3 – Customs of the Seudah HaMafseket

https://ph.yhb.org.il/en/05-09-03/

The Talmud (Ta’anit 30a) relates how R. Yehudah son of R. Illa’i used to act at his seudah ha’mafseket: [his attendants] would bring him dry bread with salt, and he would sit in a disgraceful place – between the furnace and the oven – and eat it, while drinking a jug of water; and he would appear as one whose close relative just died. The Rambam also conducted himself stringently in this matter, eating bread and water at this meal, without even one cooked dish.

We advise the masses, however, to eat fruits and vegetables as well, in order to garner strength for the fast. Many people follow the custom to eat – as their one cooked food – hard-boiled eggs, whose round shape alludes to the cycle of life, which is why mourners eat them. There is no prohibition against eating two eggs. Others eat a lentil dish, for it, too, is a mourner’s food (Sh.A. 552:5-6).

In order to demonstrate our lowliness as a result of the churban, the custom is to sit on the floor during the seudah ha’mafseket, but one need not remove his or her shoes (ibid. 552:7). Some say, based on Kabbalah, that one should place a cloth separation between himself and the floor. Some are strict on this issue even if the floor is tiled (see K.H.Ch. 552:39). One who finds it hard to sit on the floor, sick people, the elderly, and postpartum or pregnant women may sit on a chair, but it is preferable not to sit in one’s regular seat (see ibid. 38).

Every [member of the house] should sit alone in a corner while eating the seudah ha’mafseket, because it says in reference to a mourner, Let him sit alone and be silent(Eichah 3:28). Even if three men sit together in one place, they do not join together for a zimmun, because each one is considered to be alone (Sh.A. 552:8, M.B. 19).

After midday on the eve of Tish’a B’Av, one should ideally learn only sad topics that are related to Tish’a B’Av or the laws of mourning. However, one who is worried that limiting his learning specifically to these topics will curtail his learning should preferably learn whatever his heart desires (see Rama 553:2, M.B. 8).

One may continue to eat, if he so desires, after finishing the seudah ha’mafseket, because the fast begins at sunset, not when the meal ends. Similarly, none of the laws of mourning apply until sunset, unless one resolves to begin the fast early (Sh.A. 553:1, see M.B. 2).

One may continue to eat, if he so desires, after finishing the seudah ha’mafseket, because the fast begins at sunset, not when the meal ends. Similarly, none of the laws of mourning apply until sunset, unless one resolves to begin the fast early (Sh.A. 553:1, see M.B. 2).

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