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Is it preferable to not say Mincha early on a fast day?

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On a fast day during Shacharit (the morning prayer), individuals do not say עננו / Aneinu (a special fast-day prayer), in case they don't complete the fast, and instead say it during Mincha (the afternoon prayer).1

Personally, I tend to say Mincha rather early - opting for Mincha G'dolah (around one to two in the afternoon) over Mincha K'tanah, since during the later part of the afternoon I'm often not available. Although this applies less on fast days, I'm used to saying Mincha early.

On a fast day, however, since if you say Mincha early there's still the chance that you'll end up breaking your fast (and it's clear that this is... less than ideal after saying Aneinu), is it preferable to not say Mincha early and to wait until later? Or is saying Mincha G'dolah on a fast day fine?

  1. Quoting from the Rabbinical Council of America Artscroll Siddur, 1987 edition, page 104: "The individual, however, recites עננו only during Mincha, and then not as a separate blessing, but incorporated into the blessing of קבלת תפילה, Acceptance of Prayer. He does not recite עננו at Shacharis lest he become ill and not complete the fast."

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2 comments

Another factor to consider: In certain communities birkat kohanim is said at a late fast day mincha, but not an early one. JoelK 5 days ago

Note some communities add anenu even at shacharit (and some even at maariv) especially on fixed communal fasts. AA​ 5 days ago

1 answer

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Regarding your concern about Anenu for the Ashkenazi practice of omitting it in the morning lest you come to eat, the Magen Avraham (Orach Chaim 565:3) felt that was not a problem even at an early mincha because Rama ruled (Orach Chaim 562:1) that Anenu can be said (in certain circumstances) on a partial fast day. Here you have at least fasted most of the day so saying Anenu can't be construed as lying.

However, there is long precedent for specifically praying mincha at the end of the day on fast days (see Taanit 26b and Megillah 30b). It seems it was seen as doubling as a quasi-neilah prayer at the end of the day.

(Practically there may be other considerations at play, like ability to concentrate late into a fast day and, on the Ninth of Av, doing certain activities before donning your phylacteries.)

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