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4. Those exempt from the fast:
Everyone must fast on a Taanis Tzibur, and it is forbidden to be Poretz Geder. [This includes men and women.] This obligation to fast is due to custom, however from the letter of the law, the Sages established all the fasts, other than Tisha B’av, as obligatory only in a time of danger. Practically, today, even in a time of peace, all the four fasts are obligatory, until the coming of Moshiach. Nonetheless, the Sages made a number of exceptions in their decree, such as for the sick, and for pregnant and nursing woman.
Must one fast if he is sick: One who is sick is exempt from fasting, [and is even prohibited to be stringent upon himself to fast]. This applies even if there is no danger involved in his illness. He is not required to make up the fast on a later date when he feels healthy.
One who is not sick but is weak: One who is weak is not required to fast if he receives a medical order from a doctor that the fast is detrimental to his health. He is not required to make up the fast on a later date when he feels healthy. If the fast causes one to become extremely weak, more than the average person, some Poskim rule he is considered like a sick person and is not required to fast.
One who is not sick but is in pain: One who is not sick must fast even if he is experiencing a great amount of pain. However, some Poskim rule one may be lenient if he is in a great amount of pain.
One who is traveling: If one feels healthy, he must fast even if he is traveling that day.
How sick must a person be to be exempt from the fast?
One must be sick enough that he feels weak in his entire body due to the illness, or is bedridden.
Taanis Nidche: If the fast fell on Shabbos and was hence differed to Sunday, one may be lenient even if it is a slightly sick, and is not bedridden.
Must an old or weak person fast?
An old person, or a person who is weak, is not to fast on Taanis Esther or on any of the three Rabbinical fasts. Practically however one may not be lenient unless he receives a medical order from a doctor that the fast is detrimental to him.
May one take medicine on a fast day?
If one is sick, then he is not required to fast, as explained above. Even if one is not sick, it is permitted to take medicine if the medicine is bitter. He is to swallow it without water or alternatively place something bitter in the water and use this bitter water to help swallow the pill. [If one is unable to do so, then the medicine may be taken with regular water if the person will fall sick if he does not take it.]
Must a pregnant or nursing woman fast? Pregnant and nursing women are exempt from fasting. This applies even if they do not experience pain in fasting, nevertheless, they are not obligated to fast. Nevertheless, the custom of pregnant and nursing women is to be stringent to fast, unless they experience great pain [or feel weak] in which case they are not to fast. They are likewise not required to make up the fast at a later date. [Practically, the widespread custom today is that pregnant and nursing women do not fast any of the fasts other than Tisha B’av and Yom Kippur, as they are all considered weak and in pain. They are also not required to make up the fast at a later date.]
Women after birth: According to all opinions, a woman within 30 days of giving birth does not need to fast.
May a pregnant or nursing woman eat like a normal day? Although pregnant and nursing women are exempt from fasting, nevertheless, it is proper for them not to eat with intent to have pleasure from food and drink, but rather simply for the sake of the child. [Accordingly, they are to avoid eating meat and drinking wine, unless they are weak and need it for their strength.]
From what stage in pregnancy is a pregnant woman exempt from fasting?
A pregnant woman who is in pain is exempt from fasting starting from the 41st day of her pregnancy. If she feels weak or in great pain, then she may be lenient even prior to 40 days. If she does not feel weak or any pain at all then she is required to fast if she has not yet entered her second trimester.
Must a woman who had a miscarriage fast?
No, if she miscarried after 40 days of conception.
Must a woman within two years of birth fast?
Some Poskim rule that all women within 24 months after birth [child is less than 2 years old] are defined as nursing women, even if they are not actually nursing anymore. Other Poskim however are stringent to require any woman who is not actually nursing, to fast. Practically, one is to be stringent in this matter, unless she is not feeling well, or is pregnant, in which case one may be lenient.
Must a pregnant or nursing woman try to fast for a few hours in the morning prior to breaking their fast?
No. They may eat immediately in the morning.
C. Children Fasting:
All children who are above the age of Bar or Bas Mitzvah are obligated to fast on all accustomed fast days. All children who are below the age of Bar or Bas Mitzvah, are not required to fast any of the four Rabbinical fasts, including Tisha B’av. [This applies even if the child is within three fasts from his/her Bar/Bas Mitzvah. One is not even required to educate the child to fast for a certain amount of hours into the day [i.e. Taanis Shaos]. Nevertheless, some Poskim rule that regarding Tisha B’av, children who have reached the age of education in this regard, which is approximately nine years old, are to delay their meals a few hours into the day from its set time. However, children below the age of education are to be fed like normal and it is even forbidden to delay their meals from their regular times, being that this can lead them to becoming in a state of danger.]
What may the children eat? Some Poskim rule that a child who has reached the age of understanding the mourning is only to be allowed to eat bread and water or other simple staple food. The custom however is not like this opinion. [However, they are not to be given sweets and the like, although one is not required to stop them from eating it if they are in the midst of doing so.]
If a child turned Bar/Bas Mitzvah on a fast day that is Nidche from Shabbos to Sunday, must the child fast on Sunday?
Some Poskim rule the child is not obligated to fast. Other Poskim rule the child is obligated to fast on Sunday. Practically, the child is to fast unless they are weak and doing so is greatly difficult.
D. Exemptions for fasting on Taanis Nidche:
Sick: If the fast fell on Shabbos and was hence differed to Sunday, one may be lenient not to fast even if he or she is a slightly sick, and is not bedridden.
Pregnant and nursing: A pregnant [or nursing] woman may break her fast if she feels even slightly sick [or weak]. [This applies even according to the custom for pregnant and nursing woman to fast. Practically, as stated above, pregnant and nursing woman are accustomed not to fast even by a regular fast day, as they are all considered weak.]
Yoledes-After birth: Certainly a Yoledes within 30 days is not to fast on a Nidche fast.
Fasting until Mincha: In all the above cases of exemption, there is no need for the person to fast until Mincha time and he may eat right away in the morning [or even at night].
General Q&A on Fasting
Must one who needs to eat or drink only take the minimul measurements “Shiurim” as required on Yom Kippur?
Some Poskim rule one is required to follow the same eating and drinking measurements “Shiurim” prescribed on Yom Kippur. Other Poskim however rule it is not necessary. Practically, the custom is not to follow this opinion, and hence one who is permitted to eat or drink may do so without limitation.
Must a Chasan and Kallah within the 7 days of Sheva Brachos fast?
Taanis Nidcheh: When a fast day falls on Shabbos and was hence pushed off to Sunday a Chasan is required to fast the entire day as usual even if he is within the seven days of Sheva Brachos. Others however rule he is not required to fast until nightfall.
May one who is not fasting eat like a normal day?
It is proper to diminish somewhat in eating and drinking if one is not fasting that day, such as a pregnant or nursing woman, in order to participate in the day of oppression followed by the community.
Must a soldier in the army fast?
If he is not involved that day in any military operation or warfare then he must fast like everyone else. If, however, he is taking part in a military operation then he must eat in order to have strength.
If fasting on Tzom Gedalia may cause one to be unable to fast on Yom Kippur is he nevertheless to fast?
May a kosher restaurant open on a fast day?
Yes. However, they may only sell food to Jews that do not have to fast.
May one touch foods on a fast day?
It is permitted to touch food on a fast day.
 Michaber ibid; Tur ibid; Ramban in Toras Hadam
 Some Chassidishe Sefarim record that all women today who are of child rearing age are not to fast the four fasts, other than Tisha B’av and Yom Kippur. [See Tzevi Tiferes of Munktach 48 in name of Shinover Rav, as a tradition of Tzadikim of previous generations; Derech Tzadikim 5:44; Piskei Teshuva Divrei Chachamim 8 in name of Kotzker; Piskeiy Teshuvos 550:1 footnote 5] Practically, however, the widespread custom is not to be lenient, and so is the custom in Lubavitch.
 Rosh Hashanah 18, brought in Machatzios Hashekel 550:1
 M”A 550:1
 Beis Yosef 550; Maggid Mishneh Taanis 5; Rishonim and Poskim brought in Machatzios Hashekel 550:1
 Michaber 554:6 regarding Tishe Be’av; Rama 686:2 [regarding Taanis Esther]; Chayeh Adam 133:6; M”B 550:4; Kaf Hachaim 550:7
 M”B ibid; Kaf Hachaim ibid
 The reason: As the Sages did not institute the fast for those who are sick [Michaber ibid]
 Chayeh Adam 133:6; M”B 550:4; See Q&A for definition of sick
 See Rama 686:2; M”B 686:5; Shaareiy Tziyon 586:11; Kaf Hachaim 686:22
 Ruach Chaim 550:1; Kaf Hachaim 550:6; However, without a direct medical directive he is not to be lenient. [ibid]
 See Rama 686:2; M”B 686:5; Shaareiy Tziyon 586:11; Kaf Hachaim 686:22
 Ashel Avraham Tinyana 550; Igros Moshe 4:114
 See Rama 686:2 and Kaf Hachaim 686:17 who implies the leniency of pain is only by Taanis Esther, and so suggests also Biur Halacha 550:1 “Mihu”; Kaf Hachaim ibid writes that according to those who rule the fast is an obligation certainly one who is in mere pain may not be lenient to eat, unless he is sick, just as is the law by the other four mandatory fasts of scripture.
 Biur Halacha ibid in name of Kovetz on Rambam; Ashel Avraham Tinyana 550; Sdei Chemed Mareches Bein Hametzarim 1:13; Daas Torah 550; Nitei Gavriel 5:7; See also Igros Moshe 4:114
 M”A 668:4 brought in M”B 686:6
 As this is considered a Choleh Sheiyn Bo Sakana, mentioned in M”B 550:4; and so is implied also from Aruch Hashulchan 550:7; and Hagahos Rav Akiva Eiger 559:9; See however Aruch Hashulchan 554:7 that this applies even if he is not bedridden; See Nitei Gavriel 5:4 in name of Maharam Bent 550 that even if he is slightly ill one may be lenient
 So rules regarding even Tisha B’av Nidche: Shvus Yaakov 3:37; Hagahos Rav Akiva Eiger 559:9; Nitei Gavriel 5:9
 Kaf Hachaim 550:6 in name of Ruach Chaim 550:1
 The reason: As they are no different than a pregnant or nursing woman who is exempt from fasting. [Kaf Hachaim ibid]
 Beir Heiytiv 567:7 in name of Dvar Shmuel; Halachos Ketanos 97; Kaf Hachaim 554:34 in name of Kesonos Yosef 4; Ikarei Hadaat 29:36; Tosefes Chaim on Chayeh Adam 1:135-8; Pischei Olam 554:6; Piskeiy Teshuvos 554:7; 567:3; See also regaridng Yom Kippur: Sdei Chemed Yom Kippur 3:8; Yeshuos Yaakov 612; Kesav Sofer 111; Pischeiy Teshuvah Y.D. 155:6; Shoel Umeishiv Mahdura Daled 1:55; Orchos Chaim 618:1; Eretz Tzevi 88; Igros Moshe 3:91; Tzitz Eliezer 10:25; SSH”K 39:8; Nishmas Avraham 612:7; Piskeiy Teshuvos 612:2; Nitei Gavriel 37:23; 39:12-15
 Igros Moshe 3:91; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid
 Rama 550:1
 See Q&A regarding from which month this begins
 Some Poskim rule that all women within 24 months after birth [child is less than 2 years old] are defined as nursing women, even if they are not actually nursing anymore. [Daas Torah 550; Ashel Avraham Tinyana 550:1; Alef Hamagen 3; Piskeiy Teshuvos 550:1; See Nitei Gavriel Bein Hametzarim 5:1 footnote 1] See however Nitei Gavriel ibid for Rabbanim who disagree with this ruling.
 Michaber 554:5; Rama ibid; Hagahos Maimanis; Maggid Mishneh Taanis 5
The reason: As it is greatly painful for them to fast. [Rama ibid] See P”M 550 A”A 2 that ideally, they are obligated to fast all four fasts, and it is only today that the fasts are due to a custom [as explained above that in times of peace it is not obligatory] that pregnant and nursing woman don’t have to fast, as they never accepted upon themselves this custom.
 Rama ibid; Siddur Yaavetz
 Rama ibid; M”A 550:2 that there is no prohibition for them to fast on a Taanis Tzibur Kavua being that everyone accepted the fast upon themselves, although by a Taanis for Geshamim its forbidden for them to fast, as rules Rama 575:5
 M”B 550:5
 Rama ibid; See Rama 575:5 that it is forbidden for them to fast; See M”A 550:2; Seemingly, if they do not feel well, it is forbidden for them to fast even a Taanis Tzibur Kavua, as it is detrimental for the child. However, see P”M 550 A”A 2 in explanation of M”A ibid, who implies even if they are in great pain, they may be stringent to fast. Vetzaruch Iyun.
 M”B 686:5; Kaf Hachaim 686:22 regarding Taanis Esther and the same would apply regarding the four fasts; See however M”B ibid in name of the Bach.
 See Makor Chaim of Chavos Yair 550 “No need to be stringent at all”; Siddur Yaavetz “They are exempt even if they are not feeling pain, and if they want they could be stringent”; Orchos Chaim of Spinka 550:4, in name of Yifei Lalev, in name of Bashamayim Rosh 91, and Teshuva Meahava that they are weak and have pain; Ashel Avraham Butchach 686 Mahadurah Tinyana; Hisorerus Teshuvah 1:6; Divreiy Yatziv 2:291; Piskeiy Teshuvos 550:1; 686:3 that so is the ruling of today’s Rabbanim.
 M”B 686:5; Kaf Hachaim 686:22 regarding Taanis Esther and the same would apply regarding the four fasts; See however M”B ibid in name of the Bach.
 See M”B 686:4; Kaf Hachaim 686:19
Other opinions: Some Poskim rule a Yoledes is accustomed to fast once she is after seven days from birth, even by the regular fasts. [Bach 554 brought in M”A 554:9]
 Michaber 554:5; Ashel Avraham 686 Mahadurah Tinyana; Chayeh Adam 133:6; M”B 550:5; Kaf Hachaim 550:7
 The reason: This is done in order to participate in the day of oppression followed by the community. [Ashel Avraham 686 Mahadurah Tinyana]
 M”B 550:5; See Seder Hayom Inyanei Bein Hametzarim; Piskeiy Teshuvos 5508
 M”B 550:3; Kaf Hachaim 550:5; Mor Uketzia 550; Piskeiy Teshuvos 550:1; Nitei Gavriel Bein Hametzarim 5
The M”B ibid rules that seemingly she is considered pregnant starting from the 4th month and onwards, however possibly she is considered pregnant even starting from the 41st day if she feels pain. However, if she is pregnant for less than 40 days she is considered like any other woman that must fast unless she is in great pain. He then concludes that if she feels weakness she is not to be stringent at all. The Kaf Hachaim ibid however writes this ruling a little differently: He writes that if she is in great pain she may be lenient from the 41st day, however prior to 40 days she must fast even if she is in great pain.
 See Background!
 Yechaveh Daas, brought in Piskeiy Teshuvos 550:1; There he brings that they are exempt from fasting for a full 24 months after the miscarriage just like a woman who gave birth.
 Daas Torah 550 based on Y.D. 189; Kneses Yechezkal 71:30; Ashel Avraham Tinyana 550:1; Alef Hamagen 3; Piskeiy Teshuvos 550:1; See Nitei Gavriel Bein Hametzarim 5:1 footnote 1
 The reason: As until the passing of 24 months from birth a woman is considered to have weakness and shaken limbs. [Poskim ibid, based on Y.D. 189]
 See Nitei Gavriel ibid for Rabbanim who disagree with this ruling. [The Rav of Papa]; Rav Yaakov Yosef in name of Rav Bentzion Aba Shaul negated the above opinions
 Avnei Nezer 540; Orchos Chaim 550:3 in name of Shut Ramatz; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 550:1-2 and footnote 2
 Admur 616:9
 Admur 616:9; Elya Raba 549:7; Kaf Hachaim 550:1; Biur Halacha 550 “Hakol Chayavim”
Two hairs: The above law only applies if the child has reached puberty which means that he or she has grown two pubic hairs. If the child has reached this age but does not have two pubic hairs, then although he or she must keep all the commands out of doubt that perhaps he or she grew the hairs and they fell off, nevertheless the child is not required to fast any of the Rabbinical fasts. [Admur ibid; M”A 616:3; Elya Raba 616 [unlike ruling in 550]; P”M 616 A”A 3 [unlike ruling in 550]; M”B 616:13 [unlike ruling in 550]; See Shevet Halevi 6:122; Beir Moshe 8:96; Piskeiy Teshuvos 550:5 that the ruling in 616 is the letter of the law while the ruling in 550 is the custom. Accordingly, even according to Admur there is room for them to fast, according to the custom. Vetzaruch Iyun]
Other Poskim: Some Poskim rule the child must fast even the Rabbinical fasts once he or she reaches 13:12 even if the child has not yet grown two hairs. [Elya Raba 550:7 [unlike ruling in 616]; P”M 550 A”A 2 [unlike ruling in 616]; Biur Halacha 550 “Hakol” [unlike ruling in 616]; Kaf Hachaim ibid]
 Admur 616:9; M”A 550:2; Elya Raba 550:7; P”M 550 A”A 2; M”B 550:5; Biur Halacha 550 “Hakol Chayavim”; Kaf Hachaim 550:1
 There is no source in Poskim for educating a child to fast the three fasts prior to his Bar/Bas Mitzvah. On the contrary, it is forbidden to force the child to do so, if they do not desire to fast. On the other hand, if they desire to fast, there is no need for the parent to stop them; See Rav SZ”A in Halichos Shlomo Moadim 13:3; Shaareiy Nechama 3
 Chayeh Adam 133:6; M”B ibid; Kaf Hachaim 550:9; Piskeiy Teshuvos 550 footnote 10
Other Opinions: Some Poskim rule that children [of nine years old] are to be educated to fast for a few hours into the day just as is the law on Yom Kippur, as rules Admur 616:5. [see Poskim in next footnote]
 Erech Hashulchan 554:2 and Beis Hillel brought in Kaf Hachaim 554:23; Siddur Yaavetz; Chanoch Lenaar 21 footnote 9; Beir Moshe 8:98; Piskeiy Teshuvos 554:9 that so is the custom; Nitei Gavriel 64:2
 Both boys and girls.
 Such as if they normally eat at 2:00 they are to eat at 3:00 and so on and so forth in accordance to the amount of delay that the child can handle. [Admur 616:5]
 Admur 616:10 regarding even Yom Kippur
 M”A 550:2; Rameh 111; P”M 549 A”A 7; Chayeh Adam ibid; M”B ibid; brought in Kaf Hachaim 549:8 and 550:9
 Some write this is starting from age nine. [See Piskeiy Teshuvos 550 footnote 11]
 Birkeiy Yosef 549:1; Daas Torah; Kaf Hachaim 549:8 and 550:9; Beir Moshe 8:95
 Beir Moshe ibid; Piskeiy Teshuvos 550:3
 See Piskeiy Teshuvos 550:4
 Avnei Nezer 426; Kinyan Torah 3:71; 460
 The reason: As the fast is merely a Tashlumin for Shabbos, and on Shabbos they were still children and not yet obligated. [Poskim ibid]
 Maharsham 3:363; Divrei Malkiel 5:130; Tzafnas Paneiach 44; Shevet Halevi 4:72; 6:70-71; Lehoros Nasan 5:36; Beir Moshe 8:20-21; Even Yisrael 7:26;
 The reason: As the fast is not Tashlumin [See Rashba 1:520] and even if it is Tashlumin, the child was only exempt due to weakness, and was not truly exempt on Shabbos. [Maharsham ibid]
 Shearim Hametzuyanim Behalacha 124:7; Tzitz Eliezer 9:27; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid
 Shvus Yaakov 3:37 “And so I am accustomed to rule regarding a slightly ill person, or a Yoledes within 30 days, or a pregnant woman and slightly ill”; Hagahos Rav Akiva Eiger 559:9 “One who is slightly sick, and a pregnant women who feels slightly ill, may eat”; Biur Halacha 559 “Eino”; Gevuros Ari Taanis 30b’ Toras Chaim Sofer 554:4; 559:14; Shevet Halevi 6:70; Nitei Gavriel 65:3; Piskeiy Teshuvos 554:5; See Yechaveh Daas 3
Other opinions: Some Poskim rule there is no additional leniency on Nidche. [See M”A 559:11 in the name of Kneses Hagedola; Yaavetz; See Zecher David 54]
 Divrei Malkiel ibid
 The reason: As we rule that on Tishe Beav Nidche a Baal Bris does not need to fast [Michaber 559:9], hence proving that Nidche has a more lenient status, and certainly we can be lenient in a case of illness. [Shvus Yaakov ibid]
 M”A 554:9; Shvus Yaakov ibid; P”M 554 A.A. 9; Shevet Halevi ibid
Other opinions: Some Poskim rule a Yoledes is obligated to fast once she is after seven days from birth even on Tisha Beav Nidche. [M”A 554:9 in name of Rashal in Teshuvah]
 Setimas Haposkim who record Shvus Yaakov ibid; Nitei Gavriel ibid footnote 4, see there in length, unlike the possible understanding from Shvus Yaakov ibid
 Tzemach Tzedek O.C. 108:110; Divrei Nechmia 42; Sefer Haminhagim p. 92 [English] regarding all four fasts and in footnote 342 even regarding Taanis Esther; Halachos Ketanos 2:100; Mahrahm Shick 289; Shaiy Lamorah 4; Marcheshes 1:14; Biur Halacha 554 “Bemakom” in name of Pischeiy Olam
 Chida in Machazik Bracha, brought in Kaf Hachaim 554:31; Mahrahm Shick 290; Avnei Nezer 540; Aruch Hashulchan 554:7
 Shevet Halevi 4:56; Kinyan Torah 1:118; Tzitzi Eliezer 10:25-16; Shraga Hameir 1:59; Piskeiy Teshuvos 554:9; Hiskashrus 889 that so he received from several Rabbanei Anash, despite the ruling in Sefer Haminhagim ibid
Some suggest the entire reason behind the Shiurim recorded in the previous Poskim who are stringent is order to also gain the advantage of being considered to have fasted, and hence be able to count for a Minyan for Kerias Hatorah, and saying Aneinu and the like, however not that one is required to follow these Shiurim. [See Hiskashrus ibid; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid and 566:6; Marcheshes ibid]
 Ritva Taanis; Peri Hadamah 4:41; M”A 550:5; Kesones Yosef 5; Beis Yehuda 31; Birkeiy Yosef 549:2; Kaf Hachaim 549:9
The reason: As the mourning of the public differs the Holiday of an individual. [Ritva ibid]
Other Poskim: Some Poskim are lenient in this matter and rule a Chasan is not required to fast, as his Yom Tov is greater than the Yom Tov of Mila and hence pushes off Aveilus. [Beis David 476 brought in Kaf Hachaim ibid]
 M”A 559:11 in name of Kneses Hagedola; brought in Shaareiy Tziyon 559:34
 Shaareiy Tziyon 559:34 in name of Beis Yehuda brought in Pischeiy Teshuvah
 Ashel Avraham 686 Mahadurah Tinyana
 See Sdei Chemed Mareches Yom Kippur 1:10 for an full analysis on this subject; Viheishiv Moshe 16 writes that this is dependent on the dispute between the Ridbaz and Chacham Tzvi brought in Beir Heiytiv 90:11 regarding a prisoner who has ability to Daven today with a Minyan or to choose to Daven on R”H with a Minyan.
 Lehoros Nasan 8:34
 Halachos Ketanos 1:290; Ohel Moshe ibid; Beir Moshe 8:34 that the world is accustomed to be lenient; Piskeiy Teshuvos 603:1
 Beir Moshe 8:34
 Piskeiy Teshuvos 549:1
 Admur 611:9; Rama 612:10
Other opinions: Some Poskim rule it is forbidden to touch food unnecessarily during a fast day, lest one come to eat the food. [P”M 612 M”Z 10 based on Taz 612:8 and M”A 612:6; Kaf Hachaim 612:56]
 The reason: As since one refrains from eating any food that entire day, he will not come to accidently eat the food that he touches, unlike the law of Chametz on Pesach. [Admur ibid]
Making food: The above law in 611:9 is regarding touching food, however in 611:7 and 9 Admur rules regarding Yom Kippur that one may not make food lest he come to eat it. Vetzaruch Iyun if this stringency applies during the four fasts, as learns the P”M ibid. Practically the custom is to be lenient.