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Some Halachos Relative to Asarah B'Teves (The Tenth of Teves) 

On Asarah B'Teves in the year 3336, the wicked Nevuchadnetzar, king of Babylonia, laid siege toYerushalayim, which ultimately culminated in the destruction of the first Bais Hamikdash (Temple). To commemorate that infamous day, the Nevi'im instituted the ta'anis tzibbur (communal fast day) of 

Asarah B'Teves. This Tuesday, December 18th, is Asarah B'Teves.

1) The fast begins at alos hashachar (daybreak)[2] and ends at tzeis hakochavim (halachic nightfall). Most calendars consider alos hashachar a fixed 72 minutes before sunrise, which is the common custom in this country. In the Long Beach area, this calculation of alos hashachar on December 18th is at approximately 5:55 AM.   

Tzeis hakochavim is at approximately 5:05 PM


2) Although the fast does not begin until alos hashachar,once one sleeps a 

shenas keva (regular/substantial sleep) on the preceding night (Monday night), the fast is considered to have begun unless one made a t'nai (i.e., one stipulated) verbally before going to sleep that one does not wish the fast to begin until morning. Thus, one who wishes to wake up before alos hashachar to eat before the fast begins must make a t'nai before going to sleep on Monday night. 


3) Even if one made a t'nai, one may not begin to eat a bread meal or otherwise significant meal after one half-hour before alos hashachar.


4) All healthy men and women, as well as boys and girls over the age of 

bar- and bas-mitzvah, are obligated to fast. On may not eat or drink even minute amounts.Nevertheless, if one did eat less than a k'zayis or drink less than 

m'lo lugmav, one has not broken one's fast and may say Aneinu and receive an 

aliyah (see below, #10-13).[ One who ate more than a k'zayis or drank more than

m'lo lugmav when not permitted by halacha (see below) is considered to have broken one's fast, but may still not eat during or drink during the rest of the fast. Children under the age of bar- and bas-mitzvah, once they are old enough to understand the concept of a ta'anis tzibbur, their parents should train them - because of the mitzvah of chinuch. 


5) One who is ill and pregnant or nursing women who do not feel well, need not fast. A nursing woman who feels fine but is concerned her milk supply will be affected should not fast. A postpartum woman who is not nursing need not fast during the first thirty days following childbirth. If she had a cesarean section and still feels weak after 30 days have passed, she need not fast, since she is considered ill. 

6) Those over bar- and bas-mitzvah who are not fasting due to health reason may eat and drink regularly, but should not indulge in the eating of sweets and the like.. 

7) One who must take a pill during the fast should swallow it without water.

8) The special prohibitions of Yom Kippur (bathing, anointing oneself, and wearing shoes) do not apply to Asarah B'Teves. Nevertheless, it is meritorious to not bathe one's body in hot water on Asarah B'Teves, unless it falls on Erev Shabbos  There is no reason whatsoever to refrain from washing one's hands, face, and feet in hot water, or from bathing in lukewarm water (even when it falls during the week). 

9) One should not brush one's teeth or rinse out one's mouth on the fast. If one is very disturbed by the foul taste in one's mouth upon awaking, one may brush or rinse out one's mouth if one is careful to tilt down one's head to ensure that one does not swallow any water.

10) In Sh'moneh Esrei of Minchah we insert the prayer ofAneinu in the b'rachah of Shema Koleinu. If one forgot to say it and already said the words Baruch Attah Hashem at the end of the b'rachah, one should not attempt to correct oneself there. Rather, one should insert Aneinu at the end ofElokai-Netzor, before the Yih'yu L'ratzon that immediately precedes Oseh Shalom at the end of Sh'moneh Esrei.

11) One who is not fasting for whatever reason may not say Aneinu in Sh'moneh  Esrei of Minchah, even if one had been fasting earlier in the day If one is still fasting, one may say Aneinu in Sh'moneh Esrei, even if one intends to subsequently break one's fast for whatever reason.

12) One who is not fasting for whatever reason may not receive an aliyah on the fast day -at Shacharis or atMinchahIf he is called to receive an aliyah during

Shacharis and the fast is on Monday or Thursday,[ he should take the 

aliyah; but during Minchah, or duringShacharis when the fast is on a different day of the week, he should decline the aliyah.

13) The rulings presented in the preceding paragraph also apply to one who is still fasting but intends - for whatever reason - to break his fast before it ends, with one leniency: If he is called to receive an aliyah and he is embarrassed to admit that he plans to break his fast, he need not decline the aliyah (even at Minchah, and even at Shacharis on days other than Monday and Thursday), since he is still fasting at that time.

Halacha Hotline of the Five Towns


Sat, September 26 2020 8 Tishrei 5781