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Offline Zenith

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a question about fasting
« on: March 01, 2011, 10:11:33 AM »
You know, I know about Christian Orthodox people, and I think the Catholic are the same: they calling fasting the act of abstinence from specific foods, but not all, for a period of time, making it actually a diet. I'm convinced that fasting is not the same as a diet, and as far as I remember from all the Tanakh, no one has ever kept a diet and call it fasting.

As about "sackcloth and ashes", I believe that a man can fast without spreading out sackcloth and ashes.

So, I'd like to hear what you know and believe about fasting.

Offline muman613

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Re: a question about fasting
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2011, 12:02:43 PM »
You know, I know about Christian Orthodox people, and I think the Catholic are the same: they calling fasting the act of abstinence from specific foods, but not all, for a period of time, making it actually a diet. I'm convinced that fasting is not the same as a diet, and as far as I remember from all the Tanakh, no one has ever kept a diet and call it fasting.

As about "sackcloth and ashes", I believe that a man can fast without spreading out sackcloth and ashes.

So, I'd like to hear what you know and believe about fasting.

Fasting is not eating or drinking for a period of time. Hashem commands the Jewish people to fast on certain days, the most famous being Yom Kippur. In Torah it says that we must 'afflict ourselves' on the day of Atonement. This 'affliction' happens a number of ways:



http://www.chabad.org/holidays/JewishNewYear/template_cdo/aid/995074/jewish/An-Overview-of-Yom-Kippur-Laws.htm

An Overview of Yom Kippur Laws

On Yom Kippur, the Torah instructs us to "afflict" ourselves, which means abstaining from an assortment of physical pleasures. There are two reasons for this: a) On this day, when our connection to G‑d is brought to the fore, we are compared to angels, who have no physical needs. b) We afflict ourselves to demonstrate the extent of our regret for our past misdeeds. (Click here for a more mystical explanation.)

Instead of focusing on the physical, the majority of the day is spent in the synagogue, devoted to repentance and prayer.

There are five areas of pleasure that we avoid on Yom Kippur—from sundown on the eve of the holiday until the following nightfall (click here to find out when Yom Kippur starts and ends in your location):

  1. Eating or drinking.
   2. Wearing leather footwear.
   3. Bathing or washing.
   4. Applying ointment, lotions, or creams.
   5. Engaging in any form of spousal intimacy.


(These all are restrictions unique to Yom Kippur; we also abstain from all creative activities forbidden on the Shabbat, e.g., turning on lights, driving, and carrying in the public domain.)

We are compared to angels, who have no physical needsIt is also customary not to wear gold jewelry on Yom Kippur, as gold is reminiscent of the sin of the Golden Calf, and on the Day of Atonement – the day when we were forgiven for that egregious sin – we do not want to "remind" the Prosecutor (Satan) of our past sins.
The Details

Fasting:

    * All adults over bar or bat mitzvah fast, including pregnant or nursing women.
    * Healthy children should be educated to fast for a short amount of time, starting from the age of nine. They shouldn't be given to eat after sundown on the eve of Yom Kippur, and their breakfast should be slightly delayed.
    * Fasting on Yom Kippur is of utmost importance. This is true even if in order to fast a person must spend the entire day resting in bed, and will miss synagogue services.
    * Someone who is ill, a woman who has recently given birth, an individual who needs to take medication, or a person of advanced age who feels it difficult to fast should consult with a rabbi.

Someone who upon a rabbi's instructions (based on the recommendation of a medical professional) needs to eat on Yom Kippur need not be dejected. The same G‑d who made it a mitzvah for healthy people to fast on Yom Kippur also commanded that preservation of life and health is even more important than fasting. The healthy person fulfills a mitzvah by fasting; the ill person does a mitzvah by eating.

An ancient High Holiday prayerbook suggests that an ill person recite the following prayer before eating on Yom Kippur:

    Behold I am prepared to fulfill the mitzvah of eating and drinking on Yom Kippur, as You have written in Your Torah: "You shall observe My statutes and My ordinances, which a man shall do and live with them. I am G‑d." In the merit of fulfilling this mitzvah, seal [my fate], and [that of] all the ill of Your nation Israel, for a complete recovery. May I merit next Yom Kippur to once again fulfill [the mitzvah of] "you shall afflict yourselves [on Yom Kippur]." May this be Your will. Amen.

Click here for more information on this topic.

Leather Footwear:

The healthy person fulfills a mitzvah by fasting; the ill person does a mitzvah by eatingWe don't wear shoes or slippers if they contain any leather at all—whether in their uppers, in their soles or heels, or in an insert.

The prohibition applies to footwear only. Wearing a leather belt, kippah, or jacket presents no problem whatsoever.

Children, too, should be taught to wear non-leather footwear.

Washing and Bathing:

The prohibition against washing or bathing applies whether using hot or cold water, and even to washing only part of one's body. In the words of the Sages: "Even to insert a finger in cold water is forbidden."

Nevertheless, there are several exceptions to this rule. They are:

    * It is permitted to wash hands upon exiting the lavatory.
    * It is permitted to wash any area of the body that has become soiled.
    * Upon awakening in the morning, one performs the ritual hand washing—but washes only until the knuckles.
    * Before they administer the Priestly Blessing, the priests' hands are ritually washed in the normal fashion.
    * It is permitted to wash one's hands before handling food.
    * Someone who needs to bathe or wash for health reasons should consult a rabbi.



Religious Jews will be fasting this month during the fast of Esther which occurs this year on Thursday March 17...

http://www.hebcal.com/holidays/taanit-esther.html

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http://www.jewfaq.org/holidaye.htm

There are five minor fasts on the Jewish calendar. With one exception, these fasts were instituted by the Sages to commemorate some national tragedy. The minor fasts (that is, all fasts except Yom Kippur and Tisha b'Av) last from dawn (first light) to nightfall (full dark), and one is permitted to eat breakfast if one arises before dawn for the purpose of doing so (but you must finish eating before first light). There is a great deal of leniency in the minor fasts for people who have medical conditions or other difficulties fasting. The date of the fast is moved to Sunday if the specified date falls on Shabbat.

Three of these five fasts commemorate events leading to the downfall of the first commonwealth and the destruction of the first Temple, which is commemorated by the major fast of Tisha B'Av.

Following is a list of minor fasts required by Jewish law, their dates, and the events they commemorate:

The Fast of Gedaliah, Tishri 3, commemorates the killing of the Jewish governor of Judah, a critical event in the downfall of the first commonwealth.

The Fast of Tevet, Tevet 10, is the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem. It has also been proclaimed a memorial day for the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust.

The Fast of Esther, Adar 13, commemorates the three days that Esther fasted before approaching King Ahasuerus on behalf of the Jewish people. The fast is connected with Purim. If Adar 13 falls on a Friday or Saturday, it is moved to the preceding Thursday, because it cannot be moved forward a day (it would fall on Purim).

The Fast of the Firstborn, Nissan 14, is a fast observed only by firstborn males, commemorating the fact that they were saved from the plague of the firstborn in Egypt. It is observed on the day preceding Passover.

The Fast of Tammuz, Tammuz 17, is the date when the walls of Jerusalem were breached, another major event leading up to the destruction of the First Temple.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2011, 12:10:26 PM by muman613 »
You shall make yourself the Festival of Sukkoth for seven days, when you gather in [the produce] from your threshing floor and your vat.And you shall rejoice in your Festival-you, and your son, and your daughter, and your manservant, and your maidservant, and the Levite, and the stranger, and the orphan, and the widow, who are within your cities
Duet 16:13-14

Offline muman613

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Re: a question about fasting
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2011, 12:14:31 PM »
See this Aish.com article for good information on why we fast:



http://www.aish.com/h/9av/oal/Connecting_Through_Fasting.html

How can being hungry help us create a spiritual connection?

Why do we fast? What function does it serve in our spiritual life? How can being hungry and thirsty help us connect?

There are six regular fast days in the Jewish year, (seven if you count the fast of the first born before Seder night). Two of these days, Tisha B'Av and Yom Kippur, are "full" fasts. They begin at sunset and end the following day when the stars appear. The rest are "half" day fasts, lasting from sunrise to stars out. During these times, adult Jews may neither eat nor drink -- even water (there are exceptions for people with health issues).

Except for Yom Kippur, these fast days were established because of the catastrophes and suffering that occurred on those dates. Their purpose is to help us recall the negative behavior of our ancestors that led to those calamities, and to focus our attention on our own parallel behavior that continues to drive our nation into similar negative situations.

During these days, each person is meant to make a personal accounting of his or her behavior and resolve to return to the positive path.

According to Eliyahu Kitov in The Book of Our Heritage, one who fasts and spends the day idly without repentance, misses the point. That person is emphasizing the fasting, which is secondary, and de-emphasizing the repentance which is primary. He quotes the book of Jonah (3:10) where it says about the people of the city of Ninveh, "And G-d saw their actions." Our sages point out that the verse doesn't say that G-d saw their sackcloth and fasting, but their actions (Babylonian Talmud, Ta'anit 22a). The purpose of fasting is to bring one to repent, and true repentance brings about a change in actions.

However, repenting without fasting is not enough. The fast days were ordained either in the Torah or by our prophets, and throughout the generations, they have been accepted and observed by the nation of Israel. Since Judaism eschews asceticism for its own sake, there must be something unique about fasting that serves as a vehicle for repentance.

A distinctive feature of Judaism is its philosophy of integrating the spiritual with the physical. Jews do not reject the physical in favor of the spiritual; rather, they recognize the opportunity that living a physical existence provides for the exercise and strengthening of the spiritual. In this world, the physical and the spiritual are inextricably intertwined and we must use both to activate our ultimate growth and to achieve our raison d'?tre.

We use the physical as a doorway through which we access the spiritual. This is one of the reasons that we clean the house, prepare delicious foods and wear beautiful clothes for Shabbat. The sense of tranquility that stems from dwelling in an orderly environment, the fullness and pleasure that good food engenders, and the touch of majesty that one feels when dressed in one's finery, all help create a sense of separation from the routine of the mundane and heighten one's ability to connect to God. We manipulate the physical to gain access to the spiritual.
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http://www.aish.com/h/9av/oal/Connecting_Through_Fasting.html
You shall make yourself the Festival of Sukkoth for seven days, when you gather in [the produce] from your threshing floor and your vat.And you shall rejoice in your Festival-you, and your son, and your daughter, and your manservant, and your maidservant, and the Levite, and the stranger, and the orphan, and the widow, who are within your cities
Duet 16:13-14

Offline Kahane-Was-Right BT

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Re: a question about fasting
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2011, 10:24:37 PM »
You know, I know about Christian Orthodox people, and I think the Catholic are the same: they calling fasting the act of abstinence from specific foods, but not all, for a period of time, making it actually a diet. I'm convinced that fasting is not the same as a diet, and as far as I remember from all the Tanakh, no one has ever kept a diet and call it fasting.

As about "sackcloth and ashes", I believe that a man can fast without spreading out sackcloth and ashes.

So, I'd like to hear what you know and believe about fasting.

Fasting in Torah refers to a period of time without food or drink.    I'm pretty sure that is the definition of the English term too.   I don't think "abstaining from french fries for 3 days" can be called a 'fast' in English.

Offline Zenith

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Re: a question about fasting
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2011, 07:58:33 AM »
Fasting in Torah refers to a period of time without food or drink.    I'm pretty sure that is the definition of the English term too.   I don't think "abstaining from french fries for 3 days" can be called a 'fast' in English.

I also thought the same. however, it seems that fasting is also translated as:

to eat only sparingly or of certain kinds of food, especially as a religious observance.
The act or practice of abstaining from or eating very little food.
A period of such abstention or self-denial.

Perhaps because of what other people (like orthodox christians and very probably catholics as well) call fasting.

Offline Zenith

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Re: a question about fasting
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2011, 09:07:39 PM »
A few more things:

1. What day is Kippur? I don't know how it is translated.

2. KWRBT, I am curious about your view on "why to fast", if you have a different view or have something to add... and if you wish to tell.

Offline muman613

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Re: a question about fasting
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2011, 09:21:55 PM »
A few more things:

1. What day is Kippur? I don't know how it is translated.

2. KWRBT, I am curious about your view on "why to fast", if you have a different view or have something to add... and if you wish to tell.

Zenith,

Yom Kippur is called the 'Day of Atonement'. It is one of the Biblically commanded services in the Holy Temple.

Here is a good link to information on this AWESOME day...

http://www.aish.com/h/hh/yk/48949711.html

Quote
ABC's of Yom Kippur
by Rabbi Shraga Simmons


Guidelines for the holiest day of the Jewish year ― the Day of Atonement.

Angel For A Day

On Yom Kippur, every Jew becomes like an angel. What are "angels?" Angels are completely spiritual beings, whose sole focus is to serve their Creator. The Maharal of Prague explains:

    All of the mitzvot that God commanded us on [Yom Kippur] are designed to remove, as much as possible, a person's relationship to physicality, until he is completely like an angel.

Just as angels (so to speak) stand upright, so too we spend most of Yom Kippur standing in the synagogue. And just as angels (so to speak) wear white, so too we are accustomed to wear white on Yom Kippur. Just as angels do not eat or drink, so too, we do not eat or drink.

This idea even has a practical application in Jewish law: typically, the second verse of the Shema, Baruch Shem, is recited quietly. But on Yom Kippur, it is proclaimed out loud – just like the angels do.

Five Aspects

There are five areas of physical involvement from which we remove ourselves on Yom Kippur:

       1. Eating and drinking
       2. Washing
       3. Applying oils or lotions to the skin
       4. Marital relations
       5. Wearing leather shoes

Throughout the year, many people spend their days focusing on food, work, material possessions (symbolized by shoes) and superficial pleasures (symbolized by anointing). On Yom Kippur, we restore our priorities to what really counts in life.

As Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler writes:

    On Yom Kippur, the power of the [physical] inclination is muted. Therefore, one's yearning for spiritual elevation reasserts itself, after having lain dormant as a result of sin's deadening effect on the soul. This rejuvenation of purpose entitles a person to special consideration and forgiveness.

Structure of the Day

The Talmud says that on Rosh Hashana, the Books of Life and Death are open and God writes who will be granted another year of life. For many, this decision hangs in the balance for nine days until Yom Kippur, when the final decision is sealed. The prayers of Yom Kippur are designed to stir us to mend our ways. Some highlights:

• The Yom Kippur prayers begin before sundown with the haunting melody of Kol Nidrei. The Torah scrolls are all removed from the Ark, and the chazzan (cantor) chants the Kol Nidrei prayer three times, each with greater intensity.

• The special Yom Kippur Amidah (standing prayer) incorporates the Al-Chet confession of our various mistakes. With each mention of a mistake, we lightly beat our chest with the fist – as if to say that it is our impulses that got the best of us.

• The Yizkor service – said in memory of loved ones – is recited following the morning Torah reading.

• The lengthy Mussaf service features a recounting of the Yom Kippur service in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. A highlight was the High Priest entering the Holy of Holies – the only person to do so, this one time a year. The Mussaf service also records how the High Priest would pronounce God's holy name, and in response the assembled Jews would prostrate on the ground. When reaching these passages, we too prostrate ourselves on our hands and knees.

• At the Mincha service, we read the Book of Jonah, the biblical story of a prophet who tried to “flee from God” and wound up swallowed into the belly of a huge fish.

• While a regular weekday has three prayer services, and Shabbat and holidays have four, Yom Kippur is the only day of the year that has five. This final prayer is called Ne’ilah, literally the “closing of the gates,” which serves as the final chance to ensure that our decree for the year is “sealed” in the Book of Life. At the conclusion of Ne’ilah, the shofar is sounded – one long blast, signifying our confidence in having passed the High Holidays with a good judgment.

The Fast Itself

The Yom Kippur fast begins at sundown, and extends 25 hours until the following nightfall.

The afternoon before Yom Kippur, it is a special mitzvah to eat a festive meal.

As far as making your fast easier, try to pace your intake throughout the previous day by eating something every two hours. Watermelon and grape juice are helpful before a fast.

At the festive meal itself, eat a moderate portion of food so as not to speed up the digestion process. Also, don't drink any coffee or coke, because caffeine is a diuretic. Heavy coffee drinkers can also avoid the dreaded headache by slowly reducing the amount of consumption over the week leading up to Yom Kippur.

After a meal we generally get thirstier, so when you complete the festive meal, leave some extra time before sundown to drink. Also, drinking lukewarm water with some sugar can help make you less thirsty during the fast.

If Someone Is Ill

If someone is ill, and a doctor is of the opinion that fasting might pose a life-danger, then the patient should eat or drink small amounts.

The patient should try to eat only about 30 ml (one fluid ounce) and wait nine minutes before eating again. Once nine minutes have passed, one can eat this small amount again, and so on throughout the day.

With drinking, he should try to drink less than what the Talmud calls "melo lugmav" – the amount that would fill a person's puffed-out cheek. While this amount will vary from person to person, it is approximately 35 ml (just over one fluid ounce) and one should wait nine minutes before drinking again.

How does consuming small amounts make a difference? In Jewish law, an act of "eating" is defined as "consuming a certain quantity within a certain period of time." Otherwise, it's not eating, it's "nibbling" – which although prohibited on Yom Kippur, there is room to be lenient when one's health is at stake.

The reason for all these technicalities is because eating on Yom Kippur is regarded as one of the most serious prohibitions in the Torah. So while there are leniencies in certain situations, we still try to minimize it.

Note that eating and drinking are treated as independent acts, meaning that the patient can eat and drink together during those nine minutes, and the amounts are not combined.

Having said all this, if these small amounts prove insufficient to prevent the health danger, the patient may even eat and drink regularly. In such a case, a person does not say Kiddush before eating, but does recite "Grace After Meals," inserting the "ya'aleh veyavo" paragraph.

Now what about a case where the patient's opinion conflicts with that of the doctor? If the patient is certain he needs to eat to prevent a danger to health, then we rely on his word, even if the doctor disagrees. And in the opposite scenario – if the patient refuses to eat despite doctors' warnings – then we persuade the patient to eat, since it is possible that his judgment is impaired due to illness.

A Day of Teshuva

Following the sin of the Golden Calf, Moses pleaded with God to forgive the people. Finally on Yom Kippur, atonement was achieved and Moses brought the second set of Tablets down from Mount Sinai.

From that day forward, every Yom Kippur carries with it a special power to cleanse our mistakes (both individually and collectively) and to wipe the slate clean.

This works on two conditions:

1) We do a process called teshuva – literally "return." The process of teshuva involves four steps:

• Regret – acknowledging that a mistake was made, and feeling regret at having squandered some of our potential.

• Cessation – Talk is cheap, but stopping the harmful action shows a true commitment to change.

• Confession – To make it more “real,” we admit our mistake verbally, and ask forgiveness from anyone we may have harmed.

• Resolution – We make a firm commitment not to repeat the harmful action in the future.

2) Though the combination of teshuva and Yom Kippur atones for transgressions against God, it does not automatically erase wrongs committed against other people. It is therefore the universal Jewish custom – some time before Yom Kippur – to apologize and seek forgiveness from any friend, relative, or acquaintance whom we may have harmed or insulted over the past year.

Wishing you an easy fast and a meaningful Yom Kippur!
You shall make yourself the Festival of Sukkoth for seven days, when you gather in [the produce] from your threshing floor and your vat.And you shall rejoice in your Festival-you, and your son, and your daughter, and your manservant, and your maidservant, and the Levite, and the stranger, and the orphan, and the widow, who are within your cities
Duet 16:13-14

Offline muman613

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Re: a question about fasting
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2011, 09:26:51 PM »
And another good one from jewfaq.org


http://www.jewfaq.org/holiday4.htm

Level : Basic

    ...In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and you shall not do any work ... For on that day he shall provide atonement for you to cleanse you from all your sins before the L-RD. -Leviticus 16:29-30

Yom Kippur is probably the most important holiday of the Jewish year. Many Jews who do not observe any other Jewish custom will refrain from work, fast and/or attend synagogue services on this day. Yom Kippur occurs on the 10th day of Tishri. The holiday is instituted at Leviticus 23:26 et seq.

The name "Yom Kippur" means "Day of Atonement," and that pretty much explains what the holiday is. It is a day set aside to "afflict the soul," to atone for the sins of the past year. In Days of Awe, I mentioned the "books" in which G-d inscribes all of our names. On Yom Kippur, the judgment entered in these books is sealed. This day is, essentially, your last appeal, your last chance to change the judgment, to demonstrate your repentance and make amends.

As I noted in Days of Awe, Yom Kippur atones only for sins between man and G-d, not for sins against another person. To atone for sins against another person, you must first seek reconciliation with that person, righting the wrongs you committed against them if possible. That must all be done before Yom Kippur.

Yom Kippur is a complete Sabbath; no work can be performed on that day. It is well-known that you are supposed to refrain from eating and drinking (even water) on Yom Kippur. It is a complete, 25-hour fast beginning before sunset on the evening before Yom Kippur and ending after nightfall on the day of Yom Kippur. The Talmud also specifies additional restrictions that are less well-known: washing and bathing, anointing one's body (with cosmetics, deodorants, etc.), wearing leather shoes (Orthodox Jews routinely wear canvas sneakers under their dress clothes on Yom Kippur), and engaging in sexual relations are all prohibited on Yom Kippur.

As always, any of these restrictions can be lifted where a threat to life or health is involved. In fact, children under the age of nine and women in childbirth (from the time labor begins until three days after birth) are not permitted to fast, even if they want to. Older children and women from the third to the seventh day after childbirth are permitted to fast, but are permitted to break the fast if they feel the need to do so. People with other illnesses should consult a physician and a rabbi for advice.

Most of the holiday is spent in the synagogue, in prayer. In Orthodox synagogues, services begin early in the morning (8 or 9 AM) and continue until about 3 PM. People then usually go home for an afternoon nap and return around 5 or 6 PM for the afternoon and evening services, which continue until nightfall. The services end at nightfall, with the blowing of the tekiah gedolah, a long blast on the shofar. See Rosh Hashanah for more about the shofar and its characteristic blasts.

It is customary to wear white on the holiday, which symbolizes purity and calls to mind the promise that our sins shall be made as white as snow (Is. 1:18). Some people wear a kittel, the white robe in which the dead are buried.
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You shall make yourself the Festival of Sukkoth for seven days, when you gather in [the produce] from your threshing floor and your vat.And you shall rejoice in your Festival-you, and your son, and your daughter, and your manservant, and your maidservant, and the Levite, and the stranger, and the orphan, and the widow, who are within your cities
Duet 16:13-14

Offline Kahane-Was-Right BT

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Re: a question about fasting
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2011, 09:50:10 PM »
I also thought the same. however, it seems that fasting is also translated as:

Perhaps because of what other people (like orthodox christians and very probably catholics as well) call fasting.

Yeah, I hear that.  It would seem to me like that's a strong possibility that they incorporated this common usage into the definition of the term.