Halacha for Monday 13 Adar 5780 March 9 2020

The Fast of Esther

Today is the public fast day known as the “Fast of Esther” and it is customary among the entire Jewish nation to fast on this day.

In the days of Mordechai and Esther, the Jewish people gathered together on the 13th of Adar to defend themselves against their hateful enemies and they were in need of great Heavenly mercy in order to be saved from certain annihilation Thus, they stood in prayer, supplication, and fasting on that day just as their forefather, Moshe Rabbeinu, did on the day that Israel battled Amalek when he stood in prayer and fasting, and the Jewish nation was victorious. Hashem, G-d of our forefathers, heard their cries and graciously accepted their fasting and repentance, and on the same day the enemies of the Jewish people thought to gain control over the Jewish people, a switch occurred and the Jewish nation gained control over their enemies and the Jews killed 75,000 of their enemies besides for the enemies killed in the Persian capital of Shushan. Not one Jew fell, for this war was not waged with might and power; rather, it was fought with the guidance of the spirit of Hashem. Therefore, the Jewish people customarily fast on this day every year to commemorate the miracle that was performed for them. This fast is called “The Fast of Esther.”

The Meiri writes in his Sefer Bet Ha’Bechira (Ta’anit 18a) that some say that the Fast of Esther is a fast of joy and is not included in the group of the other public fast days which mark sorrowful events. Others disagree.

Pregnant and nursing women are exempt from the Fast of Esther for if they are even exempt from the four fasts stated explicitly in the verse in Zecharia (8, 19) with the exclusion of Tisha Be’av, they are certainly exempt from the Fast of Esther. The Rama (Rabbeinu Moshe Isserlish) also writes in his notation on the Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 686, Section 2) that pregnant and nursing women are exempt from the Fast of Esther. Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch did not need to write this law explicitly for it is self-understood from the rest of the fasts; however, the Rama did need to write this explicitly according to the Ashkenazi custom that pregnant and nursing women do fast on the rest of the Four Fasts unless they are suffering greatly. Therefore, the Rama felt the need to write that at least on the Fast of Esther they are exempt from fasting.

The halachic definition of a “pregnant woman” regarding being exempt from this fast is a woman who has already passed the first three months of pregnancy. However, if a pregnant woman suffers from nausea and morning sickness, she can be lenient and not fast even before three months of pregnancy have passed, especially if forty days have elapsed from the onset of the pregnancy.

Regarding the exemption of a nursing woman, even if she is not actually nursing, as long as she is within the twenty-four-month period since giving birth, if she feels weak, she may act leniently and she is not obligated to fast. However, if she feels healthy and strong, it is preferable for her to act stringently and fast.

8 Halachot Most Popular

The Holiday of Shavuot- Teachings of Kindness

The Torah introduces the momentous event of the giving of the Torah to the Jewish nation with the verse (Shemot 19), “On the third month from when the children of Israel left Egypt, on this day they arrived at the Sinai desert.” Our Sages in the Pesikta ask: Why is it that the Torah w......

Read Halacha

“Shover Oyevim U’Machnia Zedim” (The Twelfth Blessing of the Amida)

Question: In the Blessing regarding the heretics in the daily Amida prayer, how should one end the twelfth blessing: “Shover Oyevim U’Machnia Zedim” (He who smashes enemies and humbles the wicked) or “Shover Oyevim U’Machnia Minim” (He who smashes enemies and humb......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Fire on Yom Tov

In previous Halachot we have explained that Yom Tov and Shabbat are equal regarding all prohibitions besides for certain works associated with food preparation, such as cooking, which are permitted on Yom Tov. Igniting a Flame One may not produce a new fire on Yom Tov, for instance by strik......

Read Halacha

How One Should Conduct Himself in the Morning

The Mishnah in Pirkei Avot (Chapter 5) states: “Yehuda ben Tema says: Be bold like a leopard, light as an eagle, swift as a deer, and mighty as a lion to perform the will of your father in Heaven.” Let us now explain this Mishnah. The Tanna writes that one must be as “bold as a ......

Read Halacha


The Laws of Cooking on Yom Tov

In the previous Halachot we have explained that although Shabbat and Yom Tov are equal in their prohibition to perform work on them and it is therefore a Torah prohibition to drive a car on Yom Tov, nevertheless, certain works associated with food preparation, such as cooking and frying, are permitt......

Read Halacha

Deceit and Trickery

One may not deceive or trick others when it comes to monetary transactions. Monetary Deceit If one knows that one’s merchandise is flawed or faulty, one must reveal this to the buyer. For instance, if one wishes to sell his home and he knows that the ceiling is full of mold because of a bu......

Read Halacha

The Holiday of Shavuot- Coronavirus

The holiday of Shavuot will be celebrated, G-d willing, at the conclusion of the period of the counting of the Omer this coming Friday (beginning from Thursday night), the 6th of Sivan (and outside of Israel on Shabbat, the 7th of Sivan as well). Let us, therefore, begin to discuss some of the perti......

Read Halacha

Reciting Kaddish

Question: What is the significance of reciting Kaddish for a deceased individual? Answer: When an individual departs from this world, his surviving children must make a concerted effort to pray with a Minyan three times a day in order to be able to recite Kaddish for their father or mother. Simil......

Read Halacha