Monday, September 21, 2015

Eat to Your Heart's Content

Eat to Your Heart's Content

Rav Chaim Cohen

The Gemara teaches us that there is a mitzvah from the Torah for a person to eat on Erev Yom Kippur. This is deduced from the language of the pasuk that teaches us that the fast really begins on the ninth of Tishri. This is a special bonus that Hashem considers our eating on Erev Yom Kippur as if we were actually fasting, and it is a big chesed for bnei Israel on the day before our judgement is sealed for the next year.

There are two major opinions to explain this mitzvah. 

  1. Some explain that the eating on Erev Yom Kippur is in order to prepare ourselves physically to be able to manage the fast on Yom Kippur itself. 
  2. Others explain that this is an independent mitzvah of eating and not connected to Yom Kippur directly.  For instance, Rabbenu Yonah suggests that eating is in order to replace the Yom tov meals of Yom Kippur. 
There are several differences based on these two approaches. Such as the question of whether women are obligated in this mitzvah, or if the mitzvah is only during the day or also at night, or if a person who is sick and will not be fasting is obligated in the mitzvah to eat.

There are two other important issues that might be connected as well. The poskim discuss if a person has to eat a significant amount each time he eats on Erev Yom Kippur or if even a small amount is sufficient. If we say that the eating is a preparation for Yom Kippur then maybe one has to eat a halachik shiur each time (kazayitz) but if we say that it is just a mitzvah to eat, then any amount is good. 

Another question is what type of foods should be eaten.  If we say that the eating is a preparation for the fast then we should specifically eat foods like bread and mezonos foods that are very filling and a person won't feel hungry. However, if we are of the opinion that there is just a mitzvah to eat, then any food would be sufficient. (It is recorded that the Ktav Sofer used to walk around and eat raisins the entire day.)

Wishing everyone a meaningful fast and a gmar tov.

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