Ta'anit Bechorim -

The Fast of the Firstborn

Ta'anit Bechorim

The Fast of the firstborn (Ta'anit Bechorim or Taanit Bechorot) is a minor fast observed by firstborn males (firstborn to either mother or father) on the day before Passover (i.e., on Nisan 14 or Erev Pesach, unless that is a Shabbat, in which case it is observed on Nisan 13). The father of a firstborn son who is not yet Bar Mitzvah may fast in place of his son.

The purpose of the fast is to commemorate the fact that the firstborn Jewish males in Egypt were "passed over" (pasach) during the final plague while the firstborn sons of the Egyptians were killed (the 10th plague is known as Maccat Bechorot, or the "Slaying of the Firstborn").

Note: In some traditions, the obligation to fast is so relaxed that the rabbis have said that participation of first born males in a siyum - a celebration marking the conclusion of the study of a book of the Talmud - alleviates the requirement to fast on this day.


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