Thursday, October 02, 2008

Tzom Gedalia - When the Fast Is Over

The fast is over in Kew Gardens Hills, according to the Etz Chaim Bulletin, at 7:17 PM. For your own local times, check out (Updated to match this year's time, namely the year 2008.)

While I am at it, some of the Talmudic and Biblical basis for tzom Gedalia.

A pasuk in Zecharia 8 states:
יח וַיְהִי דְּבַר-ה צְבָאוֹת, אֵלַי לֵאמֹר. 18 And the word of the LORD of hosts came unto me, saying:
יט כֹּה-אָמַר יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת, צוֹם הָרְבִיעִי וְצוֹם הַחֲמִישִׁי וְצוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי וְצוֹם הָעֲשִׂירִי יִהְיֶה לְבֵית-יְהוּדָה לְשָׂשׂוֹן וּלְשִׂמְחָה, וּלְמֹעֲדִים, טוֹבִים; וְהָאֱמֶת וְהַשָּׁלוֹם, אֱהָבוּ. {פ} 19 'Thus saith the LORD of hosts: The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful seasons; therefore love ye truth and peace. {P}
It lists the fasts by their months, and connotes that they are times of sadness -- for the prophecy is that they will transform to be joy and gladness, and cheerful seasons.

There are two Jewish calendars. One starts in Nissan and the other starts in Tishrei. We end up taking the fast of the seventh month to be a reference to tzom Gedalia, so this is the 7th month in the Nissan based count.

The gemara in Rosh haShana 18b states:
אמר ר"ש חסידא מאי דכתיב (זכריה ח) כה אמר ה' צבאות צום הרביעי וצום החמישי וצום השביעי וצום העשירי יהיה לבית יהודה לששון ולשמחה קרי להו צום וקרי להו ששון ושמחה בזמן שיש שלום יהיו לששון ולשמחה אין שלום צום אמר רב פפא הכי קאמר בזמן שיש שלום יהיו לששון ולשמחה יש <גזרת המלכות> {שמד} צום אין <גזרת המלכות> {שמד} ואין שלום רצו מתענין רצו אין מתענין אי הכי ט"ב נמי
צום השביעי זה ג' בתשרי שבו נהרג גדליה בן אחיקם ומי הרגו ישמעאל בן נתניה הרגו ללמדך ששקולה מיתתן של צדיקים כשריפת בית אלהינו ואמאי קרי ליה שביעי שביעי לחדשים

Thus, the fast of the seventh month is the 3rd of Tishrei (which is the day after Yom Kippur, except for today where it is the 4th, having been pushed off a day because of Shabbat). Why? Because on that day Gedalia ben Achikam died. And who killed him? Yishmael ben Netania killed him. To teach you {why this is listed among the other fasts which were for the destruction of the Temple} that the death of the righteous is weighed equally to the burning of our God's House. And why does it call it the 7th? The seventh to months.

This is a good explanation of the pasuk given that various fasts were known and traditional, and if searching for a fast, explain it as the known fast in the 7th month, which is related to the destruction of the Bet haMikdash.

Another possibility, of course, exists. The fast of the 7th month could be a reference to Yom Kippur, which also occurs in Tishrei. But then, why list it among these? It could be a reading of the fast, as other fasts, as one of anguish and worry, in this case because of fear of judgment. And so, there would be nothing to worry about then, and it would be a time of joy and gladness, as mentioned in the pasuk. As such, it would perhaps even be inappropriate to leave it out. And the known fast of the 7th month is surely Yom Kippur more than a minor fast commemorating the death of a minor Biblical figure.

Yet, the fast of Gedalia is a good candidate for the reasons given above.

This is an important homiletic point which we might take to heart on this fast. While we mourn destroyed buildings, and with it destroyed hopes, we should not ignore the human element. It is all too easy to focus on ritual, and on religious formality, and on edifice. But at least as dear is the human element, and the death of good people is just as much a tragedy.

It does not say that the loss of Jewish sovereignty caused by the assassination of Gedalia marked the true end from which there was no recovery. For Gedalia had been appointed as a Jewish governor, and who knows what might have happened had he remained in power. Instead, it focuses on the human element.

We can read about the story of Gedalia in Yirmeyahu 40:
ה וְעוֹדֶנּוּ לֹא-יָשׁוּב, וְשֻׁבָה אֶל-גְּדַלְיָה בֶן-אֲחִיקָם בֶּן-שָׁפָן אֲשֶׁר הִפְקִיד מֶלֶךְ-בָּבֶל בְּעָרֵי יְהוּדָה וְשֵׁב אִתּוֹ בְּתוֹךְ הָעָם, אוֹ אֶל-כָּל-הַיָּשָׁר בְּעֵינֶיךָ לָלֶכֶת, לֵךְ; וַיִּתֶּן-לוֹ רַב-טַבָּחִים אֲרֻחָה וּמַשְׂאֵת, וַיְשַׁלְּחֵהוּ. 5 Yet he would not go back.--Go back then to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, whom the king of Babylon hath made governor over the cities of Judah, and dwell with him among the people; or go wheresoever it seemeth right unto thee to go.' So the captain of the guard gave him an allowance and a present, and let him go.
ו וַיָּבֹא יִרְמְיָהוּ אֶל-גְּדַלְיָה בֶן-אֲחִיקָם, הַמִּצְפָּתָה; וַיֵּשֶׁב אִתּוֹ בְּתוֹךְ הָעָם, הַנִּשְׁאָרִים בָּאָרֶץ. {פ} 6 Then went Jeremiah unto Gedaliah the son of Ahikam to Mizpah, and dwelt with him among the people that were left in the land. {P}
ז וַיִּשְׁמְעוּ כָל-שָׂרֵי הַחֲיָלִים אֲשֶׁר בַּשָּׂדֶה, הֵמָּה וְאַנְשֵׁיהֶם, כִּי-הִפְקִיד מֶלֶךְ-בָּבֶל אֶת-גְּדַלְיָהוּ בֶן-אֲחִיקָם, בָּאָרֶץ; וְכִי הִפְקִיד אִתּוֹ, אֲנָשִׁים וְנָשִׁים וָטָף, וּמִדַּלַּת הָאָרֶץ, מֵאֲשֶׁר לֹא-הָגְלוּ בָּבֶלָה. 7 Now when all the captains of the forces that were in the fields, even they and their men, heard that the king of Babylon had made Gedaliah the son of Ahikam governor in the land, and had committed unto him men, and women, and children, and of the poorest of the land, of them that were not carried away captive to Babylon;
ח וַיָּבֹאוּ אֶל-גְּדַלְיָה, הַמִּצְפָּתָה; וְיִשְׁמָעֵאל בֶּן-נְתַנְיָהוּ וְיוֹחָנָן וְיוֹנָתָן בְּנֵי-קָרֵחַ וּשְׂרָיָה בֶן-תַּנְחֻמֶת וּבְנֵי עופי (עֵיפַי) הַנְּטֹפָתִי, וִיזַנְיָהוּ בֶּן-הַמַּעֲכָתִי--הֵמָּה, וְאַנְשֵׁיהֶם. 8 then they came to Gedaliah to Mizpah, even Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and Johanan and Jonathan the sons of Kareah, and Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth, and the sons of Ephai the Netophathite, and Jezaniah the son of the Maacathite, they and their men.
ט וַיִּשָּׁבַע לָהֶם גְּדַלְיָהוּ בֶן-אֲחִיקָם בֶּן-שָׁפָן, וּלְאַנְשֵׁיהֶם לֵאמֹר, אַל-תִּירְאוּ, מֵעֲבוֹד הַכַּשְׂדִּים; שְׁבוּ בָאָרֶץ, וְעִבְדוּ אֶת-מֶלֶךְ בָּבֶל--וְיִיטַב לָכֶם. 9 And Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan swore unto them and to their men, saying: 'Fear not to serve the Chaldeans; dwell in the land, and serve the king of Babylon, and it shall be well with you.
י וַאֲנִי, הִנְנִי יֹשֵׁב בַּמִּצְפָּה, לַעֲמֹד לִפְנֵי הַכַּשְׂדִּים, אֲשֶׁר יָבֹאוּ אֵלֵינוּ; וְאַתֶּם אִסְפוּ יַיִן וְקַיִץ וְשֶׁמֶן, וְשִׂמוּ בִּכְלֵיכֶם, וּשְׁבוּ, בְּעָרֵיכֶם אֲשֶׁר-תְּפַשְׂתֶּם. 10 As for me, behold, I will dwell at Mizpah, to stand before the Chaldeans that may come unto us; but ye, gather ye wine and summer fruits and oil, and put them in your vessels, and dwell in your cities that ye have taken.'
יא וְגַם כָּל-הַיְּהוּדִים אֲשֶׁר-בְּמוֹאָב וּבִבְנֵי-עַמּוֹן וּבֶאֱדוֹם וַאֲשֶׁר בְּכָל-הָאֲרָצוֹת, שָׁמְעוּ, כִּי-נָתַן מֶלֶךְ-בָּבֶל שְׁאֵרִית, לִיהוּדָה; וְכִי הִפְקִיד עֲלֵיהֶם, אֶת-גְּדַלְיָהוּ בֶּן-אֲחִיקָם בֶּן-שָׁפָן. 11 Likewise when all the Jews that were in Moab, and among the children of Ammon, and in Edom, and that were in all the countries, heard that the king of Babylon had left a remnant of Judah, and that he had set over them Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan;
יב וַיָּשֻׁבוּ כָל-הַיְּהוּדִים, מִכָּל-הַמְּקֹמוֹת אֲשֶׁר נִדְּחוּ-שָׁם, וַיָּבֹאוּ אֶרֶץ-יְהוּדָה אֶל-גְּדַלְיָהוּ, הַמִּצְפָּתָה; וַיַּאַסְפוּ יַיִן וָקַיִץ, הַרְבֵּה מְאֹד. {ס} 12 then all the Jews returned out of all places whither they were driven, and came to the land of Judah, to Gedaliah, unto Mizpah, and gathered wine and summer fruits in great abundance. {S}
יג וְיוֹחָנָן, בֶּן-קָרֵחַ, וְכָל-שָׂרֵי הַחֲיָלִים, אֲשֶׁר בַּשָּׂדֶה--בָּאוּ אֶל-גְּדַלְיָהוּ, הַמִּצְפָּתָה. 13 Moreover Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that were in the fields, came to Gedaliah to Mizpah,
יד וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֵלָיו, הֲיָדֹעַ תֵּדַע כִּי בַּעֲלִיס מֶלֶךְ בְּנֵי-עַמּוֹן שָׁלַח אֶת-יִשְׁמָעֵאל בֶּן-נְתַנְיָה, לְהַכֹּתְךָ, נָפֶשׁ; וְלֹא-הֶאֱמִין לָהֶם, גְּדַלְיָהוּ בֶּן-אֲחִיקָם. 14 and said unto him: 'Dost thou know that Baalis the king of the children of Ammon hath sent Ishmael the son of Nethaniah to take thy life?' But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam believed them not.
טו וְיוֹחָנָן בֶּן-קָרֵחַ אָמַר אֶל-גְּדַלְיָהוּ בַסֵּתֶר בַּמִּצְפָּה לֵאמֹר, אֵלְכָה נָּא וְאַכֶּה אֶת-יִשְׁמָעֵאל בֶּן-נְתַנְיָה, וְאִישׁ, לֹא יֵדָע; לָמָּה יַכֶּכָּה נֶּפֶשׁ, וְנָפֹצוּ כָּל-יְהוּדָה הַנִּקְבָּצִים אֵלֶיךָ, וְאָבְדָה, שְׁאֵרִית יְהוּדָה. 15 Then Johanan the son of Kareah spoke to Gedaliah in Mizpah secretly, saying: 'Let me go, I pray thee, and I will slay Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and no man shall know it; wherefore should he take thy life, that all the Jews that are gathered unto thee should be scattered, and the remnant of Judah perish?'
טז וַיֹּאמֶר גְּדַלְיָהוּ בֶן-אֲחִיקָם אֶל-יוֹחָנָן בֶּן-קָרֵחַ, אַל-תעש (תַּעֲשֵׂה) אֶת-הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה: כִּי-שֶׁקֶר אַתָּה דֹבֵר, אֶל-יִשְׁמָעֵאל. {פ} 16 But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam said unto Johanan the son of Kareah: 'Thou shalt not do this thing; for thou speakest falsely of Ishmael.' {P}

and then the next perek:

א וַיְהִי בַּחֹדֶשׁ הַשְּׁבִיעִי, בָּא יִשְׁמָעֵאל בֶּן-נְתַנְיָה בֶן-אֱלִישָׁמָע מִזֶּרַע הַמְּלוּכָה וְרַבֵּי הַמֶּלֶךְ וַעֲשָׂרָה אֲנָשִׁים אִתּוֹ אֶל-גְּדַלְיָהוּ בֶן-אֲחִיקָם--הַמִּצְפָּתָה; וַיֹּאכְלוּ שָׁם לֶחֶם יַחְדָּו, בַּמִּצְפָּה. 1 Now it came to pass in the seventh month, that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, of the seed royal, and one of the chief officers of the king, and ten men with him, came unto Gedaliah the son of Ahikam to Mizpah; and there they did eat bread together in Mizpah.
ב וַיָּקָם יִשְׁמָעֵאל בֶּן-נְתַנְיָה וַעֲשֶׂרֶת הָאֲנָשִׁים אֲשֶׁר-הָיוּ אִתּוֹ, וַיַּכּוּ אֶת-גְּדַלְיָהוּ בֶן-אֲחִיקָם בֶּן-שָׁפָן בַּחֶרֶב--וַיָּמֶת אֹתוֹ: אֲשֶׁר-הִפְקִיד מֶלֶךְ-בָּבֶל, בָּאָרֶץ. 2 Then arose Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and the ten men that were with him, and smote Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan with the sword, and slew him, whom the king of Babylon had made governor over the land.
ג וְאֵת כָּל-הַיְּהוּדִים, אֲשֶׁר-הָיוּ אִתּוֹ אֶת-גְּדַלְיָהוּ בַּמִּצְפָּה, וְאֶת-הַכַּשְׂדִּים, אֲשֶׁר נִמְצְאוּ-שָׁם--אֵת אַנְשֵׁי הַמִּלְחָמָה, הִכָּה יִשְׁמָעֵאל. 3 Ishmael also slew all the Jews that were with him, even with Gedaliah, at Mizpah, and the Chaldeans that were found there, even the men of war.
ד וַיְהִי בַּיּוֹם הַשֵּׁנִי, לְהָמִית אֶת-גְּדַלְיָהוּ; וְאִישׁ, לֹא יָדָע. 4 And it came to pass the second day after he had slain Gedaliah, and no man knew it,
ה וַיָּבֹאוּ אֲנָשִׁים מִשְּׁכֶם מִשִּׁלוֹ וּמִשֹּׁמְרוֹן, שְׁמֹנִים אִישׁ, מְגֻלְּחֵי זָקָן וּקְרֻעֵי בְגָדִים, וּמִתְגֹּדְדִים; וּמִנְחָה וּלְבוֹנָה בְּיָדָם, לְהָבִיא בֵּית יְהוָה. 5 that there came certain men from Shechem, from Shiloh, and from Samaria, even fourscore men, having their beards shaven and their clothes rent, and having cut themselves, with meal-offerings and frankincense in their hand to bring them to the house of the LORD.
ו וַיֵּצֵא יִשְׁמָעֵאל בֶּן-נְתַנְיָה לִקְרָאתָם, מִן-הַמִּצְפָּה, הֹלֵךְ הָלֹךְ, וּבֹכֶה; וַיְהִי, כִּפְגֹשׁ אֹתָם, וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵיהֶם, בֹּאוּ אֶל-גְּדַלְיָהוּ בֶן-אֲחִיקָם. 6 And Ishmael the son of Nethaniah went forth from Mizpah to meet them, weeping all along as he went; and it came to pass, as he met them, he said unto them: 'Come to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam.'
ז וַיְהִי, כְּבוֹאָם אֶל-תּוֹךְ הָעִיר; וַיִּשְׁחָטֵם יִשְׁמָעֵאל בֶּן-נְתַנְיָה, אֶל-תּוֹךְ הַבּוֹר--הוּא, וְהָאֲנָשִׁים אֲשֶׁר-אִתּוֹ. 7 And it was so, when they came into the midst of the city, that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah slew them, and cast them into the midst of the pit, he, and the men that were with him.
ח וַעֲשָׂרָה אֲנָשִׁים נִמְצְאוּ-בָם, וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֶל-יִשְׁמָעֵאל אַל-תְּמִתֵנוּ--כִּי-יֶשׁ-לָנוּ מַטְמֹנִים בַּשָּׂדֶה, חִטִּים וּשְׂעֹרִים וְשֶׁמֶן וּדְבָשׁ; וַיֶּחְדַּל, וְלֹא הֱמִיתָם בְּתוֹךְ אֲחֵיהֶם. 8 But ten men were found among them that said unto Ishmael: 'Slay us not; for we have stores hidden in the field, of wheat, and of barley, and of oil, and of honey.' So he forbore, and slew them not among their brethren.
ט וְהַבּוֹר, אֲשֶׁר הִשְׁלִיךְ שָׁם יִשְׁמָעֵאל אֵת כָּל-פִּגְרֵי הָאֲנָשִׁים אֲשֶׁר הִכָּה בְּיַד-גְּדַלְיָהוּ--הוּא אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה הַמֶּלֶךְ אָסָא, מִפְּנֵי בַּעְשָׁא מֶלֶךְ-יִשְׂרָאֵל; אֹתוֹ, מִלֵּא יִשְׁמָעֵאל בֶּן-נְתַנְיָהוּ--חֲלָלִים. 9 Now the pit wherein Ishmael cast all the dead bodies of the men whom he had slain by the side of Gedaliah was that which Asa the king had made for fear of Baasa king of Israel; the same Ishmael the son of Nethaniah filled with them that were slain.
י וַיִּשְׁבְּ יִשְׁמָעֵאל אֶת-כָּל-שְׁאֵרִית הָעָם אֲשֶׁר בַּמִּצְפָּה, אֶת-בְּנוֹת הַמֶּלֶךְ וְאֶת-כָּל-הָעָם הַנִּשְׁאָרִים בַּמִּצְפָּה, אֲשֶׁר הִפְקִיד נְבוּזַרְאֲדָן רַב-טַבָּחִים, אֶת-גְּדַלְיָהוּ בֶּן-אֲחִיקָם; וַיִּשְׁבֵּם, יִשְׁמָעֵאל בֶּן-נְתַנְיָה, וַיֵּלֶךְ, לַעֲבֹר אֶל-בְּנֵי עַמּוֹן. {ס} 10 Then Ishmael carried away captive all the residue of the people that were in Mizpah, even the king's daughters, and all the people that remained in Mizpah, whom Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had committed to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam; Ishmael the son of Nethaniah carried them away captive, and departed to go over to the children of Ammon. {S}
יא וַיִּשְׁמַע יוֹחָנָן בֶּן-קָרֵחַ, וְכָל-שָׂרֵי הַחֲיָלִים אֲשֶׁר אִתּוֹ, אֵת כָּל-הָרָעָה אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה, יִשְׁמָעֵאל בֶּן-נְתַנְיָה. 11 But when Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that were with him, heard of all the evil that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had done,
יב וַיִּקְחוּ, אֶת-כָּל-הָאֲנָשִׁים, וַיֵּלְכוּ, לְהִלָּחֵם עִם-יִשְׁמָעֵאל בֶּן-נְתַנְיָה; וַיִּמְצְאוּ אֹתוֹ, אֶל-מַיִם רַבִּים אֲשֶׁר בְּגִבְעוֹן. 12 then they took all the men, and went to fight with Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and found him by the great waters that are in Gibeon.
יג וַיְהִי, כִּרְאוֹת כָּל-הָעָם אֲשֶׁר אֶת-יִשְׁמָעֵאל, אֶת-יוֹחָנָן בֶּן-קָרֵחַ, וְאֵת כָּל-שָׂרֵי הַחֲיָלִים אֲשֶׁר אִתּוֹ--וַיִּשְׂמָחוּ. 13 Now it came to pass, that when all the people that were with Ishmael saw Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that were with him, then they were glad.
יד וַיָּסֹבּוּ, כָּל-הָעָם, אֲשֶׁר-שָׁבָה יִשְׁמָעֵאל, מִן-הַמִּצְפָּה; וַיָּשֻׁבוּ, וַיֵּלְכוּ, אֶל-יוֹחָנָן, בֶּן-קָרֵחַ. 14 So all the people that Ishmael had carried away captive from Mizpah cast about and returned, and went unto Johanan the son of Kareah.
טו וְיִשְׁמָעֵאל בֶּן-נְתַנְיָה, נִמְלַט בִּשְׁמֹנָה אֲנָשִׁים, מִפְּנֵי, יוֹחָנָן; וַיֵּלֶךְ, אֶל-בְּנֵי עַמּוֹן. {ס} 15 But Ishmael the son of Nethaniah escaped from Johanan with eight men, and went to the children of Ammon. {S}
טז וַיִּקַּח יוֹחָנָן בֶּן-קָרֵחַ וְכָל-שָׂרֵי הַחֲיָלִים אֲשֶׁר-אִתּוֹ, אֵת כָּל-שְׁאֵרִית הָעָם אֲשֶׁר הֵשִׁיב מֵאֵת יִשְׁמָעֵאל בֶּן-נְתַנְיָה מִן-הַמִּצְפָּה, אַחַר הִכָּה, אֶת-גְּדַלְיָה בֶּן-אֲחִיקָם--גְּבָרִים אַנְשֵׁי הַמִּלְחָמָה, וְנָשִׁים וְטַף וְסָרִסִים, אֲשֶׁר הֵשִׁיב, מִגִּבְעוֹן. 16 Then took Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that were with him, all the remnant of the people whom he had recovered from Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, from Mizpah, after that he had slain Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the men, even the men of war, and the women, and the children, and the officers, whom he had brought back from Gibeon;
יז וַיֵּלְכוּ, וַיֵּשְׁבוּ בְּגֵרוּת כמוהם (כִּמְהָם), אֲשֶׁר-אֵצֶל, בֵּית לָחֶם--לָלֶכֶת, לָבוֹא מִצְרָיִם. 17 and they departed, and dwelt in Geruth Chimham, which is by Beth-lehem, to go to enter into Egypt,
יח מִפְּנֵי, הַכַּשְׂדִּים, כִּי יָרְאוּ, מִפְּנֵיהֶם: כִּי-הִכָּה יִשְׁמָעֵאל בֶּן-נְתַנְיָה, אֶת-גְּדַלְיָהוּ בֶּן-אֲחִיקָם, אֲשֶׁר-הִפְקִיד מֶלֶךְ-בָּבֶל, בָּאָרֶץ. {פ} 18 because of the Chaldeans; for they were afraid of them, because Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had slain Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, whom the king of Babylon made governor over the land. {P}

1 comment:

Rebecca said...


Rain is falling all around,

It falls on field and tree,

It rains on the umbrella here,
And on the ships at sea.

-------- by warcraft gold


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