Halachos and Customs of Ta’anis Esther

Rabbi Lesches of Melbourne Australia has sent out reminders of Halachos and customs pertaining to Ta’anis Esther, which falls out tomorrow, Wednesday March 20th.

EATING PRIOR TO THE FAST

One may eat and drink the entire evening until dawn, provided that either of these conditions are met:
• One didn’t go to sleep for the night. [Dozing off is not regarded as such.]
• One stipulated (preferably verbally) before going to sleep that he would eat upon waking. In this case, one recites the morning Brochos before eating.

LAWS OF FASTING

One shouldn’t brush one’s teeth nor rinse one’s mouth. [If this will cause great aggravation, there is room to be lenient,
provided that one leans forward to prevent any liquid from flowing down one’s throat; that one uses substances unfit for consumption (e.g. Listerine); and that one rinses with less than 86 ml.]

One may take non-chewable pills for medical purposes, without water. A Rav should be consulted regarding other medicines.

One may shower, bathe and apply ointments and creams. [Even one who is strict on other fast days may nevertheless be lenient on Taanis Esther.]

One may touch food and engage in its preparation. However, one may not taste food to determine whether it requires
salt/spices. Nevertheless, when preparing food for a Seudas Mitzvah scheduled for the night following the fast, one may taste the food, provided that all these conditions are met:
• One expels it without swallowing.
• One tastes only an absolute minimum.
• One does not taste more than 86 ml in total throughout the day.

TAANIS ESTHER: SHACHARIS

During Shacharis, only the Chazzan recites Aneinu. Therefore, one who is not fasting (or who anticipates that he won’t
be able to finish the fast) shouldn’t serve as Chazzan. [In the unlikely event that the Chazzan is not fasting, or less than three congregants are fasting: Instead of reciting Aneinu between Goel Yisroel and R’faeinu, the Chazzan includes Aneinu in the Brocho of Sh’ma Koleinu, and concludes the Brocho regularly; i.e. Shomea Tefillah.]

A Chazzan who forgot to recite Aneinu:
• if he remembered before reciting Hashem’s name at the conclusion of the Brocho of R’foeinu, he recites Aneinu immediately, and then repeats the Brocho of R’foeinu;
• if he already concluded the Brocho of R’foeinu, he recites Aneinu in the Brocho of Sh’ma Koleinu, and concludes the Brocho with a double conclusion; i.e. Ha’one B’eis Tzara V’shomea Tefillah;
• if he already concluded the Brocho of Sh’ma Koleinu, he recites Aneinu as a separate Brocho immediately after the Brocho of Sim Shalom. Selichos is recited. One who davens without a Minyan omits the Yud-Gimel Midos-Harachamim. It is customary to stand for the entire Selichos. [An infirm person may sit. If possible, he should at least stand for each recitation of the Yud-Gimel Midos.]

The long Avinu Malkeinu is recited. [It is not our custom to recite it verse by verse after the Chazzan.]

If Tachnun is not recited (e.g. a Chosson is present), Selichos is still recited, whereas Avinu Malkeinu is not recited.

One who is not fasting must still recite Selichos and the long Avinu Malkeinu.

TAANIS ESTHER: KRIAH

The passage of Vayechal is read, provided that at least three congregants are fasting.

A non-fasting individual must still hear Krias Hatorah of Vayechal, but is not called up for an Aliya. [If he is the only Kohen or Levi, he should absent himself.] If he is called up, and refusing the Aliya will cause him discomfort or minimize the honour of the Torah, he may accept the Aliya. In any case, he may perform Hagbah or Gelilah.

A non-fasting individual shouldn’t serve as the Ba’al Koreh, unless there is no one else who can do so.

When the congregation recites the verses aloud, the Ba’al Koreh waits for silence before resuming. The one receiving the Aliya begins these verses with the congregation, but concludes them with the Ba’al Koreh.

CONDUCT ON TAANIS ESTHER

One should learn Torah connected to the topic of the fast. One should give increased Tzedakah, especially before davening. It is proper to give the value of the forgone meals – especially if one is exempt from fasting.

The purpose of fasting is to make a Cheshbon Hanefesh (reckoning of one’s deeds) and arouse one to do Teshuvah.
Idling away one’s time, or partaking in joyous or entertaining activities, is not in the spirit of the fast. One should be
especially careful not to become angered.

MACHATZIS HASHEKEL

Before Mincha, all males over Bar- Mitzvah give three halves of the local currency.

One should not use Maaser money for his own Machatzis Hashekel.

The Rebbeim would also give Machatzis Hashekel on behalf of their wives and daughters, as well as for their sons under the age of Bar Mitzvah. [Sefer Haminhagim qualifies that this isn’t a directive for the public. Nevertheless, it is
prevalent amongst Chassidim to do so.]

Where possible, boys below Bar Mitzvah should personally give their Machatzis Hashekel.

It is preferable that the proceeds go to a Shule or Beis Midrash, just as the Machatzis Hashekel of old would be used
for the Beis Hamikdash. Otherwise, the proceeds are distributed to the poor.

TAANIS ESTHER: MINCHA

Mincha is longer than usual (due to Krias Hatorah and Haftorah); it should be timed to conclude before sunset.

Ideally, Krias Hatorah should not begin prior to Mincha Gedolah. Shmoneh Esrei may certainly not begin before then.

After Haftorah, the Chazzan slowly recites Kaddish while the Torah is returned to the Aron Hakodesh, similar to Mincha on Shabbos.

If an individual forgot to recite Aneinu in the Brocho of Sh’ma Koleinu, he may recite it in the passage Elokai N’tzor, before the second Yih’yu L’ratzon. If one didn’t remember until he concluded Shmoneh Esrei, he does not repeat it. [A
non-fasting individual does not recite Aneinu.]

The Chazzan recites Aneinu between Goel Yisroel and R’faeinu, and also recites Birchas Kohanim towards the end of
Shmoneh Esrei. Tachnun and Avinu Malkeinu are not recited, since it is Erev Purim.

The Rebbe reintroduced the custom of addressing the congregation after Mincha to arouse them with feelings of Teshuvah.

Purim

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