Ask Avigail: Who Is This Gedalya Fella?

Today is the “Fast of Gedalya”. Excuse me for having the bold, brazen chutzpa*of a heretical harlot to ask a question, but, just who is Gedalya? Why do I have to stare at a cactus, as if it were a sizzlean, hunk of lamb, with a chunk of fat, on the side – and not so much as chew on my own liver?

Judging by the un-restrained gluttony of yesterday’s birthday party for the creation of the world, (whereas, Morton Gutmacher tried to moisten his index finger to pick up rugelach* crumbs, until his friends restrained him from ingesting sand), that perhaps there was a linguistic mis-communication, in the TYPE of fast? Maybe, it is supposed to be the Fast of Godiva!*

When the High Priests awoke from a carbohydrate-laden stupor, their man-servants had to swathe their masters in leftover rams’ fat, just to get the holy, non-wrinkle, one-size vestments, from splitting at their seamless sides! And G-d had called a general meeting for the crack of dawn, and He is known to be a stickler for punctuality. The lipid-minded priests were in a frenzy-what to do?? They called for Amir, the tent-maker, and asked him if he could perform a near-miracle and whip up a number that would allow the Priests’ waistlines to feel “unrestricted”. Amir immediately thought of a gold lame thong he once saw in a Martha Graham dance performance in last year’s dessert performance; but, a sense of propriety held his tongue. His second option were the temporary tents he had designed, for the Hebrew sojourners, crossing Egypt. “Think light, portable”, he thought. And it worked. Amir walked to where the cattle and camels were sheltered. He dismantled their tent, and although a few, disgruntled livestock were begrudgingly reclassified as a refugee flock, their former habitats were skillfully transformed into festive, mu-mu-like robes. The term, “one size fits all” could now accommodate the size of a wooly mammoth, if one still existed. It seems to be as extinct as the seltzer delivery man.

Again, I must ask your patience, as I take another liberty and put forth another query on the Gedalya case. Perhaps it is the word, FAST, that has been misconstrued; but rather, fast, as in THE SPEED of Gedalya. Our Creator has, in fact, called us to gather around, and marvel at how this sprinter can jump over idols, whilst still learning the five books of Moses, albeit, a work in progress.* Yes, our sages must tell us to cheer him on, as he jettisons around Mount Har seven times,* breaking the speed of the most densely-veiled bride, circling around her myopic, groom, as one vestal virgin is oft to do – may Hashem see fit to give her a chin.

Fraught with tension, as if there were a five minute sale at Herod’s Emporium, I offer this thought…what if it is far from being a fast for a “person”-but, just humor me and follow me on this one, you can even travel barefoot, if you choose-.Upon chance, the head, appointed cook, responsible for the first meal at camp’s daybreak (and snacks upon whim), glances at the sacks of gathered grains and other provisions. Suddenly, he lets out a more than audible geshrai (shrill shriek, loud enough to cause the Sphynx to grimace). ‘WHERE IS THE GEVALYA COFFEE – THE ONE THAT I ORDERED FROM THE ROMAN EMPIRE ONLY TWO MOONS AGO! I JUST SAW IT! I PUT IT BEHIND THE EMBALMNG FLUID, TO GET THE SACRIFICIAL BARBECUES GOING, MYSELF?”

Lou Fleigelman happened to be staggering in front of the Chef’s tent. His eyes were bloodshot, his arms and legs shook, uncontrollably. The old man was carrying a sacrificial urn, that he was improvising as a coffee cup. He was going from cave to cave, begging for sugar, as he had run out in the middle of the night.

“Shazaam!” thought the Chef. Having solved the mystery of the pilfered Gevalya, he thought of how to break it to the camp that this morning’s hot beverage would be freshly, brewed esrog tea, with a twist of lemon and honey. GEVALTYA! *

So, whose to say that the tragedy of the Fast of Gedalya doesn’t lie in the fact, that we had to drink instant?


Chutzpa: nerve, or in Yiddish, “cujones”.

Rugelach: Eastern European/Russian confection often used as a paperweight, when stale.

Five Books of Moses: aka Torah, unabridged form. Soon to be released as “EVELYN WOODS SPEED DAVENING DURING HALFTIME”

Seven times: as good a number as any…circling around the eighth time, may cause vertigo.

Gevaltya: What one says when there is no imported Italian café.

Godiva: Decadent chocolate, frequently the despondent’s choice of suicide.

About the Author
Shashi Ishai is a former stand-up/cartoonist from Teaneck, N.J. She resides in Netanya with her husband, Yacov; daughter, Zehava; son Zaki and dog, Stanley .Shashi is the author of ASK AVIGAIL: Advice from a Biblical Era Sagette, available on Amazon.