When Queen Esther was informed of Haman's plan to eliminate the Jewish people, she decided to appeal to King Achashverosh, who did not know about Haman's plan. This desperate move was very risky, because anybody who would come near the King without being called by the King, was immediately executed for security reasons. But there was virtually nothing anyone else could have done to persuade the King from stopping Haman to carry out the 'final solution'. So, Esther decided to risk her life and she approached the King.
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 difficult circumstances.
At the request of Esther, every Jew in the Empire 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 takes place one day before Purim, on the 13th of Adar. However, when Purim falls on Sunday, like this year, the fast day is moved to the previous Thursday.
Ta'anit 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.
Rabbi Yosef Bitton. YMJC | 130 Steamboat Rd. | Great Neck | NY | 11024