Pregnant woman fasting on Tishe Beav

* This article is an excerpt from the above Sefer

Tishe Beav:[1]

A pregnant woman must fast on Tisha B’av just like on Yom Kippur. [If, however, a pregnant woman feels weak and will become sick due to the fast, she is not to fast.[2] If a pregnant woman begins to feel dizzy or begins to experience labor [i.e. contractions] or low/high blood pressure, she is to break her fast.[3] Certainly, if she feels sick and needs to lay in bed, she is to break her fast.[4] Some Poskim[5] are lenient for all pregnant women who are prior to their due date, to not fast if it is very difficult due to the hot weather. Furthermore, some Poskim[6] are lenient in all cases, that a pregnant woman prior to her due date is not to fast, due to fear of miscarriage. Practically, such a woman is to contact a Rav for a final ruling.]

The extra leniency by Tishe Beav Nidcheh:[7] A pregnant woman may break her fast if she feels even slightly sick [or weak].[8] [This applies even absent of the other reasons for exempting a pregnant woman from fasting, as explained above.] 


  Q&A If a pregnant woman began to have contractions, is she to break her fast? From beginning of pregnancy[9] up to end of 9th month:[10] If a pregnant woman who is before the conclusion of her 9th month feels contractions that can lead to miscarriage or early birth, or if she feels pressure to push out the baby, then she is to eat and drink any amount of food until her body calms down. After 9th month:[11] A pregnant woman who has completed her 9th month [past week 37 from conception[12]] is not to break her fast unless she has entered into active labor to the point she cannot walk, is on the birthing stool, or has broken her waters, just as is the law regarding transgressing Shabbos. When she reaches this point, she may eat regularly.[13] However, prior to reaching this state, she is not to eat or drink, unless she feels sick or bedridden.[14]   When exempt from fasting, as stated above, must one nevertheless try to fast as many hours as possible? Some Poskim[15] rule that one who is exempt from fasting should at the very least fast for a few hours, if it is not too difficult. Practically, the final Rabbinic directive is that one who is exempt from fasting may eat immediately in the morning.[16] Nevertheless, if possible, one is try to fast at night, until the morning.[17] When Tisha B’av falls on Motzei Shabbos, if one is able to fast until the morning, Havdala is not to be recited until the next day.[18]   Must one who needs to eat or drink only take the minimal measurements “Shiurim” as required on Yom Kippur? Some Poskim[19] rule one is required to follow the same eating and drinking measurements “Shiurim” prescribed on Yom Kippur. Other Poskim[20] however rule it is not necessary. Practically, the custom is not to follow the former opinion, and hence one who is permitted to eat or drink may do so without limitation.[21]   If one is medically required to drink, must he nevertheless abstain from eating foods? Some Poskim[22] rule that a sick person is only allowed to eat and drink in accordance to his medical need, to give him strength, but not any further. Thus, if one is medically required to drink but is not required to eat, then although he may drink, he is nevertheless to abstain from eating foods. The same applies to any sick person, that if he is able to suffice with drinking alone, then he is not to eat, and if he is able to suffice with one meal then he is not to eat any more. However, from other Poskim[23] it is evident that a sick person is completely exempt from the fast.   If one is medically required to eat only at night, is she to fast by the daytime of Tisha B’av?[24] Yes.   When Tisha B’av falls on Sunday, must one who is not fasting say Havdala prior to eating? Yes.[25] This includes men and women. What is the Seder of Havdala in such a case? One omits the verses of “Hinei Keil Yeshuasi”[26], and rather begins from the blessing of Hagafen or Shehakol [depending on his beverage]. The blessing of Besamim is omitted. If this Havdala is being recited on Sunday, the blessing of Haeish is likewise omitted, and is to be said the night before. Is wine to be used or Chamer Medina? Some Poskim[27] rule one is to use wine or grape juice. Others[28] rule one is only to use Chamer Medina, such as tea or coffee. If there is a child available who has not reached the age of Chinuch for mourning but is past the age of Chinuch for blessings, one may say Havdala over wine and give him to drink.[29]   Question: Should I eat the Seudas Hamfsekes even if I will not be fasting?   Answer: Yes, you should nevertheless eat a Seudas Hamafsekes and partake in all its regulations and customs.   Sources: See Shevet Halevi 10:83; Halichos Shlomo 15:2; Halichos Vehanhagos p. 13; Or Letziyon 28 footnote 1; Toras Hayoledes 48 footnote 18; Nitei Gavriel 51 footnote 6  

[1] Michaber 554:5; Rama 550:1; Pesachim 54b; See Toras Hayoledes Chapter 51

[2] Aruch Hashulchan 554:7; Piskeiy Teshuvos 554:5

The reason: As she is considered like a sick person. [ibid]

[3] See Q&A!

[4] Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid; and so I received from Harav Asher Lemel Hakohen

[5] Rav SZ”A in Halichos Beisa 25:2; Tzedaka Umishpat Hakdama; Rav Yaakov Yosef; See Nitei Gavriel 65 footnote 2

[6] Rav Yaakov Yisrael Fisher [brought in Sefer Pnei Baruch; Piskeiy Teshuvos 617 footnote 1] was of the opinion that today pregnant women no longer have to fast, and may eat less than the Shiur on Yom Kippur, due to danger of miscarriage. Practically, this ruling is not accepted amongst Poskim or Moreh Horaas and rather each case must be judged individually by a competent Rav. [Tzitz Eliezer 17:20; Teshuvos Vehanhagos 2:292; Piskeiy Teshuvos 617:1; Rav Ovadia Yosef] However, Rav Yaakov Yosef ruled after a thorough investigation amongst doctors, and discovering a dispute amongst them as to the dangers of fasting, regarding Tisha B’av which is a Rabbincial fast, one may be lenient.

[7] 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-Stringent: 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]

Other opinions by pregnant woman that she does not need to fast at all: Some Poskim rule a pregnant and nursing woman does not need to fast at all even if they are feeling well, as this fast is similar to any Nidche fast. The proof for this is from the fact that if on a regular fast day we do not allow a Baal Bris to eat, but do allow a pregnant and nursing woman to eat, then certainly on a Nidche fast day that we allow a Baal Bris to eat, that we allow a pregnant and nursing woman to eat. [Divrei Malkiel 3:26 “It has the same status as other fast days, and even a pregnant or nursing woman has the same status as other fast days”; Rav Ovadia Yosef, recorded in Chazon Ovadia and so rules his sons Rav Yaakov and Yitzchak Yosef, as heard in a Shiur] Vetzaruch Iyun Gadol as a) The proof from a Baal Bris is not relevant to a pregnant or nursing woman, as a Baal Bris has a personal Yom Tov, while a pregnant and nursing woman is exempt due to the illness category, and since on Tisha Beav the Sages obligated them to fast, there is no proof that this obligation was rescinded if there is no illness involved. [See Zecher David 54] Furthermore, all the Poskim who record the above source of Bris to permit a slightly ill person to eat on Nidche, all explicitly write that by a pregnant woman, she may eat if she is slightly ill, and do not permit it indiscriminately. [See Shvus Yaakov ibid; Rav Akiva Eiger ibid; Biur Halacha ibid] Furthermore, even the Divrei Malkiel ibid who states that it has the same status as a regular fast, in truth by a regular fast the Rama [550:1] rules the custom is for pregnant and nursing woman to fast unless they feel great pain or weakness. Thus, the Divrei Malkiel never advocated for an indiscriminate exemption of pregnant and nursing woman! Nonetheless, in truth some Poskim of today rule that even on a non-Nidche Tisha Beav pregnant woman do not need to fast due to worry of miscarriage, as explained above, and certainly this would apply even more by Nidche.

[8] 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]

[9] From when is a woman considered pregnant in this regard? There is no difference in this regard whether she is in the beginning or end of her pregnancy. [M”B 617:1] The laws of fasting relevant to a pregnant woman begins to apply from the moment she knows she is pregnant, even if this is prior to the passing of 40 days from the time of conception. [Daas Torah 617:1; Sheivet Halevy 7:80; Nitei Gavriel 38:4] However, there are Poskim who question whether prior to 40 days we allow her to break her fast to prevent miscarriage. [Shaar HaTziyon 617:1; See also M”B 550:3; Kaf Hachaim 550:5]

[10] Ruling of Rav Asher Lemel Cohen and Rav Yaakov Yosef

[11] See M”B 617:9; Mamar Mordechai 617:3; Alef Lamateh 617:5; Sdei Chemed 3:2; Meishiv Halacha 242; Minchas Yehuda 29; Nitei Gavriel 38:5; Regarding that the above applies only after 9 months: So ruled Rav Yaakov Yosef and Rav A. L. Cohen

[12] According to Halacha, a child is considered premature, and an 8th month child, until nine full months have passed from conception. [See Y.D. 374:8; See Meil Tzedaka 5, brought in Pischeiy Teshuvah 374:9 that we follow the Hebrew months in this regard, and not an amount of weeks or days. Thus, since the months vary between 29 and 30 days, determining how many weeks:days need to pass depends on how many days were in each of the nine months of her pregnancy. If, for example, there were five 30 day months and four 29 day months, then it is exactly 38 weeks, which is 266 days. If however there were more or less than five 30 day months, then it would be more or less than 38 weeks. Thus, we determine the completion of nine months based on the passing of Hebrew months, and not based on weeks or days.] Medically, however, a child is only considered premature if born prior to week 37 from her last period, which is approximately week 35 from conception. Nonetheless, a child born in week 37-38 from the last period is termed an “early term baby” and quite often the child is not yet developed enough to be born. It is only considered full term in weeks 39-40 from the last period, which fits the Halachic definition of 37-38 weeks from conception. 

[13] See Poskim ibid that compare a woman giving birth to a regular Yoledes within three days, of which the law is that she may eat regularly.

[14] Piskeiy Teshuvos 317:1 footnote 3; Rav A. L. Cohen

The reason: As there is no danger involved for her or the child if she gives birth in her 9th month, and hence there is no reason to permit her to eat in order to stop contractions.

[15] Elya Raba brought in M”B 554:16

[16] Piskeiy Teshuvos 554:9

[17] Avnei Nezer 540; Kaf Hachaim 556:9; Minchas Yitzchak 8:30; Kinyan Torah 2:111; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid and 556:4

[18] Kaf Hachaim ibid; Poskim ibid

[19] Tzemach Tzedek O.C. 108:110; Divrei Nechemia 42; Sefer Haminhagim p. 92 [English]; Halachos Ketanos 2:100; Maharam Shick 289; Shaiy Lamorah 4; Marcheshes 1:14; Biur Halacha 554 “Bemakom” in name of Pischeiy Olam

[20] Chida in Machazik Bracha, brought in Kaf Hachaim 554:31; Maharam Shick 290; Avnei Nezer 540; Aruch Hashulchan 554:7

[21] Shevet Halevi 4:56; Kinyan Torah 1:118; Tzitz 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

The reason: 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]

[22] Chasam Sofer 157 “Is a sick person not obligated in the fast? Is it completely permitted for him? Did the Sages not only permit him to eat according to need, and if it suffices for him to drink then he may not eat, and if it suffices for him to eat once then he may not eat a second time?”; Maharil Diskin Kuntrus Achron 75

[23] See Michaber 554:6 and so is implied from Setimas Haposkim, and all Poskim who rule that one who is sick and ate cannot be called for an Aliyah. Vetzaruch Iyun!

[24] Orchos Chaim Spinka in name of Neziros Shimshon; Shevet Hakehasi 2:190; Piskeiy Teshuvos 554:9

[25] Kneses Hagedola 2:71; Birkeiy Yosef 556:3; Zechor Leavraham 556:9; Shaareiy Teshuvah 556:1; Moed Lekol Chaiy 49; Kaf Hachaim 556:9

[26] Divrei Malkiel 6:9; Piskeiy Teshuvos 556:4 as is the ruling by an Avel; Regarding an Avel-see Pischeiy Teshuvah 376:2; 391:1 Piskeiy Teshuvos 296:6

[27] Birkeiy Yosef ibid; Shraga Hameir 7:71; Az Nidbaru 11:48

[28] Kaf Hachaim 556:9; Minchas Yitzchak 8:30; Kinyan Torah 2:111

[29] Kaf Hachaim ibid

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