Fast of Gedaliah 2016

Jewish calendar schedule is manifest with abundant rituals, spiritual events and customary traditions. The Yom Kippur, Asarah B’Tevet, Fast of ester, Shivah Asar B’Tammuz, Tisha B’Av , the Fast of Gedaliah are the various fast days commemorating various landmarks events revolving around the destruction of the Holy temples. The celebrations and proceedings in Israel are often entrenched in prehistoric olden times which date back to the pre-Christian period.

The Jewish community celebrates them to revere the legacy and broaden the legends that form as an inherent element of a Jewish existence. The Fast of Gedaliah in Israel is one such festival which the country observes each year with an ascetic devotion and enthusiasm. Fast of Gedaliah is an annual fast set up by the Jewish sages to commemorate the assassination of Gedaliah Ben Achikam the first governor of Israel. On the third day of Hebrew month of Tishre or the day after Rosh Hashananahi the Fast of Gedaliah is observed. If Rosh Hashanah in a specific year cascades on Thursday and Friday, the fast is postponed till Sunday, as no public fast is observed on Shabbat excluding Yom Kippur.

Background information on Fast of Gedaliah:

Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylonia has conquered the kingdom of Judah (Israel) and destroyed Jerusalem and Holy Jewish temple. Gedaliah was appointed by the King of Babylon as a guardian of the Jews. The Jewish neighbourhood of Israel was prospered and flourished under the administration of Gedaliah. As an honest and righteous sovereign, Gedaliah was abhorrent by the former Jewish community which had then deteriorated into dishonesty and misdeeds. Gedaliah and his followers faced an awful ending as they were killed by the Jews. As a result of Gedaliah’s death final Jewish remnants of Judean sovereignty after the Babylonian conquest were annihilated. Several Jews were killed and banished. This event is pointed as an important day for the Jews today to remind them of the misdeeds and offences which had once flecked their significance in the eyes of God. The Biblical tale is also a way of understanding the forgiveness of God as he had generously pardoned the reprobates on the pleas of Jeremiah.

How People Celebrate Fast of Gedaliah?

For this reason, on the Fast of Gedaliah, people abstain from eating and drinking from early sunrise to end of the day. The Fast is observed as a day of mourning as Gedaliah was assassinated and many Jews lost hope of ever returning to Israel. In order to express anguish for the wrong doings done in the ancient times and commemorate the virtuous monarch Gedaliah. The Jewish community in Israel spends the day with many rituals from dawn to nightfall and observes the day in a succession of prayers. The day bears diverse gravity with humble chants and prayers of the Mincha-amidah and recitations from the Torah and Haftorah.