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Fast Day Survival Tips

July 12, 2018 | by David Kilimnick

My techniques to make it through the Tisha B’Av fast.

Tisha B’Av is considered the saddest day on the Jewish calendar. Many tragedies took place on this day, including the destruction of the Temples due to our sins. Hence, on this day, we are awakened to repent as a people.

Now, just because we are repenting doesn’t mean we don’t worry about fasting. The loss of cream cheese and lox is very distressing to me. After five hours of fasting, I really hone in on the tragedies that are being experienced by Jewish people today, and by Jewish people, I mean me, and by today I mean, no lox and cream cheese.

The two pillars of the Jewish fast: gorging before and gorging after.

This Tisha B’Av, I don’t want you to be worried about not eating. I want to give you the tools to be focused on the destruction and how we can work towards the rebuilding of the next Temple.

So here are some of my techniques to help you make it through the day.

Gorge Before the Fast

The tradition before Tisha B’Av is to sit on the floor and to eat an egg and bread with ashes, to commemorate the destruction. Personally, I have another meal before that, to commemorate the fear of not eating.

You are not going to be eating for around 25 hours. I don’t know when starvation begins. I don’t know how much the human body needs to survive. I do know that I love breakfast. You are going to be missing out on breakfast and lunch. And don’t forget the snacks, such as Snickers and Chex party mix, and fruit pies. I love that Chex party mix with the pretzels. It’s like a salty non-cereal cereal. Amazing. I might even be missing out on a nice peanut butter and chocolate ice cream.

Eat it all before the fast. You don’t want to miss out on any meal or snack that you may have potentially eaten the next day. I am not knocking the traditional meal which includes ashes. They just don’t fill me up. Ashes are not a staple in my regular diet. I consider them more of a good condiment.


Everybody says to hydration is key. So, I will put that in here too. Hydrating allows you to feel good for the first few hours of the fast, before you feel like passing out.

You drink before the fast so that you can dehydrate by early afternoon.

Wake up Early Method

Just wanted to let you know what you could do if it wasn’t Tisha B’Av and the fast started in the morning and not at night.

The wake-up early method, used on minor fast days, is where you wake up at 5am and eat brisket, because you will not be allowed to eat for nine hours. This way, by the time 2pm rolls around, you are hungry, dehydrated and cranky.

Sleep Through the Fast Day Method

I don’t know what you are trying to achieve during your fast; I am just hoping to survive. So you wake up at 9, go to shul and mourn a little, home by 11, sleep until 8 and then it’s time to eat. Please be aware that the sleep through the day method of fasting can be very dangerous if applied elsewhere. Trust me, I’ve tried – it is also known as the Reason I Lost My Job Method.

One of the major reasons for the destruction of the Temple is baseless hatred, which comes along with speaking badly about others, known as Lashon Hara. If you are sleeping, there is no way you will be speaking any slander. If you talk in your sleep, on the other hand, you may be the reason why we have not witnessed the rebuilding of the Temple.

Plan Your Sickness

If you are extremely sick, you can eat for health reasons.

Make sure you plan your sickness or major health accidents for the fast day. For example, consider hanging around people who sneeze into midair, and don’t use a tissue. Some of the people at the shul I go to are perfect to hang around. They will even shake your hand with the right hand they just rubbed their nose with.


Alternatively, consider jaywalking a lot the day before the fast.


Walk Around with an IV

The IV will give you status, as the community will think you are very sick, but so committed that you are still fasting. You can have a lot of stuff running through the IV. Mix it with whatever they are giving out at the hospitals and make your fast day more bearable. The IV method helps conserve your energy on a fast day. At the same time it requires commitment as it is quite painful to move around an IV pole.

Gorge After the Fast

The two pillars of the Jewish fast: gorging before and gorging after.

The goal of the fast is not to lose weight – the opposite, it is to gain weight. Gorging allows you to catch up on any accidental loss of pounds. A heavy Jew is a good Jew. Being heavy shows that you ate when your parents told you to, and that you have kept the mitzvah of delighting in the holidays and Shabbat. Everything else is commentary. That is what I say when people ask me to give them over the whole Torah on one leg.

There are other important health measures, such as staying out of the sun on a fast day, although, I don’t know why you are sunbathing on a fast day. Going to a beach? Sitting by the pool? After all the Jewish people have been though? I feel like your mother right now. Fine, if you are going to go wear a hat! And eat a lot before and after the fast!

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