I fly multiple times a week nearly every week for work. It has happened a few times that I had to travel on a minor fast day and I was at times surprised to see visibly religious people eating and drinking on planes and in airport lounges.

Let’s assume these people were traveling for the sake of earning a living or for other permitted reasons, and that they were normally healthy.

Are there particular lifting of fasting restrictions if traveling for a permitted purpose? Are there poskim who would allow eating/drinking lechathila? Does it make a difference if the fast happens on the day after the “real” date because of shabbat?

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    Possible excuses: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/12965/170 judaism.stackexchange.com/q/63949/170
    – msh210
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 18:45
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    "visibly religious people" - If you're referring to people dressed liked Hareidim (black hat, frock, beard, payot, etc.) be aware that there are quite a few fakers out there who aren't Jewish but dress this way so that they can get "favored" seating. E.g., they claim that they cannot sit next to an immodestly dressed woman. Well, that definition alone can get them a first / business class seat, sometimes.
    – DanF
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 18:52
  • Reminds me of the time I sat next to a Muslim on an airplane, and he told me that if they travel during Ramadan, they're exempt from fasting that day. thenational.ae/uae/… Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 19:20
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    Maybe they were diabetic or something?
    – Heshy
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 23:45
  • Which fasts are we talking about? With taanis ester the bar is significant lower. Also note that of it was women eating that other things come into play
    – user15253
    Commented Jul 21, 2019 at 16:35

2 Answers 2


R. Yosef Yedid (Yeme Yosef §9) discusses the permissibility of a talmid chacham (i.e. an individual who sits all day and learns) or Torah-teachers refraining from fasting. From his responsum it appears he would also permit an employee [of secular occupation] to refrain from fasting since the unproductiveness amounts to stealing. As precedent he turns to Berachos 16a which states that workers do not recite all rabbinically required blessings [since they are hired workers].

However, I am unaware of other poskim permitting so lechatchila. In fact, R. Ovadiah Yosef (Chazon Ovadiah - Bein HaMezarim pp. 43-44.) strongly disagrees with R. Yedid, stating “it’s bewildering to say that all workers and clerks would be exempt from a public-fast”. While some indication to an exemption on the part of workers can be construed from the Yerushalmi (Demai 7:3), ROY asserts that that is only in a case of a personal-fast. ROY further adds that in contemporary times employers are not strict in these matters (essentially forgiving the couple of extra minutes) and therefore all workers are obligated to recite all benedictions upon finishing a meal (cf. SA 191:2).

Yet, it is still important to note that this can’t be a sweeping pronouncement or prohibition since other factors need be taken into account: What if the employer is a non-Jew and there likely is no “אדעתא דהכי” as assumed in the aforementioned SA? Employers are aware that many an employee has a drunken weekend, they might be lax on an added coffee-break the following work-day but would they tolerate a full unproductive day? Is there really no possible concern of “stealing” when, for example, a traveling salesman has a customer to which the employee must fly to and on account of his fasting he is unable to perform after the employer already spent money on the flight and lodge?

In short: People’s livelihood can be literally at stake when fasting. My -obviously theoretic- solution: If a person knows they will not be able to perform at work if they fast it is best to eat/drink within the minimum amount (cf. Beur Halachah 554:6) so A) they won’t fall ill [and consequently a bedieved case] and B) the fast won’t be considered broken. Suggestion: Choose your food and drink wisely.

  • Should these same people be skipping parts of bentching at work?
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 21, 2019 at 18:36
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    This would only apply in countries where employers are not obligated to provide reasonable accommodations to religious practices
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 21, 2019 at 18:38
  • @DoubleAA Regarding your first comment: Post-SA, ordinarily, no. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if R. Yedid would’ve concurred with others who occasionally allow for the “shorter” version of bentching to be recited in light of his central argument. He might have applied the same ruling to other similar liturgical and, perhaps, ritualistic practices, mutatis mutandis.
    – Oliver
    Commented Jul 21, 2019 at 20:03

Give these strangers benefit of the doubt. They may be transferring flights and have come from somewhere else where the fast has ended for them, but not where you are, now.

For further explanation, please see: "Fast days and time zones".

  • I am not sure what you mean. The fast ends at night local time. If they eat by day then there is no way they can have ended their fast. Or maybe I’m missing the point of your answer
    – mbloch
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 20:53
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    Also I was asking more generally. Not so much about these specific travelers. They are only the starting point of my question
    – mbloch
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 20:53
  • @mbloch Did you read the two answers? The fast ends when it becomes dark, wherever they are at that time. Say it was dark in the middle of the flight, but on a westbound flight they enter an earlier time zone where the fast isn't over (for you). Your question specifies nothing about where these people came from. The rule in that answer applies to anyone in that situation.
    – DanF
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 20:59
  • I did read the four answers. But I do not see how they apply here. If you fly westward, time moves forward, just slower. You never to get arrive somewhere where it is 17 Tamuz where you have a 17 Tamuz behind you. I exclude dateline issues which are not relevant for most Jews. The answers apply when you fly eastward and finish your fast quicker (happened to me once on London-Hong Kong, shorter fast but tough flight with dehydration and no eating or drinking) (and I didn't downvote - appreciate your trying to answer)
    – mbloch
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 21:14
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    The questions were: "Are there particular lifting of fasting restrictions if traveling for a permitted purpose? Are there poskim who would allow eating/drinking lechathila? Does it make a difference if the fast happens on the day after the “real” date because of shabbat?" This doesn't address any of these questions.
    – Daniel
    Commented Jul 21, 2019 at 16:45

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