Thursday, September 4, 2008

Fasting on Erev Rosh haShanah

Hi,

Some Jews customarily fast in repentance on the day before Rosh haShanah.

This is not observed in the manner of a normal fast, though; many people fast until midday (12:52 PM this year, in Allentown) and then break the fast. Here are two reasons why:

(a) In the Middle Ages this day frequently fell out on one of the Ember Days, which were fasts within the church, and there was concern lest the Jews appear to be keeping the Christian fast, and

(b) We generally don't fast on the eve of holidays, lest we then have difficulty enjoying the meal that night, and thus ruin the holiday.

(Code of Jewish Law Orach Chaim 581:2; Mishneh Berurah 581:16, Hagahot Maymoniyot Hilchot Shofar 1:1)

Have a great day,
Mordechai

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