b'JEWISH CALENDAR COMPANIONFAST OF ESTHERJANE MIRVITCHIwantanyonetothinkImasortof wouldnt Scrooge-like person who hates all the fun of a SimchasTorah(bah,humbug!)andwhoreally enjoys a gloomy Tisha BAv. I enjoy a chag and a simcha as much as anyone, but if you are comparing Minor Fasts, then Taanis Esther, the Fast of Esther, is one of the better ones. Its a fast inaugurated by tradition, not by God in the Torah or by Rabbinic law, so the Rabbis have been tolerant in the rules as to its observance. To begin with, someone with a medical condition, or women who are pregnant or nursing mothers, can be exempt from fasting. If you are observing it you can go to work as on a normal day, and the fasting itself is actually quite short and do-able. Unlike Yom Kippur, you dont have to begin fasting the evening before, its just from dawn until the evening, and if you want to you can get up in the night an hour before dawn especially for an early breakfast, so really youre only skipping lunch. I know that on Pesach were reminded, in an answer to the Wise Sons question, not to divert our attention from learning about Pesach to thinking about the after dinner entertainment, but it certainly helps sometimes during a pre-Purim fast to think about the pleasures soon to come: an exhilarating and fun, fast-paced Megillah reading by Rabbi Lionel with voices, lots of gregar clacking, horn tooting, maraca shaking to join in with to blot out the name of horrible Haman, and then the dinner, fancy dress and entertainment that make a Purim party (in non Covid years) so enjoyable.When is the Fast of Esther? We observe it on the thirteenth day ofAdar,beforePurimbeginsintheeveningwhichbeginsthe fourteenth day. On the thirteenth day the Jews of Shushan were mobilising to defend themselves against attack and annihilation, they would have fasted and prayed for Gods help. As Rabbi Sam explained to us in his Monday shiur when we study Mishnah Taanit, fasting is a way of asking for Gods compassion and help in a time of adversity, we know that we are not the masters of our fate. But although Megillah IX refers generally to remembering the fastings 37'