Thursday, February 25, 2010

Purim: Taanit Esther

11th of Adar, 5770

Today is a fast day called: Taanit Esther. When Queen Esther was informed of Haman’s plan to eliminate the Jewish people, she decided to appeal to King Achashverosh. This desperate move was very risky, because anybody who would approach the King without being called was removed from his proximity and immediately executed and then, there was virtually nothing anyone else could have done to dissuade the King from carrying out the terrible edict.
Before Esther approached the King she asked every Jew to fast. Fasting -together with prayer- is what our Torah and Chakhamim instructed us to do in extreme difficult circumstances. At the request of Esther, every single Jew then fasted for 3 days and prayed for Esther‘s success. In remembrance of that event we do today the fast of Esther.
Usually Taanit Esther is commemorated one day before Purim, the 13thof Adar. However, when Purim -the 14th of Adar- falls on Sunday, like this year, the fast day is moved to the previous Thursday.
Taanit Esther is technically a minor fast. Pregnant or nursing women do not do the fast. Also children, elders or anyone with even a minor medical condition is exempted from the Taanit, especially this year when it is moved to Thursday.
The fast of Esther takes place from dawn until dusk. The fast ends today at 6:12 PM.