How long is Ta’anis Esther?

Ta’anis Esther--the fast of Esther--takes place on the thirteenth day of Adar. It commemorates the fast of the Jewish warriors, who fasted for their success before fighting the Gentiles that wanted to kill them. The fast serves as a reminder that Hashem heeds the tefillos of those who call out to him through teshuva and fasting in their time of need. Shulchon Aruch records the custom of some who fast for three days. These fasts commemorate the fasts which Esther fasted together with Klal Yisroel to annul Haman’s decree. Due to the weakening of later generations, this custom is no longer practiced.

[שו"ע תרפו, ב-ג, משנ"ב ה ו־ח, ושעה"צ יא]

Are pregnant and nursing women exempt from fasting on Ta’anis Esther?

It is not necessary to be as stringent on Ta’anis Esther as on other public fasts. Therefore, some Achronim say that a pregnant or nursing woman does not need to fast. This contrasts with other fasts, when a pregnant or nursing woman is only exempt if she is feeling weak. A weak person is also exempt from fasting on Ta’anis Esther. Other Achronim are more stringent. A person who is exempt from fasting should minimize his intake of food as a way of participating in the tzibur’s fast.
[שו"ע תרפו, ב, משנ"ב ד, ושעה"צ י; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 11 ,12 ו־16]

How is Ta’anis Esther different than other fasts?

Ta’anis Esther is different than other fasts because it was not instituted to commemorate a tragedy. Therefore, it is not a day that one must afflict himself. Even those who are stringent and refrain from bathing on other fasts allow bathing on Ta’anis Esther. Dancing and listening to music are also permissible, as is having a chasunah on the night before the fast.

[ביאורים ומוספים דרשו תרפו, 5 ;וראה שו"ע תקס, ג, וביה"ל תקנא, ב, ד"ה מראש]
  • Reading Parshas Zachor is a fulfillment of the mitzvah of remembering the story of Amalek. According to some Rishonim, the mitzvah is to read it from a Sefer Torah. Some even argue that reading it together with a minyan of ten people is also min haTorah. According to a minority view, reading Parshas Parah is also min haTorah.

  • As a rule, kriyas haTorah is an obligation incumbent on the tzibur and not the individual. Therefore, a person who lives in a city that does not have a minyan generally does not need to leave town in search of a minyan to participate in kriyas haTorah. Reading Parshas Zachor (and according to some, Parshas Parah), however, is an obligation on the individual. Therefore, one must try to get to a minyan. If this is not feasible, he must read it on his own from a Sefer Torah.

  • The Ba’al Koreh must be careful to read Parshas Zachor with the utmost precision. A person should try to hear the kriyah read with the pronunciation that he is accustomed to. 

  • What is the proper time to read the Megilah?

  • Can the Megilah be read before sunrise?

  • Is there a mitzvah to increase joy in Adar Rishon?
PLEASE NOTE: The information in this email is for learning purposes only. Please review the Mishna Berura and Biurim U'Musafim before making a halachic decision. Hebrew words are occasionally transliterated to enable a smoother reading of the text. Common Ashkenazi pronunciation is generally used in these cases.
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