Chapter: 7 – The Laws of the Minor Fasts

1 – The Current Status of the Minor Fasts

When the prophets instituted the four fasts after the destruction of the FirstTemple, they modeled them after the fast of Yom Kippur, which is how the Rabbis usually enact decrees, modeling them after the Torah’s commandments.  Since Yom Kippur lasts … Continue reading

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2 – The Laws of the Minor Fasts

As we have already learned, since we no longer suffer from harsh decrees and religious persecution, and on the other hand, the HolyTemple is still in ruins, the status of the minor fasts currently depends on the will of the … Continue reading

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3 – The Duration of the Minor Fasts

The minor fasts last from daybreak (alot hashachar) to the emergence of the stars (tzait ha-kochavim).  Alot hashachar is when the first light begins to appear in the east.  Tzait ha-kochavim is when three medium-sized stars are visible in the … Continue reading

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4 – May One Eat and Drink if He Arises Before Daybreak?

Even though the fast starts at alot hashachar, the prohibition to eat sometimes begins the night before.  If one has in mind not to eat anymore until the beginning of the fast, it is considered as if he accepted the … Continue reading

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5 – Rinsing One’s Mouth

Ideally (le-chatchila), one should not wash one’s mouth on the minor fasts, because there is concern that one might swallow drops of water.  However, one who detects that his breath smells bad may wash out his mouth, because he has … Continue reading

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6 – One Who Forgets it’s a Fast Day

One who accidentally eats or drinks on a fast day must continue fasting, because these days were instituted as fast days due to the troubles that occurred on them.  Even if one eats or drinks enough to be considered as … Continue reading

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7 – The Infirm are Exempt from Fasting

When the Prophets and Sages instituted these fasts, they did so for healthy people, not for the sick.  This is the difference between Yom Kippur and all other fasts.  On Yom Kippur, even the infirm are obligated to fast, because … Continue reading

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8 – Pregnant and Nursing Women on Tish’a B’Av and the Minor Fast Days

Pregnant and nursing women are obligated to fast on Tish’a B’Av, because only the infirm are exempt from that fast, and pregnant and nursing women are considered healthy, unless they feel unusually weak.  These women, however, need not fast on … Continue reading

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9 – Children, Bridegrooms, and Soldiers

Children who have yet to reach the age at which they are obligated in the mitzvot are exempt from the fasts that the Rabbis instituted.  And the Sages did not require us to train our children to fast for a … Continue reading

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10 – The Aneinu Prayer

The Rabbis prescribed that we add a special blessing for the fast, called Aneinu, in our prayers.  The cantor inserts it in between the blessings of Go’el Yisrael and Refa’einu when he repeats the Shemoneh Esrei of Shacharit and Minchah. … Continue reading

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11 – The Torah Reading for Fast Days

In Shacharit and Minchah of public fast days, we read the Torah section that describes how God forgave the Jews for the sin of the golden calf (Tractate Sofrim 17:7, SA 566:1).  This symbolizes that just as God forgave us … Continue reading

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12 – Birkat Kohanim (the Priestly Blessing) During Mincha

Throughout the year, the kohanim (“priests”) do not lift their hands [to bless the people] during Mincha services, because people [usually] eat a meal before Mincha and we are concerned that the kohanim might bless the people when they are … Continue reading

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