How many days did Esther fast? Avraham ibn Ezra said it was two days and two nights. And Maharal said it was 70 hours of fasting. How do you reconcile these arguments (opinions)? Is it possible to fast for three days, day and night? Was it intermittent? Thank you.

  • Welcome to MiYodeya and thanks for this first question. Great to have you learn with us!
    – mbloch
    May 7, 2021 at 3:16
  • Many mekubalim have the minhag to fast for 3 days and 3 nights straight. It is certainly possible, especially for our generation which carries around great reserves of nutrition, if you catch my drift. May 7, 2021 at 14:36
  • 1
    Thank you very much Akhi.
    – Tov
    May 7, 2021 at 17:09

1 Answer 1


Esther אֶסְתֵּר reveals in [Esther 4:16] her plan for "All the Yehudim" (כָּל־הַיְּהוּדִ֜ים) to Tsum צ֣וּם or "Fast" for 72-hours = 3-intervals of "Night and Day" (לַ֣יְלָה וָי֔וֹם) before petitioning her King for the protection of the Yehudim from death by Hammon הָמָ֧ן the Adversary of the Yehudim (צֹרֵ֥ר הַיְּהוּדִֽים).

Regarding the timeline of "Laylah VaYom" לַ֣יְלָה וָי֔וֹם or "Night and Day, the Tsum ended "BaYom HaShelishi" (בַּיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁלִישִׁ֗י) literally translated "on the day third" in Esther 5:1:

Esther 5:1

"On the third day, Esther put on royal apparel and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace, facing the king’s palace, while the king was sitting on his royal throne in the throne room facing the entrance of the palace." ( וַיְהִ֣י ׀ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁלִישִׁ֗י וַתִּלְבַּ֤שׁ אֶסְתֵּר֙ מַלְכ֔וּת וַֽתַּעֲמֹ֞ד בַּחֲצַ֤ר בֵּית־הַמֶּ֙לֶךְ֙ הַפְּנִימִ֔ית נֹ֖כַח בֵּ֣ית הַמֶּ֑לֶךְ וְ֠הַמֶּלֶךְ יוֹשֵׁ֞ב עַל־כִּסֵּ֤א מַלְכוּתוֹ֙ בְּבֵ֣ית הַמַּלְכ֔וּת נֹ֖כַח פֶּ֥תַח הַבָּֽיִת )

In Esther 5:1, Queen Esther אֶסְתֵּ֖ר applies the 3-day prayer Tsum צוּם of the prophet Yonah in Yonah 2:1. | In context to Esther 4:11, Esther is willing to offer her life for the salvation of her people the יְּהוּדִ֜ים Yehudim. The passing of three-sunsets | 3-iterations of night (לַ֣יְלָה) | at least 60-hours was required for Esther's צוּם Tsum or "Fast" as stated in [Esther 4:16][1]:

“Go, assemble all the Jews who live in Shushan, and fast in my behalf; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maidens will observe the same fast. Then I shall go to the king, though it is contrary to the law; and if I am to perish, I shall perish!” ( לֵךְ֩ כְּנ֨וֹס אֶת־כָּל־הַיְּהוּדִ֜ים הַֽנִּמְצְאִ֣ים בְּשׁוּשָׁ֗ן וְצ֣וּמוּ עָ֠לַי וְאַל־תֹּאכְל֨וּ וְאַל־תִּשְׁתּ֜וּ שְׁלֹ֤שֶׁת יָמִים֙ לַ֣יְלָה וָי֔וֹם גַּם־אֲנִ֥י וְנַעֲרֹתַ֖י אָצ֣וּם כֵּ֑ן וּבְכֵ֞ן אָב֤וֹא אֶל־הַמֶּ֙לֶךְ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר לֹֽא־כַדָּ֔ת וְכַאֲשֶׁ֥ר אָבַ֖דְתִּי אָבָֽדְתִּי )

Although Ibn Ezra's Commentary on Esther 4:16 starts by recognizing Esther's Tsum as 3-days, the remainder of his commentary shows inaccurate calculations of "Laylah VaYom" לַ֣יְלָה וָי֔וֹם iterations missing 1-iteration of Laylah :

" שלשת ימים. עד יום השלישי והנה לא אכלו בערב והתענו שני ימים ושני לילות כי הכתיב הוא לילה ויום והנה אסתר בטחה באלהי ה' על כן התענתה ולא בטחה ביופיה כי פני המתענה תשתנה אף כי יום השלישי "
[1]: https://www.sefaria.org/Esther.4.16?with=all&lang=bi

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