Ta'anit Tzibbur

"Public Fasting"

Happy Rosh Hashanah!

Rosh Hashanah is the head of Jewish year, in the Biblical Name it is called yom Teruah (Day of blasting). It is the first of the Jewish High Holy Days! (Lev 23:23-32) It is a 2 day celebration, and let us read about it.

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Rosh Hashanah leads to Yom Kippur the day of judgment, thus it is important for us to prepare ourselves spiritually and physically for this important event.


Public Fasting / Ta'anit Tzibbur

“Ta’anit Tzibbur”, meaning “public fasting”, are days that commemorate different tragedies throughout the history of the nation of Israel. Generally, the practice of fasting is applied with the purpose of purification and greater ethical behavior. YAHUSHUA HAMASHIACH, our beloved Savior, expected that we – as believers and true children of GOD – would fast and taught us how to properly perform this ancient practice.


“Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” Matt. 6:16-18


Additionally, it is important to note the other purposes of fasting, which are: “to draw near to ELOHIM” (Is. 58:2); “to make your voice heard on high” (Is. 58:4); and for corrective discipline which is the basis by which the majority of “Ta’anit Tzibbur” were instituted.




The “Ta’anit Tzibbur” include six fast days throughout the year, seven if you include the High Holy day of Yom Kippur. However, our focus is on four of these minor fasts that are specifically mentioned in the Book of Zechariah, chapter 8.


Then the word of the LORD of hosts came to me, saying, “Thus says the LORD of hosts:


‘The fast of the fourth month,

The fast of the fifth,

The fast of the seventh,

And the fast of the tenth,

Shall be joy and gladness and cheerful feasts

For the house of Judah.

Therefore, love truth and peace.’ Zechariah 8:18-19


Shiva Asar b’Tammuz, the 17th of Tammuz:

According to Jewish documents, this was the day the Romans breached the walls around Jerusalem, which led to the destruction three weeks later of the Second Temple in 70 C.E. Jeremiah mentions that the walls of Jerusalem were breached (preceding destruction of the First Temple in 586 B.C.E.) on the ninth of Tammuz, but this event is commemorated on the 17th of Tammuz. The ancient rabbis mention other events that they believed occurred on this day, including Moses breaking the tablets of the Ten Commandments, cessation of the daily sacrifices during the Roman siege, the burning of the Torah and erecting of an idol in the Temple before the Maccabean revolt.

Tisha b’Av, the 9th of Av:

The Ninth of Av, a fast day remembering the tragedies of the Jewish people. This fast is referred to in Zechariah 8 as the “Fast of the 5th month”. Note that many people also fast on the first of Av, since this is the yahrzeit of Aaron the High Priest. The Fast of Tishah B'Av is the second most important fast in Judaism (next to Yom Kippur, which is the most important fast day). On the eve of the Tishah B'Av fast, it is customary to eat a boiled egg sprinkled with ashes...


Tsom Gedaliah, the Fast of Gedaliah:

The fast of Gedaliah occurs on the third of Tishrei, which is the day following Rosh Hashanah. A time that remembers the date that Gedaliah ben Ahikam, the Babylonian-appointed Jewish governor of Judah, was killed by other Jews. Gedaliah’s death was seen as the moment the Jews lost hope that Babylonian domination would be stopped and the Jewish state would survive.


Asarah b’Tevet, the Fast of 10th of Tevet:

The Fast of tenth of Tevet, was originally established to commemorate the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonian emperor Nebuchadnezzar in 425 BC. The siege was "the beginning of the end" and continued for 30 months until the walls of Jerusalem were breached, eventually leading to the destruction of the First Temple on the 9th of the Hebrew month of Av in 586 BC. And in more modern times, this fasting day has been accepted to say Kaddish prayers for those who lost their lives in the Holocaust.


The importance of remembering these dates is to know, understand and remember why and how these tragedies took place in Jewish history. For the entire time of their captivity in Babylon, which was seventy years, the Jewish people observed these fasts. This leads us to the question of “why were the Jewish people exiled and taken captive from their home in the first place?”


Obedience is better than fasting.


“Now in the fourth year of King Darius it came to pass that the word of the LORD came to Zechariah, on the fourth day of the ninth month, Chislev, when the people sent Sherezer, with Regem-Melech and his men, to the house of GOD, to pray before the LORD, and to ask the priests who were in the house of the LORD of hosts, and the prophets, saying, “Should I weep in the fifth month and fast as I have done for so many years?” 


Then the word of the LORD of hosts came to me, saying, “Say to all the people of the land, and to the priests: ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you really fast for ME—for ME? When you eat and when you drink, do you not eat and drink for yourselves? Should you not have obeyed the words which the LORD proclaimed through the former prophets when Jerusalem and the cities around it were in inhabited and prosperous, and the South and the Lowland were inhabited?’” Zechariah 7:1-7



By this we see that the LORD YAHUVEH is telling HIS people that the reason these fasts were established is simply a result of their disobedience which led to the nation’s captivity in Babylon. And, as a response and fruit of true repentance, the Jewish people instituted these fasts as a “corrective discipline” in turning their hearts back to the LORD YAHUVEH in order for forgiveness and to keep HIS commandments. In like manner, let us heed the hard lesson that was learned by the Jewish people and turn our hearts to our MASTER YAHUVEH true repentance with the goal of greater obedience to our Beloved CREATOR.