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The Fast of the 10th of Teves on Erev Shabbos

 

This year, the fast of the 10th of Teves falls on Friday. This week’s article will provide an overview of the relevant halachos of the 10th of Teves on a Friday.

Mincha on a fast day is usually a longer prayer, with reading from the Torah and additional prayers (Aneinu, Tachanun and Avinu Malkeinu). Are these prayers recited in the Mincha of this Friday afternoon?

Tasting the Shabbos foods is another issue – can one taste a drop in order to see if the food is seasoned properly? Many have the custom to taste the Shabbos foods on Friday afternoon. Can this custom be upheld this Friday afternoon?

When does the fast end, and can one decide to pray Maariv early and make an “early Shabbos” to end the fast earlier? Is one permitted to wait and learn a little after Maariv this week? And what about showers and haircuts — can they be taken this Friday? Can a Kohen who accepted Shabbos join a minyan for Birkas Kohanim at Mincha, and when should a Pidyon Haben (“redeeming of the firstborn”) be performed?

Of this and more in the following article.

Fasting on Erev Shabbos

The only fast day that can fall on a Friday is the 10th of Teves, which falls on a Friday infrequently. This year is one such year. The article this week will discuss the halachos of a fast day on Erev Shabbos, and particularly, the halachos of the 10th of Teves.

Mincha on Erev Shabbos

The Rama (550:3) rules that the Torah reading for a fast — “Vayacheil” — should be read in the Mincha of every fast day, even if it falls on a Friday. The Mishna Brura (550:11) adds that the chazan should also recite the additional prayer of Aneinu when repeating the Amidah for Mincha. Confessions and Tachanun, thought, are not recited because it is after midday of Erev Shabbos. Aruch Hashulchan adds (Orech Chayim 550:2) that Avinu Malkeinu is not recited after Mincha of a fast day on Erev Shabbos. Rav Ovadia Yosef (Yechave Da’at volume I, chapter 54) mentions that some communities recite Avinu Malkeinu even on Shabbos while omitting any phrases mentioning sin (such as the first Avinu Malkeinu). Sefardic Communities that follow this custom may certainly recite Avinu Malkeinu at Mincha of Erev Shabbos.

People who have the custom to don tefillin for Mincha on a fast day should not do so this 10th of Teves. According to Kabala (the secret facets of the Torah), tefillin should not be donned on Erev Shabbos after midday. However, according to the revealed Torah there is no prohibition involved, and whoever has the custom to do so, may certainly go ahead and lay tefillin. One must, however, remove his tefillin before Shabbos.

Tasting Shabbos Foods

Many have the custom to taste the Shabbos foods before Shabbos to make sure they are properly seasoned and cooked. This year, since Friday is a fast day, this custom requires clarification. According to the Shulchan Aruch (Orech Chayim 567:1) tasting foods the amount of less than a reviis (86-150 ml) without swallowing is permitted on any fast day. However, the Rama is of opinion that it is forbidden completely. On Erev Shabbos, though, the Mishna Brura writes (6) that one who tastes the food that is being cooked to ensure that the food which will be served at a seudas mitzva (in this case, the Shabbos meal) is tasty can rely upon the Shulchan Aruch’s opinion and taste the food without swallowing it.

The Piskei Teshuvos adds, though, that one who knows the food is properly seasoned and only wants to taste it for the custom is not permitted to do so on a fast day, even if he does not swallow the food.

Fasting and Enjoying Shabbos

Enjoying Shabbos is a central feature in Shabbos observance. Spending the first hour or so of Shabbos ravenously hungry seems to contradict this mitzva. This question is especially relevant to inhabitants of the Southern Hemisphere, where the 10th of Teves can be a very long, hot day.

This question was debated among the Tanoim (Eiruvin 41a) – does one have to fast until the stars come out (tzeis hakochavim) on Shabbos following a public a fast day, or can one perhaps eat a little before sundown on Friday so as not to enter Shabbos suffering. The Rishonim are divided on the matter.

In practice, the Shulchan Aruch (Orech Chayim 249:4) rules that every fast day ends with tzeis hakochavim. However, the Rama quotes the opinions that require every Friday fast, whether public or private, to end a shortly before Shabbos. The Rama ruled that a private fast on Friday should indeed, end a short time before Shabbos (one should preferably declare that his private fast will only last until plag hamincha — approximately 1:15 hours before sunset. However, a public fast day should not end until tzeis hakochavim on the Friday night following the fast.

If necessary, “early Shabbos” can be done this Friday, and should be carried out as follows: Maariv can be recited after plag hamincha to allow the congregation to return home before the end of the fast. Then they will be able to begin Kiddush immediately at tzeis hakochavim without delay. Mincha, however, should be davened before plag hamincha (even though, in most communities in Eretz Yisroel Birkas Kohanim would not be recited), and the congregants should be careful not to forget to recite Krias Shema again after tzeis hakochavim.

After the fast’s conclusion, one should hurry to make Kiddush. The Mishna Brura (417:4) quotes the Rama of Pano as encouraging one who fasts on Erev Rosh Chodesh to hurry and eat after tzeis hakochavim so as not to remain on Rosh Chodesh in a state of suffering. If this is true on Rosh Chodesh, we can learn a fortiori regarding Shabbos.

Some Hassidic communities have the custom to refrain from reciting Kiddush in the first hour of Shabbos because at this time mazal ma’adim (the zodiac sign of Mars/Jupiter) rules. Followers of this custom either pray Maariv after plag hamincha and then make Kiddush early, or pray after tzeis hakochavim and delay Kiddush until after the first hour of Shabbos. This week, members of these communities recite Kiddush immediately after Maariv even though it is the first hour of Shabbos, so as not to suffer unnecessarily on Shabbos (See Or Yisroel 5766, edition 42, page 208).

Laws of a Fast Day

The Rambam writes (Hilchos Taa’nios, chapter 1:14):

Whenever a person is fasting, whether he is fasting because of an individual distress, a disturbing dream, or distress of a communal nature, he should not indulge in pleasures, act frivolously, or be happy and of good spirits. Instead, [his conduct] should be characterized by serious concern, [as if he were] in mourning, as [implied by Eichah 3:39]: “Over what should a living man be concerned? [Each] man over his sins.”

Following these directives, we find in the poskim various rulings regarding enjoyable pleasures on fast days:

On regular fast days, excluding Yom Kippur and the 9th of Av, only eating and drinking is forbidden. On Yom Kippur and the 9th of Av additional prohibitions apply (among them bathing, listening to music, laundering, wearing leather shoes). The poskim write that while those additional restrictions are not obligatory on regular fast days, a person of higher spiritual status should refrain from them.

The Mishna Brura writes (650:8) that even a person who does practice those additional restrictions may wash in cold water. The Aruch Hashulchan (550:3) explains that washing in cold water is not washing for pleasure but to remove discomfort, and as such, permitted on a regular fast day.

According to the Mishna Brura (Biur Halacha 551:2) on the fast days of the 17th of Tammuz and the 10th of Teves one should conduct himself as he does on the nine days leading up to the 9th of Av. This ruling is understood differently by the various contemporary poskim: according to the Tzitz Eliezer (volume 7, chapter 49) this ruling is intended to restrict business dealings and starting new building projects, as well as marrying. The other restrictions that apply on those days before the 9th of Av do not apply (bathing, laundering and haircuts). However, Rabbi Seraya Devlitzky (Ze Hashulchan volume 1, Orech Chayim 551) includes haircuts in this prohibition. Rabbi Chayim Palagi (Ruach Chayim 566:4) ruled that haircuts should not be taken on a fast day.

According to the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (122:1) one who makes his living from music production can be lenient after the 17th of Tamuz and sing before non-Jews. However, starting from Rosh Chodesh Av, as well as on the fast days of 17th of Tammuz and 10th of Teves one should not play music even for a living.

This year, when the 10th of Teves falls on Friday, the Mishna Brura writes (550:6) that in honor of Shabbos one can certainly bathe in hot water. Rabbi Chayim Palagi and Rabbi Seraya Devlitzky rule similarly regarding haircuts and laundering Shabbos clothes. (In general, though, one should refrain from doing laundry on Friday, if possible).

Pidyon Haben (Redemption of the First-Born)

A firstborn male baby born this year on the 10th of Kiselev should have a Pidyon Haben on the 10th of Teves, the 31st day of the child’s life. Customarily, a festive meal is served following the ceremony. What should be done if it falls on a fast day?

There are differences of opinion when the first time the mitzva of Pidyon Haben can be performed. Some rule it is when 29 days +12 hours and 44 minutes + 1/18th of a minute have elapsed. Some opine only on the 31st day (including the day of birth and the 31st day in the calculation). Some have the custom to perform the ceremony specifically during the daytime. Under normal circumstances, Pidyon Haben is performed on the 31st day of a child’s life.

The source for the meal served after the ceremony appears in Terumas Hadeshn (269) and is mentioned in the Rama (Yore Deah 305:10). The reason is to publicize the mitzva and its performance. Therefore, the Shach writes (Yore Deah 305:12) that performing the mitzva and serving a meal later is pointless, because the mitzva is not publicized as a result.

When a Pidyon Haben falls on a fast day, the Shach writes (Yore Deah 305:12) that if the earliest time for performing the mitzva is before the fast begins, one should perform the ceremony and meal before the fast. If it is impossible, it should be done after the fast.

The Mishna Brura (568:20) records two opinions on the matter: the Magen Avraham, according to whom the ceremony should take place during the fast and the meal immediately afterwards [Rabbi Shlomo Kluger (Helef Lecha Shlomo 349) adds that the ceremony should be carried out right before sundown at the end of the fast and the meal should be served immediately afterwards) and the Chasam Sofer, according to whom if 29.5 days passed on the night before the fast, the ceremony and meal should take place before the fast, even during the night.

The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (164:3) is of the opinion that the ceremony should be performed right after the fast is over.

This year, if the ceremony cannot be performed on the night before the fast, and as performing the ceremony on Friday while serving he meal on Friday night does not show that the meal is in honor of the mitzva, Rav Eliyashiv rules (Chishukei Chemed, Bechoros 49b) that the ceremony should be performed on Friday, sans the festive meal.

10th of Teves on Shabbos

Ever since the era of the Tanonim, when the Jewish calendar was instituted, the 10th of Teves cannot fall on Shabbos. However before that, and when the Mikdash will be rebuilt (may it be speedily, in our times!) and the Grand Jewish Court will again consecrate every Jewish month separately according to witnesses of the moon’s rebirth – what would happen if the 10th of Teves fell on Shabbos?

According to Rashi (Megillah 5a); Rambam (Taa’nios, 5:5); Rabbenu Yehonason and others, the fast would be postponed to Sunday, just as other fast days.

The Abudraham (Seder Tefillas Hata’anis), though, is of opinion that if the 10th of Teves falls on Shabbos it is not postponed and one would fast on Shabbos. His ruling is deduced from the pasuk “Then the word of the Lord came to me in the ninth year, in the tenth month, on the tenth of the month, saying: ‘Son of man, write for yourself the name of the day, this very day; the king of Babylon has besieged Yershalayim on this very day” (Yechezkeil 24:1-2). In his opinion, this fast day is like the fast of Yom Kippur which is not postponed due to Shabbos. The Beis Yosef (Orech Chayim 550), however, wonders how he could learn this from a pasuk which is not mentioned in the Gemara.

A third option is mentioned in the Orechos Chayim (part 1, chapter 19) and Sefer haMinhagim of Rabbi Isaac Tyrnau (Tevet, 38). They opine that this deduction from the pasuk is necessary even in order to allow one to fast on a Friday because the fast runs into Shabbos, and people enter Shabbos while fasting.

This is the reason, explain Yesod Olam (Ma’amar 4 chapter 9) and Rabbi David Arama, that the Jewish calendar has the lengths of all months predetermined except for the months of Cheshvan and Kislev. Only those months’ length is flexible – sometimes 29 days, and sometimes 30 — to ensure that the 10th of Teves does not fall on Shabbos.

Why the extra precaution? Why can other fast days be postponed if they fall on Shabbos, while for the 10th of Teves a special flexibility in the calendar must be prearranged? The difference between other fast days, and the 10th of Teves is explained by several poskim:

The Minchas Chinuch (mitzva 301); Shoel U’meishiv (141); and Rabbi Chayim of Brisk (Kisvei Hagrach Rosh Hashana 18b) explain that the other fast days are designated to a particular month. The exact day is determined by the chachomim, and therefore if the predetermined day falls on Shabbos, the chachomim have the power to choose another day for the fast in order to allow rejoicing on Shabbos. However, regarding the 10th of Teves, we find a pasuk that determines that the day of the fast. Fasting on another day instead is purposeless. That is why there is an opinion that if it is impossible to observe a fast and enjoy Shabbos, the fast is observed on Shabbos.

The Significance of the 10th of Teves

What is the significance of the 10th of Teves? Why is it more important, in a sense, than other fast days?

The Chasam Sofer explains (Toras Moshe, Vayikra) that the fast on the 10th of Teves is not in commemoration of past calamities. It is because the destruction was decreed in the heavenly tribunal on this day and every year prosecution is aroused again on that day, calling for extension of the destruction. Fasting on the 10th of Teves is in order to annul the extension of the decree for that year. The fasts of the 17th of Tamuz and the 10th of Av, in comparison, are fasts mourning past destructions. The fast of the 10th of Teves is to annul a coming evil decree. Therefore, just as one can fast on Shabbos a “dream fast” (see last week’s article for more on this) so, too, one can fast on Shabbos to revoke an evil decree.

Summary

At Mincha this Friday afternoon the Torah is read and Aneinu is recited in the Amidah and the chazzan’s repetition. Viduy, Tachanun and Avinu Malkeinu are not recited. Only communities that customarily recite particular Avinu Malkeinu prayers on Shabbos may do so in a similar manner on Friday afternoon.

It is permitted to taste the Shabbos foods to ensure proper seasoning, but the food may not be swallowed. A bracha is not recited before tasting the food. One who knows the food is properly seasoned and only tastes it for the custom should not do so this Friday.

The fast continues until night. One can pray Maariv following plag hamincha, however he must wait with Kiddush until after tzeis Hakochavim. In this case, Mincha should be recited before plag hamincha and Krias Shema should be repeated after tzeis Hakochavim.

Kiddush should be recited immediately after tzeis hakochavim.

Even people of lofty spiritual status who normally refrain from certain activities on a fast day, may bathe and take haircuts this year because it is done in honor of Shabbos. One should refrain from other pleasurable activities such as listening to music which are not necessary for Shabbos.

One who accepted Shabbos and didn’t hear the Torah reading at Mincha cannot be counted in the quorum necessary for the Torah reading.

A firstborn baby boy who was born during the night before the day of the 10th of Kislev: if he can be redeemed before the fast begins, he should be. If the Pidyon Haben cannot be performed then because the required time has not yet elapsed, his Pidyon Haben should take place on the fast day, but no meal should be served. Serving a festive public meal in honor of the mitzva on Friday night is unnecessary.

 

 

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