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May a Noahide Fast on the Fast Day of Gedaliah

Many Noahides will have no idea who Gedaliah was.

As a result, it is important to first study about the historical event.

Historically, four [Jewish] fasts have been associated with the destruction of the Holy Temple in a sequential order. The 17th of Tammuz, which commemorates the day the walls of Jerusalem were breached [in mid-summer], followed the siege that began on the 10th of Teves. The 9th of Av and the destruction of the Temple [3 weeks later] came as a result of, and in sequence to, the 17th of Tammuz, and the [Jewish] fast of [the assassinating of the appointed ruler] Gedaliah followed the day and events of the 9th of Av.

The Priest sacrificed 70 bulls in the Temple on Sukkot for the benefit of non-Jews, in addition to the voluntary gifts that might be offered to the Priests throughout the year. The destruction of the First and Second Temples is thus reason for Noahides to mourn.

The assassination of Gedaliah is inextricably tied to the Jewish Exile. The Rebbe implies that Noahides are obligated to be concerned about the Jews’ suffering in exile.

The prohibition of consuming meat torn from a living animal is included in the Seven Noahide Laws. The main premise here is to avoid causing suffering to animals, as pulling flesh from a living animal causes significant anguish. This is why it is banned to consume such flesh. Thus, if Noahes are forbidden to bring harm to animals, they must be distressed by the suffering of their fellow humans.

Noahides have to feel the agony of Jewish exile and participate in in the suffering of the Jewish People; otherwise, they will not only exacerbate the suffering of exile, but will worsen it. They would do all in their power to alleviate Jewish suffering in exile to the greatest extent feasible by supporting Jewish people in all areas. This behavior is similar to the prophecy in Isiahah 49:23, “Kings will be your nurtures!”

A Noahide may mourn the loss of the Temple and the absence of the Divine Presence in the world. And, in my opinion, one should mourn for the Jewish people’s Galut/exile, which is still ongoing and causing suffering.

If a Noahide wishes to fast, he may do voluntarily for a “half” fast. If he fasted for a full day, he would be creating a ritual memorial day for himself, which would come under the prohibited creating of a new religion.

A “half” fast means that one fasts

more lightly – that is, only eating or only drinking –

or shorter – that is, only eating or only drinking, for example, from sunrise until noon.

In case of illness or medical problems, a Noahide should not fast.

A full fast should not be observed by Noahide since it weakens a person, making it much more difficult to improve the world. Fasting, for example, may cause a person to become irritated, haughty, or bad-tempered. Improving the world’s conditions is known as Yeshiv Olam, and it is a significant task for a Noahide.

Instead of (or in addition to) a half-fast, one can pray, offer charity, and practice acts of kindness.

By Angelique Sijbolts

Sources: Chabad Article: Article AskNoah: Siege of the First Temple on Tenth of Teves, Article AskNoah: 1st & 2nd Temples Destroyed on 9th Av: May Noahides Fast?, To Perfect the World by the Lubavitscher Rebbe: p. 177-178

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