On a sad day like Tishah B’Av it is not permitted to engage in normal study of the Torah, apart from tearful passages of tragedy such as those which deal with the destruction of the Holy Temple. Torah study is a simchah which might detract from the solemnity of the day.
Rabbi Joseph Rozin of Dvinsk is said to have decided to defy the ban. He continued with his regular program of study on Tishah B’Av because he thought that if it was a sin, the sin was worthwhile.
It is reported that the Chazon Ish rejected this argument because on this day it was Torah itself that said not to study, and therefore someone who purported to study Torah was not really studying it at all.
It appears to have been a good-natured debate, and the answer that most Torah scholars would probably give is that even studying the sad passages helps to fulfil one’s yearning for Torah study.
One could add that those who do not observe Tishah B’Av would probably be forgiven from On High if davka this was the day on which they decided that they would study more Torah.
There are other dimensions to the notion of sinning on Tishah B’Av. There are questions raised in Talmud Shabbat 119b about why the Holy City was destroyed. The sages could have said that it was because of a cruel enemy, but they looked inward to see if there were internal factors that made the destruction easier for the enemy.
Abbaye said, “Jerusalem was destroyed because its inhabitants desecrated the Sabbath”. Ulla said, “Because its inhabitants did not respect each other”. Rabbi Chanina said, “Because its inhabitants did not rebuke one another when they did wrong”. Rabbi Yehudah said, “Because its inhabitants ridiculed their scholars”.
Unfortunately some of these sins still seem to be committed even on Tishah B’Av.
Would it not be a help to the Mashi’ach if this Tishah B’Av we abandoned these or any other sins? And if we succeeded in doing this on Tishah B’Av, how about continuing the next day, and the next?