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Fasting On Erev Rosh HaShanah

Updated: Sep 12, 2023

The Daily Halacha Moment - Fasting On Erev Rosh HaShanah 🍲

״כל השונה הלכות בכל יום - מובטח לו שהוא בן העולם הבא״ (נידה עג ע״א, מגילה כח:)

“Anyone who studies Halachot every day is guaranteed that he is destined for the world-to-come” (Megilla 28b, Niddah 73a)


Is there a custom to fast on Erev Rosh HaShanah?


Many men have the custom to fast on erev Rosh HaShanah. However, one isn't obligated to. [See Footnote 1]

One who wishes to observe this fast should declare his formal acceptance of it during the Minchah prior to erev Rosh HaShanah, before reciting Oseh Shalom. If one did not make this declaration at Minchah, his fast still counts as a formal taanit since it is a common custom, and may therefore take effect even without a declaration. [2]

If one accepted the fast, he may not eat once he goes to sleep the night before erev Rosh HaShanah, even if he wakes up before daybreak, unless he stipulated before he went to sleep that he will do so. One may, however, drink until daybreak even without a stipulation.


Adapted From R' Yonatan Nacsons "Laws Of The Holidays"


[1]. Shulchan Aruch 581:2. See also Moreh BaEtzba §249; Ben Ish Chai, Netzavim §1, in the beginning of the parashah; and Kaf HaChaim §46. However, in Yabia Omer, vol. 5, O.C. §22; Yechaveh Daat 1:50; Halichot Olam, vol.2, p. 223; and Chazon Ovadia, Yamim Nora’im, p. 46, Chacham Ovadia Yosef writes that while it is a praiseworthy fast, it is not obligatory, and one may eat if he performs hatarat nedarim. Additionally, one who is fasting may eat before alot hashachar as long as he stipulates to do so before going to sleep. It is better, though, to only eat the night before, before going to sleep. See also Yalkut Yosef, _Yamim

Nora’im_, pages 127–133. In any case, if one will be unable to learn because he is weak from the fast, then one does not have to fast. Most importantly, on erev Rosh HaShanah one should focus on teshuvah and accounting for one’s deeds. Fasting helps one obtain a mindset of teshuvah, but even without fasting, if one is doing teshuvah, then he has essentially accomplished the purpose of fasting.

[2]. Kaf HaChaim 581:63; Ohr LeTzion, vol. 4, 2:1.

[3]. See Chazon Ovadia, Yamim Nora’im, p. 46, which states that one should preferably not make a stipulation to eat when awaking before alot hashachar because the Zohar states that one should not eat once he has awoken. See also Ohr LeTzion, vol. 4, 2:2, which only permits one to make a stipulation if he will not be able to fast otherwise.

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