Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Not eating meat during the 9 days

There are a number of different reasons for not eating meat during the 9 days:
1. Aveilus - Meat is something that makes us happy (אין שמחה אלא בבשר ויין) and therefore in these days of mourning we abstain
2. זכר לקרבנות - We are supposed to remember that during this time the קרבנות were stopped.

Whatever the reason we are supposed to use this to feel the aveilus of the churban. Unfortunately, many people take not eating meat during the 9 days in the wrong direction. Some people love it, as I once heard "and best of all, there's always ice cream or cheese cake for desert".

Those who feel that it is easy and great and they get to eat ice cream all the time, are missing the whole point. They may be doing the minhag but by Aveilus there is supposed to be a kiyum balev, you are supposed to feel something. These people feel no aveilus because they are not eating meat, in fact they are happy. This is a perversion of the minhag. The minhagim are supposed to help you feel aveilus, if they don't you should do something else that will help you feel the aveilus as well. Clearly, we cannot violate the minhag and eat meat even if we don't like meat, on the other hand, we shouldn't be eating gourmet milchig meals and enjoying ourselves either.

These days are supposed to be sad, eating gourmet milchig meals while not technically violating the minhag is certainly violating it's spirit.


Lion of Zion said...

"Unfortunately, many people take not eating meat during the 9 days in the wrong direction."

some people eat out even more during the 9 days, as i mentioned in this post:


Anonymous said...

I see this problem in myself. I often keep the halacha, but miss the spirit of it. My favorite example is not wearing leather shoes. So I wear comfi sneakers instead, as a matter of fact I like to wear sneakers much more that my regular shoes. For me to fulfill the spirit of the law I would have to wear some sturdy as a rock slippers.
But to look from other side, there is definitely not enough stress for spirit of the law. At least from Shulchan Aruch view. When ever I study laws of mourning - 98% of mishnah brurah deals with details of laws, like up what part of hand can one wash and when, but almost nothing is devoted to what I am supposed to think about during that period of time. I want a detailed sefer which will show how we need the temple today and why should i miss it. Same level of complexity as the rest of Mishnah Brurah, with R' Akiva's Eigers chiddushim and the shtarc lomdus.

Anonymous said...

Kind of like chovos halevavos, but only 500 times larger, and 20 times deeper, with different opinions and etc.
For example, I recently saw rav Kook say that there will be no more animal sacrifices only vegetable. So according to Rav Kook - do I need to daven that animal sacrifices be brought back?

Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

One must remember that when these laws were formulated, material goods were very different that today.

For example, meat was a luxury. It was a sign of wealth and comfort. While we take it for granted in our diet, until only recently eating meat on a regular basis was unheard of. So not having it in one's diet was a sign a luxury was missing.

For another, shoes until recently came in two varieties - the nice leather ones with firm leather soles, and everything else, like wood, straw, etc. Leather shoes were again a sign your feet had arrived and were taken care of. Nowadays, those same firm leather shoes are really not that comfortable when one can get the kind with rubber soles and good insoles. So we again forget the point of the law.

The point of the 9 days is to forgo that we see as luxury. It is a call to remove comfort from our lives as a sign of communal mourning. Certainly we must remove what Chazal told us to but perhaps if we wish to also observe the spirit of the law as well we would do well to reflect on how we can simplify our lives during this time to better concentrate on the loss of our Temple.

Unknown said...

The Nine Days are a period of communal mourning, culminating in a day when we adopt the behavior of mourners in memory of our shared loss. Adding a personal stringency would detract from this unity.

In any event, why must we assume that the "spirit" of the law is aimed at gross physical pleasures? After all, the consumption of beer and spirits are permitted during the nine days even though wine is prohibited. I suggest that we feel diminished when constraints are placed upon us, even when the constraints would not otherwise affect us.

With regards to leather shoes and comfortable sneakers, physical comfort is only part of our spectrum of needs. I remember listening to a caller on a radio show who had seen Jews walking to Shul on Yom Kippur. She wondered at the fact that they were wearing suits with sneakers. You can see from this that there is still a significance to the prohibition. Being forbidden to wear leather shoes is degrading, it reminds us of the fact that we really are still suffering. The tragedy of the Churban wasn't just the starvation and physical domination that followed the Roman brutality: it was also the loss of identity and personal and religious fulfillment.

I'm sure that our ancestors were able to wear cloth slippers (or even cloth wrapped around their feet) or comfortably go barefoot. None the less, they found this prohibition to be one worth making. We have enough physical suffering when we fast; we shouldn't be too quick to assume that all prohibitions are aimed at the same gross effect.