The Fast of Gedalia is one of the most puzzling of requirements observant Jews face. And here I sit, with three and a half more hours without food or drink to endure, trying to grapple with a related moral dilemma.
This fast day is one of six annually, and falls right after the intensity of Rosh Hashana, when we're told an evaluation of last year's deeds determines our fate for the coming year. This decree by God is "written" but not "sealed," meaning we've got these ten days between now and Yom Kippur to sincerely repent and thus sway the way God executes His plan.
But we're not told to fast as a means of penitence, (as on Yom Kippur itself, when our growling stomachs are to raise our consciousness beyond physicality to encourage the singular focus of angels) but in mourning for a righteous man (Gedalia ben Achikam) appointed governor of the remaining few Jews in Israel after the destruction of the Temple. His leadership had inspired Jews' return from Babylonian exile to the land, and his success allowed the royally-connected Yishmayel ben Nesania to be goaded into jealousy by a neighboring king. Gedalia refused to believe Yishmayel would actually kill him, and considered warnings "lushon ha ra," or negative speech, which Jews are to disregard.
I'm wondering what was the right thing. Your advice?