These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

Why Fast for Ta’anit Esther?

Posted on February 21, 2013 by Annie Matan Gilbert

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This fast comes in contrast with the feasting of Purim to come. In the Purim story, Esther asked Mordechai to ask the Jews to fast for three days. Some texts say this is because they were preparing for battle and others say this was to invoke God’s help and protection.

There are two Hebrew words for fast, Tzom and Ta’anit. The shoresh of Ta’anit is ayin-nun-heh, which connects the fast to invocation (answer) and to humility. When I think of this kind of humility, I imagine it’s an invitation to put ourselves in the bodies and realities of those who are hungry (think of the prohibitions on Yom Kippur, which is a mirror for Purim – no shoes, no eating or drinking, no bathing, annointing or physical intimacy – all of which reinforce humility, discomfort and separation).

Especially before we throw ourselves into merriment and abandon, this fast can be an opportunity to strip ourselves down, to ground, to ask God to prepare us for whatever comes next and to know that even if we can’t hear God’s answer, it is already here.

Here are a couple of chants/songs that could be helpful themes for the fast (really poor recordings attached):
Humble Yourself – Lift Each Other Up

Humble Yourself Humble yourself in the eyes of the (Mother)*
Bend down low and
Humble yourself in the eyes of your Mother
You’ve got to know what S/he/They know/s and
We shall lift each other up
Higher and higher!!
We shall lift each other up
(You’ve got to…) * Father, Brother, Sister, Children, etc.

-Rainbow/Circle song

I call out to You for You will answer me, God

Ani kratich ki ta’aneini El

 אֲנִי-קְרָאתִיךְ כִי-תַעֲנֵנִי אֵל

Ani Kratich
-Psalm 17:6 (melody by Annie Matan Gilbert)

Wishing you a meaningful day!