A "ta'anit" or "taanis" is a fast in Judaism. A Jewish fast may have one or more purposes, including:
*A tool for repentance
*An expression of mourning
* Supplication, such as the Fast of Esther or a Ta'anit Halom (fast over a disturbing dream).

Jewish Fast Days

The most well-known and well-observed fast is the fast of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. This is the only fast day mentioned in the Torah (Leviticus 23:26-32).

Yom Kippur is a full fast, from sunset to darkness the following night. The other full fast is the Ninth of Av, Tisha B'Av. These fast days carry four additional restrictions - one may not wash his body; wear leather shoes; use colognes, oils or perfumes; have marital relations.

All other fasts are minor fasts, observed from dawn to sunset, without additional restrictions.

The fast of the Ninth of Av is one of four fasts that exist, in all or in part, in commemoration of events having to do with the destruction of the Temple. The other three are:

*Fast of Gedalia (Tzom Gedalia)
*Tenth of Tevet (Asara B'Tevet)
*Seventeenth of Tamuz (Tzom Tamuz)

The fourth minor fast, observed on the day preceding Purim, is the Fast of Esther, Ta'anit Esther, in commemoration of Esther and the Jewish community of Shushan having fasted before she approached the king unbidden.

Additionally, Jewish custom requires firstborn males to observe the day preceding Passover as the Fast of the Firstborn, Ta'anit Bechorot. In modern times, however, this fast is rarely observed, as most firstborn opt to attend a siyum (festive meal celebrating the completion of a Tractate of the Talmud) instead. This is considered a legitimate form of "breaking" the fast, and therefore the firstborn may eat during the rest of the day.

Traditionally, special prayers called selichot are added in the morning prayer services on many of these days.

Break fast

A break fast (two words) is a meal that takes places following a fast. It is viewed as a festive meal. The tendency is to overeat after a fast, but this should be avoided. Since the digestive system slows down during fasting, heavy foods such as meat are liable to cause indigestion. Eating light, dairy foods in moderation is considered healthier.

See also

* Jewish holidays
* Sawm (Islam)

External links

* [http://www.quickfasting.com/how_to_break_your_fast.html How to break your fast] . Describes the best foods to eat for a break fast.
* [http://kosherfood.about.com/od/breakfastmenu/Yom_Kippur_Kosher_Break_Fast_Menu_and_Recipes.htm Yom Kippur break fast recipes]

Jewish and Israeli holidays

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