By Rabbi Berach Steinfeld
The Gemara in Taanis, daf lamed, amud alef says that all mitzvos that apply to an “avel” (mourner) apply on Tisha B’Av. Included in this category is Torah learning. It is permissible to learn “Iyov” and the chapters in Yirmiyahu that discuss the misfortune that will befall K’lal Yisroel. This is based on the posuk in Tehillim that says, “Pikude.. mesamchei lev.”
The Radvaz explains that even though learning Torah is a mitzva de’Oraysa and aveilus is a mitzvah de”Rabbonon, Chazal were “okeir” a de’Orays
The Poskim argue whether an avel is required to learn these chapters in Iyov, or is it an optional thing. The Aruch Hashulchan and Reb Shloima Zalman Auerbach are of the opinion that it is optional and the aveil has no chiyuv of learning Torah. The Divrei Yatziv and Rav Elyashiv held that there is always a chiyuv to learn Torah and therefore by definition one who is an aveil or someone on Tisha B’Av must learn the chapters mentioned above.
There is also a disagreement amongst the Poskim whether an aveil may think in learning. The Leket Yosher says it is permissible to do so whereas the Maharil says that it is forbidden. In a regular circumstance, thinking in learning is not considered learning, but in our case since the reason one is not allowed to learn is because of simcha and when one thinks in learning he will have the simcha, the Maharil is therefore of the opinion that one should not think in learning on Tisha B’Av or while in aveilus.
The question arises; may one learn the chapters mentioned above b’iyun or just b’kiyus?
Rabbeinu Peretz is of the opinion that one may only read, they may not be me’ayin. The Maharil argues with this and says that one may learn be’iyun also. The Maharil explains that when it says to read these chapters it does not mean like one who is reading without understanding, it means to fully understand it. Rabbeinu Peretz held that despite the fact that to learn be’iyun is difficult and therefore one may not have much simcha; nevertheless when one finishes learning something and accomplishes, there is a great simcha and that would be forbidden on Tisha B’Av or while in aveilus.
One may differentiate between learning alone where it would be muttar to learn b’iyun or when one learns with a chavrusa which would then be forbidden to learn be’iyun.
If one has a chiddush that one wants to write down on Tisha B’Av, he would not be allowed to do so according to Reb Shlomo Kluger. On Chol Hamoed the Poskim allow one to write chiddushei Torah despite the fact that ksiva is melacha; however, on Tisha B’Av where the problem is not so much melacha, but more so in the fact that it makes one happy to write chiddushei Torah, it would therefore be forbidden.
Let us hope that all these Shailos will be solved by the coming of Mashiach when we will be allowed to and required to learn Torah that makes us B’Simcha.