The Fast of the First Born is reserved for those who are the first born of a family. In Orthodox Judaism, it is probably for males only, but in Conservative Judaism quiet often women fast also.
Its Hebrew name is Siyyum B'horim.
Exodus 12:12-14 talks about the original passover of the first born that this holiday is to commemorate. The fast itself is not Biblically mandated.
This is a fast day that lasts from sunrise to sunset.
This holiday is observed on the day before Passover. There is, however, a legal way to remove the obligation to fast. There is a custom that involves a celebration when a Jewish book that has been studied is finished. It is known as "Seudah Mitzvah." It is the opposite of a fast because the celebration involves a meal at the end of the study.
For men (and women where applicable) who take part in this Seudah Mitzvah, the obligation to fast is removed.
Prayer should always be part of a Fast Day.
This fast day is only for the first born of the house.
There is a legal way out of the obligation to fast.
This fast day may have started its observation around the third century.
The Angel of Death passed over the houses in Egypt due to at least two reasons. The first was the faith that Israel had to believe in Moses as God's representative. When he said to do something, they were obedient.
The second reason was a direct result of the first. Since they put their faith in God's messenger, they also put their faith in the blood of the Passover lamb, sprinkled on their doorpost. Because of their faith, their actions followed.
God promised to some day send another prophet.
"I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him" (Deuteronomy 18:18). Learn more about this prophecy that foretold of A Prophet Greater Than Moses.
If we have faith in this prophet like Israel had faith in Moses, we will listen to his message.
"When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12).
To believe in Jesus is to have the light of life. To live in darkness is not to have the blood of the lamb surrounding your doorpost (spiritual heart). Take this opportunity today to pray that the Angel of (Eternal) Death will pass over you due to your faith in the blood of the lamb (Messiah).
Other ways where the Messiah is recognized as being "the first" include:
Jesus is the firstborn of Mary (Matthew 1:23-25).
Jesus is the first begotten of God the Father (Hebrews 1:6).
Jesus is the firstborn of every creature (Colossians 1:15).
Jesus is the first begotten from the dead (Revelation 1:5).
Jesus is the firstborn of many brethren (Romans 8:29).
Jesus is the first of the resurrected ones (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).
Jesus is the first and the last (Revelation 1:8)
Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you (Matthew 6:16-18).
Wouldn't it be nice to select a book to study that could be finished on this fast day such as Jonah or Ester. Then you have the benefit of the study and you don't have to fast. This could lead to some interesting conversation on the original passing over of the Angel of Death in Egypt. What a great chance for a Christian to explain that for them, the Angel of Death will "pass over" when judgment time comes because of Christ, their "Blood of the lamb."
For a list of future holidays dates check the Master Calendar Table.
If you know of someone fasting on this day, one of the appropriate greetings would be "I hope you have an easy fast" (Tzome Khal). From another perspective, a new greeting, "I hope you don't have an easy fast" is emerging. The thinking behind this greeting is that the fast should not be easy but challenging, so that it can serve its purpose (of reminding us that we are dependant upon God) to the fullest.
Find out more about Fast Days observed in the Jewish Religion: