1. It is customary to deliver “words of reproof” on a public fast, for since a fast is a “desirable day to G-d,” it is automatically an auspicious time for man — and therefore the most auspicious time to undertake good resolutions in the 3 pillars on which the world exists — Torah, prayer and deeds of loving kindness. Resolutions undertaken at this time will undoubtedly be fulfilled, when the undertaking of the resolutions in this auspicious time (the result of the “words of reproof”) is connected to community prayer, particularly the minchah prayer, of which it is said “Eliyahu was answered only at the minchah prayer.” Likewise it is connected to the reading of the Torah and giving of tzedakah, thereby ensuring the actual
fulfillment of the 3 areas of Torah, prayer and deeds of loving kindness (tzedakah).
The above applies to all public fasts, and most certainly to a fast in the Ten Days of Repentance (Tzom Gedalia — the Fast of Gedalia). The Ten Days of Repentance are an auspicious time, as our Sages note that the verse “Seek the L-rd while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near” refers to the “ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur,” when G-d is accessible to every Jew even as an individual. Certainly then, the prayer of a community on these days is very lofty, and most particularly on the auspicious time of a public fast in these Ten Days of Repentance.
Tzom Gedalia is on the day following Rosh Hashanah, when all Jews have already been inscribed and sealed in the book of the completely righteous, as our Sages said: “Complete tzaddikim are immediately written and sealed for life.” Nevertheless, it is still necessary to deliver “words of reproof” now, to inspire an increase in all matters of Torah and mitzvos; for when Jews do so, G-d increases greatly in His blessings for a good signing and sealing in the book of the completely righteous. Since G-d is infinite, His blessings can also be infinite, extending to the blessing of the complete and true redemption through our righteous Moshiach.
2. There is a further lesson to be derived from today’s portion of Tehillim, the 3rd of Tishrei. Its beginning states (18:1): “For the choirmaster; for Dovid the servant of the L-rd, who spoke to the L-rd the words of this song on the day the L-rd delivered him from the hand of all his enemies.” The conclusion of this psalm is (18:51): “He gives great deliverance to His king, and bestows kindness upon His anointed, to Dovid and his descendants forever.” This teaches us that even when some people desire to do wicked things, Jews are victorious through G-d. This is in the manner of “He gives great deliverance:” not just “deliverance,” but “great deliverance,” to the extent of meriting the deliverance through Moshiach — “bestows kindness upon His anointed.”
Then follows Ch. 19 which states “The heavens recount the glory of the A-mighty,” which the Zohar interprets to mean that all matters of Jews illuminate (“recount” in Hebrew having same root as “illuminate”). Then comes Ch. 20, which states: “For the Choirmaster, a Psalm by Dovid. May the L-rd answer you;” and the answer is in the manner of “L-rd, deliver us; may the King answer us on the day we call” — i.e. G-d answers on the selfsame day. In this same chapter it states that Jews are not affected by “Some who rely upon chariots and some upon horses,” for “we invoke the Name of the L-rd” and “we” raise our banners in the name of our G-d” — meaning G-d is the strength of all Jews against the entire world. And when Jews go in G-d’s strength, “kings will be your foster fathers and queens your foster mothers.”
3. There is also a lesson to be learned from the weekly parshah, which this year is Ha’azinu. Moshe’s words “Listen heavens and I will speak; and let the earth hear the words of my mouth” was said in the mission of G-d. Thus when a Jew learns this verse, “G-d reads and learns opposite him,” and thereby effects its meaning as originally, when said by Moshe Rabbeinu in G-d’s mission. The heavens listen to the words of a Jew, and the earth hears the Jews speak Torah, and waits to be able to fulfill his requests.
In addition to this lesson from the weekly parshah, there is a further lesson to be derived from the daily portion — the second day of Ha’azinu. It states: “Remember the days of old ... ask your father and he will recount it to you; your elders and they will tell you. When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance ... He set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.” This means that the existence of the non-Jewish nations was, as Rashi explains, only “for the sake of the number of the children of Israel that are destined to descend from the children of Shem; and according to the number of 70 souls who went down to Egypt, He set the bounds of the peoples at 70.”
It continues to state: “For the L-rd’s portion is His people, Ya’akov is the lot of His inheritance.” That is, Jews are G-d’s inheritance, for every Jew’s soul is “verily a part of G-d Above.” Since they are G-d’s inheritance, He gave them Eretz Yisroel as an “eternal inheritance,” the “land which ... the eyes of the L-rd your G-d are continually upon it from the beginning of the year until the end of the year. “
It then continues: “He found him (Israel) in a desert land ... He guarded him as the pupil of His eye.” This means that even when Jews are in exile (“desert land”) G-d still guards them “as the pupil of His eye” — not just the eye, significant as it is, but as the “pupil of His eye,” the most important part. In the conclusion of today’s portion it states: “The L-rd alone led him, and there was no strange god with Him,” meaning Jews are together with G-d alone.
This is the lesson from today’s portion of Chumash: The nations of the world know (“their mazal sees”) that their existence is because of the Jewish people. Therefore, not only will they not try to harm Jews, (knowing they are guarded as the “pupil of G-d’s eye”) G-d forbid, but are ready to help Jews in all their matters.
May it be G-d’s will that Jews increase in their service in the three areas of Torah, prayer and particularly deeds of loving kindness (tzedakah), since tzedakah “brings near the redemption.” Thereby we conclude the last moments of exile by converting Tzom Gedalia (and the other fasts) into “joy, gladness and holidays.”