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This answer refers to the practice of over-riding the fast of the first-born, which is my experience too. My question is: should the shaliach tzibbur ever do the fast-day liturgy? If the community has a planned siyyum+meal, do we assume that everyone will attend (or, having had the option to, is on his own if he wants to fast)?

My morning minyan doesn't do fast-day liturgy on that day but I haven't found anybody who knows a reason beyond "that's what we've always done".

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I actually asked my Rabbi this past year if I should say it. He told me it was only for public fasts. –  zaq Jul 29 '11 at 0:43
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From here: There are two types of fast: the communal fast and the individuals' fast. A special prayer is added by the Chazzan on communal fasts whenever both ten fasting individuals congregate and the Chazzan is fasting. While the Magen Avraham treats the fast as an individuals' fast, Shiyurei Knesset HaG'dolah, P'ri Chadash, and Or Zaru'a view it as a communal fast. To avoid the practical implications of the controversy, the Mishnah Berurah suggests that a firstborn should not serve as Chazzan on the day of the fast. –  Fred Feb 18 '13 at 19:40
    
@Fred thanks! I hadn't made the connection that the chazzan would also have to be fasting (so there's an obvious work-around per the Mishnah Berurah). You should put that into an answer so we can vote on it. –  Monica Cellio Feb 18 '13 at 19:54
    
@MonicaCellio Glad to contribute. I posted it as an answer below. –  Fred Feb 20 '13 at 22:06

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

In general, fast day liturgy is only done if there is a minyan (quorum) of men who are fasting, on normal fast days, we assume that everyone is fasting and therefore the whole minyan would be fasting, at mincha (afternoon service) it is not uncommon to check that there are still 10 men who are fasting at that point before proceeding with the liturgy. On the fast of the firstborn there may not be 10 firstborn men at the minyan in the morning to begin with and we therefore would not assume that we have 10 fasters.

Also, I am not sure if the normal fast-day liturgy would apply to this fast, because it is unclear if it is classed a taanit tzibbur (communal fast), being that only first-borns are obligated in the fast.

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Adam wrote that "there may not be 10 firstborn men at the minyan in the morning to begin with". My Rov several years ago insisted that we fasted until after the siyyum. –  Avrohom Yitzchok Jul 31 '11 at 16:15
    
Avrohom, he insisted that ALL men fast until the siyum or just the bechorim? What I meant was that there may not even be a minyan of bechorim present... –  Adam Simon Aug 1 '11 at 21:23
    
Thank you Adam, I understand now. The Rov only required the bechorim to fast until after the siyyum as you thought. –  Avrohom Yitzchok Aug 3 '11 at 16:47

From Wikipedia:

In halakha, there are two general types of fast: the communal fast and the individuals' fast. Among other differences between the two, a special prayer is added by the Chazzan (leader of the prayers) on communal fasts whenever both ten fasting individuals congregate and the Chazzan is fasting.

While the Magen Avraham treats the fast [of the firstborn] as an individuals' fast, the Shiyurei K'nesset Ha-G'dolah, the P'ri Chadash, and the Or Zaru'a view it as a communal fast. To avoid the practical implications of the controversy, the Mishnah Berurah (470:2) suggests that a firstborn should not serve as Chazzan on the day of the fast.

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