At the Reading of the Torah at Minchah on the Shabbos preceding Parshas Masei (when Matos and Masei are read separately), and again at the Reading at Shacharis on Monday and Thursday, for the Levi one reads until the end of the account of the journeys of Israel (Bamidbar 33:49), [while the third reading ends with verse 53].1

On2 the Four Fasts [viz., the Fast of Gedaliah, the Tenth of Teves, the Seventeenth of Tammuz and the Ninth of Av], “eating” is defined as the consumption of a quantity of food (שיעור עינוי) that corresponds to the volume of a certain kind of date (ככותבת — lit., “like a [certain kind of] date”).3

There are numerous opinions4 as to the minimal interval of time [that applies to a sick person who is permitted to eat]. The Responsa of the Tzemach Tzedek on Tishah BeAv at one point speak of six minutes, and elsewhere of seven.5

A person undertaking a penitential fast in the [short] winter days may eat a little [until] about three hours before sunrise, and this is still considered a fast, if he so stipulated [during the preceding Minchah].6

On the Seventeenth of Tammuz (and likewise on the Fast of Gedaliah, the Tenth of Teves, the Fast of Esther, the fasts of Behab, and so on [i.e., on all public fast days except for Tishah BeAv and Yom Kippur]), one says Selichos,7 and the full version of Avinu Malkeinu (Siddur, p. 277).8

When reading the full version of Avinu Malkeinu on a fast day, instead of זכרנו בספר חיים טובים, and so on, one reads זכרנו לחיים טובים, and so on.9

On the four public fast days [listed at the beginning of this section], the passage from the Torah beginning ויחל (Siddur, p. 366) is read even if only three of the congregants are fasting.10

On the same four fast days, the sheliach tzibbur reads the paragraph beginning עננו (that appears on pp. 53 and 98 as a separate blessing in the Repetition of the Shemoneh Esreh) even if only three of the congregants are fasting,11 provided that there are seven others who have eaten no more than the permissible quota.12

The Alter Rebbe (on the authority of earlier poskim) has prescribed13 that to redeem each penitential fast14 one should donate to charity the equivalent of 18 “gedolim Polish.”15

Throughout the Three Weeks [from the Seventeenth of Tammuz to the Ninth of Av inclusive] we make a point of not reciting the blessing שהחינו over a new fruit or the like, even on a Shabbos.16

When Rosh Chodesh Menachem Av falls on Shabbos, the Haftorah read is the passage that begins שמעו דבר ה' (Yirmeyahu 2:4-28 and 4:1-2).17

The Rebbe Rashab used to time the festive conclusion of his study of various Talmudic tractates to coincide with the Nine Days from Rosh Chodesh Menachem Av until Tishah BeAv. The meal that honored each such siyum, however, included neither wine nor meat.18

On Shabbos Chazon,19 the Shabbos before Tishah BeAv, Shabbos clothes are worn as usual.20

Once, when the fast of Tishah BeAv fell on Shabbos and was therefore deferred to Sunday, the Rebbe Rashab delivered a maamar at the usual time, which was Friday evening. [Before sunset the following day,] after the seudah mafsekes (i.e., after the last meal eaten before the fast), the chassidim who had memorized that discourse joined him in his study in order to receive his confirmation of the version that they now repeated in his presence. This meeting, which is known as chazarah (“repetition”), extended beyond nightfall.21

On Tishah BeAv it is our custom to wear galoshes (overshoes) or footwear not made of leather. This practice varies from the stricter view which would ban all footwear.22

It is not our custom to sleep on the ground, nor to lay one’s head on a stone.23

At netilas yadayim in the morning one washes the fingers only.24

The blessing שעשה לי כל צרכי is omitted25 until the next morning.26

After reading all the Kinos (“dirges”), one reads Eichah.27

After midday, and after completing the Kinos, one sits on a regular chair.28

I never saw my father-in-law, the Previous Rebbe of blessed memory, visit the cemetery on Tishah BeAv.29

At Minchah time one puts on one’s tallis and tefillin and says the [three paragraphs of] Shema, followed by Shir shel Yom (the daily Psalm) and Ein K’Elokeinu. One then studies the passages of the daily study cycles [e.g., Chitas] that pertain to Shacharis. These are followed by Minchah.

Those who are accustomed to wear the tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam, Shimusha Rabbah and Raavad, do so likewise on Tishah BeAv.30

It would appear that after the fast one washes the hands with a vessel, three times alternately, as one usually does in the morning, though without a blessing.31

“[On Tishah BeAv] my revered father, the Rebbe Rashab, would put on his tallis in the morning, and remove it. He would then32 put on his tefillin, and wear them while he prayed. This was done in the privacy of his room so that it should not be noticed. When he then joined the congregation at Shacharis, he would read Tehillim and the like.”33

“Shacharis [in Lubavitch on Tishah BeAv] began at eight o’clock, and never later than 8:30. [My father] would read all the Kinos, which would take until about 12:30, and then read Eichah for about an hour and a half. Only then would he sit on a regular chair.”372

“Minchah would begin later than usual.”34

“My father used to be called to Maftir, sometimes both at Shacharis and at Minchah.”35

“On Tishah BeAv every year my father would study the Midrash Eichah Rabbah as well as the Talmudic passage taught by R. Yochanan in Perek HaNizakin (Gittin 55b, ff.).”374

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The Tzemach Tzedek, who used to refer to the Rebbe [R. Yisrael] of Ruzhin as “the holy Ruzhiner,” once related: “The holy Ruzhiner would not brook any melancholy nor even bitterness — with the result that his chassidim became playful. One Tishah BeAv they occupied themselves for a while tossing burs at each other. They then decided to clamber on to the roof of the beis midrash, and to lower a noose over the entrance. Whoever walked in the door could then be lassoed and promptly hoisted on to the roof. The prank succeeded until, sure enough, who should walk in but — their Rebbe, the Ruzhiner. From up there it was hard to tell one hat from another, and only when the tzaddik was halfway up did they identify him.

“When they had lowered him to the ground he exclaimed: ‘Master of the Universe! If Your children do not observe Your Yom-Tov, then take it away from them!’ ”36

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When the Ten Commandments are read on Shabbos Nachamu, the Shabbos following Tishah BeAv, the congregants stand and face the Sefer Torah.37