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1

It's not an either/or. Afflicting yourself while continuing to do evil is a waste of time. Instead, be sincere, improve your ways, and then when you fast it will be meaningful. "Isn't this the fast I want?" does not mean "instead of fasting, do kindness"; it means "do kindness, and then fast." So the Yom Kippur message is okay ...


0

There seem to be two questions here: how we get that there's a difference between when there's peace and when there's not, and why in practice we fast even in times of peace. For the first, the answer is in the couple of lines of the Gemara preceding what you quoted: מַאי דִּכְתִיב כֹּה אָמַר ה׳ צְבָאוֹת צוֹם הָרְבִיעִי וְצוֹם הַחֲמִישִׁי וְצוֹם ...


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