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The Meal Before Tisha B’Av – Seudah Hamafseket

 

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Tisha B’av (the ninth day of the Jewish month of Av) is the national day of mourning for the Jewish people.

The final meal before Tisha B’Av (“Seudah Mafseket”) is eaten in a state of “mourning”, sitting on the floor, eating a piece of bread and a hard boiled egg with some ashes.

Eating round foods such as eggs, beans or lentils as a sign of mourning is an ancient tradition. When Abraham died, his grandson Jacob was making red lentils for his father Isaac to eat. It was these lentils that Esau purchased from Jacob in exchange for his birthright. The reason such foods are eaten by mourners is to remind us that death and mourning is part the circle of life. Just as bad times come around in our lives, so too good times are sure to follow.

Also these foods are completely closed and have no openings. This reminds us that the mourner also has no “mouth” and is left to sit and mourn their loss without having to speak if they do not wish to.

The Seudah HaMafseket is not eaten as a communal meal. Everyone present sits apart on the floor, so not to cause them to say Birchat HaMazon (the blessing after the bread meal) as a group, which increases happiness, but rather alone.

When Erev Tisha B’Av is Shabbat, however, these practices do not apply since no mourning is allowed on Shabbat. A proper “Shabbat” meal should be eaten at Seudah Shlishit, and this meal may even include meat and wine.

May this be the last Tisha B’Av our nation must endure before the rebuilding of the third and final Temple in Jerusalem.

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About Rabbi Lawrence

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Originally from London, England, Rabbi Lawrence Hajioff graduated with honors in political science from Manchester University. After working for MTV in news production, and moonlighting as a stand-up comedian, he traveled to study in Israel and then Monsey to receive his rabbinical smicha from Yeshiva Ohr Somayach. Rabbi Lawrence is available for speaking engagements, just email us at info@joyofkosher.com to reach him. Rabbi Lawrence works for Birthright Israel in New York as their educational director, leading trips to Israel three times annually for young professionals. He also serves on the faculty of Stern College for Women in the Judaic Studies department. He lives in Monsey New York with his wife Anita and their five children. For more about Rabbi Lawrence click on these links - jeconline The Jewish Home: Where Kindness Begins Health and Healing in Judaism" on eating right A video on Tisha be'av...really on Shalom Bayit

 

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One Response to The Meal Before Tisha B’Av – Seudah Hamafseket

  1. AMEN! AMEN! AMEN! Thank you Rabbi Lawrence for always so clearly and succinctly explaining the holidays and associated food customs.

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