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On minor fast days we, of course, don't eat and drink. But my experience is that in other regards we can mostly go about our usual activities -- go to work, tend to household chores, etc. What other activities are forbidden on minor fasts?

Entertainment? (Does it matter if it's live or recorded?)

Social activities (e.g. visiting with friends)?

Any restrictions in torah study? (I've always understood the restrictions on Tisha b'Av to be unique, but I don't know why I think that.)

What else?

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Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 550:2:

צומות הללו, חוץ מתשעה באב, מותרים ברחיצה וסיכה ונעילת הסנדל ותשמיש המטה.‏

On these fasts, except Tish'ah B'Av, one may wash oneself, anoint oneself, wear shoes, and have marital relations.

(Translation from Sefaria)

However, Mishna Berurah ad loc. writes:

ובעל נפש יחמיר בכולן כמו בט"ב אלא שאם חל ליל טבילה יקיים עונתו וגם בנעילת הסנדל לא יחמיר משום חוכא וטלולה וכן אם חל י' בטבת בע"ש אין להחמיר ברחיצה בחמין מפני כבוד השבת.‏

[A] pious person should be stringent on all of them as on Tish'ah Be'Av, but if one of them falls on the evening when [a man's wife is due to] immerse [after her period], he should fulfill his obligation [to have marital relations]. Likewise, a person should not be strict about wearing shoes in order not to be a laughingstock. Likewise, if the 10th of Tevet falls on Friday, a person should not be strict about not washing in hot water out of respect for Shabbat.

(Translation from Sefaria; emphasis mine)

Thus, according to Mishna Berurah, a pious person (בעל נפש) should refrain on a minor fast from washing and annointing themselves, and from marital relations (with certain exceptions).

[I wonder whether nowadays he would encourage such a person to be strict regarding not wearing leather footwear as well. I can think of many scenarios where not wearing leather shoes would no longer cause one to be a laughingstock.]

Whether an individual ought to consider themselves a pious person is probably a subject best discussed with one's rabbinic adviser/mentor.

  • I wonder how the relations case comes up. Minor fasts are all daylight fasts (or can personal fasts be longer?), but a woman goes to the mikvah at night. By the time she's back home the fast should be over, right? (Maybe this is a separate question, but asking in a comment first in case there's something obvious I'm missing.) – Monica Cellio May 23 '18 at 14:15
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    @Monica Good question. I think it's probably talking about the night preceding the fast (e.g. the night between ninth and tenth of Tevet). Although the prohibition of eating only starts in the morning, I think these other stringencies may start from the night before as the whole day is considered a ta'anit. Analogously, see Mishnah Berurah here where he understands that Shulchan Aruch advocates saying Aneinu at ma'ariv preceding a fast because עצם התענית מתחיל מבערב – Joel K May 23 '18 at 14:23
  • Thanks Joel. Asked. – Monica Cellio May 23 '18 at 14:57
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The Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, Siman 568, Halacha 12, writes:

כל השרוי בתענית בין שהיה מתענה על צרתו או על חלומו בין שהיה מתענה עם הצבור על צרתם הרי זה לא ינהג עידונין בעצמו ולא יקל ראשו ולא יהיה שמח וטוב לב אלא דואג ואונן כענין שנאמר מה יתאונן אדם חי

Anyone involved in fasting, whether he's fasting because of his suffering or because of his dream, or whether he's fasting with the community for their suffering, should not pamper himself nor be light headed nor be happy and light hearted, rather he should worry and mourn like it's said "What should a living man mourn?"

Clearly then, entertainment should certainly be minimised if not outright forbidden.

Along these lines Rav Ovadiah Yosef held that listening to music was forbidden. He permitted shaving and haircutting though since he considered these to be chores. I haven't had the chance to find this ruling myself yet but it is referenced here with additional details.

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