Today, Sunday, the Fast of Gedaliah is held to mark the assassination of the governor of Judea after the destruction of the First Holy Temple, Gedaliah son of Ahikam.
The beginning of the fast took place at dawn, and it ends (in Jerusalem) at 6:55 pm.
The Fast of Gedaliah is one of the four fasts that apply to the destruction of the Temple, in addition to the fasts on the tenth of Tevet, the seventeenth of Tammuz and Tisha B'Av. The Fast of Gedaliah symbolizes the end of hopes for restoring Jewish life in Israel after the First Temple’s destruction.
Under the guidance of Gedaliah, a Jew appointed by the Babylonians as governor of the kingdom of Judah, those Jews that had remained after the Babylonian exile began to rebuild physical and spiritual life in the land of Israel. Likewise, Jews who had fled to neighboring lands began to return to the land, hearing of the revival being spearheaded by Gedaliah.
However, hopes for revival in Israel were slashed when Gedaliah was assassinated by another Jew. This event led the Jewish community in Israel to flee to Egypt to escape the wrath of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar, and most of these Jews ultimately perished during Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion of Egypt several years later.
This week is also part of the “ten days of repentance” between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, days characterized by prayer and careful attention to the performance of mitzvot (commandments).