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What is the Fast of Esther?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg


Library » Holidays » Fast Days | Subscribe | What is RSS?


The day before Purim, the 13th of Adar, is a fast day, the Fast of Esther. The fast starts approximately 72 minutes before sunrise and lasts until nightfall (approximately 40 minutes after sunset). Click here for the exact times of sunrise and nightfall for any location in the world.

If the 13th of Adar falls out on Shabbat, we fast the Thursday beforehand. Normally when a fast falls out on Shabbat we delay the fast until Sunday—but when Purim falls out on a Sunday, it just won’t be so festive if we are fasting... So instead we fast on the Thursday beforehand. [In honor of the Shabbat we refrain from fasting on Friday; we don't want the Shabbat to enter while we are fasting. However, if you forgot to fast on Thursday, you must fast on Friday.]

See also Why do we fast on the Fast of Esther?

Before Minchah of Ta’anit Esther the Machatzit Hashekel (Half shekel) is given. See What is the Machatzit Hashekel?


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Holidays » Purim » Fast of Esther

(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
A one-day holiday celebrated in late winter commemorating the miraculous deliverance of the Jewish people from a decree of annihilation issued by Persian King Ahasuerus in the year 356 BCE.
1. Jewish wife of Persian King Ahasuerus in the 4th century BCE. Foiled the plot of Haman, the prime minister, to exterminate all the Jews. The holiday of Purim commemorates this miraculous salvation. 2. One of the 24 Books of the Bible, which chronicles the abovementioned story.
The twelfth month on the Jewish calendar. This month (which falls out approx. February-March), is the most joyous month on the calendar due to the holiday of Purim which is on the 14th and 15th of this month.
(pl. Shekalim) Currency used in ancient Israel. [Modern Israeli currency also carries the same name.]
Machatzit Hashekel
Half a Shekel (ancient Jewish currency). When the Holy Temple stood in Jerusalem, every Jewish man was required annually to donate half a silver Shekel to the Temple coffers.
Afternoon prayer service. One of the three prayers a Jew is obligated to pray every day.