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Why Is It Called the Fast of Esther?

Why Is It Called the Fast of Esther?

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Question:

As I understand it, Esther called for a three-day fast before she went to see the king. The three days lasted until the first day of Passover—so they fasted that year instead of eating the Passover festive meal.

Now we are making a fast on the day before Purim. I see that the reason given is because they probably fasted on that day, since they were praying to be delivered from their enemies. But if so, why do we call it the “Fast of Esther”? Esther’s fast was the three-day one which included the first day of Passover. Obviously, we’re not going to do that every year. But why call this fast the Fast of Esther?

Answer:

Great question. Actually, the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, asked the same thing.

His explanation was that Esther was the only one who could have fasted on that day. The rest of the people might have felt they should be fasting, but were not permitted to, since they needed every ounce of strength to defend themselves against Haman’s venomous hordes.

Esther, sitting in the palace, was the only one who had nothing to fear, and so was permitted to fast.

Since she was the only one who fasted that first time around, we call the fast after her.


Sources
Based on the Rebbe’s talk on Purim 5730 (1970).
See also Likkutei Sichot, vol. 6, pp. 371–372.
Rabbi Eliezer Zalmanov is co-director, along with his wife Chanie, of Chabad of Northwest Indiana, and a member of Chabad.org's Ask the Rabbi team.
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Discussion (6)
February 22, 2013
I would suggest that the fast is called Taanit Esther to commemorate the fact that she herself, and not the later Rabbis, called for it. Part of the lesson of the Megillah is that Hashem's invisible hand guides our lives. Mordechai's statement that she had ended up in her position for "for times such as these" is directed to us all. We learn that our fate and our future are in our own hands, and yet inextricably linked with that of the rest of the Jewish people.

Unlike the Rabbinic fasts, which commemorate loss and mourning, and are thus reactionary, Esther's fast charges us to be pro-active. We are not simply to commemorate her fast, we are to create our own, modeled on hers, which challenges us to examine our relationships both with G-d and the world around us. Strengthened by this process, we are to go out and confront our own Ahashverosh, and defend ourselves against any and all decrees threatening our Jewish life and community.
David
Overland Park, Ks
jewishgreenbush.com
February 19, 2013
Seems that there are two fasts ;) The first one Esther requests that all the Jews should fast for 3 days and nights for her since she was about to go against the royal decree and appear before the king Achashverosh unsummoned, which would normally end in a person getting the death sentence.

The second fast was later, before the Jews were about to be attacked.
Anonymous
Jerusalem
March 18, 2011
Fast of Esther
Actually, Mordecai tells Esther that she should not think that she will be safe, should Haman's wicked plot be carried out. Mordecai told her that she was Queen "for such a time as this", that is, to save her people. Right?
Esther
St. Louis
March 11, 2009
to Yehudah
Of course everyone fasted when the news broke out and when Esther asked of Mordachai that everyone fast for 3 days. However that transpired right about Pesach time.
when it came to the actual fighting of self defence on the 13th of Adar, ANOTHER fast was in order. but all the people were considerd soldiers in the war, hence they are not allowed to fast!
The only one who was safe and therfore permited to fast was Esther, and therfore, the Rebbe conjects, the fast was named for her!
Levi Potash
Brooklyn, ny
March 11, 2009
U read about the Fast too fast
Yehudah, reread the question. Sure all Jews (including minors) fasted in accordance with Esther's request - that was at Passover time, when the palace drama occured. However, almost a year later (the following Adar) the big showdown between the Jews and their enemies was played out. At that time, all Jews had to fend for their lives (in actual fact, their enemies became dispirited and it was they who had to fend for their lives). Tradition calls for fasting etc. in times of battle, but those on the frontline need their energy to fight. Here, all Jews but Esther were on the frontline. Our fast is not at Passover time, but rather, in Adar - commemorating the fast of Esther on behalf of all Jewry.
Yaakov
March 9, 2009
Fast of Esther
I have a hard time with the reasoning that Esther was the only one who could fast. We read in Esther 4:3, 16 and 17 that people were fasting when they heard of the plot and that Mordecai did according to all Esther requested, which means he rounded up all Jews to not eat or drink for three days. At the very least Mordecai fasted.
Yehudah
Cleveland, OH
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