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Section: Moadim   Category: Yom Kippur
Tzom Gedalia: When A Jew Murders A Jew

The gemara (Rosh Hashana 18b) says that we have 3 fasts directly related to the Churban (Asara B'teves, Tisha B'av, Shiva Asar B'tammuz).  The 4th fast of this series is the fast for the murder of Gedalia Ben Achikam, the leader of the remnants of the Jews in Eretz Yisroel after the Churban Bayis Rishon. The gemara explains that the reason we fast for Gedalia is to teach us that the death of tzaddikim is on par with the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash. Why Gedalia? There have been many tzaddikim murdered. Why not fast for them as well?

The Ben Ish Chai in Ben Yeho'ada answers that the murder of Gedalia was not a Gezeira Min HaShamayim. It was avoidable since it was committed by a Jew, Yishmael Ben Netanya. When a Jew is murdered by a non-Jew that is a gezeira but murder by a fellow Jew comes from "bechira ra'a" and is not a heavenly decree (except for certain instances). Moreover says the Ben Yeho'ada this caused a great Chilul Hashem. The evil Nevuchadnetzar was kind enough to leave Jews alive in their land, and it was us that were the bad guys.

RELATED ARTICLES:bechira  Ben Ish Chai  churban  Tzom Gedalia

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Visitor Comments: 2

RS, Gateshead, 2011-10-02 09:52:27
Does the Ben Ish Chai mean to say that a non-Jew does not have bechira?
Why is this so?
What about his chiyuv to keep the 7 mitzvos?

Furthermore, this is in keeping with the opinon of the Or Hachayim Hakodosh and the Zohar who maintain that a baal bechira can 'over-ride' gezeiras shamayim. However the Chovos Halevovois disagrees. In a shiur I heard from Rav Zev Leff he mainatins that the latter is the generally accepted view, and there are ways in which to reconcile the Or Hachayim and Zohar with the Chovos Halevovos
JG, Monsey, 2011-10-03 16:31:12
I agree with your questions RS. Perhaps, though, we can explain as follows:
If one commits murder, how can he do teshuva? The person will not come back to life!

the answer, says R' Benzion Schafier of The Shmuz, is that, based on Chovos HaLevavos, if Reuven kills Shimon, it could only happen if it was nigzar that Shimon die as no one can help or harm another without it. Shimon would have died anyway so if Reuven does Teshuva, his bechira is separated from the death.

In this case, Yishmael ben Netanya used his bechira to be the one to kill Gedalya.
Perhaps his teshuva could disconnect him from the cheit, but since it caused a big Chillul HaShem which was not necessarily part of Gedalya's gezeira to die, we must fast.

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