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Fasting or giving Tzedaka on seeing Sefer Torah fallen

Rabbi Ari ShvatShevat 7, 5771
454
Question
was in Shul with my ten year old son when a Sefer Torah fell on the floor upon someone opening the Aron HaKodesh. I have two chavrusors on the telephone and I work most weekdays. If I fast, I cannot face learning with my chavrusors, I cannot learn Torah with proper concentration even on my own, I cannot work properly, I get irritated with people, I often get a pain in the top part of my back on both sides. I need to sleep often and have difficulty functioning properly. Are there any halachic authorities that hold that I can redeem a fast by giving Tzedakah? What should my 10 year old son do? Shimshon
Answer
Shalom Shimshon, In Igrot Moshe, Orach Chaim 3, 3, R. Moshe Feinstein is relatively lenient regarding the custom to fast when a sefer Torah falls and gives many reasons for doing so. Especially when we add the Shulchan Aruch in Or. Ch. 571, 2 who points out that those who learn Torah, should minimize the fasts that are not obligatory if it will harm their learning. Getting irritated at people and not functioning at work (especially if you are employed by others) are also halachic problems. If so, in your case, it’s better to give tzedaka (it’s recommended to give at least the amount one would save on food if he were to fast). Your young son, who doesn’t fast even on Yom Kippur, obviously isn’t obligated to fast, but it would be worthy to educate him by pointing out that you will give tzedaka on his behalf, as well. May we only hear good news from all of Israel, Rav Ari Shvat
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