Fast of Gedalia
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The Fast of Gedalia (pron.: // or //; Hebrew: צוֹם גְּדַלְיָּה Tzom Gedalya), also spelled Gedaliah, is a Jewish fast day from dawn until dusk to lament the assassination of the righteous governor of Judah of that name, which ended Jewish rule following the destruction of the First Temple.
When the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem, he killed or exiled most of its inhabitants and appointed Gedaliah, son of Achikam, as governor of the now-Babylonian province of Judah. Many Jews who had fled to Moab, Ammon, Edom, and other neighboring lands returned to Judah, tended the vineyards again, and enjoyed a new respite after their earlier suffering.
However, Baalis, king of Ammon, was hostile and envious of the Judean remnant and sent a Judean, Yishmael Ben Netaniah, who was descended from the royal family of Judea, to assassinate Gedaliah. In the seventh month (Tishrei) of 582/1 BCE (some four to five years following the destruction of the Temple, although the exact year is unclear and subject to dispute; others claim the assassination took place in the same year as the destruction), a group of Jews led by Yishmael came to Gedaliah in the town of Mitzpa and were received cordially. Gedaliah had been warned of his guests' murderous intent, but refused to believe his informants, having the belief that their report was mere slander. Yishmael murdered Gedaliah, together with most of the Jews who had joined him and many Babylonians whom the Babylonian King had left with Gedaliah. The remaining Jews feared the vengeance of the Babylonian King (in view of the fact that the King's chosen ruler, Gedaliah, had been killed by a Jew) and fled to Egypt.,
In Hebrew Bible
- But it came to pass in the seventh month, that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, of the seed royal, came, and ten men with him, and smote Gedaliah, that he died, and the Jews and the Chaldeans that were with him at Mitzpah.
- And all the people, both small and great, and the captains of the forces, arose, and came to Egypt; for they were afraid of the Chaldeans.
Institution of fast
The surviving remnant of Jews was thus dispersed and the land remained desolate. In remembrance of these tribulations, the Jewish sages instituted the 'Fast of the Seventh' (see Zechariah 8:19) on the day of Gedaliah's assassination in the seventh month.
It is suggested that Gedaliah was slain on the first day of Tishrei but the fast is not commemorated until after Rosh Hashanah, since fasting is prohibited during a festival. The Rabbis have said that the aim of this fast day is to establish that the death [i.e. murder] of the righteous is likened to the burning of the House of God. Just as they ordained a fast upon the destruction of the Jewish Temple, likewise they ordained a fast upon the death of Gedaliah.
The fast is observed immediately after the second day of the High Holy Day of Rosh Hashana, the third of Tishrei in the Hebrew calendar. The Gregorian (civil) date for The Fast of Gedalia varies from year to year based on when it corresponds with the third of Tishrei.
When Rosh Hashanah falls on Thursday and Friday, the fast is postponed until Sunday (which would be the fourth of Tishrei), since no public fast may be observed on Shabbat (Saturday) with the exception of Yom Kippur.
In 2009, this fast day was observed on September 21.
In 2010, this fast day was observed on September 12 (fourth of Tishrei).
In 2011, this fast day was observed on October 2 (fourth of Tishrei).
In 2012, this fast day was observed on September 19 (third of Tishrei).
In 2013, this fast day will be observed on September 8 (fourth of Tishrei).
The fast is observed from dawn until the stars appear at night. As with regular fast days, the cantor includes the prayer Aneinu in the repetition of the Amidah during Shacharit and Mincha as a separate Bracha between the prayers for redemption and healing, and in the private recitation of the Mincha amidah it is recited as an addition to Shema Koleinu (general prayer acceptance). The Avinu Malkeinu prayer is recited and as it is during the Ten Days of Repentance the additions reference the new year. A Torah scroll is taken from the ark and the passages of Vaychal are read from the Torah (Exodus 32:11–14 and 34:1–10). The same Torah reading is added at Mincha, followed in Ashkenazic congregations by a Haftarah reading. As the fast falls during the days of Penitence, the S'lichot prayer is recited before the start of Shacharit and incorporates also an extra paragraph relating to the Fast of Gedaliah. There is no Slichot service at the time of the repetition of the Amidah.
In the Spanish and Portuguese rite, the prayers are recited from the Book of Prayers for Fast Days. There are lengthy additions to the prayers that are not found in the daily and Sabbath siddur, and that are specific to the day as well as prayers that are common to all the fast days with the exception of Yom Kippur.