Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Halocho #97 - Why do the firstborns fast?

Why don't firstborns celebrate the fact that they were saved from the 10th plague - the smiting of Egyptian firstborns? Tomorrow - Thursday - firstborns will fast in memory of them fasting in Egypt on Erev Pessach, to ensure they wouldn't be punished along with the Egyptians in the 10th plague. The Hallel said at the Seder includes praise for their delivery. The fast is usually on Erev Pessach; since we don't fast on Shabbat, and fasting on Friday is also not a pleasant way to greet Shabbat, so the fast was advanced to Thursday. All firstborns males fast; even if they're only a firstborn to one of their parents. Even firstborns who are exempt from Pidyon haBen - like Cohanim, Levites or being born after a stillborn - also have to fast. The father of a young firstborn needs to fast for him. Whether a firstborn (or his father) may attend a Se'udat Mitzva like a Siyum, Bris or Pidyon haBen and break his fast to participate in the meal, depends on local / family custom. Once he breaks his fast he can eat for the rest of the day. A firstborn may break his fast after nightfall, before doing Bedikas Chometz, if needed. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 113:6, 115:2 - Danny 11 Nissasn 5768

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  1. Until when can I eat Kitniot on Erev pesach ? during Pesach i dont eat them at all.

    Also - things like Sunflower oil in the UK were not considered Kitniyot and were able to be used, yet here, every sunflower oil is considered kitniyot - any halachic suggestions would be appreciated


  2. I looked it up - the earliest source is the Chok Yaakov (471:2) who says that you can only eat Kitniyos as long as you can eat Chometz. (This makes sense since we don't eat them since we consider them maybe-chometz.)

    Regarding oil: It's an old argument if oil-of-kitnios is included in kitnios, and what items are kitnios - my cousin wrote a fascinating booklet about it in Hebrew, if you want I can mail it to you. (I'll need an snail-mail address to do so.)

    In Israel they are strict and this is the local custom we all have to follow. As a result people use Palm-oil or Olive-oil or walnut-oil. We found walnut-oil to be the most tasty.

    - Danny, not a Rabbi.