Halacha for Thursday 28 Av 5779 August 29 2019

Fasting on Shabbat

Question: Is there anything halachically wrong with starting the Shabbat day meal in the afternoon?

Answer: We have already explained above regarding the laws of “the Mitzvah of enjoyment of Shabbat” that one is fully obligated to enjoy Shabbat through eating and drinking, as the verse in Yeshaya (Chapter 58) states, “And you shall call Shabbat [a day of] pleasure.” Thus, one may not fast on Shabbat, for by doing so, one is preventing himself from enjoying Shabbat.

The Sages tell us in the Gemara Masechet Pesachim (12b) that whoever does not taste anything until the sixth hour of the day (which is halachic midday) is considered to be “throwing a pebble into the flask” by eating from this point on. This means that it is not healthy at all to begin eating breakfast past midday. The Poskim therefore write that even on a regular weekday, one should not delay eating breakfast past six hours from the beginning of the morning. Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch rules likewise in Chapter 157. We see clearly that one should not push off eating breakfast so much, even on a regular weekday; rather, one should be careful to eat before midday, meaning before six seasonal hours into the day. 

The Talmud Yerushalmi quotes Rabbi Acha and Rabbi Avhu who said in the name of Rabbi Yose bar Chanina that one may not fast until the sixth hour of the day on Shabbat. The Rif and the Rosh (Chapter 1 of Masechet Shabbat) as well as the Tur and Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 288) all rule likewise. Obviously, regarding all of these laws there is no distinction between men and women, for all are obligated in the Mitzvah of enjoying Shabbat.

Based on this, the Turei Zahav writes that communities that would customarily fast on Shabbat until midday in order to nullify certain harsh decrees that were decreed upon them are acting incorrectly, for by doing so, they are also nullifying the enjoyment of Shabbat.

However, if one knows beforehand that for whatever reason, one will not be able to eat before midday on Shabbat, one should make sure to taste a little food or drink in the morning, such as water, coffee, or tea, so that it will not be considered like one is fasting. The Peri Megadim writes this as well. This is the proper procedure for Rosh Hashanah and Simchat Torah as well if one knows that one will not have the opportunity to eat before midday. However, on Shabbat one must finish eating the Shabbat day meal early enough for one to be able to eat the third Shabbat meal as well.

At this time of year in Jerusalem, halachic midday is approximately 12:40 PM. In New York, it is at approximately 12:55 PM. One can find this time updated weekly or even daily in some of the more detailed Jewish calendars.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

The “Mechaye Ha’Metim” Blessing

In the previous Halacha we have explained that one who sees a truly dear friend or relative after thirty days f not seeing him and is happy to see him recites the “Shehecheyanu” blessing upon seeing him. The Gemara (Berachot 58b) states: “Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: One who se......

Read Halacha

Reciting the “Shehecheyanu” Blessing Upon Seeing a Dear Friend or Loved One

Question: If one travels overseas, returns home more than thirty days later, and is happy to see his wife or a dear friend when he returns, must one recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing? Answer: The Gemara (Berachot 58b) states: “Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: One who sees his frie......

Read Halacha

Disassembling Doors and Windows on Shabbat

Question: May one remove a door from its hinges or a window from its frame on Shabbat? Answer: In the previous Halacha we have explained that one of the works forbidden on Shabbat is building. However, just as it is forbidden to build something or add anything to a standing edifice on Shabbat, it......

Read Halacha

Giving Birth on Shabbat

Question: If a pregnant woman knows that there is a reasonable chance that she will be giving birth on Shabbat (for instance, if her due date is on Shabbat) and as a result, if she begins experiencing contractions on Shabbat, Shabbat will have to be desecrated on her behalf by travelling to the hosp......

Read Halacha


The Forbidden Work of Building on Shabbat

Question: May one sweep the dirt and small rocks in the front yard of one’s home on Shabbat? Answer: One of the thirty-nine forbidden works on Shabbat is building, as the Mishnah (Shabbat 102b) states, “One who builds on Shabbat, even if it is a small addition to an existing edifice, ......

Read Halacha

The Law Regarding Eggs or Garlic that were Left Peeled Overnight

Things Forbidden Because of the Danger they Pose The Gemara (Niddah 17a) states in the name of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai that if one does any one of five specific things, one takes his life into his own hands (meaning that one is endangering himself). One of these things is eating an egg, garlic, or ......

Read Halacha

Tu Bishvat Customs

Tonight, Sunday night, marks Tu Bishvat. There are unique customs observed on the night of Tu Bishvat, as we shall explain. The Prohibition of Fasting and the Customary Reading of the Zohar It is forbidden to fast on the day of Tu Bishvat. Some customarily hold an order of learning on the eve of......

Read Halacha

Baby Monitors on Shabbat

Question: May one place a baby monitor (intercom) in a baby’s room on Shabbat in order to be able to hear if the baby cries and to be able to adequately care for his/her needs? Answer: At first glance, it would seem that the baby monitor is similar in the way it works to a microphone which ......

Read Halacha