5 Say to all the people of the land and to the Kohanim: When you fasted and lamented in the fifth and seventh months all these seventy years, did you fast for my benefit?
e-MOR el kol AM ha-A-retz v’-el ha-ko-ha-NEEM lay-MOR kee tzam-TEM v’-sa-FOD ba-kha-mee-SHEE u-va-sh’-vee-EE v’-ZEH shiv-EEM sha-NAH ha-TZOM tzam-TU-nee A-nee
ה אֱמֹר אֶל־כָּל־עַם הָאָרֶץ וְאֶל־הַכֹּהֲנִים לֵאמֹר כִּי־צַמְתֶּם וְסָפוֹד בַּחֲמִישִׁי וּבַשְּׁבִיעִי וְזֶה שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה הֲצוֹם צַמְתֻּנִי אָנִי׃
7:5 Did you fast for my benefit?
In the fourth year of King Darius, a delegation is sent to the prophet in Yerushalayim by the Jews who remained behind in Babylonia. They come with the following question: since the Jewish people are back in the Land of Israel and the Beit Hamikdash is being rebuilt, is it appropriate to continue to fast and mourn over the destruction of the first Temple, as they have been doing annually for decades? The prophet’s response is clear. In Hashem’s eyes, fasting and other external signs of mourning have no value if not accompanied by sincere repentance and ethical behavior (verses 9-10). The medieval commentator, Rabbi Yitzchak Abrabanel, notes that while the question originates from the Jews in Babylon, the answer is directed towards the inhabitants of Eretz Yisrael. They sacrificed to return to the land; it is their actions that carry the most spiritual significance for the world.