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Peninei Halakha > Zemanim > 8 - The Customs of the Three Weeks > 14. The Laws of Eating Meat and Drinking Wine

14. The Laws of Eating Meat and Drinking Wine

The prohibition on eating meat includes all types of meat: beef and poultry, fresh, frozen, and cured. Fish, however, is permitted.
It is customary to be particular even regarding foods that were cooked together with meat. For example, if potatoes were cooked with meat, one should not eat even the potatoes alone during the Nine Days, because the flavor of meat can be discerned in them. However, one may cook food in a pot that is usually used for meat, as long as the meat flavor in the food is not perceptible (MB 551:63, Kaf Ha-ĥayim 551:142).
Grape juice is included in the prohibition on wine, but alcoholic beverages like whisky and beer are permitted. One also may season a dish with wine vinegar.
If wine was added to dough, the resulting baked goods may be eaten during the Nine Days, because one cannot detect the flavor of wine in them. Le-khatĥila, however, one should not mix wine into dough during this period. 1
One who is even slightly ill may eat meat and drink wine, if it helps him (MB 551:61). A woman who has given birth within the last thirty days may eat meat in order to regain her strength. Similarly, a nursing mother who needs meat in order to increase her milk supply may eat meat during the Nine Days.
According to the custom of Sephardim and some Ashkenazim, the person who recites havdala after Shabbat Ĥazon may drink the wine in the havdala cup; in fact, he may drink the entire cup. Despite this, it is preferable to use grape juice, which does not bring joy. According to the custom of other Ashkenazim, if there is a child present who has reached the age of ĥinukh for reciting berakhot before eating, but does not yet understand why we mourn over Jerusalem (age six to nine, approximately), the person reciting havdala has the child in mind when reciting the berakha of Ha-gafen, and the child drinks the wine. If no such child is available, however, the adult who recites havdala drinks the wine. 2
15. Meat and Wine on Shabbat Ĥazon and at a Se’udat Mitzva
We eat meat and drink wine on Shabbat Ĥazon, as we do on every other Shabbat of the year. After all, even if Tisha Be-Av itself falls out on Shabbat, causing the fast to be postponed to Sunday, one may eat meat and drink wine on that Shabbat; one may even serve a meal as lavish as that of King Solomon in his time, since there is no mourning on Shabbat (SA 552:10).
In addition, one may taste the meat dishes that one prepares in honor of Shabbat Ĥazon, to see if they need additional seasoning. This is because the purpose of this tasting is not to enjoy, but rather to prepare for the mitzva of oneg Shabbat (making Shabbat a delight).
Similarly, one may eat meat and drink wine at a se’udat mitzva, such as a meal in honor of a brit mila, a pidyon ha-ben, or a siyum. One may also eat meat and drink wine at a bar mitzva celebration, provided that it takes place on the day the boy becomes obligated in mitzvot (see above, section 3).
There are divergent customs, however, regarding the number of people one may invite to such a meal. Some say that during the Nine Days one must limit the number of people one invites to the celebrants plus an additional minyan of ten men. Others maintain that one may invite all the people whom he would have invited had the meal occurred a different time. According to Rema, during the Nine Days, until Shabbat Ĥazon, one may invite anyone he would normally invite, but during the week of Tisha Be-Av, one should invite only a minyan of men, in addition to the celebrants. In practice, the halakhic ruling in practice varies according to the circumstance and the need.
The Aĥaronim write further that one should not intentionally schedule a siyum for the Nine Days, in order to permit the consumption of meat and wine, as this is a willful abrogation of the mourning over the Temple. Rather, only one who happens to complete a unit of Torah study during the Nine Days, in the course of his regular studies, may organize a festive siyum meal, provided that he usually does so when celebrating a siyum similar to this one (MB 551:73). 3
Even one who regularly recites Birkat Ha-mazon over a cup of wine should recite it without wine during the Nine Days (Rema 551:10, Kaf Ha-ĥayim 551:152).
Some have a custom to make a festive meal on the night before a brit mila, but this meal is not considered a se’udat mitzva. Therefore, one may not eat meat or drink wine during such a meal when it coincides with the Nine Days.

  1. Some poskim permit drinking distilled wine (brandy, cognac) that includes ingredients in addition to wine, while others prohibit it.
    According to many poskim, one may eat meat that is left over from Shabbat Ĥazon or from before the first of Av, because it will spoil if no one eats it. Some Aĥaronim rule stringently on the matter. Apparently, though, today, when there is no concern of wasting food because one can freeze the meat, there is no allowance to eat meat left over from the Shabbat meals.
    Regarding melaveh malka (the festive meal eaten after Shabbat): Kaf Ha-ĥayim 551:144 cites opinions of Aĥaronim who permit eating leftovers from Shabbat at the “fourth meal,” as long as one does not buy more food than usual for Shabbat in anticipation of this additional meal. Piskei Teshuvot writes that some permit one who is accustomed to eating meat every Motza’ei Shabbat at the melaveh malka meal to do so after Shabbat Ĥazon as well. Some rule stringently on this issue, too.
  2. sa 551:10 states that one may drink the wine from havdala. Rema and mb 551:70 state that one should give the wine to a minor. In Darkhei Moshe 551:9, Rema quotes Maharil as saying that, le-khatĥila, an adult may drink the wine from havdala, and all the more so wine from a se’udat mitzva. Other Ashkenazic Rishonim and Aĥaronim followed this practice. It is preferable to recite havdala over grape juice, because even though it is included in the prohibition against wine, it does not make one happy. Mikra’ei Kodesh (Harari) 1:14 quotes this in the name of R. Mordechai Eliyahu.
    The age of ĥinukh for berakhot is approximately six. According to Eshel Avraham (Buczacz), the age of ĥinukh for mourning over the Temple is when the child can understand the meaning of the destruction of the Temple and the fact that we do not eat meat because the sacrifices were annulled. According to many poskim, this occurs at the age of nine or ten. Others say that it occurs at the age of thirteen.
    According to ma and Ĥayei Adam, one may, le-khatĥila, feed meat and wine to children who have not yet reached the age of ĥinukh. Basing himself on Eliya Rabba, Dagul Me-revava, and Derekh Ha-ĥayim, mb 551:70 writes that this is permissible only in the case of havdala or if they are weak.
  3. Regarding the number of people one may invite to a se’udat mitzva: See Torat Ha-mo’adim 5:49, which summarizes the three opinions and rules in accordance with the most lenient one. mb 551:77 and Kaf Ha-ĥayim 551:165 indicate that there are two opinions regarding what it means to limit the number of guests. According to Levush, it means inviting ten people in addition to those who are actually celebrating the event and their relatives (close enough that they may not testify for or against them in court); one must follow this practice throughout the Nine Days. Rema, on the other hand, rules stringently only during the week of Tisha Be-Av, but during that period he rules even more stringently than Levush does, stating that in addition to the celebrants themselves, one may invite only enough people to complete a minyan, including relatives. Kaf Ha-ĥayim further states, citing Ben Ish Ĥai, that some people have a custom not to eat meat or drink wine even at a se’udat mitzva. Instead, they eat fish and serve other drinks, in order to avoid uncertainty regarding who may be invited. One certainly recites Birkat Ha-mazon over wine after a se’udat mitzva. Ĥabad Ĥasidim customarily celebrate siyumim specifically during the Nine Days, and they invite as many people as possible to the festive siyum meal, claiming that rejoicing over the Torah and increasing camaraderie are restorative. However, their opinion was not accepted in practice. In practice, the summer session in yeshivot ends on Tisha Be-Av, which means that the students usually complete the tractate that they study in that session during the Nine Days. But this is not done in order to cancel the mourning; therefore, the yeshiva may serve a distinguished meal, as befits the completion of a tractate that the students studied for an entire session.

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