Let Them Eat Meat

Thursday, 19 July, 2018 - 5:24 pm

 “Let them Eat Meat”

7 thoughts on children in the Laws of Mourning and the 3 weeks

Rabbi Mordechai Z. Hecht


1. Children and Mourning

General principle: Children are not obligated in the laws pertaining to Aveilus - morning (shiva, shloshim and the 12 months of mourning) (Chinuch Yisroel 134. Igros Moshe Y”D 1,124: “The law is “like those who are lenient with regard to mourning” and so children are not obligated”) [Various practices do apply beyond the scope of this article. See Kriah. Kaddish. Kavod]

2. Ashkenazic Custom

Beginning with Av 1 until after Av 9 it is an Ashkenazic custom, which has become like law, we customarily practice various laws of Ketsas Avielus - mourning lite, including, but not limited to not to eat meat, poultry or any food with cooked meat or poultry flavoring. We also do not drink wine or grape juice etc. (S”A 551,23. M”B there 63. S”A 559,9.)


3. Havdalah

Yet we find some have the custom to give the wine of Havdalah - saturday night to a child to drink even a child older than 9 years old when necessary.(See M”B 551,70. See Aruch Hashulchan 551,21) (Even when no child is present even an adult should drink it. Rama 551,10)


4. Meat & poultry

We further find that after a Siyum - completion of a tractae one may eat meat and poultry etc.

This is good education for children as well. This may even be done via technology/multimedia.

Even if the child did not study the tractate. Even though we mentioned above children do not practice Aveilus, that’s in a personal loss - Aveilus D’Yachid, but when publicly mourn - Aveilus D’Rabim - it’s a worthy practice to educate children.(Aruch Hashulchan 31. [For this reason some allow children to get a haircut, but eat meat not; here lies a quandry]).

If a child eats meat Friday afternoon, one is permitted to feed it to them (Eliyahu Rabbah 551,24, Kaf HaChaim 155, you may do so because there is already the holiness of Shabbos at this time. See however Igros Moshe 4,21,4.)

5. Bathing

One is permitted to bathe or shower children in order to remove dirt or perspiration (See Igros Moshe EH”Z 4,84,3) (Even an adult may do so for those reasons, and if he is a(n) (extremely) sensitive person with regard to these matters he may do so as well (not for delight purposes ( with warm water)).  


6. Washing Clothes:

Generally: One may not wash clothing during the 9 days at all “to stay focused on the stringency of the day of Tisha B’Av”. (S”A 551,3) However with regard to children of all ages, one may wash clothing except in the week of Tisha B’Av itself. ( M”B 551,16, 82). And other times of the 9 days if the clothing gets really dirty you may wash it as well.

(Some are also lenient that one may send it out to a laundromat or via gentile to be returned/completed after Av 9. See M”B who quotes the Eliyahu Rabbah 551,3,34)  

Sefardic Custom

Sefardim only practice these above mentioned only during the week of Tisha Bav.


7. During the Three weeks the cure is the children: Torah study & acts of kindness

There is a special connection between the education of children and the days between the 17 of Taamuz and the 9th of Av (בין המצרים) (Likutei Sichos 13,267). It is a well known concept in Judaism that: “The cure is given before the plague”, since this is the way to stop  the enemy from striking (Talmud Megillah 13b). Furthermore, it is brought in the code of Jewish law (Talmud 119b. Laws of Talmud Torah ADH”Z 1;10) that the very world exists because of the breath of the (little) children הבל תינוקות של בית רבן)ן)”.


Likewise, regarding the education of Mitzvot (in addition to learning Torah) the main and essential thing applicable to all of the days of the life of the child is to educate the such a way that even when he grows old he will not depart from it.(Mishlei 22;6)


This includes and mainly the education of Tzedakah - charity (righteousness) and gemillus chassadim (variety of acts of general kindness).


...all this is keeping with the verse:

:ציון במשפט(עסק התורה)תפדה, ושבי' בצדקה"

The  Jewish people will be redeemed with Justice - torah knowledge and involvement, and those who return to her through Tzedakah”. (Isaiah 15;27)


With regard to learning Torah, we should study particularly  matters that pertain to the building of the Beis Hamikdash. (Hisvaduyos 5748,4,50) Which can be found in the Rambam in which the begining speaks of the Biblical mitzvah making a House for G-d - “make fore me a mikdash” (Shemos 25;8) as we knows this refers to studying Torah, and making houses of prayer and study and even in our own homes, rooms (and offices).


We do not educate children to fast the fast of Tisha B’Av or any of the 4 fats. Some do so at 111/2 an 121/2.


It’s gonna be the little kinderlach who make Moshiach come - make no mistake about it!


Note: One should always consult their competent Rabbi with regard to actual practice.


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