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Flying West on a fast day

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Rabbi Daniel Kirsch

Tammuz 6, 5782
Question
Hi Rabbi, This coming 17th of Tamuz I will be flying Be"H from Newark NJ to San Fransisco. Take off from NJ is at 7:55 pm, landing at 11:15 pm. The fast ends an hour and seven minutes after take off; 9:02 pm. Am I able to break my fast an hour and seven minutes into the flight (when the time at the place of departure is 9:02 pm), or do I have to break my fast when the plane is flying in an area at the time of the end of the fast? (Not sure how I would know in advance at what point in the flight the local time would be 9:02pm...on the plane I do recall that the screens show the local time). Additionally, if one breaks his fast and then enters a time zone where the fast still hasnt ended, does he have to continue the fast? Thanks!
Answer
Thank you for your question, There is a dispute amongst the Poskim if you may eat when the fast ends in New Jersey which you left or do you go by the time of the local area that you are above in the air (which you can see on the screen or ask the flight attendant\ stewardess.) In your case it seems that the fast in your local place will end only a little after the new jersey fast ends and perhaps your fast won't be lengthened much at all. If you have to wait another hour or so to end your fast according to the local time it's preferable to wait. If it's hard for you to wait, you may rely on the Poskim who permit eating when the New Jersey fast ends, (especially this year that 17th of Tamuz is delayed to Sunday). Sources and detail: Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (igrot moshe orach chaim, part 3; 96) deals with this question. He mentions that this question is a new question that we don't really have sources from the Gemara and we must decide by 'sevara' meaning logic. He rules according to his logic that it all goes by the place that someone lands. It can shorten his fast or lengthen it. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein discusses when a person lands and not what a person does when he is on a plane, but we can understand from his answer that it all goes by the local place that the person is, and in the air it goes by the local place beneath the plane. Other poskim hold that it goes by the time of the place that a person left. One should count 12 hours (or 24 on Tisha beav) and then ends his fast wherever he is (yaskil avdi, pri eliahu (3, 17), see also hagaon harav Yaakov ariel's book Beohala shel torah, orach chaim, 2;75). Some hold that this is the case on all the regular fasts except on Tisha beav which we are more stringent (teshuvot vehanhagot). Although the pri eliahu is lenient about this, he mentions that if a person finished his fast and then lands in a place that is still fasting, he must fast with them and not separate himself from the minhag of people in the place that he is. The shevet Halevi feels that the basic hallacha is like rav Moshe Feinstein that one has to go by the local place that he is, but since it could be difficult to lengthen the fast one is considered a sick \ ill person who is exempt from the fast but should eat only what is necessary until the end of his fast in his local time. All the best!
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