Pregnant woman fasting on Tzom Gedalia, Asara Beteves, 17th Tamuz

* This article is an excerpt from the above Sefer

Tzom Gedalia, Asara Beteves, 17th Tamuz:[1]

Pregnant[2] women are exempt from fasting.[3] This applies even if they do not experience pain in fasting, nevertheless, they are not obligated to fast.[4] Nevertheless, the custom of pregnant women is to be stringent to fast[5], unless they experience great pain [or feel weak[6]] in which case they are not to fast.[7] They are likewise not required to make up the fast at a later date.[8] [Practically, the widespread custom today is that pregnant 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.[9] They are also not required to make up the fast at a later date.[10]]

May a pregnant woman eat like a normal day?[11] Although pregnant 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.[12] [Accordingly, they are to avoid eating meat and drinking wine, unless they are weak and need it for their strength.[13]]



From what stage in pregnancy is a pregnant woman exempt from fasting?[14]

A pregnant woman who is in pain[15] 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 pregnant woman try to fast for a few hours in the morning prior to breaking their fast?[16]

No. They may eat immediately in the morning.


[1] Rama 550:1; See Toras Hayoledes Chapter 50

[2] See Q&A regarding from which month this begins

[3] 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.

[4] Rama ibid; Siddur Yaavetz

[5] 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

[6] M”B 550:5

[7] 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.

[8] 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.

[9] 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.

[10] 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.

[11] Michaber 554:5; Ashel Avraham 686 Mahadurah Tinyana; Chayeh Adam 133:6; M”B 550:5; Kaf Hachaim 550:7

[12] The reason: This is done in order to participate in the day of oppression followed by the community. [Ashel Avraham 686 Mahadurah Tinyana]

[13] M”B 550:5; See Seder Hayom Inyanei Bein Hametzarim; Piskeiy Teshuvos 5508

[14] M”B 550:3; Kaf Hachaim 550:5; Mor Uketzia 550; Piskeiy Teshuvos 550:1; Nitei Gavriel Bein Hametzarim 5

Background: 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. 

[15] See Background!

[16] Avnei Nezer 540; Orchos Chaim 550:3 in name of Shut Ramatz; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 550:1-2 and footnote 2

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