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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘fast of gedalia’

Fast of Gedaliah

Sunday, September 8th, 2013

On Sunday, Jews will be refraining from food and drink from dawn until sunset to commemorate the Fast of Gedaliah.

Following Nebuchadnetzar’s destruction of the First Temple and exile of most of the Jews, the Babylonians appointed Gedaliah ben Achikaam as governor of Judea.

Under Gedaliah’s leadership, Judea and the survivors began to recover.

On Rosh Hashana, Yishmael Ben Netaniah (a descendant of the royal house) and his team of assassins murdered Gedaliah and those with him. This directly led to the end of Jewish autonomy in Judea, the slaughter of thousands of Jews, and eventually, the end of all Jewish life in the Land of Israel for decades, until the end of the Babylonian exile.

While the assassination occurred on Rosh Hashana, the fast day was placed on the third day of the month of Tishrei, immediately following Rosh Hashana.

The story is recounted in the Book of Yirmiyahu, chapters 41-43.

We’ll Start the Year 5774 by Eating on the Fast Day

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashannah starts in just a week.  It’s a two day Jewish Holiday even in Israel.  It’s actually the only such Holiday on the Jewish Calendar.  Jews in chutz l’Aretz, Outside the Holyland, also celebrate Succot, Shmini Atzeret-Simchat, beginning and end of Passover and Shavuot as two-day Holidays.  For us in Israel, they are one-day holidays, so we need fewer festive meals (and generous calories.)

My husband and I have been married for forty-three years.  The first year we were married coincided on the Jewish Calendar and days of the week just like this year. Two and a half months later, less than a month before Rosh Hashannah we docked at Haifa Port and began our lives as Israelis.  I’ll never forget my shock and disappointment at discovering that my very first Jewish Holiday as a Jewish wife would be a “three day Rosh Hashannah.”

“…but I thought that there weren’t three day yoniffs in Israel!!”  I complained bitterly.

We had no family to invite us, to support system. I had hardly even cooked Shabbat meals in the two months we were married, especially since we had arrived.  I had minimal kitchen equipment in our newly renovated ancient Old City Jerusalem apartment and was still trying to figure out shopping logistics.

All these decades later, I still feel panic when the calendar repeats the quirk.  Easy years are those when my freezer is empty and I can precook and freeze food.  But this year the freezer is too full making it rather complicated to plan a menu that will stay fresh for three days.

The third day of the Jewish Year is supposed to be a very important fast day, Tzom Gedalia, the Fast of Gedalia.

Tzom Gedaliah (Fast of Gedaliah) is an annual fast day instituted by the Jewish Sages to commemorate the assassination of Gedaliah Ben Achikam, the Governor of Israel during the days of Nebuchadnetzar King of Babylonia. As a result of Gedaliah’s death the final vestiges of Judean autonomy after the Babylonian conquest were destroyed, many thousands of Jews were slain, and the remaining Jews were driven into final exile.

Shabbat is the third day of the year, and it’s forbidden to fast on Shabbat, except for Yom Kippur, the only day holier than Shabbat.  And since the tenth day of the year is Yom Kippur, an exact week after Tzom Gedalia, this week we fast on Shabbat.

This year Tzom Gedalia will be observed on Sunday.  Tzom Gedalia is one of the “minor” fast days, those when we only fast during daylight, unlike Yom Kippur and Tisha B’Av which last twenty-five hours, like Shabbat.  But the Fast of Gedalia is considered a very serious fast, since the death of Gedalia is connected to the end of Jewish sovereignty in Biblical Times.

There is another aspect of the Fast of Gedaliah that relates to the Era of the Redemption. This fast was instituted because the tragic assassination of Gedaliah extinguished the last embers of Jewish sovereignty in Eretz Yisrael after the destruction of the First Beis Hamikdash.

Considering the state of our Israeli Government today, how our politicians kowtow to foreign ideals and leaders which endanger the continued existence of the state, I think that we should make every effort to properly commemorate the Fast of Gedalia by talking about it on the Shabbat immediately following Rosh Hashannah and fasting the following day.

Visit Shiloh Musings.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/shiloh-musings/well-start-the-year-5774-by-eating-on-the-fast-day/2013/08/28/

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