Talk:Fast of the Firstborn

Page contents not supported in other languages.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Creating the article[edit]

I just created this article. Hope it's informative, but it may be too technical. If anyone can proofread, balance, or just generally improve the article, I'd appreciate it. (It's the first non-stub article I've created, so I'd appreciate tips for the future on this talk page or on my user talk page). Thanks. HKT 06:26, 11 May 2005 (UTC)[reply]

  • HKT: I have just read the article, it's a masterpiece! You should continue to add such good work because it's needed! Thank you. IZAK 18:25, 16 December 2005 (UTC)[reply]


I hope to add a "Philosophy of the Fast" section, soon. It should be a nice improvement. HKT 19:23, 13 May 2005 (UTC)[reply]

Done. HKT 05:14, 15 May 2005 (UTC)[reply]

I don't really think it belongs here. I'm going to work on moving it to another page... something like "Fasting." You know, where it's more topical.

capital/lowercase "firstborn"[edit]

I moved the article back to fast of the firstborn for the simple reasons that (1) many articles link thither and very few to fast of the Firstborn and (2) among those many is {{jewishHolidays}}.msh210 18:32, 17 May 2005 (UTC)[reply]

I agree. I believe RickK had changed it to fast of the Firstborn. No big deal, though, with all the redirects.HKT 19:28, 17 May 2005 (UTC)[reply]


This particular fast is not commonly observed outside of Orthodox Judaism. In general, this doesn't seem broadly relevant enough to merit inclusion of the Jew template, and the Jewish holidays template seems adequate. HKT 18:46, 21 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]

"holiday" infobox[edit]

While it may seem strange to have a holiday template for a fast day, there really is no reason why this template shouldn't apply. Jon513 21:27, 9 March 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Siyum = NO fasting![edit]

Upon review I noticed that this article overlooks the obvious, that at the present time very few people (meaning post Bar Mitzvah first born male Orthodox and Haredi Jews) actually fast on this day because almost everyone partakes in a siyum after Shacharis. I have therefore inserted the following key paragraph: "However, the fast is not usually observed because a siyum (conclusion of a tractate of the Talmud) is made at the conclusion of the morning services which then pre-empts the need for a fast since following a siyum one is permitted to eat a celebratory meal or pastries." I am wondering how the very learned editors of this article could have overlooked such an obvious piece of crucial information? Thank you. IZAK 05:24, 16 March 2006 (UTC)[reply]

The article didn't omit that info. See the Breaking the fast section, which says that the commonly observed custom is to break the fast upon a siyum. However, I appreciate the importance of featuring this info more prominently, especially given that the info is apparently easily missed by the reader. Nonetheless, I may streamline the way the info is presented in the intro, as well as remove it from one of the later sections. (Just because Orthodox Jews observe the laws of the fast doesn't imply that they actually fast the entire day, esp. since that caveat will have been mentioned at least twice beforehand in the article and is less relevant to the section in question). As another point, I hesitate to leave in the intro that a siyum is made on a completion of a Talmudic tractate, because, while this is common practice, we find the accepted halakhic ruling is that of R' Feinstein, who rules that the siyum can be made over the completion of any mitzvah that takes a long time to perform (such as the korsei eitzim, which is actually one of two primary sources for the concept of a siyum). The Orthodox (or at least Orthodox Ashkenazi) community at large accepts this ruling and would implement it if the occasion would so arise that someone would have learned a sefer of Tanakh instead of a tractate of Talmud (for example). This issue is addressed in the "Breaking the Fast" section. Anyway, thanks for bringing this up and inserting the info, IZAK. HKT 08:11, 16 March 2006 (UTC)[reply]
  • Hi HKT: Firstly welcome back, I haven't seen you around in a while and you were missed! Secondly, nowhere in my many long years in various Orthodox communities have a I seen any bechor fast (I am a bechor by the way), because I have always seen a siyum of a mesechta of Gemara (in shullss and yeshivas) and never have I seen a siyum on anything else besides Talmud even though there may be other ways to do it as you mention. By putting it into the "breaking the fast section" it creates the impression that someone fasts and then "breaks it" (Americans love that phrase "break-fast" for some odd reason, I guess it sounds a lot like breakfast and it reminds them of food and not of hunger which was the point of the fast), like on the other fast-days, which is just not true on this day, since no-one fasts (well, then again, there may be some people in Meah Shearim that we have never heard of who follow all sorts of chumras...) At any rate, the reader needs to be informed very clearly and very early that this is NOT a fast day like all others, even though in theory (and in sefarim) one may come up with all sorts of background information about its significance. All the best. IZAK 08:29, 16 March 2006 (UTC)[reply]
Thank you for the welcome! Yes, I agree that the reader should be informed of this early, which is why I left your mention of it in the intro, albeit modfied somewhat. Thanks for putting it in! It would be a chumrah to fast the entire day, though not an unreasonable or unsourced one (like many of those accepted by less informed yet eager individuals). Actually, when the majority of post-Talmudic poskim rule more stringently than common practice requires, halacha universally considers it desirable (though not required, per se) to follow the chumrah (provided some conditions apply). This applies to this fast, as well, and is stated explicitly by some modern poskim. There are indeed those people, especially in yeshivas, who follow this chumrah, but they do it quietly and unobtrusively so as not to violate mechezi k'yuhara. Anyone who would unnecesarily publicize that he was fasting would actually be much better off just breaking his fast.
As far as "breaking the fast", it is important to highlight that one must fast until/unless he participates in a siyum. Not clarifying this could lead people to think that the fast is really null and void, and, by the way, you should go to a siyum. Your bit about morning services makes it abundantly clear that the fast usually ends quite quickly (though, in practice, someone must continue to fast if he misses a siyum).
As far as non-Talmudic siyums, there is not always someone available who is close to finishing a masechta. Last year, someone I know needed to learn something with only several days left. He learned a several-perek long sefer from the Trei Assar (with Rashi and a couple other reliable peirushim, as per the ruling of R' Moshe that a siyum on a sefer of Nach requires it to be learned with mefarshim. This actually makes it halachically considered in the category of gemara, btw). He fininshed just in time. This alternative, while uncommon, is relied upon. It may be helpful for people to know that they can rely on this alternative, as it may sometimes be necessary or convenient for them. Most synagogues have someone (frequently the Rabbi) who has finished a tractate of Talmud, but this is not always so.
Be well, HKT 09:38, 16 March 2006 (UTC)[reply]
By the way, if you think the term "breaking" is confusing (even though it is common usage, and, AFAIK, even preferred), you can change it to something like "ending". I personally don't think such a change is worthwhile. HKT 11:13, 16 March 2006 (UTC)[reply]

B'chorot or B'chorim?[edit]

The primary name for the fast is B'chorim, and an "auxilliary" name is B'chorot, as mentioned in the foot note. As such, I originally removed B'chorot from the intro so as to minimize clutter there. Therefore, I think it would be a good idea to change those edits back, or to at least mention B'chorot less prominently in the intro (and infobox). If I felt so inclined, I would probably rename the hewiki article on this, too.

When I hear the fast referred to in Hebrew, I hear "B'chorot" about 50 percent of the time. Nevertheless, it is still a more jargon-ish pronuncation and rarely found in text (especially halakhic texts). HKT 08:22, 16 March 2006 (UTC)[reply]

  • HKT: Take a look at the link to the Hebrew Wikipedia [1], it has תענית בכורות and that is the way I have always heard it pronounced. In the yeshiva world and all the rabbis I have known have always used ta'anis bechoros so I don't know where you are getting your orientation from? You are being somewhat overly pedantic and bookish by overlooking the resounding common usage today. IZAK 08:34, 16 March 2006 (UTC)[reply]
    • Do NOT change the Hebrew wiki because it actually brings a clear proof against you: "מקור המנהג הוא במכת בכורות, שבה נהרגו כל הבכורות בארץ מצרים" Thus the Hagadah talks of " מכת בכורות " which explains why the common usage is to refer to fast as תענית בכורות So I don't agree with your direction here. IZAK 08:40, 16 March 2006 (UTC)[reply]
OK, I'm not going to change the hewiki unless we determine that that is appropriate. (P.S. I've only been using the final "t" for the sake of wikipedia transliteration conventions). Take a look at the footnote on the bottom where I had already mentioned the source for "Bechoros", which I don't consider a proof against me, only a basis for what has traditionally been the minority usage.
True that Bechoros is verbally common, and more even common (verbally) in a yeshivish environment, but it is still colloquial. Should it be featured as the most common term? I don't really know what the Wikipedia standards are for this, so perhaps you can enlighten me. Also, I don't know if it is wrong to be bookish in the sense that you mention because (1.) the books indicate the overwhelmingly more common traditional historical term and (2.) the books continue to use that term, so I think that it is still the official term in a modern sense. To sum up: While Bechoros is perhaps the more common verbal usage, though colloquial, Bechorim is the primary official and historical term. As such, perhaps they should both be mentioned in the intro, minus elaboration, and that the usages of these terms should be more thoroughly discusses in a footnote. I hope that would be an acceptable solution. HKT 09:11, 16 March 2006 (UTC)[reply]

I revised the intro and footnotes. I kept "b'chorot" first in the infobox and put "b'chorim" first in the intro (mainly because that required less rewriting of the notes). HKT 15:10, 16 March 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Who is NOT a B'chor?[edit]

I have heard several views that first-born sons after a previously known (but terminated) pregnancy are NOT B'chorim as in the requirements of Pidyon haBen. Thus, they do not have to fast. Since Caesarian section babies do not naturally "open the womb", they cannot be B'chorim either. Converts are also excluded regardless of their biological first-born status. Of course, girls are excluded altogether, although I have heard first-born women and girls observe the fast in more liberal communities. --OneTopJob6 05:09, 4 September 2006 (UTC)[reply]

you seem to have heard quite a lot of things. Could you perhaps point us to some sources. Jon513 15:18, 4 September 2006 (UTC)[reply]
This source is linked to at the bottom of the article: "The status of a bechor born by cesarean section, or of a first-born non-Jew who converts, is a matter of disagreement among the poskim. It is therefore recommended that these bechorim participate in a seudas mitzvah and thereby satisfy all opinions." Most (if not all) authorities would require fasting in the case of a previous pregnancy. Please see Fast of the firstborn#Qualifications for fasting, which discusses your other issues. HKTTalk 03:00, 6 September 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Only the firstborn fasts?[edit]

The introduction states "Unlike most Jewish fast days, only firstborns are required to fast on the Fast of the Firstborn." However, there is no citation. My personal experience has suggested this is incorrect, though I have no substantiated research to point to for evidence. Can anyone clarify with a source?

Jnklein (talk) 20:16, 19 April 2008 (UTC)[reply]

Please read Fast of the Firstborn#Origins and Fast of the Firstborn#Qualifications for fasting, which discuss and cite sources for this. Also, see Fast of the Firstborn#Meaning of the fast, which cites R' Jacob Emden as a source for the custom held by some non-firstborns to fast. HKTTalk 22:11, 1 May 2008 (UTC)[reply]

Assessment comment[edit]

The comment(s) below were originally left at Talk:Fast of the Firstborn/Comments, and are posted here for posterity. Following several discussions in past years, these subpages are now deprecated. The comments may be irrelevant or outdated; if so, please feel free to remove this section.

Needs inline citations and references. Badbilltucker 17:17, 5 January 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Substituted at 02:13, 27 September 2016 (UTC)