The Perversion of the “Nine Days Menu”

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Have you ever gone to be menachem Avel a woman who lost her young husband?

Have you ever been in a shiva home where a woman is mourning the loss of her vibrant father?

Have you ever offered comfort to a girl who lost her mother?

Sadly, all of us have been in these situations. We come, carrying pans of food and we leave the offerings of our heart on the overflowing counters and tables.

But, take a look at the aveilim. The young woman , with the seven orphaned children. Is she talking about the Pistachio Sea Bass ? If she is, everyone understands that it’s just to divert her mind from her burning pain.

All year, we divert our mind from our loss.

Sure, most of us fast on Tisha B’Av , and we all have a Zecher L’Churban in our foyer. But really, when is the last time we cried as we davened that Ha shem should return us to Eretz Yisroel?

Once a year, we get a chance to seriously focus on our huge loss. The tragedy of being sent away from our land where we all lived together and Torah was the law of the land.

Our Chachomim knew that’s as time would go by, It would be hard for us to cry and feel the pain of all that was taken away from us. So they gave us laws that would help put us in a mourning mood.

No meat! No chicken! No wine! No grape juice!

There are so many other laws , but for now let’s look at these.

A succulent standing rib roast, a glazed roasted turkey, lamb chops and grilled baby chicken; we don’t prepare these foods unless it’s for a Seudas mitzva or a Siyum.

So what should we eat in the Nine Days?

Well, how about Roasted Portabella with marinated Goat Cheese and Arugula over artisanal bread? What about authentic hand rolled Tortellini with homemade Tomato  and just snipped Basil sauce?

Is this really what Chazal had in mind? Was it just a change in menu?

We used to be so close to Avinu Shebashamayim. We visited our father in His House!

We saw, heard, smelled and tasted His presence. We knew with every part of our body that He loves us.

We left His House with gifts. Gifts of awareness and clarity that held us until we came again. And when we missed our Father so much and we couldn’t visit, we had a Neviah. She told us what our Father wants.She told us how to be a better wife, mother and daughter. And it was way different than therapy. When we listened to the Neviah, we had success in every relationship.

Oh! How painful is this void!

Here we are searching for answers wishing we could have this type of guidance.

Every tragedy today has its roots in the Churban.

Have some sun dried tomato tilapia?

We are in pain! And if we aren’t, we are to act like we are.

Eating gourmet foods? Dining in fine restaurants? Standing and assembling complicated dairy recipes?!

Not for us. Those recipes are for Shavuos.

These Nine Days I want to focus and think. I want to feel what I have lost. We are mourning. We lost our husband, mother, and father.

And so my dear sisters, what do you eat when you’re writhing in pain and sadness? What do you cook when you are so depressed that tears are falling into your pots?

What do you serve your family when grief is so strong it surrounds you? A tuna wrap. Eggs. Macaroni and cheese. Pizza. Anything that takes fifteen minutes to prepare.

No one will starve. And if the kids ask, “Why are we having scrambled eggs and toast for supper?” Look at them in their eyes. And say, “Cuz I’m sad. And I can’t eat or cook fancy foods when I’m sad.”

And maybe then we and our families will feel the sadness of the Churban and be zoche to see the words of our Neviim come true, and eat with happiness on the new Yom Tov on our calendar: Tisha B’Av.

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  1. This is exactly why Chazal actually never formally forbade meat consumption until erev Tish’a b’Av. Check BT Ta’anis 26b, and the Rambam Mishna Torah in hilchos ta’anis where he discusses tish’a b’av laws, esp his comment on customs he’s heard of and how he feels most people are “aino yachol lis’bol bo”.

    Eating meat from rosh chodesh until erev tish’a b’av is NOT forbidden.

    • I think most of the posters misunderstand the article. It is heartfelt, and an observation on trying to make the 9 days leading to Tisha b’Av feel (as if it were a house of mourning) by refraining from certain things; washing, eating meat, drinking wine, etc. I have also lost a parent, and of course nothing compares to the pain and loss.

      Refraining from these things is a small effort to try to understand how it must have been, the terror, the fear, the loss, the chaos, the lack of normality, the Jewish People felt when Jerusalem was under siege. Did they prepare complicated meals thereafter, wash clothing, dine elegantly, get haircuts, etc? They were in survival mode living in fear.

      We for the most part, do not have those feelings of insecurity. The measures are a way to concretize the feelings of loss. That is all the writer is saying. But to criticize and harass one another in this blog during the 9 days??!! Let us be respectful to one another.

  2. I am not sure I agree with the word “perversion”. Why is meat and wine not eaten? It states MISHENICHNAS L’AV MEATIM BSIMCHA. It also states EIN SIMCHA ELAH BBASAR UBAHYAYIN. Fancy non-meat meals still does not enter the GEDER of SIMCHA.

    • Just as Chazal predicted would be in the ikvesa deMeshicha – when yiras Shamayim would be derided as extremism or fanaticism. (Cold comfort.)

      • How ironic when you reinterpret chazal! So you are saying someone from the present time can reinterpit the meaning of mourning and suada with no intermediary halachic source from the different stages of rabbinic history! It seems it’s you and the previous commenter that’s the radicals! Redefining what is stam halacha! How ironic!

  3. WTVR, Sharon Kallus and others: Sefardim only have these restrictions during “SHAVUA SHEHCHAL BO”. The ASHKENAZIM follow the RAMAH that we refrain from Rosh Chodesh. So of course the next question is…..what is considered too much? Is Sushi not allowed? Eggplant Parmesan? Pareve Vegetable patties? Quiche? Homemade cheese and potato blintzes? Fried flounder? Matza Brei? Homemade falafel?

    Think about it.

    • Those that feel the loss of the churban will get it; & those whose minds are consumed with the gourmet menus & ways to make life as comfortable as possible during these mourning days will never get it,,,,,,al eileh ani bochia,,,,,,

      • One does not have to feel uncomfortable during the nine days. If that was the case we would give up our second pillow we sleep with and to sit on the floor like we do on Tisha B’av. Personally, I sleep on the floor on Tisha B’av but not from Rosh Chodesh. As someone who has sat shiva for a parent I can tell you what mourning feels like. It’s a wonder why someone “toch shiva” doesn’t have these restrictions.

        Gourmet meals do not take away the feelings of mourning. By the fact that I am eating milchigs at a time when I normally eat fleishigs reminds me that it is the nine days (whether it is a simple tuna fish sandwich or tacos made from Dr. Praegar’s pareve patties).

  4. i agree with everything written.

    if a person wants something, be it shidduch, parnassa or a family etc… then he needs to do more then just daven & say tehillim etc… he needs to YEARN for it. sadly in todays generation were not yearning for mashiach & the geula. why should we the person says we have everything from planes to smartphones to shabbos where i can even sleep & enjoy i.e. can even make ruchnius shabbos into gashmius of fancy foods & taking a rest etc….

    when klal yisroel starts to yearn for mashiach & do teshuva then mashiach will come. i.e. im sure if your child came to you yearning for something then im sure you would get it for him, why wouldn’t you? the love from a parent to a child is unlimited. Hashem-our loving father & king of kings-loves us from a father to a son & is waiting to put his shchina with the bais hamikdosh back in this world. come back to me when your ready Hashem says & i will give you whatever you want, you just need to ask with a true yearning heart

  5. When milk and vegetables are offered as korbanos then maybe their is something to talkabout! otherwise it seems this articles assertion seems wildly off base!

  6. Why was there a fleishig seuda so opulent as to compare to mishteh Achashverosh held in a certain Torah community a few nights ago? True, it was a siyum, but to hold such a lavish feast during a time of mourning and tzoros is unconscionable. They could have served fish and pasta, but, no, they had to go way overboard and serve a seven course feast.
    The Bais Hamikdash is no more. The foxes are running on Har Habayis. We can no longer bring korbanos. But, apparently, that means nothing to us as long as we can fress to our heart’s content.

  7. Chaza”l, in their infinite wisdom, gave us strict guidelines as to what our aveilus during the 9 days should consist of.

    No haircuts. No Music. No weddings. No Laundry. No purchasing or wearing new clothing. No planting of new trees. No building or renovating houses. No meant and wine.

    To go above and beyond that, if a person feels that they are up to it, is a Middas Chassidus.

    To call eating delicious foods during the 9 days a perversion is in and of itself a massive perversion!

    The Gemara speaks of delectable fruits, gourmet cheeses and expensive breads. Chaza”l had gourmet products -outside of meat and wine- in their time as well. But they did not forbid those products during the 9 days.

    One of the great terms of shevach that we give to Eretz Yisroel is “Eretz Zovas Chalav U’Devash”. Both milk and honey were expensive and fine foods in the times of Chaza”l. But Chaza”l did not forbid them during the 9 days.

    There are contrary ma’amarei Chaza”l about Adar and Av:
    Mishnichnas Adar Marbim Besimcha.
    Mishenichnas Av Memaatin Besimcha.
    Interestingly, for the lessening of simcha in Av, Chazal gave us a clear directive as to what that lessening of simcha includes (see above).
    However, in Adar, Chazal did not give us guidelines as to what the additional simcha should be.
    The reason for this dichotomy is because the excess simcha of Adar has no shiur – no boundaries, no maximum. But the diminished simcha of Av has a shiur, it has a limit. A person can, and should still be happy during the 9 days, just less happy than they normally are.

    Also note how Chazal did not say that a person should be sad or depressed during the 9 days, only that a person should be less happy – mema’atin besimcha.

    There is always room to be machmir. And if one believes that doing so will strengthen their bond with Hakadosh Baruch Hu, that is wonderful. But to concoct a personal chumra, and then blast that chumra out to the world, while calling those who act otherwise perverse, is warped and misguided.

    May we all see the Beis Hamikdosh rebuilt speedily in our time.

  8. this should be basic hashkafa of all jews, really sad that we are so low in golus and so migushum in tayvos halom hazeh, which is a direct cause of the churban, that people scorn basic hashkafa as radical.

  9. The reason for the minhag (that is a minhagm not something chazal said, as chazal only forbade meat erev 9 av after chatzos) is so that we remeber the churban by abstaining from meat. It has nothing to do with enjoying food or not, as if this was the idea they would have said so clearly, and the reason they did not say so was not because they could not articulate this idea until you came along with a better ability to explain what the actual minhag is about.

  10. It makes sense for meat. Not for milachigs! You can eat a peace of meat or poultry by itself and enjoy it. With milk products it normally has to be made with something else whether it’s noodles or eggs or vegetables etc. . It’s not the same! You can eat a cold piece of cheese but once you health it needs to be cooked with something to generally make a meal. A major difference.

  11. Don’t you love it when people contradict chazal and pretend they arent doing it! So you know better then chazal?

  12. Meat and wine were offered on the Mizbaech and refraining from these foods reminds us of our loss of the Bais Hamikdaah. Eating delicious milchig food doesn’t interfere with said loss feelings.
    It’s just like the guy in a bright colored shirt davening from his heart in shul but there will be the guy there who scorns him for not wearing white when in fact, by virtue of focusing on the shirt, it was the scorner who distracted himself from davening and missed the entire emphasis that davening is avoda b’lev, just as our task now is to generate ahavas Chinam to counter the sinas chinam that destroyed our beis hamikdash. Don’t let your cunning yetzer harah steer you off course by having you instead focus on the course of your neighbors meal.

  13. Albeit it may not be exactly what Chazal had in mind, there are however far bigger issues facing Klal Yisrael today!

  14. What about Rosh Chodesh Av? What about those who only have time during Av to go out to eat, and need to learn skills? Rav Chaim Kanievsky said stick to halacha not get depressed! On the same token I agree that there shouldn’t make SPECIAL menues

  15. How palpable the irony that people are argueing against chazal! And yet have the audacity to lambast open orthodoxy!

    • Some comparison?!
      That says alot about you..

      if someone inadvertently damages their neighbor’s bicycle, they’re become same as a murderer?

  16. @Yoni Garber – Maran Beit Yosef brings three shitot in the Shulchan Aruch; no meat shavuah she’chal bo, no meat from Rosh Chodesh Av, and no meat from 17 Tamuz. Both the Ben Ish Chai and the Ohr L’Zion bring that the minhag of the Sefardim is from Rosh Chodesh Av. The other issurim (bathing for pleasure, shaving, laundering) are only shavuah she’chal bo.

  17. @ AY Lawrence – m’dinei d’Gemora, true. But the halachah has been codified since (Ra”Sh, Ri”F, Ra”N, RaMBa”M, Tur, Beis Yosef, Ba”CH, RaM”A, etc., and all agree the issurim were extended.

  18. What about taking a shower when it affects others and causes a kavod habrios issue. Just because you want to be a tzaddik, you can’t make others suffer.

  19. Very well said. We have lost the “gefeel” for Yiddishkeit. True that the fancy meats advertised all year-round are also not Torah’dik. But during the 9 days when we should be in a somber mood, fancy foods should not be an enticement. If it tals to you, then you are not tuned in.
    Would you agree that if a person is allowed to eat on Tisha b’Av, it wouldn’t look right for them to eat scoops of ice cream? Why not? They have a heter? But it still wouldn’t look right. Same for eating fancy foods in a restaurant with friends – having a good time – is very tasteless and wrong.
    And if you still don’t understand, then you have a bigger problem than the churban hamikdash – worry about your own churban

  20. I sit in a small dimly lit room. Much of the time I sit on the floor. I eat stale bread and wilted shredded lettuce along with some 6 oz box of Pareve microwaved baked ziti. Not only on the 9 days but all year round!

    • Well, it serves you right. If you don’t do the crime, you won’t do the time. Next time, control yourself.

  21. we need to find ways to increase in Simcha that are allowed in halacha during the Nine Days. Simcha Poretz Geder — happiness breaks through barriers, and we need to try every way we can to make these days of sadness become days of joy.
    The Bais Hamikdosh was destroyed through baseless hatred. Please give people the benefit of the don’t who are serving fancy food. Maybe people are going to the fine restaurant with a spouse or making gourmet food to enhance shalom bayis. Maybe they have guests and are trying to beautiful the mitzvah of hachnasis orchim.
    One of the reasons for aveilus is not just to remember the one who passed away but so we could learn from them and better ourselves. We lost the first and second Bais Hamikdosh but what are we doing to improve ourselves? We should be thinking of what we lost but with hope for the future to bring the third Bais Hamikdosh. Maybe you can teach your children what the Bais Hamikdosh looked like and what the service in the Bais Hamikdosh was.

  22. I feel I must speak up. I wrote this article . It was titled “Nine Days Menu Ideas”.it was cry from my heart by what I’ve seen happen to the menus in the nine days. The women were worried about recipes and the restaurants were wildly advertising their gourmet “Nine Days Menu”.My post , which was shared on my Shiur group, and to my friends, was well received.It struck a chord with the women and was forwarded all over.The women all recognized that we had lost some focus by over focusing on the milchig menu.
    I received overwhelming positive FEED back!!
    But, you are all right. My post was NOT named, “Perversion”!
    Next thing I know , my little clip is on Matzav with their own title.
    It was meant to be FOOD for thought.

  23. @GEULA,
    Thank you for showing up on this thread.
    I (we?) would love to hear a response to those who are outraged by your new made-up chumra.
    Do you have anything to say to @Moish Saff? He seems to be correct that Chazal did not want people to stay away form fancy dairy foods.
    Additionally, your example of a shiva house is incredibly off base and blatantly incorrect!
    You ask:
    “Have you ever gone to be menachem Avel a woman who lost her young husband?
    Have you ever been in a shiva home where a woman is mourning the loss of her vibrant father?
    Have you ever offered comfort to a girl who lost her mother?”
    And the answer is, Yes, unfortunately, we all have.
    And in the shiva house they have torn shirts, no shoes, they cannot leave their house, they cover their mirrors and they cannot greet anybody.
    So go rip your blouse, take off your shoes, cover your mirrors, and do not greet anybody!
    Or not…
    This is different than aveilus for a relative. And Chazal were very clear about that when they gave us a different set of halachos!
    Please keep your wild chumros to yourself and don’t chastise a portion of Klal Yisroel during the 9 days.
    The reason for the aveilus of the 9 days is to invoke a certain feeling. And if you want to be machmir on yourself, then you can stay up late at night and say Tikkun Chatzos and cry over the galus hashechina. And, if you so please, then you can abstain from delicious ice coffee and vanilla ice cream with sprinkles.
    But how dare you malign a portion of our holy klal!
    Yisroel Kedoshim Heim!
    Veliyerushalayim Ircha Tashuv…..

  24. I agree with the author of this article, but, maybe some of you are not on the level to appreciate it. I personally believe that we shouldn’t be feasting on elaborate non fleishig meals during the nine days. It is not ossur so if you want to indulge you can do so. I try wearing the same clothes for a few days and minimizing bathing (I do bathe when necessary, minimally). I want to feel what the nine days are about because it says those who don’t mourn for the Bais Hamikdash won’t see it rebuilt.

  25. It is so ad and all the more reason to mourn our current state in galus when people decry any ideas stronger than their ideals as radical and other stupid comments. Yes we all agree that there is halacha. But anyone familiar with the famous ramban is kedoshim knows that someone can keep the whole torah according to the strictest letter of the law and still be a perversion within the confines of the Torah. His point is that these people missed the boat in Judaism and the Torah. The comments here fall into two catagories. Either its right or radical. Ftr, unless you are a liberal, just because someone doesn’t agree with you’re biased opinion doesn’t make them the radical. Do you’re research and it will be plainly obvious that the writer is right. Even assuming that he finds the words perversion offensive, the ramban doesn’t.

  26. Geulah: thank you for clarifying the title of the article. And yes, I am male. I also posted the “Anonymous” comment about the word “perversion”. Personally, I am generally not in favor of milchigs and prefer fleishigs. But for the 7 out of 9 days (excluding shabbos and Tisha B’av itself) I do eat milchigs and don’t look for a “siyum” to avoid milchigs. At the same time, if my wife wants to spend time and make a nice milchigs meal I do not stop her.

  27. @Thinking Straight
    “maybe some of you are not on the level”
    Halevai we can get your lofty madreigah and impose nonsense chumras upon ourselves…
    And while there are several examples of people on this thread (@moish saff and others) who have made arguments based in halacha and Torah as to why this chumra is silly, I have yet to see one reasonable halacha/torah based argument as to why anybody would keep such a chumra.
    And to all those playing the “naval bershus hatora” card. I am sorry, but only G-D gets to decide who is a naval bershus hatora – not you!
    If you see a yid being shomer tora umitzvos, what right do you have to judge them as a naval bershus hatora?! Tov ayin hu yevoreich! When you see such a person you can -and should- assume that they are an ehrlicher yid!
    Davka this time of year we should judge each other favorably.
    We should not be calling each other perverse.
    We should not be calling people menuvalim.
    And we certainly should not look at others unfavorably for not adhering to the newest chumra out on the internet!

    Love your name and I am 100% in agreement.
    This aveilus is clearly different that aveilus for a relative.
    I’m absolutely shocked that nobody else mentioned this.
    I don’t know what arugala is, but I’m going to have the portabella with goat cheese for lunch.
    Kol tuv!

    • don’t interrupt people going down the chumrah train, people love making new crazes . don’t you know walking on hot coals all the rage these days. they might not realize the long term implications of making up new minhagim. they would be responsible for making all their descendants applicable in this new chumrah/minhag. think long term people!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  29. Geula,

    On the one hand Kol HaKavod
    Too many are losing or have lost the chu”sh for what these days imply

    On the other , Men shoulder all the myriad intricacies of different Aveilus’ and what they signify that it perhaps it overwhelms them.
    Women are, unfortunately,by and large ignorant .So while it is wonderful that they fall back on chush,
    Probably they should study


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