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Fasting in times of crises
#1
Hi everyone, I hope you are all well!

While searching for information on today's Day of 17th of Tammuz, I found the following article in the Jerusalem Post, which also recommended not to fast if you are positive for Covid-19 or feel symptoms thereof: https://www.jpost.com/judaism/fast-of-th...oms-634287

I was wondering how fasting during such times is generally handled within your communities, traditionally/philosophically and what you personally think about it. 

My gut feeling would be that at times with a higher risk due to ongoing pandemics or other extraordinary circumstances, being at the best possible state of health would be wise. Fasting would be detrimental to the idea of preserving life at all costs. So this would mean to preemptively not fast, in order to not weaken the immune system in case of a possible infection. 
Or, for example, if you live in an area of ongoing wildfires and have a risk of needing to evacuate, not to fast so that you can take the required actions if needed. And this goes for all situations of a potential threat that is not imminent, but sort of looming on the horizon, with uncertainty if you will be affected or not.

If you would follow this train of thought, where to draw the line? For example, I might not feel unwell, had no risk contacts, but might get coughed on tomorrow at the supermarket. My future me would profit from being well nourished. But you never know which circumstances might happen to you tomorrow, the risk for a very specific situation is just higher during the times of a crisis, be it a pandemic or other situation. Could you ever have the certainty that fasting is safe and not reducing - dramatically spoken - your chances of survival, how ever minuscule the amount might be?

(I'm not seeking advice on whether or not to fast personally, I am more interested in the philosophical (or pragmatical) approaches and point of views to this questions).

Looking forward to hear your thoughts!
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#2
Great questions Sarah!


From what I understand, life and health always come first.

There are many who do not fast during normal times (remember those days!) due to health concerns and if I'm not mistaken (someone please correct me if I'm wrong) many women don't fast as it might interfere with taking care of their children or other loved ones.

Other than that, yes, we should always try to keep our bodies in the best health possible, keeping our immune systems in top shape.

My personal feeling is that fasting for 25 hours does not pose a health threat for those who are relatively healthy. As a mater of fact, it might do them some good. I know some people take a water pill and others might drink some water or eat a little something if they feel weak.

Our bodies are amazing and will let us know our limits.

We just have to listen to it!
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#3
It seems that fasting can help your immune system:
https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevensalzb...8fca4c27ac

It also makes you more spiritually strong, even angrier. Maybe this is why women do not fast; they need to be not-angry.
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#4
Women don't fast?
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#5
(07-13-2020, 06:38 AM)Jason wrote: Women don't fast?

My comment was -

"if I'm not mistaken (someone please correct me if I'm wrong) many women don't fast as it might interfere with taking care of their children or other loved ones"

So yes, some women do and others may not.

I don't think it is mandatory for women to do so but again, I may be wrong.
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#6
(07-13-2020, 03:19 PM)searchinmyroots wrote: My comment was -

"if I'm not mistaken (someone please correct me if I'm wrong) many women don't fast as it might interfere with taking care of their children or other loved ones"

So yes, some women do and others may not.

I don't think it is mandatory for women to do so but again, I may be wrong.

Under traditional Jewish law pregnant and nursing mothers are exempt from fasting on minor fasts, but not major fasts. In addition there are exemptions for women for a short period following childbirth. Beyond that, only other than illnesses or other medical condition that would endanger the faster, would exempt women From the obligation are to fast.
בקש שלום ורדפהו
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#7
(07-13-2020, 04:03 PM)RabbiO wrote:
(07-13-2020, 03:19 PM)searchinmyroots wrote: My comment was -

"if I'm not mistaken (someone please correct me if I'm wrong) many women don't fast as it might interfere with taking care of their children or other loved ones"

So yes, some women do and others may not.

I don't think it is mandatory for women to do so but again, I may be wrong.

Under traditional Jewish law pregnant and nursing mothers are exempt from fasting on minor fasts, but not major fasts. In addition there are exemptions for women for a short period following childbirth. Beyond that, only other than illnesses or other medical condition that would endanger the faster, would exempt women From the obligation are to fast.

Thanks for the clarification RabbiO!

Much appreciated.
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#8
Don't take my word for it; I have no expertise whatsoever in Talmud. But I did read in the Talmud once that a sick person may be allowed to eat even unclean foods, even during the fast on Yom Kippur, if he is sickly from great hunger (Yoma 83a). I think this is based on a standard principle (פיקוח נפש piqquach nephesh, saving a life) such that one is also permitted to violate the Sabbath to save life or care for the sick (Yoma 84b-85a).

Please correct me if I'm wrong.
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