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Chapter 121:11
Laws of Public Fast Days

11. It is a mitzvah for every Jewish community to fast and pray to G-d, blessed be His Name, in response to all suffering that befalls them (1). If the situation in which they find themselves is not appropriate for fasting, for example, when they are being pursued [by an ememy] and are thus not permitted to fast so as not to weaken themselves, they should commit themselves to fasting after they are saved. This will be considered as if they had actually fasted, as we find written concerning Daniel [10:12]: "And he said to me: 'Do not fear, Daniel, because from the day that you made the resolve to understand and to fast before G-d, your Lord, your words were harkened to'."


(1) According to the Rambam, one of the 613 Biblical commandments is to cry out ("Liz'ok") to G-d, and blow trumpets (or shofars) in response to any form of communal suffering, such as plague, drought, and war. In addition to supplication and trumpet blowing, the Rabbis enacted that the community should fast until they receive mercy from G-d; crying out, fasting and blowing trumpets reminds people that the suffering experienced by the community is a direct result of their misconduct, and that repentance is the only way to rectify the situation. (Rambam, Yad, Laws of Fasts, Chapter one).

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