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Chapter 7: The Minor Fasts

6. One Who Forgets That It Is a Fast Day

One who accidentally eats or drinks on a fast day must continue fasting, because these days were instituted as fast days due to the distress that we experienced on them.

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Rabbi Eliezer Melamed

Cheshvan 12 5782

One who accidentally eats or drinks on a fast day must continue fasting, because these days were instituted as fast days due to the distress that we experienced on them. Even if one eats or drinks enough to be viewed as having broken his fast, and thus may no longer recite Aneinu in the Amida (as we will explain in section 10 below), the prohibition on eating and drinking still applies to him. After all, one who committed one transgression is not then permitted to commit further transgressions (sa 568:1). In such a case, one does not need to make up the fast on a different day, because we are obligated to fast specifically on the days that the Sages established for fasting. Despite this, some people have a custom to accept upon themselves another fast to atone for the fast that they broke, but one is not obligated to do so (mb 568:8). It is better to atone by giving more charity and studying more Torah.


The poskim disagree about the case of one who forgets that it is a fast day, recites a berakha over a cup of water, and then remembers the fast. Some say that one is prohibited to recite a berakha in vain (le-vatala) by Torah law, while drinking on a fast day is only a rabbinic enactment. Therefore, it is preferable to take a small drink in order to prevent oneself from violating the prohibition of reciting a berakha le-vatala. Others maintain that since most Rishonim maintain that reciting a berakha in vain is a rabbinic prohibition, it is better not to drink at all. In addition, it is improper to correct one transgression by committing another one. It seems that one should follow this approach.[7]






[7] Some say that it is best to drink a little to avoid the prohibition of berakha le-vatala (Birkat Ha-bayit 19:15 and R. Ovadia Yosef). Their reason is that sa 215:4 rules that reciting a berakha le-vatala is a Torah prohibition and the prohibition of eating and drinking on a fast is rabbinic. However, most Rishonim maintain that the prohibition of reciting a berakha le-vatala is rabbinic. Besides, these fasts days were instituted by the prophets, and some say that such mitzvot have the status of Torah law. Furthermore, it may be that these fasts have a Torah aspect to them, since they are like vows. Moreover, it is better to commit a transgression passively than to do so actively. This is how Da’at Torah 568:1 and Sha’arei Teshuva §1 rule. Similarly, mb 515:5 rules that one who recites a berakha over muktzeh food on Yom Tov should not eat it. 



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