Who is exempt from fasting on Tish’a beAb?


The fast of Tish’a beAb should be observed by all those who are in good health. There are some exceptions, as explained below, almost all related to health issues.


Usually, pregnant or nursing women fast on Tish’a beAb fast. But this year, Tish’a beAb falls on a Saturday and it is postponed to Sunday. According to Rabbi Obadia Yosef z “l, this year pregnant women and women who breastfeed are exempt from fasting (Yabia ‘Omer, 5: 40). However, if a pregnant or a nursing woman wants to fast, to participate with the rest of the community of the day of mourning, she should do so only until Hatsot Hayom (Sunday August 14, at 1:00 PM, NYT). It goes without saying, that when fasting voluntarily, she should break her fast if she does not feel well.

According to Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, for those who follow the Ashkenazi tradition, although usually pregnant and nursing women fast on the 9 of Ab, and if they feel dizzy, nauseous or weak they are instructed to rest and wait for these symptoms disappear before breaking the fast, this year, 5776, pregnant or nursing women, should try fasting, but should break the fast if they feel weakness, dizziness, nausea, or any other sign of discomfort (Penine Halakha, Zemanin, 212).


People with a chronic disease like diabetes, or patients who follow an important treatment or patients with high fever do not observe the fast of Tish’a beAb.


Elders should consult with their doctors to ensure that fasting will not affect their health. If fasting can affect their health, they are exempt from (or are forbidden to) fasting.


On Yom Kippur, when one is allowed to eat for health reasons, food should be eaten in small portions. Tish’a beAb is different because unlike Yom Kippur, it is not a Biblical commemoration. Therefore, when it is allowed to eat during Tish’a beAb for health reasons, one can eat normally. However, when eating in Tish’a beAb, one should not eat delicious food or in excess, but only what is needed to feel well.


The Rabbis established that it is forbidden to eat after Shabbat ends, before we do Habdala. This year, as we have explained, we will have the Habdala ceremony on Sunday evening, after the fast day ended. Now, what if you need to eat in Tish’a beAb for health reasons? Should you skip Habdala? If you have to eat in Tish’a beAb you must recite the Habdalá, on a glass of wine or grape juice, before eating. You should recite only two Berakhot: haGefen and haMabdil.


According to Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, in many Ashkenazi communities, children fast for a few hours during Tish’a beAb once they are nine years of age.According to Rabbi Obadia Yosef , the Sephardic custom it is that children under 13 and girls under 12 are totally exempted from fasting. Unlike Yom Kippur, there is no need for children to fast for a few hours. Why? The reason is that while fasting on Yom Kippur is part of the process of Teshuba (= repentance, improving our behavior), fasting on Tish’a beAb is part of a process of mourning for the destruction of our Bet haMiqdash. And while we definitely want to educate and train our children to do Teshuba, many Sages understood that we are not required to train our children to fast for the Bet HaMiqdash, before they have a formal obligation to do so (12 or 13 years old ,קטן פטור מאבלות). And hoping also that this will the last year we would cry for not having our Bet-haMiqdash, and that next year, BH, mourning for the Bet haMiqdash will be unnecessary.