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Fasting Before Passover

The eve of Passover is the only fast day in the Jewish calendar that only applies to one segment of the Jewish community.

Do Jews fast on Passover?

With the exception of abstaining from leavened grains, on Passover — as on many Jewish holidays — it is customary to eat large festive meals. Fasting would be inconsistent with the joyous spirit of the holiday.

However there is a fast day that falls on the eve of Passover. It is the only fast day in the Jewish calendar that applies solely to one segment of the Jewish community.

The Fast of the First BornTa’anit Bechorot or Ta’anit Bechorim in Hebrew — is a sunrise to sunset fast observed on the eve of Passover only by first-born males. The fast commemorates the miracle which spared the first-born sons of Israel from the plague that killed the first-born sons of the Egyptians. If Passover begins on Friday or Saturday night, the fast is moved earlier so that one is not fasting either on Shabbat or Erev Shabbat.

There is a widespread practice to hold a siyyum early in the morning on the day of the fast. A siyyum is a celebration held to mark the completion of some portion of Torah study. Because it is forbidden to fast on happy occasions, those who would normally be obligated to fast are exempted if they participate in a siyyum.

For more information on Passover customs, click here.

Discover More

Rules for Passover

From avoiding leavened products to the Fast of the First Born, here's your cheat sheet of Passover practices.

Non-Fixed Fast Days

Judaism has communal fasts that are not on the yearly calendar and numerous occasions when individuals may choose to fast.

Jewish Minor Fast Practices

Many of the stringent restrictions that apply on Tisha B'Av and Yom Kippur do not apply to the minor fasts.