruch Attah Hashem Elokeinu Melech ha’olam and also have closings: Boruch Attah Hashem yotzeir ha’adam and Boruch Attah Hashem mesamayach chosson im hakallah, respectively. To make matters more confusing, the fourth and fifth berachos that begin with the words sos tasis and samayach tesamach do not begin with Boruch Attah Hashem Elokeinu Melech ha’olam, but conclude with Boruch Attah Hashem, similar to the structure of the berachos of the shemoneh esrei. So we are faced with an obvious question: Why does this series of berachos contain such a potpourri of beracha structures?

Among the rishonim, we find several answers to this question. Tosafos (Kesubos 8a s.v. shehakol) explains that, indeed, most of the berachos should have only an ending and no beginning beracha, as we have in the shemoneh esrei. However, since two of the berachos, Sheha’kol bara lichvodo and Yotzeir ha’adam are so small, not providing them with a full beracha would make them almost unnoticeable. Similarly, the beracha Asher yatzar, whose theme is so similar to the beracha before it, Yotzeir ha’adam, would appear to be a continuation of that beracha, if it did not begin with the words Boruch Attah Hashem Elokeinu Melech ha’olam. Furthermore, Rabbeinu Chananel explains that, since the recital of the beracha Yotzeir ha’adam, itself, was the subject of a dispute, to emphasize that it is a beracha by itself, it includes the full statement Boruch Attah Hashem Elokeinu Melech ha’olam.

Tosafos explains further that the beracha Asher bara, the last of the berachos, is sometimes the only beracha that is recited. For example, when there are no new participants, called panim chadashos, this beracha is recited, notwithstanding that the others of the sheva berachos are not. For this reason, it is treated as a full, independent beracha, with both a full beginning and an ending.

Rashi presents a more detailed approach. He notes that although all these berachos are recited together, as if they are one unit, most of them are really different berachos on different aspects of the simcha. For example, Sheha’kol bara lichvodo, “that everything was created in His Honor,” is really a beracha on the beauty of having so many people joining together to celebrate a mitzvah, and should have been recited as soon as one saw all the assembled people. However, since the other berachos are recited over wine, the independent beracha of Sheka’kol bara lichvodo is included with the other berachos, so that everyone should focus on it. This is similar to the berachos of Havdalah — which include a beracha on the fragrance and a beracha on the candle — each of which is, really, a separate beracha that we combine together on the cup of wine in order to focus on all the berachos at one time.

Wrong order

If someone recited the berachos out of order, he should not repeat a beracha, but should recite the skipped beracha and then proceed to recite the remaining berachos that have, as yet, not been said. Similarly, if the honoree began saying the wrong beracha, and already recited Hashem’s Name, he should complete the beracha he has begun, the omitted beracha should then be said, followed by the remaining berachos.

If someone began reciting either the beracha of Sos tasis or Samayach tesamach, which do not begin with Hashem’s Name, out of order, and has not yet recited Hashem’s Name which appears at the end of the beracha, he should stop and recite the correct beracha, in the usual order (Amudei Apiryon, page 76).


Above, I quoted Rashi’s explanation that the beracha, Shehakol bara lich’vodo, is really for the gathering of the people and not directly associated to the wedding that is taking place. The Hafla’ah (Kesubos 8a) offers a different approach, which makes the beracha directly relevant to the nuptials. Hashem created His entire world for His Honor, and the last of his Creation was man. Man is, of course, imperfect until he is married, which is the celebration of the wedding. Thus, sheva berachos celebrates the completion of Hashem’s Creation!

Where’s the Beef? – Eating Meat During the Nine Days

Question #1: “A frum person invited me to a fleishig sheva berachos during the first days of Av. Can he make a sheva berachos and serve meat during this week? May I eat meat there?”

Question #2: “I am traveling during the Nine Days, and the airline serves me a fleishig meal. May I eat it?”

Question #3: “What should I do if I make a beracha on meat and then realize that it is the Nine Days and that I may not eat it?”


The Mishnah (Taanis 26b) teaches that mishenichnas Av mema’atim b’simcha, when Av enters, we decrease our happiness. Although the Mishnah does not specify what this entails, the Gemara (Yevamos 43a, as interpreted by Tur Orach Chayim 551; cf. Rashi ad loc.) mentions four activities that are banned:

1. We should decrease business activities.

2. We refrain from construction and planting that are intended for joyous reasons (Yerushalmi Taanis, cited by Tosafos, Yevamos 43a s.v. Milisa).

3. We do not conduct weddings.

4. We do not make a festive meal to celebrate an engagement.

It should be noted that the Mishnah and the Gemara say nothing about not eating meat or drinking wine during the Nine Days. We will discuss the origin of this minhag, shortly.


The Rama (Darchei Moshe 551:5 and Hagahos 551:2) reports that Ashkenazim do not make weddings during the entire Three Weeks, a practice that has also become accepted by most Sefardic communities (Ben Ish Chai, Parshas Devorim #4; Knesses Hagedolah). However, many Sefardic communities permit making a wedding until Rosh Chodesh Av, and other communities permit making a wedding even after Rosh Chodesh, if the choson has no children yet (Shu”t Yabia Omer 6:Orach Chaim #43). Sdei Chemed (Vol. 5, pg. 279 #14) reports that, before he moved to the Crimea, he assumed that Sefardim do not conduct weddings during the entire Three Weeks, but he discovered written records of the Crimean Jewish community verifying that they conducted weddings until Rosh Chodesh.

We now understand part of our first question: I was invited by a frum person to a fleishig sheva berachos during the Nine Days. How could this be? The answer is that the people getting married are members of a Sefardic community, where weddings are conducted even during the Three Weeks, and possibly even during the Nine Days.


Now the question is: If I am an Ashkenazi, may I eat meat at this sheva berachos?

Let us first explain why we refrain from eating meat during the Nine Days.

As noted above, refraining from eating meat and drinking wine during the Nine Days is not mentioned in either the Mishnah or the Gemara. The Gemara prohibits eating meat and drinking wine only on the day before Tisha B’Av at the last meal before the fast, the seudah hamafsekes.

However, Ashkenazim abstain from meat and wine from Rosh Chodesh. Many Sefardim permit eating meat on Rosh Chodesh itself and refrain from the second of Av. This is the prevalent minhag of the Sefardim in Yerushalayim (Kaf Hachayim 551:126). They permit eating meat on Rosh Chodesh because this meal is considered a seudas mitzvah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim Chapter 419). The fact that a Rosh Chodesh meal is considered a seudas mitzvah is the reason why people serve special treats at the meals served every Rosh Chodesh. (I have written an article on that subject, entitled A Special Shabbos Meal on Rosh Chodesh, which is available on or by return e-mail.)

Other Sefardic poskim permit eating meat until the Motza’ei Shabbos before Tisha B’Av (Shulchan Aruch 551:9).


Early Ashkenazic poskim rule that someone who ignores the minhag and eats meat or drinks wine from Rosh Chodesh Av violates the prohibition of al titosh toras imecha, “do not forsake the law of your mother” (Mordechai, Taanis #639). The “law of your mother” means minhagim that we, the Jewish People, have accepted upon ourselves, even if Chazal never forbade them (see Berachos 36b). Following these customs is halachically compulsory.

In addition, some poskim rule that a person who eats meat or drinks wine during the Nine Days violates a Torah law, since Ashkenazim have accepted this custom as a vow (Aruch Hashulchan 551:23).

Let us stop for a moment and consider. I understand that we are mourning the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, and that is why we decrease our celebration. But, why does that prohibit us from eating meat and drinking wine? Even someone in mourning for a close relative is permitted to eat meat and drink wine (after the funeral when he is no longer an onein).

This is a very good question. Indeed, the halachos of mourning do not prohibit a mourner from eating meat or drinking wine. But there is a difference. We refrain from meat and wine during the Nine Days to remind us of the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, where Hashem was served by offering korbanos of meat and wine (Aruch Hashulchan 551:23).

Another reason is that, by forgoing meat and wine, we make certain to remember the loss of the Beis Hamikdash (Tur, Orach Chayim 552). A mourner will certainly not forget his loss during the shivah week; therefore, he has no need of such a reminder.

In addition, refraining from eating meat and drinking wine ensures that one maintains the atmosphere appropriate to these days (see Mishnah Berurah 551:57,65). A mourner does not need this guarantee, since his loss is so recent.


May we drink beer and other intoxicating beverages during the Nine Days? This is a good question, since, although these drinks provide simcha, they were not offered in the Beis Hamikdash. Thus, whether we may drink them during the Nine Days seems to depend on the different reasons mentioned above. The halachic conclusion is that we may drink them even though they provide simcha. Since these items are not offered in the Beis Hamikdash, no minhag was ever established to refrain from drinking them during the Nine Days (Rama 511:11).


Although an Ashkenazi must be very careful to observe the practices of the Nine Days, such as refraining from meat and wine, there are situations in which he is allowed to do so. For example, one may eat meat at a seudas mitzvah, such as the Shabbos meals, a bris, a pidyon haben, or a siyum (Rama 551:10).

Why is it permitted to eat meat and drink wine at a seudas mitzvah?

When Jews adopted the minhag to refrain from meat and wine during the Nine days, the minhag included that a seudas mitzvah should still take place, even though it is a period of mourning. These celebrations are incomplete if performed without meat and wine. Thus, the minhag was to exclude such events from these abstentions (Aruch Hashulchan 551:26).

Incidentally, one sees from these sources that a bris should be celebrated with a fleishig meal, because if not, why are allowances made to eat meat at a seudas bris during the Nine Days? This implies that the seudas bris is incomplete without meat.


Anyone may attend a seudas mitzvah conducted during the Nine Days. However, not everyone who attends is necessarily permitted to eat meat and drink wine.

People who would usually attend the seudah, no matter when it is conducted, may join and eat meat. Other people, who might have chosen not to attend the whole year round, may attend during the Nine Days, but may not eat meat or drink wine (Rama and Taz 551:10). It seems that a sheva berachos held during the Nine Days (see our original question) follows the same guidelines. Thus, if you are invited to the sheva berachos, you may attend and eat meat, unless it is a sheva berachos you would normally not attend.

If the seudas mitzvah occurs during the week of Tisha B’Av, the rules are more restrictive. Only a minyan of people may eat meat and drink wine, while the rest should eat pareve. In the case of a bris, most poskim rule that the minyan permitted to eat meat does not include the mohel, the sandak and family members (Taz; Mishnah Berurah). According to this view, one will prepare meat meals for the family members, the mohel, the sandak, plus an additional minyan, and everyone else will be served a pareve meal. The minyan served a fleishig meal can be made up of men or women, or a combination thereof.

Some poskim contend that only ten people are permitted to eat fleishig (Magen Avraham). According to this approach, one prepares exactly ten fleishig meals and serves them to whoever one chooses. Everyone else eats pareve.


One may serve meat at a siyum where the completion of the learning coincides with the Nine Days and where one would usually serve a festive fleishig meal. One should not deliberately rush or slow down the learning in order to have a fleishig siyum during the Nine Days (Elyah Rabbah 551:26; Mishnah Berurah 551:73; Aruch Hashulchan 551:28). However, it is permitted to deliberately schedule a seder of learning in advance so that its siyum falls during the Nine Days, if this will encourage more Torah learning (Aruch Hashulchan 551:28). Some poskim record that they deliberately delayed siyumim that fell during the Nine Days in order to celebrate them after Tisha B’Av (Aruch Hashulchan 551:28).


Many poskim contend that, in order to encourage the proper celebration of a seudas mitzvah, the meat leftovers may be eaten even afterwards (Birkei Yosef 551:6). According to these poskim, one may eat the fleishig Shabbos leftovers during the following week. However, the prevalent practice is to eat meat only at the seudas mitzvah itself  (Elyah Rabbah 551:26; Mishnah Berurah 551:73) and not to eat the meat leftovers until after the Nine Days (Igros Moshe, Orach Chayim 4:21:4).


Some poskim contend that, since the reason we refrain from meat and wine is to remember the Beis Hamikdash, this rationale does not apply to eating something that has a taste of meat, but no recognizable pieces of meat or fat (Aruch Hashulchan 551:24). However, others contend that one may not eat soup made with meat or chicken. However, it is permitted to eat food cooked in a fleishig pot that contains only pareve ingredients (Mishnah Berurah 511:63).

The same dispute applies to foods that include wine as an ingredient, as long as the wine itself is not discernable in the end product.  It is also permitted to use wine vinegar as a cooking or salad ingredient, since a person does not feel simcha when eating or drinking vinegar (Rama 551:9 and Mishnah Berurah).


In general, it is not permitted to feed children meat during the Nine Days, including erev Shabbos, unless the child is weak (Mishnah Berurah 551:70). The poskim dispute whether one may feed meat to a child who is not old enough to understand that we are mourning for the Beis Hamikdash. Dagul Meirevavah and Mishnah Berurah 551:70 rule that one may not, whereas Magen Avraham 551:31 permits it.

May one serve young children their Friday evening meal before Shabbos? Is this considered serving a Shabbos meal, in which case it may be fleishig?

Rav Moshe Feinstein ruled that children who are fed their Shabbos evening meal before the rest of the family has accepted Shabbos, because the regular Shabbos meal is served too late for them, may eat meat because this is their Shabbos meal (Igros Moshe, Orach Chayim 4:21:4). However, one may not serve them fleishigs on Friday afternoon, if it is not their Shabbos meal.


In general, it is a mitzvah of kavod Shabbos to sample the food being cooked for Shabbos to make sure that it tastes good (Magen Avraham 250:1, quoting the Ari za”l). On Erev Shabbos during the Nine Days, one may also taste the food, since this is considered part of the seudas mitzvah. However, one should try not to swallow food containing meat (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasah 42:61).


In general, one does not recite a beracha when tasting a small amount of food, unless one swallows it (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 210:2).


According to the Shulchan Aruch (551:10), an adult may drink the cup of havdalah wine, since it is a mitzvah. In his opinion, any mitzvah is excluded from the custom of refraining from meat and wine during the Nine Days. The Rama disagrees, ruling that one should give the wine to a child to drink. If no child is available, one drinks the wine himself.

The Rama’s position’s here is a bit complicated. If the child is too young to understand that we recite a beracha before drinking, then the beracha on the wine will be a beracha levatalah (in vain), unless the adult drinks the wine. Thus, giving the wine to a child to drink accomplishes nothing. On the other hand, if the child is old enough to understand that we are in mourning over the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, there is no advantage in having him drink the cup, rather than an adult. Thus, the Rama must be referring to a child old enough to understand why we recite berachos, and yet young enough not to understand that we are mourning the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash (Mishnah Berurah 551:70). The poskim dispute exactly what age this is. (For a listing of different opinions, see Piskei Tshuvos pg. 87 ftn. 179.) Since the matter is unclear, many poskim advise that an adult drink the havdalah wine.

Other poskim recommend drinking beer for havdalah during the Nine Days (Aruch Hashulchan 551:26). However, the consensus of poskim is that this is not necessary, and that one may recite havdalah over wine or grape juice. Since many poskim are hesitant about fulfilling the mitzvah of havdalah with beer today, it is preferable to recite havdalah on grape juice and drink it oneself.


Is melava malka, the Saturday night meal that honors the leaving of our guest, the Shabbos, a seudas mitzvah that permits one to eat meat during the Nine Days?

Rav Moshe Feinstein points out that it is a mitzvah to eat meat for melava malka, if one can afford it (Magen Avraham, Chapter 300). Nevertheless, he concludes that one may not eat meat at a melava malka conducted during the Nine Days. Other poskim consider this meal a seudas mitzvah and allow eating meat (Kaf Hachayim 151:144; Chelkas Yaakov 3:21).

Rav Moshe discusses whether someone who always eats meat for melava malka, but will not be eating meat for this meal during the Nine Days, must perform hataras nedarim (disavowal of his vow). Does his practice of eating meat at melava malka constitute a vow that he must observe? Rav Moshe rules that, during the rest of the year, he is indeed required to eat meat for melava malka, since this is a good practice that he began without specifying that he is not accepting it as a vow (in other words, he did not say, “bli neder”). If he chooses to stop the practice, he needs to perform hataras nedarim, disavowal from a beis din, to allow him to stop.

However, Rav Moshe rules that concerning one’s melava malka during the Nine Days, one does not need to perform hataras nedarim, since we can assume he was intending to eat meat only when it is permitted to do so (Igros Moshe, Orach Chayim 4:21:4). It seems that those poskim who rule that one may eat meat at one’s Nine Days’ melava malka would rule that one must perform hataras nedarim if one wishes to refrain from eating meat.


People who require more protein in their diet than they can get without meat may eat meat during the Nine Days. If poultry will provide their needs, it is better that they eat poultry and refrain from red meat. However, if they must eat beef to provide enough protein, they may do so.

A sick person is permitted to eat meat during the Nine Days. Similarly, someone who has a digestive disorder and can tolerate only poultry may eat poultry during the Nine Days. Also, a woman who is nursing or pregnant and is having difficulty obtaining enough protein in her diet may eat poultry or meat during the Nine Days, with poulty being the preferable protein source, if it will satisfy her protein requirements (Aruch Hashulchan 551:26).

A person who is traveling should refrain from eating meat, as anyone else. However, if, because of his travels, he has nothing to eat and will go hungry, he may eat meat. Thus, someone flying on an airplane who is served a kosher fleishig meal may eat it, if he has nothing else to eat and will otherwise go hungry. However, he should plan in advance to take food along, so that he does not end up in this predicament.


A person who recites a beracha on meat and then realizes that it is the Nine Days should eat a little of the meat, so that his beracha is not in vain, a beracha levatalah. Eating a tiny bit does not provide any simcha and therefore does not conflict with mourning (Sdei Chemed 5:278:5 and 368:4). Furthermore, the person is eating the meat only in order to avoid reciting a beracha in vain.


Although the Beis Hamikdash was set ablaze on Tisha B’Av, most of the actual conflagration took place on the Tenth of Av. Indeed, the Amora Rabbi Yochanan declared that, had he been alive at the time of the Churban, he would have declared the fast for the Tenth of Av, rather than the Ninth (Taanis 29a). For this reason, Ashkenazim treat the morning of the Tenth of Av, until chatzos, with the stringencies of the Nine Days, whereas Sefardim apply these stringencies to the entire tenth day, until nightfall.


The Medrash (Medrash Rabbah Shmos 15:21) teaches that Hashem will bring forth ten new creations in the era of Moshiach:

1. He will endow the world with a new light.

2. Hashem will create a spring in Yerushalayim whose waters will heal all illness.

3. He will create trees that will produce new fruits every month that cure disease.

4. All the cities of Eretz Yisrael will be rebuilt, including even Sodom and Amora.

5. Hashem will rebuild Yerushalayim with glowing sapphire stone. It will attract all the nations of the world to come and marvel at the beauty of the city.

6. The cow and the bear will graze together, and their young will play together. (See Yeshaya 11:7). The Rishonim dispute whether this pasuk is meant to be understood literally or as a parable referring to the nations of the Earth.

7. Hashem will make a covenant with all the creatures of the world and banish all weapons and warfare. (See Hoshea 2:20.)

8. There will be no more crying in the city of Yerushalayim.

9. Death will perish forever.

10.  Everyone will be joyful, and there will be an end to all sighing and worry.

The Kaf Hachayim (551:1) states that everyone who meticulously observes the halachos of the first ten days of Av, thereby demonstrating his personal mourning over the churban of Yerushalayim, will merit to witness these ten miracles. May we all merit to see these miracles speedily and in our days.