1. We are presently in the midst of the Ten Days of Repentance. Concerning them, the Rambam writes: “Although repentance and calling out to G‑d are always desirable, this is particularly true in the Ten Days between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur.”

The expression, “the Ten Days between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur,” is somewhat problematic since in actuality, there are only seven days between the two holidays. This indicates that there are two dimensions to Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, an essential quality which they possess and also a dimension shared by the other Ten Days of Repentance.

The essential aspects of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur are complementary. Indeed, Yom Kippur is also referred to as Rosh HaShanah. As explained in Likkutei Torah, the external dimensions of the service they share are revealed on Rosh HaShanah and the internal dimensions are revealed on Yom Kippur. Nevertheless, the manner of expression of this service differs. On Rosh HaShanah, we are commanded to “eat succulent foods and drink sweet beverages because this day is holy unto your G‑d.” In contrast, Yom Kippur is a day of fasting.

Indeed, the only fast which is a positive commandment of the Torah, is the fast of Yom Kippur. All the other fasts are Rabbinic in origin. Nevertheless, as explained in Chassidus, the Rabbinic commandments are not additions to the mitzvos of the Torah — for it is forbidden to add or detract from the Torah’s commands — but rather, extensions of them. Thus, the Rabbinic commandment of fasting is an extension of the mitzvah of Yom Kippur for it is the only mitzvah of the Torah which focuses on this activity.

[There are differences between the fast of Yom Kippur and most of the Rabbinic fasts. For example, on Yom Kippur, there are “five afflictions,” while on most of the Rabbinic fasts, only eating and drinking are forbidden. On Yom Kippur, the fast begins at nightfall, while on most of the Rabbinic fasts, the fast does not begin until daybreak. These, however, are particular elements. Although the Rabbinic mitzvos have their source in the mitzvos of the Torah, they are not totally analogous to them. On the contrary, the Rabbis considered the difficulty which might be caused to the people when instituting their commandments and, therefore, showed leniencies.]

Since the Rabbinic fasts have their source in Yom Kippur, hence they are all, like Yom Kippur, considered “days of will.”1 In Talmudic times, there were more fasts as recorded in Megillas Taanis. Subsequently, most of those fasts were nullified and only five Rabbinic fasts remained. According to the annual cycle — although chronologically, the tragic event it commemorates occurred after the other fasts connected with the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash — the first of these fasts is the Fast of Gedaliah.

There is a unique dimension to the Fast of Gedaliah. It is the only one of these fasts which is never held on the day of the tragedy which it commemorates. Gedaliah’s murder took place on the second day of Rosh HaShanah and since, as mentioned above, that holiday should be celebrated by “eating succulent foods and drinking sweet beverages,” the fast is postponed to the following day.

This year, there is an added postponement and, because of Shabbos, the fast is not held on the day when it is usually held. In the Talmud, there is an opinion that once a fast is postponed, it should be nullified entirely. Although, in practice, this opinion is not accepted, the postponement of a fast does strengthen our hope in the coming of the Messianic era during which all fasts will be nullified entirely, and indeed, transformed into festivals and days of rejoicing.2

2. There is another dimension in which the Fast of Gedaliah is unique. The Haftorah recited on fast days begins with the verse, “Seek the L‑rd when He is to be found, call upon Him when He is near.” Our Sages explain that this refers to “the Ten Days between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur.” Then, G‑d is “near” and accessible to each and every Jew. For this reason, the prayers of an individual recited at this time have the same potential as communal prayer throughout the year. [Needless to say, during this period, communal prayer itself is lifted to an even higher level.]

The importance of every individual Jew is also reflected in the concluding verse of the Haftorah, “I will yet gather others to him besides those already gathered.” G‑d, Himself, “the Gatherer of the dispersed of Israel,” forsakes all other matters and gathers each individual Jew to Eretz Yisrael. Not only does He gather “those already gathered,” i.e., the Jews who join in communal activities, He also seeks out each individual Jew.

May we see the fulfillment of these prophecies in the near future with the coming of the Messianic redemption when these days will be transformed into festivals. The Messianic redemption is intrinsically related to the Fast of Gedaliah, since both Gedaliah and Mashiach, stem from the House of David. Thus, the murder of Gedaliah must be transformed and we will see the true “greatness of G‑d” (the meaning of the name Gedaliah), as it is written, “The L‑rd is great... in the city of our G‑d,” i.e., G‑dliness will be revealed in Jerusalem, in the Third Beis HaMikdash.3

There is a unique connection to the above this year because it is connected with a threefold repetition of a threefold pattern.4 Furthermore, this year, we read the portion, Zos HaBerachah, “This is the blessing...”, for three successive weeks. These three weeks compensate for and bring about the transformation of the Three Weeks of Retribution. Thus, together with the Seven Weeks of Comfort, there is a full ten week period which is positive in nature.

{The Rebbe Shlita concluded the gathering by distributing three dollars to each individual to be given to tzedakah.}