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Beit Midrash Shabbat and Holidays The Essence of the Fast

Who Was Gedalia, and Why Do We Fast on "His" Tzom?

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Question: Who was Gedaliah, and why do we fast on "His" Tzom?

Answer: The 3rd of Tishrei is Tzom Gedalia, the least known of the 6 public fast days in the year. The fast was decreed by the Sages to commemorate the assassination of Gedalia ben Ahikam, governor of Judea after the destruction of the 1st Bet HaMikdash. Gedalia was murdered in Mitzpa by Yishmael ben Netanya, who was in league with the King of Ammon against the Jews. Though Gedalia was warned of Yishmael's plot, he could not believe that a fellow Jew would commit so horrible an act. The death of Gedalia effectively ended Jewish independence in Israel for hundreds of years & resulted in thousands of deaths. We would do well to remember, as we fast, the horrific consequences that Jew vs. Jew hatred can bring, & the high price we pay for disunity.
Rabbi Stewart Weiss
Was ordained at the Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Illinois, and led congregations in Chicago and Dallas prior to making Aliyah in 1992. He directs the Jewish Outreach Center in Ra'anana, helping to facilitate the spiritual absorption of new olim.
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