Fast of Esther
Official nameHebrew: תַּעֲנִית אֶסְתֵּר
Observed byJews in Judaism
TypeJewish
SignificanceCommemorating the three-day fast observed by the Jewish people in the story of Purim
ObservancesFasting
Begins13th day of Adar at dawn (if Shabbat, then 11th day of Adar at dawn)
EndsThe same day, at nightfall
2021 dateFebruary 25
Related toPurim

The Fast of Esther (Ta'anit Ester, Hebrew: תַּעֲנִית אֶסְתֵּר‎) is a fast from dawn until dusk on Purim eve.

Origin and purpose

The fast commemorates one of two events in the Book of Esther: either Esther and the Jewish community of Shushan having fasted for 3 days and 3 nights before she approached the king (Esther 4:16), or a fast which is presumed to have occurred on the 13th of Adar, when the Jews fought a battle against their enemies.[1]

It is a common misconception that this fast dates to the time of Esther. Esther 9:31 states "They had established for themselves and their descendants the matters of the fasts and their cry", but this refers instead to the fasts mentioned in Zechariah 8:19.[2]

The first mention of the fast of Esther is as a minhag that is referenced in the Gaonic period.[3] A 2010 study examines the origin of the fast and the reason for its arising in the Gaonic period.[4]

Laws

The fast is observed on the 13th day of the Hebrew month of Adar. (When the year has two Adar months, it is observed only in the second Adar). If the date of the Fast of Esther falls on Shabbat (Saturday), the fast is instead observed on the preceding Thursday, as this was the case in 2004, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2017. This will occur again in 2024. (Shulchan Aruch S.686 s.2)

As the fast of Esther is not one of the four public fasts ordained by the Prophets, the laws concerning its observance are more lenient; pregnant women, nursing mothers, and those who are weak are not required to observe it.[5]

The Gregorian dates, from dawn until nightfall, for 2021–2023 are:[6]

Fasting in the Book of Esther

It is generally accepted in the rabbinic tradition that the original three-day "Fast of Esther" mentioned in chapter 4 of Book of Esther occurred on the 14th, 15th, and 16th days of Nisan, these being the eve and first two days of Passover.[7] While halacha normally forbids fasting on Passover, it is believed that Esther reasoned it would be better to fast on one Pesach lest they all be destroyed and thus never be able to observe the holiday in the future. But due to the normal prohibition of fasting on Passover, the "Fast of Esther" instead became attached to the eve of Purim, the 13th of Adar.[7]

The 13th of Adar itself is thought to have been a fast day for the warriors while going out to battle, as it is believed to have been customary to fast during the battle in order to gain divine favor.[citation needed]

See also

References

  1. ^ "The Fast of Esther: What, Why and How". www.chabad.org.
  2. ^ "MikraotGedolot – AlHaTorah.org". mg.alhatorah.org.
  3. ^ "The first who mentions it is R. Aḥa of Shabḥa (8th cent.) in "She'eltot" iv." The Jewish Encyclopedia, Archived September 13, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ First, Mitchell (November 2010). "The Origin of Taanit Esther". AJS Review. 34:2: 309–351. A short summary of this article is at "The Origin of Ta'anit Esther". Archived from the original on February 19, 2012. Retrieved January 30, 2013.
  5. ^ The Fast of Esther, "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 14, 2011. Retrieved March 17, 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "Ta'anit Esther (Fast of Esther) in Israel". timeanddate.com. Retrieved February 11, 2021.
  7. ^ a b "The Fast of Esther". Jewish Virtual Library. Archived from the original on May 14, 2011. Retrieved March 17, 2011.
Wikisource has original text related to this article: Aruch HaShulchan: The laws of the Fast of Esther