1. Today is the fast of Gedaliah, a fast which follows directly after Rosh Hashanah. There is an intrinsic connection between the two. (According to some opinions) Gedaliah was murdered on Rosh Hashanah itself and the fast was postponed until afterwards in order to commemorate the event on a weekday, and not on a holiday. Regardless of whether Gedaliah was murdered on Rosh Hashanah or on the day directly after it, the connection between the two is evident. This connection is difficult to understand since the two days seem so opposite in nature. Rosh Hashanah is a day when “the joy of G‑d is your strength.” The book of Nechemiah explains (8:10) that this joy is also related to physical, as well as spiritual, matters as it states: “Eat sumptuously, drink sweet beverages, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared.” If the joy of Rosh Hashanah is expressed in physical matters it is undoubtedly there in the spiritual realm.1 A fast, on the other hand, displays denial of physical pleasures. This seems incongruous with the spiritual service we engage in on Rosh Hashanah; it seems like we must do an “about face” to then engage in the spiritual service of the fast of Gedaliah. However, if the two events occurred on the same day (or on consecutive days), then, according to the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov (i.e. that everything a Jew sees or hears has in it a lesson for the service of G‑d) they are surely interrelated.

From a deeper perspective, the fast of Gedaliah can be seen as the continuation of a process which has its beginning before Rosh Hashanah. This process did not end with the occurrence of Rosh Hashanah, it continued through the Shabbos following Rosh Hashanah and through the fast of Gedaliah which followed that Shabbos [Note: Usually the fast of Gedaliah falls out on the day directly following Rosh Hashanah, the third of Tishrei. However, except for Yom Kippur, a fast day is not allowed to coincide with Shabbos. Therefore, this year, when the third of Tishrei falls on Shabbos, the fast day is pushed off until after Shabbos.] The process of which we speak began in the month of Elul, was intensified on Chai Elul, was further strengthened during the days of Selichos, reached a peak on Rosh Hashanah, and attained a level of completion on Shabbos (for Shabbos completes and adds pleasure to the service of the days of the previous week). On the day afterwards, the fast of Gedaliah, a Jew must reach an even higher level.

The service of Rosh Hashanah is to accept the yoke of G‑d’s kingship. After doing this a Jew has within him the potential to elevate the world around him, affecting not only the present, but the past as well. On Rosh Hashanah we not only coronate G‑d as “King of Israel,” we beseech him to “reign over the entire earth.” Therefore, after Rosh Hashanah we have to demonstrate how G‑d’s Kingship effects every aspect of our lives, our portion of the world, and even events of the past. The process which began in the month of Elul is the process of teshuvah: At its highest, fullest point of expression our teshuvah can correct and elevate events from our past. Therefore, that event which occurred long ago on the fast of Gedaliah can now, when we are at the pinnacle of our service, be elevated.

What was the event that the fast commemorates? The Talmud (Rosh Hashanah 18b) declares “Gedaliah ben Achikom was killed. The remaining spark was extinguished and the exile was brought about.” This event represents the conclusion of a whole process of destruction, and, in a certain way, it is even more serious than the Temple’s destruction. Nevertheless, a Jew can, through proper and complete teshuvah, correct such an event. The fast of Gedaliah will then be transformed from a day commemorating undesirable events to a day of positive events. The very name “Gedaliah” has the connotation of greatness.

There is a lesson which connects Gedaliah to the kingship of the House of David (from which he descended). The undesirable events that led to the fast of Gedaliah (and likewise all the undesirable events that occur in the world) were not unintentional. Rather, as in the case of King Dovid where “it was not fitting for such a deed (i.e., his relationship with Batsheva) to be carried out by King Dovid,” G‑d’s intention was merely that he should serve as an example of teshuvah; motivating the entire nation, even those on the lowest levels, to do teshuvah. All undesirable events, past and present, can be corrected through teshuvah.2 In this way, the Jews can bring the world to a state of completion. Commenting on the verse, “Come let us now and prostrate ourselves... before G‑d, our Maker,” our Sages teach us that Adom, the first man, was able to bring the entire world to an awareness and acceptance of G‑d’s Kingship. In the same way our service brings the entire world to serve G‑d.

2. On a practical level, we must arrange gatherings to bring Jewish children together. They are Tzivos Hashem — G‑d’s army. Therefore every child, no matter what his age, is important. Just as with the tribe of Levi, which was called “the legion of the King,” the babes were included in the census of the Jewish people from the age of one month,3 similarly all Jewish children, regardless of age, are considered full members of G‑d’s army. They should be gathered together in meetings and assemblies during the Ten Days of Repentance — the time of which our Sages said “Seek G‑d when He is to be found, call to Him when He is close” — and also during the holiday of Sukkos — the season of our rejoicing. It has to be impressed upon every Jew that, as soon as a Jewish child is born, he must be enrolled in Tzivos Hashem.

Through these efforts, it will be revealed that “the earth is the L‑rd’s, and the fullness thereof.” This is particularly related to Eretz Yisroel. “Indeed, the guardian of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps.” G‑d watches over each and every Jew in the Holy Land. G‑d wants natural means to be employed, hence it is necessary to have an army defend Eretz Yisroel. However, that army must know that they are Tzivos Hashem — emissaries from G‑d, the King of Kings.

The concept of an army provides many lessons in our service of G‑d. The most important, basic principle in an army is Kabbalas Ol (acceptance of the yoke). As soon as an order is given it must be fulfilled without any questions asked. Just as when the Jews received the Torah and answered Naaseh V’Nishmah (we will do and we will listen), putting the commitment to do before that of listening and understanding, similarly, a soldier’s first response is to carry out orders. He does not sit and question, arguing that he has been granted free choice, etc., rather, he carries out the command. In our spiritual service such an approach inevitably leads to Shleimus HaTorah — the complete state of the Torah, i.e., fulfilling every aspect of Torah and mitzvos.4 Furthermore, this approach will lead to joy. The Previous Rebbe explained that when a Jewish soldier goes to his position to guard the border, he must go with a victory march, a joyful melody. This brings about the victory in an easy manner. Then “All the nations of the earth shall see that the name of G‑d is called upon you [Israel], and they will fear you.”

Then, with Shleimus HaTorah, we will bring about Shleimus HaAretz, and also Shleimus HaOm (the complete state of the Jewish nation). We will spend the last moments of Golus gathering together children for rallies and organizing gatherings of adults (putting a special stress on arranging programs for the elderly). This will bring an inscription for a good, sweet year in which, with joy and happiness, we will go to greet Moshiach who will lead us in the true and complete redemption, speedily in our days.