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I’d like to take on regular fasting for health reasons. My Rav permits this. He also permits it to weaken desire.

But there are so many contradictory opinions that are hard to reconcile in the halachic literature. The Lubavitcher Rebbe wrote letters to individuals about not fasting. The Alter Rebbe writes about the unpreparedness of the generation to fast. The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch says one shouldn’t take on vows to fast more than expected. Chassidus also talks about the nitzozot inside of physical nourishment. Still, people take on BeHa"B (fasting Mondays and Thursdays). Some tzaddikim even fast for a whole week. Even elder Chassidim fast from shabbos to shabbos. Poskim like Dayan Raskin recognize the benefits of fasting, e.g. greater productivity and cognitive acuity.

Is there a Halachic book that can guide a person to an informed and balanced position toward fasting amidst this variety of practices?

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  • I don't understand what you're asking - regular fasting is absolutely optional, some ascribe it to the ascetic way of life, atonement, Tikkunim, etc. If you want to fast - fast, but what Halochos do you expect to know? If eating cereal is optional what Halochos can I expect on eating cereal? Did you mean "non-halachic" but "Hashkafic" -a book that summarizes different approaches to fasting?
    – Al Berko
    Commented Jan 7, 2022 at 7:54
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    Lots of questions about proper practice have different opinions. That's why you have teachers and rabbis to guide you. As with all things, find a rabbi you trust.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jan 7, 2022 at 16:22
  • The problem with fasting is that it takes a toll on the body and so the costs outweigh the benefits. If you are fasting for health reasons, it should be fine.
    – N.T.
    Commented Jan 7, 2022 at 18:30

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