The Fast of Gedalia

  • September 24, 2017
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The day after Rosh HaShanah is the “Gedalia’s Fast.” On this day, the Jewish people remembers the murder of the Jewish governor Gedalia ben Ahikam. After conquering Jerusalem, the Babylonians had appointed him in the year 586 BCE (compare 2 Kings 25:22-26). This year the Fast of Gedalia falls on September 24.

From dusk to dawn pious Jews do not take any food during this day. In the synagogues, special passages from the Holy Scriptures will be read. This day, however, is not a public holiday.

During recent years politically more leftist oriented, orthodox Jews began to remember the Fast of Gedalia with a special service on Rabin Square in Tel Aviv. In this way, they made a connection between this first politically motivated murder of a leading Jewish politician and the assassination of the Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on November 4, 1995.

Rabbis Aryeh Leb Nivin and Shraga Simmons of the yeshivah “Esh HaTorah” describe the significance of Gedalia’s Fast: “When one Jew murders another, it is a deep, terrible tragedy, which can have enormous historical repercussions. There is no excuse for such violence. Do we have philosophical and political differences? We must work them out with calm and tolerance. It is the only acceptable way.”

When the day after Rosh HaShanah falls on a Sabbath, the “Fast of Gedalia” will be postponed to the following Sunday. On a Sabbath, a Jewish person should not fast.

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