13 Adar II 5776
In Jerusalem and environs - 4:07 am to 6:12 pm.
Excerpts from Cry To Hashem by Rabbi Daniel Travis:
...Face to face with the threat of complete annihilation, Mordechai directed us to turn our hearts to Hashem in prayer. On the thirteenth of Adar, before going to war against our adversaries, the Jewish people fasted and prayed that they should succeed in battle. Ta'anis Esther was established to commemorate this day of fasting and prayer, tzom and tefilah (Rosh, Megilah 1,1).
If we have tzaros we usually consider davening as a means to be freed from them. In truth however, troubles are the "illness" and tefilla is the "cure." The real reason for our tzaros is that Hashem wants to hear our tefillos (Rav Chatkel Levenstein zt"l). Before we can appreciate the myriad of hidden miracles that Hashem did for us during the days of Mordechai and Esther, we first need Ta'anis Esther in order to focus on the fact that all the tribulations and subsequent redemption were for the purpose of reestablishing a relationship with our Creator....
Annulling Harsh Decrees
Kabalistic literature reveals another reason behind the fast of Esther. Even though Haman's plans were overturned, a small part of the decree remained. Every year, at the time that his plans were to be carried out, the Satan comes to Hashem, claiming that the Jewish people should be destroyed.
...The Rambam writes that when the Jewish people are experiencing such tragic situations, the Torah obligates us to cry out to Hashem and sound trumpets to arouse us to repentance (Bamidbar 10:9). If we realize that our own actions are at the root of our difficulties, we will learn to mend our ways and cause the harsh decree to be rescinded. If we don't follow this path, and instead relate to what is happening as mere coincidence, the tzaros will simply increase (Rambam, Hilchos Taanis 1:1-3, Mishna Berura 576:1).
In the merit of our fasting and prayers this Taanis Esther may all past decrees on the Jewish people be overturned, all future decrees annulled, and may all of Haman's evil intentions be put to an end once and for all.