LTTN med xp logo A Tale of the First Temple -
Then and Now

October 2, 2000

© 2000 Light to the Nations, Rabbi Chaim Richman - All Rights Reserved
Today, the 3rd day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei and the day following Rosh HaShana, is observed as a day of fasting by the Jewish people. This is the “Fast of Gedaliah,” named for the Jewish governor Gedaliah ben Ahikam who was murdered on this day. It is also referred to in the prophets (Zechariah) as “The Fast of the Seventh,” since Tishrei is the seventh month.
 
King Nebuchadnezzer destroyed the First Temple and exiled most of the Jewish people to Babylon. But he allowed a small remainder of Jews to stay in their land. The king appointed the righteous Gedaliah to govern over this remnant.
 
When the Jews who lived in Moab, Amon, Edom and other lands heard that the Babylonian king allowed a remnant for Judah in her land, and appointed Gedaliah over them, they returned to the Land of Judah and were permitted to work their fields. They experienced some respite.
 
However the King of Amon was jealous of this remnant of Judah. He dispatched Yishmael ben Netanya to kill Gedaliah. Although Gedaliah had been warned of Yishmael’s plot, he refused to believe, not wishing to take heed of evil speech. He received Yishmael with honor, but the latter killed him and most of the Jews who were with him, as well as the Chaldeans left there by the Babylonian king. Fearing the king’s revenge, the remaining Jews fled to Egypt, and in this manner the last remnant was scattered and the land became desolate.  
 
Why was this day designated as a fast day for all generations? Because with Gedaliah’s death, the last spark of hope for Jewish independence after the Temple’s destruction was extinguished. The remainder of Judah was exiled from the Land of Israel, and many thousands of Jews were killed.
 
The parallel to the events here in Israel today is obvious. We are all the last remnant of Jews left in the Land of Israel. Our enemies attempt to scatter us, and to make the land desolate. Arafat gave the orders for this wave of murder and destruction; Arafat could call it off if he so chooses. But he will only do so once he has achieved the maximum benefit. The Palestinian violence of the past three days was pre-meditated and expertly coordinated; the waves of terror bands who admittedly seek to inflict as many Jewish casualties as possible, have nothing to do with Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount. The world stands by and watches and accuses Israel of “using excessive force” to quell legitimate protests. Why is the attempt to murder Jews legitimate? Why does Israel continue to consider the Palestinians our “partners in peace,” if the uniformed Palestinian security forces ­ whom Israel armed for the purpose of upholding the peace ­ turn around and use those very arms to murder Israelis in cold blood? Where is the world? If these are “partners in peace,” why did they prevent the evacuation from the besieged Joseph’s Tomb of an Israeli policeman who was bleeding to death from gunshot wounds they inflicted? And if Israel is using “excessive force,” why did she not bring the tanks into Nablus to evacuate that man, instead of merely threatening to do so? Why did Israel leave him to bleed to death? (And what did Joseph think of all this….)
 
Once again, on the Fast Day of Gedaliah, in the great and powerful, modern State of Israel, the spark of hope for Jewish independence is at risk.
 
With blessings for National Repentance in these Days of Repentance
 
Rabbi Chaim Richman
THE TEMPLE INSTITUTE
PO Box 31876
Jerusalem Israel