Laws Pertaining to The Tenth of Tevet Fast Day


Laws Pertaining to The Tenth of Tevet Fast Day

1. The fast day of the tenth of Tevet (asarah b'tevet) is one of the four fast days commemorating the destruction of the Temple.  On this day the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar began.
2.  In discussing these fast days (with the exception of Tisha B'Av, which is more severe) the Gemarrah (Rosh Hashanah 18b) states: "when there is peace – they will be as festivals, when there are evil decrees – the will be fast days, when there is neither peace nor evil decrees – it can be a fast day or not".  Our present situation falls into this third category, however, the Mishna Brura (תקנ, סק"א) states: since these fast days have been accepted throughout history, they have the status of an accepted custom, which we cannot break.  When this custom was accepted, it was not accepted with as much stringency as the fast of Tisha B'av.
3. One of the differences is the duration of the fast. On the ninth of Av, the fast is from nightfall to nightfall, while on the Tenth of Tevet, the fast begins at daybreak(5:06). One is permitted to eat and drink prior to daybreak, only if he has made such a condition on the night before the fast. According to the Ramah (Rabbi Moshe Isserles), this is permissible as well, without such a condition.
Fast ends at nightfall (17 minutes after sunset), at 17:12. Those who recite Ma’ariv early should repeat Kriyat Shema after nightfall.

4. Another difference is in the prohibitions on the fast day. On Tisha B'Av there are five prohibitions: eating and drinking, wearing leather shoes, anointing, washing, intimate relations. On the minor fast days the only prohibition is eating and drinking.   The Mishna Brura states that a sensitive person will also abstain from the other prohibitions.  Some poskim do not allow washing with hot water

5. Regarding brushing teeth and rinsing out the mouth, the Shulchan Aruch states that one should not rinse his mouth on a fast day.  However, the Aruch Ha'shulchan adds: this seems to apply to gargling the water in the throat, but rinsing just the front part of the mouth and teeth, which can be done without fear of swallowing the water, is allowed  (except for Tisha B'av and Yom Kippur).  The Mishna Brura determines that if it causes him distress not to rinse his mouth, he may do so, without using toothpaste, and being very careful not to swallow the water.
6. Another difference between this fast and Tisha B'Av and Yom Kippur, relates to those who do not need to fast.   A person with a non-life threatening illness, or a pregnant or nursing woman need not fast.  Regarding these classes of women, there is a difference in custom between Sephardim and Ashkenazim.  Sephardi women need not fast when pregnant or nursing, in any case.  Ashkenazi women may refrain from fasting when pregnant or nursing if it is difficult for them.
7. Asarah B'Tevet was chosen by the Chief Rabbinate as the "Yom HaKaddish Haklalli" the day for saying kaddish for the martyrs of the holocaust whose day of death is unknown.

 

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