Soc.Culture.Jewish Newsgroups
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

[SCJ FAQ Logo]
< Q5.14 TOC Sect. 6 >

Question 5.15:
Does one ever fast on Chanukah?


The only fast "permitted" on Chanukah is a Taanis Chalom, the fast made after a nightmare by someone who feels motivated by that terror to repent, that is, someone who feels it was a message from heaven telling him to repent. In face,a person who feels motivated to fast the day after a nightmare is not only permitted, but obligated to do so. If it's Chanukah, that person is also obligated to fast a second time after the holiday as atonment for fasting on the holiday.

In face,the custom of fasting on the yahrzeit (anniversary of the day of death) of one's parent is suspended for Chanukah, and someone who does have such a yahrzeit either fasts before or after the holiday.

The notion of not fasting on Chanukah dates back to Megillas Taanis, written during the Hasmonean period. There is also a discussion in the talmud (Taanis 12b) about someone who accepts upon himself to fast every Monday and Thursday (assuming he doesn't use the formal language of oaths, and thus obligating himself Torahitically). We conclude, based on the Shulchan Arukh, Yoreh Dei'ah 215:3 that he doesn't fast on Chanukah (unless he specifically included it), and he doesn't have to have the oath absolved in order to first eat. This is relevent because part of the nature of a custom is that it's an implied oath.

The Arukh haShulchan (R Yechiel Michel Epstein, published in 1884 onward—some volumes were published posthumously by the author's daughter in the early 20th cent, Lithuania) has the entire chapter Orakh Chaim 570 on fasting on Chanukah and Purim. The question is whether or not such an oath would have to be annulled first, not whether or not fasting is permissable on Chanukah.

The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

[Got Questions?]Hopefully, the FAQ will provide the answer to your questions. If it doesn't, please drop Email to The FAQ maintainer will endeavor to direct your query to an appropriate individual that can answer it. If you would like to be part of the group to which the maintainer directs questions, please drop a note to the FAQ maintainer at

[Prev ?]
[Sect Index]
[Next Sect]
[Prev Sect]
[Global Index]
[Next Sect]
  [Reading Lists]  

© (c) 1993-2010 Daniel P. Faigin <>