Yom Kippur & Fast Days


Yom Kippur & Fast Days

The Jewish calendar has six fast days, which have different levels of stringency.

Yom Kippur

The strictest fast, and the only one required by biblical law, is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement for sins. On Yom Kippur both eating and drinking are absolutely prohibited for a little more than 24 hours, from sunset on one day until after nightfall the next day. This fast include four additional prohibitions:

  • bathing or any washing for pleasure
  • applying oil and other pleasurable anointment to the skin
  • sexual relations
  • leather footwear

Tisha B'Av

Next in stringency is the Ninth of Av (Tisha B'Av), the fast that commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. This rabbinically-ordained fast is parallel to Yom Kippur in that eating and drinking are prohibited for a little over 24 hours the four additional prohibitions are also proscribed.

"Minor" Fast Days

Three additional “minor” fasts (the 10th of Tevet, the 17th of Tammuz, and Tzom Gedaliah) mark other events connected with the destruction of the Temples. The Fast of Esther falls on the day before Purim and commemorates the fighting between the Jews and their enemies. These fasts are less rigorous: eating and drinking are prohibited but only from before dawn until nightfall, and the other prohibitions do not apply.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Fasting During Pregnancy

Breastfeeding & Fasting

Users of Internet filtering services: This site discusses sensitive subjects that some services filter without visual indication. A page that appears 100% complete might actually be missing critical Jewish-law or medical information. To ensure that you view the pages accurately, ask the filtering service to whitelist all pages under yoatzot.org.

All health and health-related information contained within Nishmat's Women's Health & Halacha Web site is intended to be general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for consulting with your health care professional. The advice is intended to offer a basis for individuals to discuss their medical condition with their health care provider but not individual advice. Although every effort is made to ensure that the material within Nishmat's Women's Health & Halacha Web site is accurate and timely, it is provided for the convenience of the Web site user but should not be considered official. Advice for actual medical practice should be obtained from a licensed health care professional.