Friday, May 7, 2010

Sawm: How do Jews Fast?



This is the continuation of yesterday's post on fasting :0)

Major Fast Days in Judaism: Fasts on these day are from sunset to sunset the following day
  • Yom Kippur: the Day of Attonement
  • Tisha B'Av: a day that Jew's remember the tragedies that have befallen them, such as the destruction of the temple
Minor Fast Days: Fasts on these days are from sunrise to sunset
  • The Fast of Gedaliah: to mourn the righteous king
  • The Fast of the 10th of Tevet: In observance of the destruction of the 1st temple and the holocaust
  • The Fast of the 17th of Tammuz: commemorates the scaling of the walls before the destruction of the 2nd temple, and also the day that the tablets of the 10 commandments were destroyed
  • The Fast of Esther, which takes place immediately before Purim: commemorates the 3 day fast in the story of Purim
Other optional occasions for fasting:
  • before your wedding
  • when you need to seek repentance
  • groups may fast to avert impending catastrophe
  • before battle
Why do Jews Fast:
  • for atonement of sins
  • to commemorate a solemn event, or to show gratitude
  • to mourn
  • in order to realize how dependent are we upon God for our sustenance and survival
How Jews fast like Muslims:
  • Often fasts occur from sunrise to sunset and include abstaining from food and drink and on the Major fasts from sexual intercourse as well
  • Mondays and Thursdays are considered recommended days for voluntary fasting (While in the early Christian church, Wednesdays and Fridays are good fasting days)
  • Specific days are prescribed for fasting
How Jewish Fasting is different than that in Islam:
  • There are some fasts which are 24 hours while in Islam, all fasts are from sunrise to sunset
  • During the Major fasts, it is not permitted to clean yourself (brush your teeth, bathe, use lotion or perfume) for that 24 hours
  • Jews have special dietary rules for Passover: this would be considered "fasting" in the Christian sense, but is not considered fasting in the Jewish or Islamic sense

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