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    The custom of most
    people is to fast on
    Erev Rosh Hashanah.
    What is the source
    and reason for this?
    Does it apply to
    everyone? Until what
    time in the day does
    one have to fast? If one
    fasted most years and
    now he cannot do so
    anymore, does he have
    to undo his practice by hataras nedarim? Are
    people lenient today in regard to this fast?
    These and other questions relating to this fast
    will be discussed below.
    The poskim quote a midrash which says that
    “great people of the generation” fast on Erev
    Rosh Hashanah. In doing so one gets one-third
    of his sins forgiven. The custom is that all fast
    and not just great people.
    The Aruch Hashulchan says that it is not
    showing off if a simple person fasts on Erev
    Rosh Hashanah since all people want part of
    their sins forgiven. Others explain that Erev
    Rosh Hashanah is the last day of the year. If
    one does teshuvah on the last day of the year it

    is like he did teshuvah all year. Therefore, the
    custom is to fast as a sign of teshuvah on Erev
    Rosh Hashanah.
    This fast applies to those who have reached
    bar and bas mitzvah.
    Until When
    The custom of many is that the fast only lasts
    until chatzos. Others have the custom to fast
    until minchah gedolah, which is a half hour
    after chatzos. According to this custom, one
    davens Minchah and then eats.
    If there is a bris on Erev Rosh Hashanah, then
    all invited to the bris may eat. This includes
    the mohel, sandek, and ba’al bris.
    If one is weak and cannot fast, he may eat and
    does not need to do a hataras nedarim. The
    reason is that it can be assumed that when
    he originally started this custom, he never
    intended to fast if he is not well.
    Vayichal etc.
    Vayichal is not leined on this fast.

    One who is fasting and
    davens Minchah recites
    aneinu, but the shatz does not
    recite it.
    Eating before Alos

    The custom of the non-
    Jews was to fast before

    daybreak on their holidays.
    Therefore, if we were not
    to eat beforehand it would
    be going in the ways of the
    non-Jews. However, this is
    not practiced these days;
    therefore, one may eat before
    alos hashachar on Erev Rosh Hashanah. One
    may eat before alos even without declaring his
    intentions on the previous night.
    The fact is that not everyone has the custom
    to fast on Erev Rosh Hashanah. The primary
    reason is that we are weaker today than in
    earlier years.
    Some explain that we eat in the morning
    before the fast, and the Arizal says that one
    may not eat after chatzos. Therefore, it is
    better not to fast.

    Against Those Being Lenient
    Harav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach zt”l
    questioned how is it possible for one not to
    fast on Erev Rosh Hashanah, as the Shulchan
    Aruch rules that one fasts on Erev Rosh
    Custom to Fast but Changes Mind
    If one has the custom to fast on Erev Rosh
    Hashanah and now wishes not to fast for this
    year, there is no need to be matir his neder.
    However, if he wishes to do so for the future
    then he needs to be matir his neder.