At What Time Can One End Their Fast When the 10th of Tevet Falls on a Friday?

QUESTION

Washington, DC

Do you have any specific guidelines for Asarah b’Tevet when it is observed on a Friday? How long after Shekiah should we wait to break the fast? If some members of a household remain home, can they break their fast before the whole family sits down for kiddush and Shabbat dinner?

ANSWER

Regarding the end time for minor fasts, the Gemara (Ta’anit 12a), states that any fast that does not include a sunset is not considered a fast. There is a dispute amongst Rishonim how to understand this Gemara – whether the sunset is referring to our Shekiah (the beginning of the sunset) or our Tzeit HaKokhavim (the end of sunset). The majority of Rishonim understand it to mean Tzeit HaKokhavim; however, there are Rishonim, such as the Ramban (Torat Ha’Adam, Aveilut Yeshana), who understand it to refer to Shekiah.

The Shulchan Arukh (OC 562:1) paskens that minor fasts end at Tzeit HaKokhavim. The time of Tzeit HaKokhavim is itself a debate amongst poskim. The general practice in North America is to follow the position that Tzeit occurs 42-45 minutes after sunset. This position, which is largely based on astronomical observation, is somewhat midpoint between the Gra and Rabbeinu Tam. The Gra, following Ge’onim, rules that Tzeit is 3/4 of a “mil” (the time it takes to walk a kilometer, generally deemed to be 18 minutes), or approximately 14 minutes, after sunset. In Jerusalem, where the Gra’s practices are generally followed, Tzeit is usually taken to be 18-25 minutes after sunset (which factors in the possibility that a “mil” might be 24 minutes, or even longer). Rabbenu Tam, on the other hand, rules that Tzeit takes place 72 minutes after sunset (there are debates as to whether these times need to be adjusted based on the length of the day and the latitude of the location in question).

Personally, I generally follow the Gra regarding minor fasts, ending them 25 minutes after sunset. I should note that I feel justified in doing so only because I adopt the strict position of Rabbeinu Tam for Shabbat, Yom Kippur, and Tisha b’Av (see Yalkut Yosef Kitzur Shulchan Arukh 293:4).

Even those who do not have the same practice as I do for minor fasts (and for Shabbat and Yom Kippur), and who normally end minor fasts 40-45 minutes after sunset, would be on good ground to end their fast earlier this Asarah b’Tevet at 25 minutes after sunset, given that it falls out on Erev Shabbat. First, as mentioned above, Ramban’s position is that all the minor fasts end at Shekiah. Further, the Ra’avad (quoted in Beit Yosef OC 249) rules that, at least on Erev Shabbat, minor fasts end at Shekiah so as not to enter into Shabbat fasting. Therefore, I think adopting 25-minute Tzeit in line with the Gra for this Friday ta’anit is a totally reasonable position, considering that ending the fast later would compromise kavod Shabbat.

Hopefully, given these guidelines, you can schedule davening at shul so that your congregants can get home by that time. Those people who did not attend shul and are at home can break the fast before the rest of the family arrives back. They have to make Kiddush first, since they may not eat once it is Shabbat without having heard or recited Kiddush, but they can wait for homtzi with the family (Shulchan Aruch OC 271:4).

FOLLOW UP QUESTION

You stated that those at home can break their fast after making Kiddush, but can wait to do motzi with the family upon their return from shul. I assume that they need to eat something that would render their Kiddush, “bmimakom seudah” – how are they permitted to make kiddush with no bread or mezonot following?

ANSWER

You are correct that we do require kiddush b’makom seudah (Pesachim 101a, SA OH 273: 1). If you make kiddush in your dining room (or really, anywhere in the house) and then eat in the house, that is “makom seudah” (SA OH 273:1).

As to the passage of time between kiddush and HaMotzi that will transpire if they break their fast before the rest of the family returns home – while it is true that the Rema (SA OH 273:3) says that the eating has to be “לאלתר” – immediately following – that is really a chumra and certainly not the practice. We can see this in the time that passes between the Rabbi making kiddush and the time it takes some people to wend their way to the social hall, schmooze, etc before eating at the shul kiddush. Certainly, if there is a that is an oness (circumstance beyond one’s control) causing the pause, it is fine (see Piskei Teshuvot OH 273:4 for an extensive treatment of hefseik and kiddush b’makom seudah). If they want to be stringent and have some mezonot before the rest of the family returns and they make HaMotzi, that’s fine.

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