9th of Tebet, 5771
Nowadays our calendar’s calculation is such that the only public fast which can fall on a Friday is the 10th of Tebet.
On the 10th of Tebet there are only two prohibitions: eating and drinking. NO additional limitations apply, such as the prohibition of wearing leather shoes, working, driving, washing the body, etc.
Most contemporary Rabbis (R. E. Melamed, Rab O. Yosef) authorize to wash one’s mouth or brush one’s teeth in this Ta’anit when necessary, provided you will be very careful to lower your head as to avoid swallowing water unintentionally. Tomorrow, you should bathe regularly in honor of Shabbat.
The fast begins at dawn, which tomorrow will be at 5.50 AM (all hours are N.Y. time). You can eat something before 5.50 AM. Tonight, before you go to sleep have in mind that you will wake up and eat something before dawn, otherwise, your Taanit has been implicitly ‘accepted’ by you and ‘unintentionally extended’ from the time you go to sleep.
Friday, we will pray Mincha of Ereb Shabbat around 3.50 PM (check Kanissanews and other Synagogues schedules). We will read the Torah and say birkat kohanim, followed by regular Kabbalat Shabbat.
We will enter Shabbat while fasting.
The Fast day finishes after 4:58 PM with the Kiddush.
Who is exempted from fasting?
Minors: boys under 13 and girls under 12 years old are completely exempted from fasting.
Nursing women: According to the Sephardic Minhag, after giving birth women are exempted from fasting for 24 months, even if they are not actually nursing their baby.
Pregnant women, especially after the first 3 months, are exempted from fasting.
A person who feels sick, for example, flu or fever or one who has a chronic disease, for example, diabetes, should not fast.
Elders should consult with their physicians if the fast will not affect their health. If it will, they are exempted (and in some cases, prohibited) from fasting.
All other healthy people should fast and remember the tragedies that fell onto the Jewish people in this day.
Besides commemorating the events we mentioned yesterday, In Israel, the Chief rabbinate has declared the Tenth of Tebet also as “The day of the general Kaddish”, the day in which we remember those fallen Jews whose names, and date or place of death is unknown. We remember especially the ‘unknown’ victims of the Holocaust and those unidentified soldiers who died in the war of Israel’s Independence (1948).
Rabbi Yosef Bitton. YMJC 130 Steamboat Rd. Great Neck NY 11024