Taanis Esther-Summary of Laws


Taanis Esther

  • The date: The 13th of Adar is an accustomed fast day.
  • A Yom Segula: The Kav Hayashar writes that on Taanis Esther the gates of mercy are open, and it is hence an auspicious time for Hashem to accept one’s prayers.
  • Reciting psalm 22: On this day one should recite psalm 22, which was recited in reference to Esther , and then supplicate to Hashem for whatever matter he needs salvation.
    • He is to Daven that in the merit of Mordechai and Esther his prayers will be answered.
  • When does the fast begin? The fast begins at Alos Hashachar of the day of the 13th of Adar. There are various opinions in Poskim, and calendars, regarding the time of Alos Hashachar. The suggested approach for those who follow the opinion of Admur, is to be stringent to stop eating and drinking starting from 120 fluctuating minutes before sunrise [when the sun is 26 degrees below the horizon].
  • Eating and drinking before Alos after sleeping: If one slept [even on the couch] and then woke up prior to Alos he may not eat, unless he stipulated prior to going to sleep that he plans to eat after awaking before Alos.
    • He may however have a drink, even if he did not stipulate before going to sleep, although initially it is proper to stipulate before going to sleep even if one only plans to drink and not to eat.
  • Those exempt from fast: One who is sick or is experiencing a great amount of pain is exempt from fasting on Taanis Esther.
    • Pregnant and nursing women are exempt from fasting on Taanis Esther.
    • Children are not required to fast, even for a few hours. 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.
  • No Torah classes: The Mahril would not give a class on Taanis Esther in order so people are able to properly prepare for Purim.
  • Rinsing mouth: One does not rinse his mouth, brush his teeth, or use mouthwash, during a fast day, unless he feels extreme discomfort.
  • Shacharis: Selichos is recited after Shemoneh Esrei of Shacharis.
    • When reciting Selichos without a Minyan one omits the 13 attributes of mercy, and the parts in Aramaic.
    • Avinu Malkeinu is recited after Selichos.
    • The Chazan recites Aneinu in his repetition of Shacharis.
    • Aneinu is not recited by anyone in the silent Shemoneh Esrei of Shacharis.
  • Mincha: Prior to Mincha one is to give Igara Ditaanisa to charity. [The fast “tax” which consists of the money worth of meals saved by fasting. This money is given to charity.]
    • The Torah is read by Mincha with a Haftorah and is returned to the ark after Yehalelu, prior to the half Kaddish.
    • At Mincha everyone says Aneinu in Shemoneh Esrei.
    • Birchas Kohanim is recited in the Chazan’s repetition of Mincha.
    • In Jerusalem, Nesias Kapayim is performed if Mincha is taking place past Plag Hamincha.
    • Tachanun and Avinu Malkeinu are omitted by Mincha, [with exception to when Taanis Esther is pushed up to Thursday].
  • Eating and drinking before Megillah: From the letter of the law, it is forbidden to eat even a mere snack prior to hearing the Megillah reading both at night and by day.
    • Although there is room to permit drinking before Megillah reading, it is customary amongst many to fast until after the reading, if they can handle it.
    • In a time of great need, one may eat a snack prior to the reading of both night and day, which does not consist of more than 57 grams of Mezonos or Hamotzi foods.
  • The Half Shekel: The half Shekel donation is given on Erev Purim prior to Mincha.
    • In Jerusalem, and other walled cities, it is to be given on the day of the 14th, prior to Mincha, and not on Taanis Esther.
    • How many coins: One is to give three half coins to charity.
    • The value of the coins: Each coin is to be half of the currency amount used in one’s country. Hence in the Unites States that the currency is one dollar, one is to give three half dollar coins. In Israel that the currency is one Shekel, one is to give three half shekel coins.
    • Some Poskim however rule that if one has the ability, he is to give a half coin which contains real silver and is worth at least the monetary value of the half Shekel in the times of the Temple. As of March 2023, one gram of silver was worth $.68 for a total of $6.52 for the half silver Shekel.]
    • Giving on behalf of one’s family? The custom is for the father of the house to give three half coins on behalf of each member of his family, including his wife and small children [both male and female], and including even for the fetus if his wife is pregnant.
    • Children: It is best to give the children money for them to fulfill the Mitzvah themselves.
    • To what purpose is the half shekel to be donated to? One may donate the money to a Shul or for other Mitzvah purposes.

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