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Listening to Another’s Havdala on Tish’a B’av

July 28, 2015

Rabbi Yosef Zvi Rimon put out the following last week:

This year, the Ninth of Av is on Sunday, which means that the fast begins at night, when Shabbat comes to an end. How can we recite Havdalah to mark the end of Shabbat? We can add the special section for the end of Shabbat in the Amidah prayer, as we do every week, but we cannot drink any wine. What should we do on this special Shabbat?

The author of Halachot Gedolot (2) discusses a suggestion of reciting the Havdalah on Shabbat, after the “Pelag” – a time when it is still day. (Clearly, the blessing for a candle will not be recited.) At this point there is no problem reciting the blessing for the wine. However, he rejects this idea, since the fasting would have to start right after Havdalah, and fasting while it is still Shabbat is forbidden.

When should Havdalah be Recited?

In practice, the early commentators present three alternatives about how to recite the Havdalah at the end of this special Shabbat. One method was proposed by the Geonim, who feel that Havdalah is recited at the end of the day Sunday, after the fast is over. This is also accepted by the Tosafot: “On Tisha B’Av that occurs after Shabbat our custom is to recite Havdalah after the fast, and this is what is written in the Siddur of Rav Amram Gaon” [Pesachim 107a].

This method was accepted by many early commentators (Halachot Gedolot, ibid; Machzor Vitri, 267; RAVIA 2, 522).

A second alternative is that Havdalah should be recited right after Shabbat, and that the wine should be given to a child to drink. This appears in the Sefer Hamanhig (Tisha B’Av 21), who explains that we are not afraid that the child will become accustomed to drinking on Tisha B’Av, because the fast does not usually occur right after Shabbat, certainly not every year. However, the Meiri feels (Taanit 30b) that there is a fear that the child will become accustomed to drinking on Tisha B’Av. The Ramban also objected to this idea (Torat Ha’adam, Aveilut Yeshana, 111).

The third alternative is a method proposed by the Ramban (ibid), the Rashba (Responsa of the Rashba, 1:117), the Ritva (Taanit 30a; Succah 54b), and others. They feel that when the fast begins at the end of Shabbat, Havdalah should not be recited at all, not at the end of Shabbat and not Sunday night. Their reasoning is that since it was not possible to recite the Havdalah right after Shabbat the prayer is cancelled completely for that week. On a regular Shabbat, if a person forgets to recite the Havdalah right after Shabbat he can still do so until Tuesday, because he became obligated at the end of Shabbat and he can therefore compensate for the missing prayer. However, if a person is relieved from any obligation to recite the Havdalah at the end of Shabbat (because of the fast day), there is no meaning to make up for any missing prayer. (The Ramban adds that we may assume that the original decree to recite the Havdalah included a clause that the prayer would not be required at all when Shabbat comes right before Tisha B’Av.)

The first practice is the one that is recorded implicitly by Maimonides, and endorsed by the Beth Yosef, Rema, and the Vilna Gaon:

MT Laws of the Sabbath 29:4:

The essence [of the mitzvah] of sanctifying the Sabbath [is to do so] at night. If a person does not recite kiddush at night – whether consciously or inadvertently – he may recite kiddush throughout the entire [Sabbath] day.A person who does not recite havdalah at night may recite [this blessing] on the following day,and [indeed] may recite [this blessing] until [nightfall] on Tuesday [if he does not fulfill his obligation beforehand].

 That is, the reasoning is that all have an obligation to recite havdala at the end of the Sabbath, and if one does not fulfill his obligation to do so he has until Tuesday to do so, regardless of the reason for his initial omission.

Here’s the question: there are certain people who are forbidden to fast on Tish’a B’av. They need to eat that very evening, so should they recite havdala the night Tish’a B’av? The usual answer is yes, and this fits with the three approaches outlined above.

Follow up question: If someone will be reciting the complete havdala at the start of Tish’a B’av, can (or may) others, who will be fasting, listen in on that havdala so that they will discharge their obligations? According to the third approach, they really accomplish nothing, because they have no obligation whatsoever to recite havdala, but according to the first approach we accept as halacha, it would seem that yes, it would be a good idea and completely permissible, possibly recommended, for someone fasting to have his havdala obligation discharged at the end of the Sabbath by someone not fasting. This is the way I have been told is to be done, and the way I have recommended for others.

Update (5776): As Rabbi Rimon posted earlier, because in years like this the fast for the ninth of Av is actually observed on the tenth, the laws of fasting are relaxed to extent that pregnant and nursing women, for instance are completely exempt, and therefore one could very well listen to such a women recite havdala the night of Tish’a B’av.

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