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Jizhak Rabin
and Gedaljah ben Ahikam


Zom Gedaljah

Besides the great days of fasting (Yom Kipur and Tisha b'Aw), there are five other days of fasting in the Jewish year. On the great days of fasting, quiet and fasting are strictly observed between the eve of the fasting day and the rising of the stars on the following day. On the other fasting days, fasting is observed only during daylight hours. One of those days of fasting occurs annually after Rosh haShanah on the third of Tishrij (if the third of Tishrij coincides with Shabath, then Zom Gedaljah is held on the fourth of Tishrij). Fasting begins on the third day of Tishrij with sunrise and ends with the rising of the stars at night. This day, Zom Gedalyah, is held to commemorate Gedalyah ben Achikam.

Who was Gedalyah ben Achikam?

After the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and the First Temple in 586 B.C. and abducted the majority of Judea's upper class, the former appointed a Jewish governor, Gedalyah ben Achikam, over the remaining population. Gedalyah was a realistic leader of the people: He supported recognition of the political situation and opposed nationalistic adventurousness. Land legislation transferred the land of the abducted upper class to the remaining poorer population.

Under the given circumstances, he tried to secure the survival of the Jewish people in the land of Israel. Radical groups claimed he was a traitor. Yishma'el ben Netanyah, member of the remaining upper class, invited Gedalyah to talk with him. Despite his advisors' warnings, Gedalyah attended the meeting. Naive enough to believe that a Jew would never murder another Jew - Gedalyah was beaten to death by Yishma'el ben Netanyah.

Whatever the exact motives may have been: This murder eliminated Judea's last attempts towards autonomy and ensured the fall of the first Jewish state. During his lifetime, Gedalyah's efforts for the preservation and renewal of Jewish life were never fully acknowledged.

After his murder, the extent of his heroism was recognized and his death was greatly mourned. Today, he is still paid tribute to on Zom Gedalyah.

Transl. by Anne van Ransbeek


  • Jeremijah 32ff; 40,9ff; 52,29-30; 2 Koenige 24-25;
  • Ben-Sasson: Geschichte des juedischen Volkes p.200ff, CH Beck Verlag;
  • Rabbi Joseph Telushkin: Jewish Literacy p.596ff;
  • Alfred Kolatch: The Jewish Book of Why p.288
  • Gallyahu Cornfeld: haMikra baOlam, Publishing House Ltd. Tel-Aviv, 1964

dg / 11/1995© haGalil onLine - All Rights Reserved

Tehilim 34 / von David
''Bakesh Shalom veradfehu!'' Ps34



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