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What is the source for the idea that fast days are not only for fasting and remorse on the past, but also for prayer and repentance for the future?

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For starters, try Y'sha'yahu (58:1-12) and Yo'el (2:12-14). –  Fred May 23 at 2:26

1 Answer 1

The Mishna in Taanis 2:1-2 deduces that the main point of the fast is not abstaining from eating, but rather repenting and praying for repentance.

סדר תענייות כיצד: מוציאין את התיבה לרחובה של עיר; ונותנין אפר מקלה על גבי התיבה, ובראש הנשיא, ובראש אב בית דין, וכל אחד ואחד נוטל ונותן בראשו. והזקן שבהם אומר לפניהם דברי כיבושים--אחינו, לא נאמר באנשי נינווה, וירא האלוהים את שקם ואת תעניתם, אלא "וירא האלו-ים את מעשיהם, כי שבו מדרכם הרעה" (יונה ג,י); ובקבלה הוא אומר, "וקרעו לבבכם ואל בגדיכם, ושובו אל ה' אלו-יכם: כי חנון ורחום, הוא--ארך אפיים ורב חסד, וניחם על הרעה" (יואל ב,יג).

ב,ב עמדו בתפילה--מורידין לפני התיבה זקן ורגיל, ויש לו בנים, וביתו ריקן, כדי שיהא ליבו שלם בתפילה; ואומר לפניהם עשרים וארבע ברכות--שמונה עשרה שבכל יום, ומוסיף עליהן עוד שש

(1) What is the order [of the service] for fast days? The Ark is taken out to the square of town . Ash is placed on the Ark and on the head of the Nasi and on the head of the Av Bet Din. Everyone else [however,] places ash on their own head. The elder among them addresses them with words of admonition saying: “Our brethren, it is not stated regarding the people of Ninveh: “And God saw their sackcloth and their fasting,” rather: “And God saw their deeds, that they turned from their evil ways” (Jonah 3:6). And in the Prophets it is said: And rend your hearts and not your garments” (Joel 2:13).

(2) They then stood in prayer. They send before the Ark [to serve as hazzan] an Elder, who is well conversant [with the prayers], who has children, and whose house is empty [of food; another explanation, his house is empty of sin], so that

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