Fast of Gedalia

Shana Tova. Tomorrow is צום גדליה also known as the “Fast of the Seventh Month.” It really has nothing to do with Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in a direct way.

The fast commemorates the assassination of Gedalia Ben Achikam by another Jew named Yishmael Ben Netanya. This murder took place on Rosh Hashanah but we fast on the third of Tishrei.

Gedalia was granted a small area to govern in a place called Mitzpa, after the destruction of the First Temple. Many Jews who had fled to Moab, Edom, and Ammon, returned to Israel.

The king of Ammon was not happy that some of his citizens left his kingdom. He hired Yishmael Ben Netanya to assassinate Gedalia.

After this tragedy of one Jew rising up against another, there no longer was a significant Jewish presence until the Second Temple was built. The Rabbis decreed that an annual fast be observed to mourn for the destruction of the Temple.

Fasting at this time, also allowed us to focus on the seriousness of the Ten Days of Teshuva.