MONDAY, APRIL 18: Most Jews are preparing for the start of Passover tonight, but select men will be dedicating themselves to the Fast of the Firstborn. According to Exodus, the Plague of the Firstborn struck every non-Jewish firstborn in ancient Egypt; today, the eldest member of each Jewish family observes a minor fast in gratitude and humility. (Chabad.org has more.)
What begins at sunrise may last for some until the end of the morning prayer service in synagogue, while it may last longer for others—there is no set ending time for today’s fast. Origins of today’s fast are in the Talmud, but the tradition gets complicated in households with no eldest son. The origins and purposes of the fast also are debated, reflecting various traditions through the millennia of Judaism. (Wikipedia has details.)
Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online journal covering religion and cultural diversity.