Fast Day in Memory of Esther’s ‘Life-Threatening Request’

Wednesday’s “Fast of Esther” is in memory of her risking her life by approaching the Persian king, her husband, to save the country’s Jews.

Wednesday’s “Fast of Esther” is in memory of her risking her life by approaching the Persian king, her husband, to save the country’s Jews.

The “Fast of Esther” begins Wednesday morning in memory of her risking her life by approaching the Persian king, her husband, in order to launch a series of events that ended with her asking him to save the Jews from the king’s wicked second-in-command, Haman.

The fast day started at 4.29 a.m. in Israel and ends at 6:04 p.m., followed by the reading of the Biblical book known as the Scroll of Esther, or Megillat Esther. Unlike four other fast days which involve mourning, the fast of Esther recalls Esther’s request that the Jews of Persia fast on behalf of her approaching the king, who could kill her for entering his court without being asked to do so.

The aim of fasting is for Jews to remind themselves that HaShem is the true source of their strength.

Wednesday is the 13th day of the Hebrew month of Adar, the day that Haman chose by a lottery to exterminate the Jews to satisfy his anger against Mordechai, who raised the orphaned Esther and who refused to bow down to him.

Esther asked the Jews to fast three days during the following month of Nisan, but the fast day is observed the day before the holiday of Purim, the scheduled date of the massacre and on which topsy-turvy events resulted in Haman’s death and the elevation of Mordechai as the king’s new second-in-command.

Another reason for not observing the fast in the following month of Nissan is because it is a month in which fasting is forbidden.

In Jerusalem and other cities that were walled in the time of Joshua, Purim is celebrated two days after the fast, when Jews in the walled city of Shushan were saved, one day after the rest of their brethren turned the tables on Haman and his loyalists.

The fast is mentioned in the Scroll of Esther, which states, “And as they accepted upon themselves and upon their children, the matters of their fastings and their cry.”

The Jewish queen asked Mordechai to “Go and gather all the Jews who are found in Shushan and fast over me, and do not eat and do not drink three days, night and day; and I and my maidens will also fast thus.”

 

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By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

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