fast day is a period of time in which a person doesn't eat, but not
because they're not hungry. Why it's called a fast day, I'll never understand.
I think it should be called a Slow Day, because it always seems as if
the day goes by so.o.o.o slowly. But that's just my own opinion.
A fast day's purpose is to bring a person to tshuva, (repentance).
Eating is one of our most basic human necessities. When we are deprived
of food, we recognize how fragile and insignificant we truly are.
Children below the age of bar or bat mitzva - 13 for boys and 12 for
girls, do not fast. (In some communities, it is customary for children
to begin fasting a short time before they become bar/bat mitzva.)
different types of fast days. Some are to commemorate a sad event or
tragedy in Jewish history. Others are simply to put us in the mood to
knows the Fast Day of Yom Kippur,
- (The Day of Atonement), the purpose of which is Tshuva (repentance).
Yom Kippur, begins on the eve of the tenth of Tishrei.
That's when the fast begins too. It's a big one. twenty-five+ hours!
Kippur is the climax to a month of soul searching. Beginning on
Rosh Chodesh Elul, we say Selichot, (prayers of repentence),
and blow the shofar (ram's horn) as a sign that the day of
judgement is right around the corner. Thirty days later,
Rosh Hashana, the two-day Jewish New Year, is celebrated
with a prayer-fest that urges Hashem to forgive us our sins
and grant us a sweet new year. Just in case you haven't been convincing
enough, you've got the next ten days to show Hashem you mean
it. A combination of Tshuva (repentance), tefilah
(prayer) and tzedakah (charity) is the prescribed medicine
to ward off a bad decree.
Besides Yom Kippur,
The Talmud (Tractate Rosh Hashana 18b, see also Beit Yosef
Orach Chaim 549) discusses 4 Fast Days that commemorate the destruction
of the First and Second Temples, and the exile of the Jewish People
from their homeland, Eretz Yisroel.
4 fast days are:
TZOM (THE FAST [OF]) GEDALIA
- 3rd of Tishrei
Gedalia, was instituted by the Rabbis to commemorate the assassination
of the Jewish governor of Judah, appointed by Nebuchadnezzar. This critical
event was the final blow to the hopes that the Jewish state would survive
the Babylonian domination and led to the destruction of the first commonwealth.
ASARA B'TEVET (Tenth of Tevet)
B'Tevet, marks the beginning of the siege of Yerushalayim,
during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, that resulted in the destruction
of the First Bait Hamikdash.
Asara B'Tevet has an added meaning. The day is alternatively
known as Yom Ha-Kaddish Ha-Klali. It is the memorial day for
those Jews who died
during the Holocaust whose day of death (Yahrzeit)
is unknown, and for those Holocaust victims for whom there were no living
survivors to recite the Kaddish.
On this date, Kaddish is recited for these souls.
ASAR B'TAMUZ (Seventeenth of Tamuz)
Asar B'Tamuz, the date when the walls of Yerushalayim were breached,
and other tragic events in Jewish history occured.
B'AV (The Ninth of Av)
B'Av - The saddest day in the Jewish Calendar, recalls the destruction
of the First and Second Temples. Later traditions connect the Fast of
Av with subsequent tragic events in Jewish history.
TA'ANIT (THE FAST [OF])
ESTHER - 13th of Adar
Esther is observed on the day before Purim,
Adar 13, (see Esther 9:31). The Fast of Esther gives us a different
perspective on fasting. Sure, it commemorates a terrible day in Jewish
history, but it is not a sad day in of itself. In fact, it is a day
that leads up to the happiest holiday of the year! In this case, the
fast adds to the joy of Purim and makes us even more aware
of Hashem's hand in the destruction of Haman.
Fast of Esther, which begins on the morning of Adar 13, commemorates
the three days that Esther fasted before approaching King Achashverosh
on behalf of the Jewish people. It is also the anniversary of the day
that the Jews fought against their enemies throughout the Persian empire.
TA'ANIT (THE FAST [OF])
BECHORIM - 14th of Nisan
Bechorim, (The Fast of the First Born) takes place on the 14th
of Nissan, the day before Pesach
(Passover). This Fast is observed only by firstborn males. The fast
commemorates the fact that Jewish first-born males were saved from the
plague of the firstborn in Mitzrayim (Egypt).
and Tisha B'Av are the longest fasts of the year. They are
25+ hours and last from sundown the night before till approx. one hour
after sundown, just like Shabbat. These two fasts have the
strictest rules of enforcement. If you have any questions about medicines
or the ability to fast, always ask your local Rabbi. Never take it upon
yourself to fast if you think it may have harmful effects.
other fasts last from dawn till nightfall. For those who don't fast
well, it is good to know that if you wake up before dawn, you can eat
breakfast before the fast begins. There is a great deal of leniency
in these fasts for people who have medical conditions or other difficulties
With the exception of Yom Kippur, which is observed even if it falls
on Shabbat, if the specified date of a fast falls on Shabbat,
the date of the fast is moved to Sunday. Except for Ta'anit Esther.
If Adar 13 falls on a Friday or Shabbat, Ta'anit Esther
is moved to the preceding Thursday, because it cannot be moved forward
a day or it will fall on Purim.
these fasts, individuals and communities have fasted for various religious
reasons, especially to avert or terminate calamity. Such fasting, is
linked to prayer and Tshuva.
have been proclaimed to avert a public disaster, e.g. upon going to
war, or upon a threat of annihilation, famine, oppression, or divine
fasts include that of a bride and groom on the day of their marriage,
a fast following a bad dream, or on the day of the death of a close
relative (yahrzeit). Certain righteous people take on a three-day
fasting cycle of Monday-Thursday-Monday after the festive seasons of
Pesach and Sukkot.
Fast of Gedaliah - Tishrei 3
Kippur (Day of Atonement)
- Tishrei 10
B'Tevet (Tenth of Tevet) - Tevet 10
Esther (Fast of Esther) - Adar 13
Bechorim(Fast of the First Born)
- Nissan 14
Asar B'Tamuz (17th of Tamuz) - Tamuz
B'Av (The Ninth of Av) - Av 9
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