Wednesday, July 10, 2013

9 of Ab: Pregnant women and other exemptions for the day of fast

In the aftermath of the destruction of the Bet-haMiqdash the Prophets of Israel established that the 9th of Ab will be declared a Day of Fasting.  In Tish'a be-Ab we don't eat or drink for a whole day, similar to Yom Kippur.

The fast will take place this year from Monday night July 15th until Tuesday night July 16th. 

The fast of Tish'a be-Ab should be observed by all those who are in good health.


Yoledet: During the first 30 days after birth or after a miscarriage a woman is exempted from fasting on the 9th of Ab.

Pregnant and nursing women: Similar to Yom Kippur, pregnant and nursing women observe this fast. In cases of complicated pregnancies or physical weakness, or if the pregnant mother is worried that fasting will affect her health or her baby's health, she should ask her doctor before the fast-day and proceed as the physician recommends. If during the fast a pregnant woman feels sick, especially if she is vomiting or having any signs of dehydration, she should break the fast and drink or eat immediately. However, mild dizziness and nausea that can be coped with by lying down on a couch or a bed are considered normal (Listen to a very important lecture "Pregnancy and fasting" at the bottom of this email). 

Hole She-en Bo Sakana: People with a chronic disease like diabetes or patients under treatment or someone with high fever should not observe the fast. In some cases, when is not possible to fast for 24 hours Rabbis would recommend trying to fast from dawn until the end of the day, as if it was the 17 of Tamuz or 10 of Tebet.

Elders: Should consult with their physicians to make sure that the fast will not affect their health. If it will, they are exempted (or forbidden) from fasting.

Minors: Boys younger than thirteen years old and girls younger than twelve are exempt from fasting. Unlike Yom Kippur, there is no need for children to fast for a few hours. The reason is that while we do educate our children to fast on Yom Kippur as part of a teshuba (=repentance) process, we do not educate our children to mourn for the Bet haMiqdash before they formally need to. Because hopefully this will be the last year we mourn for the Bet haMiqdash and training will be unnecessary.  

When allowed to eat during Tish'a be-Ab for health reasons, one should eat only whatever is necessary for his or her health, and not for pleasure or in excess.