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Exemptions from Fasting

I tend to get bad headaches when I fast. Am I obligated to fast on the Fast of Esther? Likewise, I have a friend who is pregnant. What is her status?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

The Fast of Esther is considered a relatively minor fast, unlike the other fast days which are mentioned either in the Torah or the Prophets (see Zachariah 8:19). Therefore, although a healthy person may not be lenient because of discomfort, a relatively minor ailment is justification for breaking the fast. In your case, a severe headache would definitely be a reason to stop – although of course you should not break your fast until your head starts hurting.

The custom is likewise for nursing or pregnant women not to fast at all on the Fast of Esther.

Needless to say, someone who is unable to fast should not indulge herself, sampling the delicious hamentaschen she has baked for that night. Such a person should eat the minimum to keep him- or herself healthy.

Rabbi Dovid Rosenfeld

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