How to Survive the Yom Kippur Fast
Yom Kippur is the second longest fast in the Jewish calendar (Tisha B’Av is longer, since it takes place in the summer months.) The fast is from sundown (this year on Friday night) until nightfall (this year on Saturday night)—a total of 25 hours of fasting. The entire day is filled with prayers at the synagogue. Many people find the constant prayer makes the fast go easier, and some find it challenging. Just like an athletic event, it is essential to approach the Yom Kippur fast prepared. Here are some ideas:
1. Eat and drink well. Not just the day before, but for a few days prior to the fast
While everyone is required to eat two meals before the Yom Kippur fast on the day before the holiday, chugging down water is not such a good idea. It will only leave the body as urine and leave you just as dehydrated as before. Make sure you are not dehydrated to begin with and drink and eat plenty a few days before Yom Kippur
2. Limit caffeine, spices, alcohol, salt in the days prior to the fast
All of these substances can dehydrate you. Especially avoid salt in the meals before the fast, because they will make you thirsty (a little salt may be fine but ensure the meals are not terribly salty.) Caffeine withdrawal can cause headaches, so don’t go into the fast addicted to coffee. Wean yourself off of it a few days before.
3. If you are a woman taking care of children, consider staying home
Those who do not carry on Shabbat will not be able to leave the home for the synagogue anyway. For those women who have an eruv and can carry, maybe it is a good idea to pray at home. Prayer can be very meaningful and heartfelt in the home environment, and you won’t have to spend your fast chasing your children around the synagogue, zapping much-needed strength. According to Jewish law, women are not obligated to go to they synagogue, although they are welcome to.
4. Keep busy
Fortunately, there is enough to do on Yom Kippur that you will be able to occupy yourself with prayers
5. Be Positive
According to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, we fast on Yom Kippur because we are like the angels, not because we are supposed to feel miserable. A positive attitude can do wonders for helping you through the fast.
Gmar Chatima Tova, Tzom Kal, Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach
May you be inscribed in the Book of Life, have an easy fast, a good Shabbat and a good holiday!