INTRODUCTION

 

HaShem's calendar is the basis for the celebration of Rosh Chodesh (the new moon) and all of the moedim (festivals). This calendar is derived by astronomical observation and careful calculation. This ability to build a calendar is considered important and necessary, in the oral law:

 

Shabbath 75a ... he who is able to calculate the cycles[1] and planetary courses but does not, one may hold no conversation with him.[2]

 

As it exists today, the Biblical, or Hebrew, calendar is a lunar solar calendar that is based on calculation rather than observation. This calendar is the official calendar of Israel and is the liturgical calendar of the Jewish faith.

 

The dictionary defines a "calendar" as:

 

cal en dar (kal n d r) n. [[ME calender < L kalendarium , account book < kalendae , CALENDS]] 1 a system of determining the beginning, length, and divisions of a year and for arranging the year into days, weeks, and months 2 a table or chart that shows such an arrangement, usually for a single year 3 a list or schedule, as of pending court cases, bills coming before a legislature, planned social events, etc. adj. such as that appearing on certain popular, conventional calendars [calendar art, a calendar girl] vt. to enter in a calendar; specif., to schedule ca len dri cal (k len dri k l) or ca len dric (-drik ) adj. [3]

 

In the encyclopedia we find the following enigmatic statement:

 

"CALENDAR. People have kept track of the days by the march of daylight and darkness and of the changing seasons in order to know when to plant crops and to get ready for winter. Sometimes they kept the record by notching a stick or knotting a cord once every day. They also watched the changing positions of the sun and stars, the changes of the moon, and the habits of plants and animals. The making of an exact calendar, however, has perplexed mankind for ages because the divisions of time by days, weeks, months, and years do not seem to fit together properly.[4]"

 

The perplexity men have regarding the calendar is primarily due to a lack of attention to HaShem's word and the oral law. Anyone who has ever desired to observe HaShem's festivals, His moedim, His appointed times, has encountered HaShem's calendar. The scriptures are replete with references to various calendar references. There are the "Rosh Chodeshim", the new moons, the Sabbath, as well as the festivals. In addition to particular days, HaShem's calendar includes months and years. All of these are introduced in:

 

Genesis 1:14-19 And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, And let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so. God made two great lights -- the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, To govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning--the fourth day.

 

When HaShem introduces His calendar, He does so by creating the astronomical bodies which will mark off the various seasons, days, and years. HaShem's calendar is completely defined by the sun and the moon. This is in stark contrast to the Gregorian calendar which does not tie it's days or months, to either the sun or the moon. In the Gregorian calendar, the days are arbitrarily set to start and end at midnight. This makes it impossible to determine when one day ends, and another day begins, by observation. You must rely on a man made timekeeping device. The Gregorian calendar creates the same problem with months. The Gregorian months are totally arbitrary and have no connection with the sun or the moon. Without a "paper calendar" one can not tell where one month starts and another begins. The months have no intrinsic connection to the sun or the moon, or any other astronomical body.

 

The Gregorian calendar is a modified version of the Julian calendar. The only difference being the specification of leap years. The Julian calendar specifies that every year that is a multiple of 4 will be a leap year. This leads to a year that is 365.25 days long, but the current accepted value for the tropical year is 365.242199 days. To correct this error in the length of the year and to bring the vernal equinox back to March 21, Pope Gregory XIII issued a papal bull declaring that Thursday October 4, 1582 would be followed by Friday October 15, 1582 and that centennial years would only be a leap year if they were a multiple of 400. This shortened the year by 3 days per 400 years, giving a year of 365.2425 days.

 

The following chart gives some insights into the Biblical / Hebrew and the Gregorian calendars:

 

Months of the Year -

Gregorian / Western Calendar

 

January 31 days; from Roman republican calendar month Januarius, named for Janus, god of beginnings and doorways.

 

February 28 days usually, 29 in leap year; from Roman republican calendar month Februarius, named for Februa, the feast of purification held on the 15th.

 

March 31 days; from Roman republican calendar month Martius, named for the god Mars.

 

April 30 days; from Roman republican calendar month Aprilis. The Romans considered the month sacred to the goddess Venus, and its name may derive from that of her Greek equivalent, Aphrodite.

 

May 31 days; from Roman republican calendar month Maius, probably named for the goddess Maia.

 

June 30 days; from Roman republican calendar month Junius, probably named for the goddess Juno.

 

July 31 days; from Roman republican calendar month Julius, named for Julius Caesar in 44 BC.

 

August 31 days; from Roman republican calendar month Augustus, named for the emperor Augustus in 8 BC.

 

September 30 days; seventh month of early Roman republican calendar, from Latin septem, or seven.

 

October 31 days; eighth month of early Roman republican calendar, from Latin octo, or eight.

 

November 30 days; ninth month of early Roman republican calendar, from Latin nove, or nine.

 

December 31 days; tenth month of early Roman republican calendar, from Latin decem, or ten.

 

Months of the Year -

Biblical / Jewish Calendar

 

Tishri (Ethanim) 30 days; Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur fall during this month; regarded as birth month of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; mazzaroth is the scales, symbolizing the weighing of one's deeds between Rosh Hashanah, the new year and Yom HaKippurim, the Day of Atonement. The tribe associated with this month is Dan.

 

Heshvan (Bul) 29 or 30 days; mazzaroth is the scorpion. The tribe associated with this month is Naphtali.

 

Kislev 29 or 30 days; Chanukah begins on 25th day; mazzaroth is the bow. The tribe associated with this month is Gad.

 

Tevet 29 days; fast of Tevet on 10th day; mazzaroth is the goat. The tribe associated with this month is Asher.

 

Shevat 30 days; new year for trees, or arbor day, on 15th day; mazzaroth is the water bearer. The tribe associated with this month is Yoseph.

 

Adar 29 or 30 days; birth and death of Moses on 7th day; fast of Esther on 13th day; Purim on 14th day; mazzaroth is the fish. The tribe associated with this month is Benjamin.

 

Nisan (Aviv) 30 days; Passover begins on the 15th day; entire month regarded as a prolonged festival and a blessed month in which to die; no public mourning is permitted; mazzaroth is the ram. The tribe associated with this month is Reuben.

 

Iyar (Zif) 29 days; Israeli Independence Day on 5th; no marriages may be celebrated by the Orthodox until after 17th day; mazzaroth is the bull. The tribe associated with this month is Shimon.

 

Sivan 30 days; Hag Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks, starts on 6th day; mazzaroth is the twins. The tribe associated with this month is Levi.

 

Tammuz 29 days; fast of Tammuz on 17th day, commemorating the first breach in the walls of Jerusalem and the breaking of the tablets of the Torah; mazzaroth is the crab. The tribe associated with this month is Judah.

 

Av 30 days; fast of Av on the 9th day; mazzaroth is the lion. The tribe associated with this month is Issachar.

 

Elul 29 days; month is devoted to penitence and spiritual preparation for Day of Judgment; mazzaroth is the virgin. The tribe associated with this month is Zebulon.

 

The names of the Jewish months are actually Babylonian and were brought back to Israel by Ezra and Nehemiah after the Babylonian Exile. Until the naming of the Jewish months, they were simply known as the "first month", the "second month", and so on, starting their counting with the month of Nisan (when Passover falls out) and NOT with Tishrei (Rosh Hashanah). So Rosh Hashanah actually happens in the seventh month. We use these Babylonian names to remind us that we are not in Israel, as we should be. It is understood that Messiah will cause the ingathering of all Israel, to the land of Israel, and he will restore the months to a number, rather than the Babylonian names.

 

BIBLICAL CALENDAR BACKGROUND[5]

 

The Jewish calendar, defined by God's method, is not like the Gregorian calendar. The Biblical calendar uses the sun and the moon to define days, months, and years. This calendar does not start on an arbitrary date determined by some great personality like Caesar or Yeshua, but rather it starts at the creation of the world. This starting point has several obvious advantages:

 

A. The calendar does not need to be changed with the coming of another man. This avoids a considerable amount of disruption.

 

B. The calendar starts at the "beginning" of the world, which is the first time that there is any need or reference for a calendar.

 

C. All of man's beginnings, will coincide with HaShem's beginnings, and the astronomical beginnings.

 

D. The year contains a running total of the age of creation, preserved for future generations.

 

The Biblical calendar shows that the world was created in what is 3762 BC on the Gregorian calendar (The Gregorian calendar will not be invented for thousands of years, though). The years, on the Biblical calendar, are designated "AM" for anno mundi, which is Latin for "year of the world". This system starts its count from the creation of the world. There is, therefore, no designation of BC or AD as there is in the Gregorian calendar.

 

The Biblical calendar is tied to both the lunar month and the solar year. The lunar cycle is used to derive months, and the lunar cycle is adjusted, via intercalation, to keep synchronized with the solar year. There are two beginnings to the Jewish calendar year, Nisan and Tishrei - reflecting the dual nature of the Jewish calendar - lunar and solar, respectively. Nisan is the month of the Exodus from Egypt and Tishrei is the month of the Creation.

 

Because the solar year exceeds twelve lunar months by about eleven days, a 13th month of 30 days is intercalated, or inserted, seven times in each 19-year cycle. Other adjustments to the calendar are required periodically to make sure that the festival of Passover follows the first day of Spring.[6]

 

The problem with strictly lunar calendars is that there are approximately 12.4 lunar months in every solar year, so a 12-month lunar calendar loses about 11 days every year and a 13-month lunar gains about 19 days every year. The months on such a calendar "drift" relative to the solar year. On a 12 month calendar, the month of Nisan, which is supposed to occur in the Spring, occurs 11 days earlier each year, eventually occurring in the Winter, the Fall, the Summer, and then the Spring again. To compensate for this drift, an extra month was added, or intercalated: a second month of Adar. The intercalated Adar II, is added seven out of nineteen years. The month of Nisan would occur 11 days earlier for two or three years, and then would jump forward 29 or 30 days, balancing out the drift.

 

The Biblical year harmonizes the solar and lunar cycle, using the 19-year cycle of Meton (c. 432 B.C.E.) Meton discovered that after nineteen years the years reckoned using the sun and the moon get back into synch (almost.) It corrects so that certain dates should not fall on certain days for religious convenience. The Jewish year has six possible lengths: 353, 354, 355, 383, 384, 385 days, according to the day and time of the new year lunation, and position in the Metonic cycle. Time figures from 6 p.m. the previous night. The lunation of year 1 is calculated to be on a Monday (our Sunday night) at 11:11:20 p.m. The world began with a hypothetical year 0, corresponding to 3762 B.C.E. Calculations for the calendar are figured in the ancient Babylonian unit of halaqim "parts" of the hour = 1/1080 hour.

 

According to Jewish tradition, the year 1 of the Biblical calendar was the time of tohu and bohu, "formless and void", referred to in Genesis 1:1. Nothing was yet created, and only a virtual clock started to tick on the first day of that year, heard, as it were, only by the Creator. On the first day of the week (Sunday) the twenty-fourth day of Elul, corresponding to August 22, 3760 AM. He said: Let there be light! And creation began. It concluded by the following Sabbath (Saturday) which was the first day of Tishri, year 2.

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 4:5-6 See, I have taught you decrees and laws as Hashem my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. You shall guard and You shall do them, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, "Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people."

 

"You shall guard and you shall do..." Rabbi Shmuel bar Nahman said in the name of Rebbe Yonatan, from where do we know that it is a mitzvah for each man to calculate the seasons and the months? It is written, "You shall guard and you shall do, for it is evidence, in the eyes of the nations, of the wisdom and understanding that has been given to you." What is the wisdom and understanding that Israel possesses "in the eyes of the nations"? We must say that it refers to the calculation of the seasons and months. Concerning one who knows how to calculate and does not do so, the verse says, "They did not contemplate God's deeds, and they have not paid attention to the work of His hands." (Yeshaya 5:12). The midrash also gives us some insight into the Biblical understanding of the calendar:

 

Midrash Rabbah - Esther IV:1 1. THEN THE KING SAID TO THE WISE MEN, WHO KNEW THE TIMES (1, 13). Who were these? R. Simon said: These were the tribe of Issachar, as it says, And of the children of Issachar, men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do (I Chronicles XII, 32). R. Tanhuma said: This means, for fixing the calendar: R. Jose b. Kazrath said: For intercalation. (‘ To know what Israel ought to do’:

 

Divrei Hayamim (I Chronicles) 12:23-38 These are the numbers of the men armed for battle who came to David at Hebron to turn Saul's kingdom over to him, as HaShem had said: Men of Judah, carrying shield and spear--6,800 armed for battle; Men of Simeon, warriors ready for battle--7,100; Men of Levi--4,600, Including Jehoiada, leader of the family of Aaron, with 3,700 men, And Zadok, a brave young warrior, with 22 officers from his family; Men of Benjamin, Saul's kinsmen--3,000, most of whom had remained loyal to Saul's house until then; Men of Ephraim, brave warriors, famous in their own clans--20,800; Men of half the tribe of Manasseh, designated by name to come and make David king--18,000; Men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do--200 chiefs, with all their relatives under their command; Men of Zebulun, experienced soldiers prepared for battle with every type of weapon, to help David with undivided loyalty-- 50,000; Men of Naphtali--1,000 officers, together with 37,000 men carrying shields and spears; Men of Dan, ready for battle--28,600; Men of Asher, experienced soldiers prepared for battle--40,000; And from east of the Jordan, men of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh, armed with every type of weapon--120,000. All these were fighting men who volunteered to serve in the ranks. They came to Hebron fully determined to make David king over all Israel. All the rest of the Israelites were also of one mind to make David king.

 

Midrash Rabbah - Genesis VI:1 1. AND GOD SAID: LET THERE BE LIGHTS (I, 14). R. Johanan began thus: Who appointest the moon for seasons (Ps. CIV, 19). R. Johanan commented: The orb of the sun alone was created to give light. If so, why was the moon created? ‘For seasons’: in order to sanctify new moons and years thereby.[7] R. Shila of Kefar Temarta[8] said in R. Johanan's name: Yet even so, The sun knoweth its coming (ib.): from the sun one knows its coming [sc. of the month], for we count the beginning of the month only from sunset. Justa Habra[9] said in R. Berekiah's name: And they journeyed Irom Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month, etc. (Num. XXXIII, 3): but if you count by the moon, then so far there were only thirteen sunsets?[10] Hence it follows that we count not from the moon but from sunset.

 

Midrash Rabbah - Genesis VI:3 3. R. Tanhum and R. Phinehas in R. Simon's name said: After calling them GREAT, He actually casts a slur [on one by writing] THE GREAT LIGHT... AND THE SMALL LIGHT (I, 16)! The reason is because it penetrated into its neighbour's territory.[11] R. Phinehas said: In respect of all other sacrifices it is written, And one he-goat for a sin-offering,[12] whereas in respect of New Moon it is written, And one he-goat for a sin-offering for the Lord (Num. XXVIII,15): The Holy One, blessed be He, said: ‘It was I who caused it to enter its neighbor's domain.’[13] Then if that [sc. the moon] which entered with permission was thus disparaged by Holy Writ, think how much more one is deserving of this who enters without permission! R. Levi said in the name of R. Jose b. Lai: It is but natural that the great should count by the great, and the small by the small. Esau[14] counts [time] by the sun, which is large, and Jacob by the moon, which is small. Said R. Nahman: That is a happy augury. Esau counts by the sun, which is large: just as the sun rules by day but not by night, so does Esau enjoy this world, but has nought in the World to Come. Jacob counts by the moon, which is small: just as the moon rules by day and by night, so has Jacob a portion in this world and in the World to Come. R. Nahman made another observation, thus: R. Nahman said: As long as the light of the greater luminary functions, the light of the smaller one is not noticeable, but when the light of the greater one sets, the light of the smaller one becomes noticeable; even so, as long as the light of Esau prevails, the light of Jacob cannot be distinguished; but when the light of Esau sets, that of Jacob shall be distinguished, as it is written, Arise, shine,... For, behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the peoples, but upon thee the Lord will arise, and His glory shall be seen upon thee (Isaiah 60:1).

 

HISTORY

 

The Jewish calendar is primarily lunar, with each month beginning on the new moon, when the first sliver of moon becomes visible, after the dark of the moon. In ancient times, the new months used to be determined by observation. When people observed the new moon, they would notify the Sanhedrin. When the Sanhedrin heard testimony from two independent, reliable eyewitnesses that the new moon occurred on a certain date, they would declare the Rosh Chodesh (first of the month) and send out messengers to tell people when the month began.

 

With the decline of the Sanhedrin, calendrical matters were decided by the Palestinian patriarchate (the official heads of the Jewish community under Roman rule). Jewish persecution under Constantius II (reigned 337-361) and advances in Astronomical science led to the gradual replacement of observation by calculation. According to Hai ben Sherira (died 1038)--the head of a leading Talmudic academy in Babylonia--Hillel II, a Palestinian patriarch, introduced a fixed a continuous calendar in 359 CE. A summary of the regulations governing the present calendar is provided by Maimonides, the great medieval philosopher and legalist, in his Code: Sanctification of the New Moon, chapters 6-10.[15]

 

In the fourth century, Hillel II established a fixed calendar based on mathematical and astronomical calculations. This calendar, still in use, standardized the length of months and the addition of months over the course of a 19 year cycle, so that the lunar calendar realigns with the solar years. Adar II is added in the 3rd, 6th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th and 19th years of the cycle. The new year that began Thursday, October 2, 1997 AD (Jewish calendar year 5758 AM) was the first year of the cycle.

 

The year number on the Jewish calendar represents the number of years since creation, as calculated by adding up the ages of people in the Bible back to the time of creation. However, it is important to note that this date is not necessarily supposed to represent a scientific fact. There is some evidence to suggest that the AM years need to have 240 / 241 years added, to coincide with actuality. It is this authors opinion that the AM years were adjusted to preclude the Messiahship of Yeshua. Jews do not generally use the words "A.D." and "B.C." to refer to the years on the Gregorian calendar. "A.D." means "the year of our L-rd," and most Jews do not believe Yeshua is the L-rd. Instead, we use the abbreviations C.E. (Common or Christian Era) and B.C.E. (Before the Common Era).[16]

 

Months of the Jewish Year

 

The "first month" of the Jewish calendar is the month of Nisan, in the spring, when Passover occurs. However, the Jewish New Year is in Tishri, the seventh month, and that is when the year number is increased. This concept of different starting points for a year is not as strange as it might seem at first glance. The American "new year" starts in January, but the new "school year" starts in September, and many businesses have "fiscal years" that start at various times of the year. Similarly, the Jewish calendar has different starting points for different purposes.

 

The Biblical / Jewish calendar has the following months:

 

Month

Length

Gregorian

Equivalent

 

 

 

Nisan

30 days

March-April

Iyar

29 days

April-May

Sivan

30 days

May-June

Tammuz

29 days

June-July

Av

30 days

July-August

Elul

29 days

August-September

Tishri

30 days

September-October

Heshvan

29 or 30 days

October-November

Kislev

30 or 29 days

November-December

Tevet

29 days

December-January

Shevat

30 days

January-February

Adar

29 or 30 days

February-March

Adar II

29 days

March-April

 

In leap years, Adar has 30 days. In non-leap years, Adar has 29 days.

 

The length of Heshvan and Kislev are determined by complex calculations involving the time of day of the full moon of the following year's Tishri and the day of the week that Tishri would occur in the following year.

 

Note that the number of days between Nisan and Tishri is always the same. Because of this, the time from the first major festival (Passover in Nisan) to the last major festival (Succoth in Tishri) is always the same.

 

The Hebrew calendar is a lunar calendar. Before I get into the calculation, let me try to explain lunar calendars. Each month goes from new moon to new moon. Between moladot (new moons) is (according to Hebrew calendar) 29 days, 12 hours (abbreviated h) and 793 (of 1080) halekim (parts abbreviated p). If one knows one new moon, they could find any other new moon by adding or subtracting this interval. It also happens that every 19 solar years corresponds to exactly 235 lunar months. This means you can devise a 19 lunar year cycle made up of 12 years of 12 lunar months and 7 years of 13 lunar months that corresponds to an equivalent 19 solar years. The Hebrew calendar has 13 month (leap) years in the 3rd, 6th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th and 19th years of this cycle. In the Hebrew calendar the leap month is done by adding a second Adar of 30 days.

 

Now if the Hebrew calendar was based only on this, we could easily calculate one Rosh Hashanah to the next, and the months would alternate 29 and 30 days. Things would be easy, but this is not the case. First the extra 793 halokim ,parts, have to be balanced off. Also Rosh Hashanah must be moved to prevent certain calendar facts from happening (like Yom HaKippurim, the Day of Atonement, from landing on Friday or Sunday). These reasons mean a year can have 353, 354, 355 days in non-leap-years, and 383, 384 and 385 in leap-years. To balance this off, in short years (353 and 383 days) Kislev is shortened to 29 days and in long years (355 and 385 days) Heshvan is lengthened to 30 days. Now before things get really hopeless, there is a simple method here.

 

For any year, find the day of the molad of Rosh Hashanah and apply the rules to get the real Rosh Hashanah.

 

Do the same for the following year.

 

Find the number of days between to get the year length.

 

Use the table to find out the adjustments.

 

Year length

leap year

Heshvan length

Kislev length

353

No

29

29

354

No

29

30

355

No

30

30

383

Yes

29

29

384

Yes

29

30

385

Yes

30

30

 

The inter-calculation of the Gregorian and the Hebrew date is not that complex. The trick is not to calculate one from the other, but to set some base date to calculate from. To convert one to the other you first calculate the number of days from the base date, and then calculate the other from that number of days.

 

In order for the Jewish calendar to operate accurately, two factors have to be taken into account. Firstly, the Torah commands: 'Shamor Et Chodesh Ha'aviv..' 'Observe the month of Aviv..':

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:1 Observe the month of Aviv and celebrate the Passover of HaShem your God, because in the month of Abib he brought you out of Egypt by night.

 

Aviv, which is the first of the year, and today is called Nisan, is the month in which the festival of Pesach (Passover) occurs and since the word Aviv also means "Spring" we learn that Pesach must always fall in the Spring. In order to achieve this, the position of the sun has to be known in order to calculate the seasons. Secondly, the Mitzvah 'Uverashei Chodsheichem Takrivu Ola..' 'On your New Moons you shall offer..etc':

 

Bamidbar (Numbers) 28:11 "'On the first of every month, present to HaShem a burnt offering of two young bulls, one ram and seven male lambs a year old, all without defect.

 

This shows that the months have to calculated according to the position of the moon. Hence we have a LUNAR SOLAR system, one that is determined by both the sun and the moon.

 

The Bible generally designates the months by number, 'First Month, Fifth Month, etc. However, there are four months actually named in the Bible, so it is probable that, originally, they all had designated names. The four we know are:

 

Aviv

The 1st month (Deuteronomy 16.1)

Ziv

The second month (1 Kings 6:1)

Bul

The 8th month (1 Kings 6:38)

Ethnaim

The 7th month (1 Kings 8:2)

 

The Palestinian Talmud states that the names of the months, as we know them today, were adopted at the time of the Babylonian exile.

 

THE FOUR NEW YEARS

 

The Mishna, in Tractate Rosh Hashanah, discusses four 'New Years.' They are:

 

1st       Tishri

1st       Nisan

1st        Elul

15th     Shevat.

 

1st Tishrei; The new year for years: Simply the birthday of the world.

 

1st Nisan: The New Year for Kings: Whenever a new king came to the throne, the beginning of his reign was dated from Nisan 1st, irrespective of when he really started to reign.

 

1st Elul; The New Year for Animals: The beginning of the tax year for tithing animals

 

15th Shevat; The New Year for Trees: The beginning of the tax year for tithing produce

 

How the Months were determined

 

In the Torah, The first day of the new month, known as Rosh Chodesh (the New Moon), is placed on par with festivals. The silver trumpets were blown in the Temple, shofars were blown throughout the land, and special Additional Sacrifices were offered. We can see from the Tanach how important this day was. From the book of Samuel, we see that they had a festive meal, from the book of Amos, we see that no business was done and from the book of Kings, we see that people went to visit the prophets, on this day.

 

The exact day of the new month was determined by observation of the moon and by seeing when the new crescent actually appeared...

 

On the 30th of each month the members of the High Court, the Sanhedrin, assembled in a particular courtyard in Jerusalem (Beit Ya'azek) and waited to receive testimony from two reliable witnesses. If they came, then the moon was sanctified. It was considered a very great Mitzvah to come to Jerusalem to give evidence that you had seen the first crescent of the moon, and even Shabbat could be desecrated in order to fulfill this obligation. If no-one came because the moon wasn't visible, then the new month, Rosh Chodesh, was automatically declared to begin on the next day, i.e. the 31st day after the beginning of the last month. Beacons were kindled on the Mount of Olives and on designated mountains throughout the land, to inform everyone.

 

Rosh Hashanah 23b MISHNAH. THERE WAS A LARGE COURT IN JERUSALEM CALLED BETH YA'AZEK. THERE ALL THE WITNESSES USED TO ASSEMBLE AND THE BETH DIN USED TO EXAMINE THEM. THEY USED TO ENTERTAIN THEM LAVISHLY THERE[17] SO THAT THEY SHOULD HAVE AN INDUCEMENT[18] TO COME. ORIGINALLY THEY USED NOT TO LEAVE THE PLACE THE WHOLE DAY,[19] BUT RABBAN GAMALIEL THE ELDER INTRODUCED A RULE THAT THEY COULD GO TWO THOUSAND CUBITS FROM IT IN ANY DIRECTION. THESE WERE NOT THE ONLY ONES [TO WHOM THIS CONCESSION WAS MADE]. A MIDWIFE WHO HAS COME [FROM A DISTANCE] TO HELP IN CHILDBIRTH OR ONE WHO COMES TO RESCUE FROM A FIRE OR FROM BANDITS OR FROM A RIVER IN FLOOD OR FROM A BUILDING THAT HAS FALLEN IN — ALL THESE ARE ON THE SAME FOOTING AS THE RESIDENTS OF THE TOWN, AND MAY GO TWO THOUSAND CUBITS [ON SABBATH] IN ANY DIRECTION.

 

GEMARA. The question was raised: Do we read here Beth Ya'azek or Beth Ya'zek? Do we read Beth Ya'azek, regarding the name as an elegantia[20] based on the Scriptural expressions, And he ringed it round and cleared it of stones?[21] Or do we read Beth Ya'zek, taking the name to connote constraint,[22] as it is written, being bound in chains?[23] — Abaye said: Come and hear [a proof that it is the former]: THEY USED TO ENTERTAIN THEM LAVISHLY THERE SO THAT THEY SHOULD HAVE AN INDUCEMENT TO COME. [This is not conclusive], as perhaps they treated them in both ways.[24]

 

MISHNAH. HOW DO THEY TEST THE WITNESSES? THE PAIR WHO ARRIVE FIRST ARE TESTED FIRST. THE SENIOR OF THEM IS BROUGHT IN AND THEY SAY TO HIM, TELL US HOW YOU SAW THE MOON — IN FRONT OF THE SUN OR BEHIND THE SUN?[25] TO THE NORTH OF IT OR THE SOUTH? HOW BIG WAS IT, AND IN WHICH DIRECTION WAS IT INCLINED?[26] AND HOW BROAD WAS IT? IF HE SAYS [HE SAW IT] IN FRONT OF THE SUN, HIS EVIDENCE IS REJECTED.[27] AFTER THAT THEY WOULD BRING IN THE SECOND AND TEST HIM. IF THEIR ACCOUNTS TALLIED, THEIR EVIDENCE WAS ACCEPTED, AND THE OTHER PAIRS WERE ONLY QUESTIONED BRIEFLY,[28] NOT BECAUSE THEY WERE REQUIRED AT ALL, BUT SO THAT THEY SHOULD NOT BE DISAPPOINTED, [AND] SO THAT THEY SHOULD NOT BE DISSUADED FROM COMING.[29]

 

 GEMARA. ‘IN FRONT OF THE SUN’ is surely the same as ‘TO THE NORTH OF IT’, and ‘BEHIND THE SUN’ is surely the same as TO THE SOUTH OF IT’?[30] — Abaye said: [It means], whether the concavity of the moon is in front of the sun or behind the sun.[31] If he says, in front of the sun, his evidence is rejected, since R. Johanan has said: What is meant by the verse, Dominion and fear are with him, He makes peace in his high places?[32] Never did the sun behold the concavity of the new moon nor the concavity of the rainbow. It never sees the concavity of the moon, so that she should not feel humiliated.[33] It never sees the concavity of the rainbow so that the worshippers of the sun should not say, He is shooting arrows [at those who do not worship him].[34]

 

Rosh Hashanah 24a HOW HIGH WAS IT AND IN WHICH DIRECTION WAS IT INCLINED. One Tanna taught: [If he says], To the north, his evidence is accepted; [if he says], To the south, his evidence is rejected.[35] But it has been taught to the opposite effect: ‘[If he says], To the south, his evidence is accepted; [if he says], To the north, his evidence is rejected’? — There is no contradiction; one statement speaks of the dry season,[36] the other of the rainy season.[37]

 

The Rabbis taught: If one[38] says that it was two ox-loads high and the other three,[39] their evidence is accepted. If one, however, says that it was three and the other five, their evidence is nullified, only each of them can be joined with another witness.[40]

 

Our Rabbis taught: ‘[If they say], We saw it in water, we saw it in a mirror, we saw it through the clouds, they are not allowed to testify concerning it. [If they say], We saw half of it in water, half of it through the clouds, half of it in a mirror, they are not allowed to testify concerning it’. Since you disallow them [when they see] the whole, can there be any question [when they see] only half? — In fact the statement should run as follows: ‘[If they say they saw] half of it in water and half in the sky, half of it through the clouds and half in the sky, half of it in a mirror and half in the sky, they are not allowed to testify.’

 

Our Rabbis taught: [If they say], We saw it [once], but did not see it again, they are not allowed to testify concerning it. [Why so?] Are they to go on seeing it the whole time? — Abaye replied: What is meant is this. [If they say], We saw it by chance,[41] but when we came to look for it deliberately[42] we could not see it, they are not allowed to testify concerning it. What is the reason? Because I might say, they saw only a circular disc in the clouds.

 

MISHNAH. THE HEAD OF THE BETH DIN SAYS, SANCTIFIED’, AND ALL THE PEOPLE REPEAT AFTER HIM, SANCTIFIED, SANCTIFIED. WHETHER THE NEW MOON IS SEEN AT ITS PROPER TIME[43] OR NOT AT ITS PROPER TIME, IN EITHER CASE [THE NEW MOON] IS SANCTIFIED.[44] R. ELEAZAR B. ZADOK, HOWEVER, SAYS THAT IF IT IS NOT SEEN AS ITS PROPER TIME [THE NEW MOON] IS NOT [FORMALLY] SANCTIFIED, BECAUSE HEAVEN HAS ALREADY SANCTIFIED IT.

 

GEMARA. THE HEAD OF THE BETH DIN etc. What is the Scriptural warrant for this? — R. Hiyya b. Gamda said in the name of R. Jose b. Saul, who had it from Rabbi: The Scripture says, And Moses declared the appointed seasons of the Lord;[45] from this we learn that the head of the Beth din says, ‘sanctified’.

 

AND ALL THE PEOPLE REPEAT AFTER HIM, ‘SANCTIFIED, SANCTIFIED’. Whence do we learn this? — R. Papa said: Scripture says, which ye shall proclaim [them].[46] [For otham] read attem.[47] R. Nahman b. Isaac said, [we learn it from here]: Even these [hem] are my appointed seasons;[48] [which implies], they shall say, my seasons.[49]

 

SANCTIFIED, SANCTIFIED: why twice? — Because it is written, holy convocations.[50]

 

R. ELEAZAR B. ZADOK SAYS THAT IF IT IS NOT SEEN AT ITS PROPER TIME IT IS NOT SANCTIFIED. It has been taught: Polemo says: If seen at its time is is not sanctified,[51] if seen out of its time it is sanctified. R. Eleazar b. Simeon says: in either case it is not sanctified, since it says, And ye shall sanctify the fiftieth year,[52] which shows that you are to sanctify years, but are not to sanctify months.

 

Rab Judah said in the name of Samuel: The halachah is as laid down by R. Eleazar b. Zadok. Abaye said: We have also learnt to the same effect: ‘If the Beth din and all Israel saw it,[53] and if the witnesses had been tested, but they had no time to say ‘sanctified’ before it grew dark, the month is prolonged’, which implies that it is prolonged[54] but that [the new month] is not sanctified [later in the day]. [This is not conclusive, since] there was a special reason for mentioning the prolonging. You might think that since the Beth din and all Israel saw it [the new moon] everyone knew that it had appeared and therefore the month should not be prolonged. Therefore we are told [that this is not so].

 

MISHNAH. R. GAMALIEL USED TO HAVE A DIAGRAM OF PHASES OF THE MOON ON A TABLET [HUNG] ON THE WALL OF HIS UPPER CHAMBER, AND HE USED TO SHOW THEM TO THE UNLEARNED AND SAY, DID IT LOOK LIKE THIS OR THIS?

 

GEMARA. Is this allowed, seeing that it is written, Ye shall not make with me,[55] which we interpret, ‘Ye shall not make the likeness of my attendants’? — Abaye replied: The Torah forbade only those attendants of which it is possible to make copies,[56] as it has been taught: A man may not make a house in the form of the Temple, or an exedra in the form of the Temple hall,[57] or a court corresponding to the Temple court, or a table corresponding to the [sacred] table or a candlestick corresponding to the [sacred] candlestick, but he may make one with five or six or eight lamps, but with seven he should not make, even of other metals.[58]

 

During the period of the Sanhedrin, a committee of the Sanhedrin met to evaluate reports of sightings of the lunar crescent. If sightings were not possible, the new month was begun 30 days after the beginning of the previous month.

 

Much later, under the patriarchate of Rabbi Judah I, (163 - 193) the Samaritans, in order to create confusion, lit the bonfires at the wrong time. Rabbi Judah abolished the bonfires and substituted messengers.

 

Jews living far off always celebrated the 30th day as Rosh Chodesh and if the messengers didn't arrive in time, or if they were informed that it was postponed to the 31st day, they celebrated that as well.

 

There was a special committee of the Sanhedrin which was charged with the responsibility of deciding whether it was necessary or not to intercalate that year. This committee was called the Sod Haibbur, the calendar council, and they calculated the beginnings of the seasons (Tekufot) on the basis of information which had been handed down to them by tradition. They considered the matter regularly and reviewed the weather conditions to determine whether an extra month was going to be required to ensure that Passover fell in the spring.

 

The Talmud explains that they intercalated the year when the barley in the fields was not yet ripened, when the fruit on the trees was not yet properly grown, when the winter rains had not yet stopped, when the roads for the Passover pilgrims had not dried up and when the young pigeons had not yet become fledged.

 

Rosh HaShana 7a ‘For leap years’. Do we reckon [a New Year] for leap years from Nisan?[59] Has it not been taught: ‘A leap year is not decreed[60] before New Year,[61] and if such a decree is issued it is not effective. In cases of emergency,[62] however, the decree may be issued immediately after New Year, and even so the intercalary month must be [the second] Adar’![63] — R. Nahman b. Isaac replied: What is meant here by ‘leap years’? The closing of a leap year, as we have learnt: ‘They testified that the year may be declared a leap year throughout the whole of Adar, since others asserted that this could be done only until Purim.’[64] What was the reason of those who held that this could be done only until Purim? — Since a Master has stated that ‘inquiries are made regarding the laws of Passover for thirty days before Passover,[65] People might be led into neglecting the rules of leaven.[66] What says the other to this? — He says that people know that a leap year depends on calculation, and they say to themselves that the Rabbis have only now got the calculation right.[67]

 

Under the patriarch Hillel II (330 - 365) the rules to intercalate the year were published. The most important of which states; "Whenever it becomes apparent that winter will last until 16th Nisan, make this a leap year without hesitation."

 

As had happened in the past the Romans decreed that the Jews were not to celebrate the New Moon or announce it. So Hillel the Younger established a fixed calendar so the people would know when to celebrate the festivals.

 

In our times we go according to Hillel the Younger, the last representative of the national court (the Sanhedrin), who fixed the calendar for the times of the Galut, around A.M. 4119 (359 C.E), and in each cycle of nineteen years there are seven such leap years of thirteen months, always the third, sixth, eighth, eleventh, fourteenth, seventeenth, and nineteenth.

 

The Babylonian exile, in the first half of the sixth century B.C.E., greatly influenced the Hebrew calendar. This is visible today in the names of the months.

 

A CLOCK WHICH IS OUT OF THIS WORLD[68]

 

The Cesium and Rubidium atom clocks at the U.S. Naval Observatory Time Center are accurate to one second in 300,000 years. But three thousand years ago, Moses, had no such time-piece. However, somehow Moshe knew the exact length of the lunar month - 29.53059 days - an accuracy which was literally out of this world! In the reference work Astronomy and Astrophysics[69] the precise length of the lunar month is listed as 29.530589 days! How did Moses have a figure so accurate that it took science three thousand years to come to the same number? That number was given to Moses by Hashem and was passed down from Moses to Hillel the Younger, the last prince of the House of David. When Hillel the Younger sanctified all the new moons from his day until the final redemption, he had to know the exact length of the lunar month to within a fraction of a second, for even a small error would, over millennia, amount to a visible error. This was in fact the case with the calendar of Julius Caesar, which by the year 1582 had wandered so far that Pope Gregory XIII erased 10 days from the calendar, with the result that the day after the 4th October 1582 was called the 16th October! There have been approximately 41,000 new moons since the time of Moses, but from Mount Sinai onward, the secret of the exact length of the lunar month has always been known to the Jewish People, because Moshe Rabbeinu had a clock that was literally 'out of this world'...

 

In 358 C.E (4118 AM), Hillel the Younger (330-365 C.E), established a fixed calendar based on mathematical and astronomical calculations. This calendar, still in use, standardized the length of months and the addition of months over the course of a 19 year cycle, so that the lunar calendar realigns with the solar years.

 

Up till the time of Hillel the Younger, the date of the festivals, Pesach, Shavuot, Succoth and Yom Teruah (Rosh Hashanah - The Feast of Trumpets) were established via testimony based on the sighting of the new moon. The new month was declared in Jerusalem, and it would take many days for the news to reach the furthest outposts of Jewish settlement. Those outlying communities would observe two days of Pesach and Succoth etc., and thus they would be sure of observing the festival on the correct day, no matter which day had been sanctified in Jerusalem as the new moon.

 

Until the era of the two great Talmudic sages Abaye and Rava, the months were still established by sighting. However, from their time onward, the date of the New Moon was established by calculations alone. These computations were given to Moses at Sinai, and provided for the fixing of the beginning of each month throughout the possible span of world history. Thus all the lengths of all future months in exile were now fixed.

 

The Talmud gives us some insight into this new, fixed calendar:

 

Beitzah 4b R. Zera said: Logic supports R. Assi; for we are now well acquainted with the fixing of the new moon and, nevertheless, we do observe two days.[70] Abaye said: Logic supports Rab; for we have learnt: In early times they used to light bonfires,[71] but on account of the mischief of the Samaritans[72] the Rabbis ordained that messengers should go forth.[73] Now if the [mischief of the] Samaritans ceased[74] we would [all] observe only one day; and [even during the Samaritan mischief] wherever the messengers arrived[75] they observed [only] one day.[76] But now that we are well acquainted with the fixing of the new moon,[77] why do we observe two days? — Because they sent [word] from there [Palestine]:[78] Give heed to the customs of your ancestors which have come down to you; for it might happen that the government might issue a decree[79] and it will cause confusion [in ritual].

 

Pesachim 52a R. Safra said to R. Abba:[80] For instance I,[81] who know [the art] of fixing the New Moon,[82] in inhabited places I do not work,[83] because it is a change [which would lead to] strife. [But] how is it in the wilderness? — Said he to him, Thus did R. Ammi say: In inhabited regions it is forbidden; in the desert it is permitted. R. Nathan b. Asia went from Rab's academy [in Sura][84] to Pumbeditha on the second Festival day of Pentecost, [whereupon] R. Joseph put him under the ban. Said Abaye to him, Yet let the master punish him with lashes? — Said he to him, I have treated him more severely, for in the West [sc. Palestine] they take a vote for punishing a disciple with lashes, yet they do not take a vote on the ban.[85] Others say, R. Joseph had him lashed. Said Abaye to him, Yet let the Master ban him, for Rab and Samuel both said: We impose the ban for [the violation of] the two Festival days of the Diaspora? — Said he to him, That refers only to an ordinary person, but here it is a scholar, so I did what was better for him, for in the West they take a vote for punishing a disciple with lashes, yet they do not take a vote on the ban.

 

TIME[86]

 

Minutes and seconds do not correspond to any natural cycle as hours, days, months and years do. They are simply divisions of the day. We are used to saying that a day is a period of twenty-four hours, an hour sixty minutes, and a minute sixty seconds. Actually it is the other way around. The definition of an hour is one twenty-fourth of a day. We know how long a day is from the rising and setting of the sun. It is that cycle that defines a day. We divide that period into twenty-four equal parts and call each one an hour. These units - hours - are useful in referring to smaller periods of time. Instead of saying, "I slept for one third of a day", we say, "I slept for eight hours". Instead of saying, "I'll meet you here in one twelfth of a day", we say, "I'll meet you here in two hours". They are also useful in referring to different parts of the day. 2:00 PM, 5:00 PM, and 11:00 AM are more accurate than earlier afternoon, late afternoon, and late morning. In the next section we shall see how to use astronomy to determine the hour, day, month, and year.

 

In the same way we divide each hour into sixty equal parts and call them minutes. It is more convenient to say ten minutes than one sixth of an hour. A minute is defined as one sixtieth of an hour, not the other way around. So it is clear that a minute is not defined as sixty seconds, rather that the definition of a second is one sixtieth of a minute.

 

To sum up, the definition of a day is one complete cycle of setting, rising, and setting of the sun. It is not defined by time on a clock or any other device. It is defined only by the sun. The Torah teaches us this also in its reference to days in the verse quoted at the beginning of the chapter. Based on this unit, the day, we define several new units:

 

A

week

equals 7 days

An

hour

equals 1/24th of a day

A

minute

equals 1/60th of an hour

A

second

equals 1/60th of a minute

 

HOURS

 

An hour is one twenty-fourth of a day. Messiah alluded to this in:

 

Yochanan (John) 11:9 Yeshua answered, "Are there not twelve hours of daylight? A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world's light.

 


This figure shows how the mazzaroth would appear to a person watching the early evening sky at the beginning of Nisan. Shaur (2) to Moznaim (7) are visible because they are above the horizon. Aqurav (8) to Toleh (1) are below the horizon so they cannot be seen. If he watches all night he will see them all rise except for Toleh, because it is hidden by the sun. If he recognizes all the mazzaroth, he can also tell which time of the night it is. Since the twelve mazzaroth make a full circle around the Earth in twenty-four hours, a new Mazal rises every two hours. If Moznaim has just risen at 6:00 right after sunset, then when Aqurav rises it must be 8:00. When Keshet rises it is 10:00, Ghedi 12:00, Deli 2:00, Dagim 4:00, and when the sun rises at 6:00 he knows that behind it are the stars Toleh.[87]

 

We say that a mazal is oleh - rising - even if it is in the daytime when we cannot actually see it, so we can speak of each of the twelve as rising for two hours each day. When the sun hides a certain mazal, we say that the sun is "in" that mazal. So in Nisan the sun is in Toleh, in Iyar it is in Shaur, etc. The next month that mazal rises in the morning just before the sun. When we say that a mazal is rising in a certain month we are referring to that mazal that rises just before the sun after being hidden during the previous month. So, in Nisan, Dagim is rising and in Iyar, Toleh is rising.

 

Most folks know that it is possible to tell the hour of the day with the aid of a sun dial. This device effectively plots the movement of the sun to tell time.

 

Now that we know about how to tell time during the evening hours and during the daylight hours, we can see how we can use HaShem's astronomy to determine the hour of the day and night.

 

DAYS

 

HaShem marks His days from sunset to sunset. So, by merely observing the setting sun, one can readily "observe" when one day ends and another begins. The scriptures demonstrate this in:

 

Genesis 1:5 God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning--the first day.

 

Genesis 1:8 God called the expanse "sky." And there was evening, and there was morning--the second day.

 

Genesis 1:13 And there was evening, and there was morning--the third day.

 

Genesis 1:19 And there was evening, and there was morning--the fourth day.

 

Genesis 1:23 And there was evening, and there was morning--the fifth day.

 

Genesis 1:31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning--the sixth day.

 

Notice that each day starts with the "evening", and ends with "morning". Thus, HaShem's day is directly tied to the setting and the rising sun.

 

The Jewish day begins at sunset. The status of the period between sunset (the disappearance of the sun behind the horizon) and nightfall (the emergence of three medium-sized stars) is doubtful. For some purposes, it is treated as part of the previous day, e.g. at the end of Shabbat, when the prohibition of creative activities (melacha) remains in force until nightfall.

 

Books, calendars, and computer programs for conversions between the Jewish and Gregorian (civil) calendars are based on the daylight portion of the Jewish day. For instance, if you know that one of your ancestors was born on 26 Nisan 5580, you will find that this corresponds to 10 April 1820 - but the actual birthday may have been 9 April 1820, in the evening. This can be very confusing to the uninitiated.

 

By tradition, days of the week are designated by number, with only the seventh day, Sabbath, having a specific name. Days are reckoned from sunset to sunset, so that day 1 begins at sunset on Saturday and ends at sunset on Sunday. The Sabbath begins at sunset on Friday and ends at sunset on Saturday.

 

Six of HaShem's days have no name, but are called by a number. The seventh day is called by number and it is also called by name. The seventh day is also called the Sabbath. We see this in:

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 8:13 By the first day of the first month of Noah's six hundred and first year, the water had dried up from the earth. Noah then removed the covering from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry.

 

Divrei Hayamim (II Chronicles) 3:2 He began building on the second day of the second month in the fourth year of his reign.

 

Ezra 6:15 The temple was completed on the third day of the month Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius.

 

Zechariah 7:1 In the fourth year of King Darius, the word of the LORD came to Zechariah on the fourth day of the ninth month, the month of Kislev.

 

Yehezechel (Ezekiel) 1:1 In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month on the fifth day, while I was among the exiles by the Kebar River, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.

 

Shemot (Exodus) 16:5 On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days."

 

Shemot (Exodus) 16:26 Six days you are to gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will not be any."

 

With the exception of the Shabbat, the weekdays have no names. They are simply numbered:

 

1

yom rishon

(first day)

Sundown Saturday till

 sundown Sunday.

2

yom sheni

(second day)

Sundown Sunday till

 sundown Monday.

3

yom sh'lishi

(third day)

Sundown Monday till

 sundown Tuesday.

4

yom revi'i

(fourth day)

Sundown Tuesday till

 sundown Wednesday.

5

yom chamishi

(fifth day)

Sundown Wednesday till

 sundown Thursday.

6

yom shishi

(sixth day)

Sundown Thursday till

 sundown Friday.

 

The week culminates in the seventh day, the Holy Shabbat (Shabbat kodesh).

 

WEEK

 

The seven-day week has no astronomical basis. It was designated by HaShem in the creation account, of Genesis one. By the 3rd century AD, the Roman Empire was operating on a week of the same length. The days were named after the then known seven planets: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, the sun (not distinguished from a planet at the time), Venus, Mercury, and the moon (also considered a planet). The names of days in Latin countries still point to these origins, as do Sunday, Monday, and Saturday in English. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, however, are named after the Scandinavian gods Tiw, Woden, Thor, and Frigga.[88]

 

The week as a unit of time depends upon the observance of Sabbath, which is a specific sign between HaShem and His people. Through the influence of the Bible and Jewish teachings, it has become widespread in the world today.[89]

 

MONTHS

 

HaShem marks His months from one new moon till the next new moon, which is one lunar cycle. By observing the slim, silver crescent of the new moon, one can discern when one month ends, and the next month starts. The scriptures demonstrate this in:

 

Bamidbar (Numbers) 28:14 With each bull there is to be a drink offering of half a hin of wine; with the ram, a third of a hin; and with each lamb, a quarter of a hin. This is the monthly burnt offering to be made at each new moon during the year.

 

Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 66:22-23 "As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me," declares HaShem, "so will your name and descendants endure. From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me," says HaShem.

 

Even HaShem's word for "month" is connected to the moon. The first scriptural use of the word "month", is found in:

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 7:11 In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.

 

Strong's concordance defines the word "month" as:

 

2320 chodesh, kho'-desh; from 2318; the new moon; by impl. a month:-month (-ly), new moon.

 

------------------- Dictionary Trace -------------------

2318 chadash, khaw-dash'; a prim. root; to be new; caus. to rebuild:-renew, repair.

 

The dictionary defines a month as:

 

The word month is derived from the Old English word for moon. A month was originally the time between two new moons. Today astronomers refer to this period of time as a lunar month. Its average length is 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, and 2.8 seconds. The moon travels around the Earth in 27 days, 7 hours, 43 minutes, and 11.5 seconds. This is the sidereal month.[90]

 

So, a month is defined by the new moon.

 

Now, we need to know what specific month we are in. To do this, we need to know that each new moon is in front of a different set of stars, or constellation. By knowing which constellation corresponds to which month, we can tell to which month a particular new moon corresponds. For example, the new moon for the seventh month, the month of Tishrei, is in front of the constellation of Bethulah, the virgin. The following chart details the relationship between the constellations and the name, and number, of the month:

 

Month

Month

Hebrew

Greek

Number

Name

Name

Name

 

 

 

 

1

Nisan

Dagim

Pisces

2

Iyar

Toleh

Aries

3

Sivan

Shaur

Taurus

4

Tammuz

Teomaim

Gemini

5

Av

Sartan

Cancer

6

Elul

Aryeh

Leo

7

Tishrei

Bethulah

Virgo

8

Cheshvan

Meoznaim

Libra

9

Kislev

Aqurav

Scorpio

10

Tevet

Qashot

Sagitarius

11

Shevat

Ghedi

Capricorn

12

Adar

Deli

Aquarius

 

The Biblical month is based on the lunar or synodic month, the time it takes for the moon to circle the earth. Since the exact duration of one revolution is a little over 29.5 days, the length of the months normally alternates between 29 and 30 days. A month of 30 days is called male ('full'), one of 29 days chaser ('defective'). There are two months which are male in some years and chaser in others.

 

Arachin 8b MISHNAH. THERE ARE NEVER LESS THAN FOUR FULL MONTHS IN THE YEAR, NOR DID IT SEEM RIGHT TO HAVE MORE THAN EIGHT.[91] THE TWO LOAVES[92] WERE CONSUMED NEVER EARLIER THAN THE SECOND, NOR LATER THAN THE THIRD DAY. THE SHEWBREAD[93] WAS CONSUMED NEVER EARLIER THAN THE NINTH NOR LATER THAN THE ELEVENTH DAY. AN INFANT MAY NEVER BE CIRCUMCISED EARLIER THAN THE EIGHTH NOR LATER THAN THE TWELFTH DAY.[94]

 

GEMARA. What does DID NOT SEEM RIGHT TO HAVE MORE THAN EIGHT mean? — R. Huna said: It did not appear right to the Sages to make more than eight months full. Wherefore is the difference with regard to nine, that they would not [make full]? Because if they did not [stop at eight] the new moon[95] would come three days too early! But now, too. It would come two days too early?[96] — This is in accord with what R. Mesharsheya said: ‘It refers to a case where the preceding year was prolonged’,[97] Here, too, the reference is to a year following a prolonged year, and the prolongation of a year is one month.[98] But put one full month against one incomplete month, and there will be still one day left?[99] — People do not pay too much attention to that.[100]

 

Arachin 9a ‘Ulla said: [the meaning is,] It did not seem right to the Sages to make more than eight defective months. He [the Tanna] states here a reason:[101] What is the reason that it did not seem right to the Sages to have less than four full months? Because it did not seem right to them to have more than eight defective months. Why not nine? Because in that case the new moon would be coming three days too late?[102] But now, too, it would be coming two days too late? — That is to be explained in accord with R. Mesharsheya: ‘It refers to a case where the preceding year was prolonged’; here, too, the reference is to a year following a prolonged year.[103] Deduct one defective month against one full month, and still there will be one day left?[104] They [the people] will say: It [the moon] has actually been seen, whilst we had paid no attention.[105] In what principle do they differ?[106] — In regard to the prolonged year. For it was taught: By how much is a year prolonged? By thirty days. R. Simeon b. Gamaliel said: By a month.2[107]

 

An objection was raised: The Feast of Weeks can fall only on the day of the waving,[108] and the New Year can fall only on either the day of the waving or the day following the night of the last day of the full month [of Nisan].[109] Now that will be right according to ‘Ulla if eight defective months could be arranged, but not full ones; hence this may happen thus: if both are defective, it falls on the day of the waving; if one is full and the other defective, it falls on the day following the night of the last day of the full month.[110] But according to R. Huna who says one does make [eight] full months, it may happen that it falls on the day following the day after the night of the last day of the full month?[111] — R. Huna will answer you: But is it indeed right. according to ‘Ulla? Only eight [full] months are not made, but we do make seven. Now can it not happen that we arrange them not in winter but in the summer, with the result that it would possibly fall upon the day following the day after the last day of the full month![112] — Rather, this is in agreement with the ‘Others’, for it was taught: ‘Others’ taught. Between one Feast of Weeks and the other, and between one New Year and the other, there is an interval of no more than four days [of the week], or in the case of a prolonged year, five days.[113] But, at all events, on the view of the ‘Others’, it could not fall on the day of the waving? — R. Mesharsheya said: The reference is to a prolonged year, and the prolongation of a year is by thirty days. Deduct one [full] month against the other [full one] and it will fall upon the day of the waving.[114]

 

Said R. Adda b. Ahabah to Raba: Do ‘Others’ intend teaching us [how to count] the number?[115] — This is what they convey to us: That it is not obligatory to proclaim a new moon on the basis of having seen it.[116] Rabina demurred: But there are days made of hours,[117] and days of thirty years?[118] — Since they do not occur every year, he does not count them. Samuel, too, agreed with the view of R. Huna, for Samuel said: The lunar year consists of no less than three hundred and fifty-two, nor of more than three hundred and fifty-six days. How is that? — If the two are full,[119] there are [fifty] six; if the two are incomplete. [fifty] two; if one is complete and one incomplete, [fifty] four.

 

The month begins with the appearance of the new moon. In the time of the Temple, the Sanhedrin (the highest court) sanctified the new month when two witnesses had actually sighted the moon. In the middle of the fourth century C.E., a fixed calendar was introduced.

 

In the Torah, the months are numbered; the first month, is the one in which the Exodus from Egypt occurred (Yetziat Mitzrayim; cf. Shemot [Exodus] 12:2). Later, names of Babylonian origin were adopted:

 

The first day of each month, with the exception of Rosh Hashanah, the first day of the seventh month, is Rosh Chodesh, literally the 'head of the month', and so is the thirtieth day of the preceding month, if there is one. For example, if a gravestone inscription mentions the first day of Rosh Chodesh Elul, the calendar date 30 Av is meant.

 

YEARS

 

Years are counted from the Year of Creation, or Anno Mundi, which corresponds to 3760 BCE, October 7 on the Gregorian calendar. Each year consists of twelve or thirteen months, with months consisting of 29 or 30 days. An intercalated month is introduced in years 3, 6, 8, 11, 14, 17, and 19 in a nineteen-year cycle of 235 lunations. The initial year of the calendar, A.M. (Anno Mundi) 1, is year 1 of the nineteen-year cycle.

 

A true year, as opposed to a calendar year, may be defined as the time the Earth takes to return to the same point on its orbit around the sun. But there are several ways of defining the "same point." Another way of saying this is to define a year as the period of one complete cycle of the sun through the mazzaroth (the constellations on the ecliptic). The year ends when the sun returns to the spot on the circle of the mazzaroth that it stood when the year began. Astronomers therefore recognize different kinds of year.

 

The simplest reference point is one on the orbit in which the Earth aligns with the sun and a particular star. Such a point is fixed: It remains the same century after century. The year measured between two successive crossings of such a point is called the sidereal year, from the Latin word sidus, meaning "star," or "planet." It is 365 days, 6 hours, 9 minutes, and 9.5 seconds long.

 

Another reference is a point on the orbit where the Earth's axis is perpendicular, or at a right angle, to a line from the sun. This occurs twice a year, in the spring and fall. A year measured between successive crossings of one of these points is called the tropical year. Its duration is 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds. The seasons keep in step with the tropical year because both are based on the position of the Earth's axis. For that reason the calendar year is based on the tropical year.[120]

 

An ordinary year consists of twelve months. When Cheshvan has 29 days and Kislev 30, it is "regular" (kesidra); if both have 30 days, it is "complete" (sh'lema) or "excessive", and if both have 29 days it is "defective" (chasera). Thus, an ordinary year can have 353, 354 or 353 days.

 

A lunar year of 354 days is about 11 days shorter than the solar year, i.e. one revolution of the earth around the sun, which corresponds to the cycle of the seasons. If the Jewish calendar were based exclusively on the lunar year, Pesach (15 Nisan) would fall in the spring in one year, in the winter a few years later, then in the autumn, then in the summer and - after about 33 years - in the spring again. But the Torah says that Pesach must be celebrated in the spring (be-chodesh ha-aviv, Shemot [Exodus] 13:4), and so the average length of the Jewish year must be adjusted to the solar year. This is achieved by adding an entire month about every three years: In each cycle of 19 years, the 3rd, 6th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th and 19th years are leap years, the others are common years. For example, 5755 AM was a leap year because it was the 17th year in the 303rd cycle of 19 years: 5755/19 = 302 + 17/19. (This is something that you can calculate online.)

 

The extra month in a leap year has 30 days so that the year lasts for 383, 384 or 385 days. It is added after the month of Shevat and is called Adar I, whereas the original Adar (of 29 days) becomes Adar II. Purim, which is on 14 Adar, is celebrated in Adar II in a leap year. Someone who was born in Adar of a common year will celebrate the anniversary in Adar II in leap years, but yahrzeit for someone who died in Adar of a common year is observed in Adar I in leap years.

 

The new year begins with Rosh Hashanah, the first of Tishri (although this is the seventh month), in September or early October according to the Gregorian (civil) calendar. Jewish years are counted from the Creation of the world. To convert the Jewish year to the year of the Common Era (CE), subtract 3760 (or 3761 for the first months; in most years, 1 January falls in Tevet). For example, the major part of the Jewish year 5678 AM corresponded to 1918 AD; the beginning of 5678 AM was in 1917 AD. When the year is written with Hebrew letters, the 5000 is usually omitted ("small count", abbreviated ). In that case, one can find the civil equivalent by adding 1240.

 

For instance, the numerical values of the letters add up to 756, short for 5756 AM. That is the Jewish year which corresponds to 1996 (756 + 1240 = 1996); to be precise, it lasts from the evening of 24 September 1995 until the evening of 13 September 1996. (Such conversions can be calculated online with a form that even shows the Hebrew letters.)

 

HOLIDAYS

 

All Jewish holidays, fast days, remembrance days etc. have a fixed date in the Jewish calendar. Some of them are shifted to a different day if they fall on or just before the Shabbat.

 

Major festivals

 

The Torah describes two cycles of festivals (cf. Vayikra [Leviticus] Chapter 23, Bamidbar [Numbers] Chapter 28-29): the three pilgrimage festivals (Pesach, Shavuot, Succoth) and the High Holidays (Rosh Hashanah, Yom HaKippurim).

 

Rosh Hashanah (New Year) 1-2 Tishri

 

Yom HaKippurim (Day of Atonement)

                                                            10 Tishri

 

Succoth (Tabernacles):

                                    Diaspora:        15-16 Tishri

                                     Israel:                         15 Tishri

 

Succoth: Chol Hamoed (Semi-Holidays)

                                    Diaspora:        17-21 Tishri

                                    Israel:              16-21 Tishri

 

Shemini Atzeret (Eighth Day of Assembly)

                                                            22 Tishri

 

Simchat Torah (Rejoicing of the Torah)

                                    Diaspora:        23 Tishri

                                    Israel:              22 Tishri

 

Pesach (Passover):

                                    Diaspora:        15-16 Nisan

                                    Israel:              15 Nisan

 

Pesach (Passover): Chol Hamoed

                                    Diaspora:        17-20 Nisan

                                    Israel:              16-20 Nisan

 

Pesach (Passover): Last day

                                    Diaspora:        21-22 Nisan

                                    Israel:              21 Nisan

 

Shavuot (Festival of Weeks)

                                    Diaspora:        6-7 Sivan

                                    Israel:              6 Sivan

 

Minor festivals

 

Two festivals commemorating the miraculous salvation of the Jewish people were instituted after the beginning of the Babylonian exile: Purim has its basis in the biblical Book of Esther, Chanukah in the apocryphal Books of the Maccabees and in the gospel of John..

 

Chanukah (Feast of Dedication)

 If Kislev has 30 days:            25 Kislev - 2 Tevet

 If Kislev has 29 days:            25 Kislev - 3 Tevet

 

Purim (Festival of Lots)

                                                14 Adar

            In leap years:              14 Adar II

 

Shushan Purim (in Jerusalem):

                                                15 Adar

            In leap years:              15 Adar II

 

Fast days

 

In addition to Yom Kippur and Ta'anit Esther, four public fast days commemorating the destruction of the first Temple were instituted in the era of the Prophets (cf. Zechariah 8:19). Since fasting is forbidden on the Shabbat (with the exception of Yom HaKippurim), fast days that fall on Shabbat are shifted.

 

Tzom Gedalya (assassination of the governor Gedaliah)                            3 Tishri

If 3 Tishri falls on Shabbat, the fast is observed on Sunday (4 Tishri)

Asara b'Tevet (beginning of the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem)               10 Tevet

 

Ta'anit Ester (Fast of Esther)           13 Adar

                        In leap years: 13 Adar II

 

If 13 Adar falls on Shabbat, the fast is observed on Thursday (11 Adar)

 

Shiv'a Asar b'Tammuz (first breach in the walls of Jerusalem during the Babylonian siege)

                                                17 Tammuz

If 17 Tammuz falls on Shabbat, the fast is observed on Sunday (18 Tammuz)

Tish'a b'Av (destruction of the Temple)

                                                9 Av

If 9 Av falls on Shabbat, the fast is observed on Sunday (10 Av)

 

Other special days

 

After the proclamation of the State of Israel, new minor festivals and memorial days were introduced; Tu bi-Shvat and Lag ba-Omer, which go back to Talmudic times, became particularly popular with children.

 

Tu B’Shevat (New Year of Trees)

                                                15 Shevat

 

Yom HaSho'ah (Holocaust Memorial Day)

                                                27 Nisan

 

Yom HaZikkaron (Memorial day for fallen Israeli soldiers)

Eve of Yom ha-Atzma'ut

Yom ha-Atzma'ut (Israel Independence Day)

                                                5 Iyar

If 5 Iyar falls on Friday or Shabbat, the celebrations are held on Thursday (4 or 3 Iyar) so as to avoid a desecration of Shabbat

 

Lag ba-Omer (33rd day in the Omer period)

                                                18 Iyar

 

Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day)

                                                28 Iyar

 

TERMINOLOGY

 

Terminology of the Hebrew Calendar:

Deficient (haser) month: a month comprising 29 days.

 

Full (male) month: a month comprising 30 days.

 

Ordinary year: a year comprising 12 months, with a total of 353, 354, or 355 days.

 

Leap year: a year comprising 13 months, with a total of 383, 384, or 385 days.

 

Complete year (shelemah): a year in which the months of Heshvan and Kislev both contain 30 days.

 

Deficient year (haser): a year in which the months of Heshvan and Kislev both contain 29 days.

 

Regular year (kesidrah): a year in which Heshvan has 29 days and Kislev has 30 days.

 

Halokim (singular, halek): "parts" of an hour; there are 1080 halokim per hour.

 

Molad (plural, moladot): "birth" of the Moon, taken to mean the time of conjunction for modern calendric purposes.

 

Dechiyah (plural, dechiyot): "postponement"; a rule delaying 1 Tishri until after the molad.

 

 

Calculating the Biblical, or Jewish, Calendar:

 

Being able to calculate the calendar is considered an important responsibility. We see this in:

 

Shabbath 75a A curtain which was attacked by a moth was torn [round the moth hole] and re-sewn... R. Zutra b. Tobiah said in Rab's name: He who pulls the thread of a seam[121] on the Sabbath is liable to a sin-offering; and he who learns a single thing from a Magian[122] is worthy of death;[123] and he who is able to calculate the cycles[124] and planetary courses but does not, one may hold no conversation with him.[125]       

 

Let's see what goes into calculating the calendar. The first thing that we need to do is to understand some astronomy, because the Jewish calendar, and therefore HaShem's calendar, depends on the movement of the heavenly bodies.

 

ASTRONOMY[126]

 

The sun rises each morning in the East and sets each evening in the West. For a person standing on the Equator, it rises and sets at a 900 angle as in Figure 1. That is, straight up and down.

 

Figure 1

 

For a person in the Northern Hemisphere, which includes Eretz Yisrael, Europe, and North America, it rises at an angle toward the South as in Figure 2.

 

During the morning, as the sun becomes higher and higher, it also travels farther and farther toward the South. At noon, when the sun begins to go down, it turns toward the North. During the afternoon, as the sun gets lower, it continues toward the North, and it sets at an angle toward the North in the evening.

Figure 2

 

To understand this, picture the Earth as a ball spinning Eastward on an axis that runs through the North and South poles, as in Figure 3. For a person standing on the Earth, this makes the sky appear to be a giant sphere surrounding the Earth and spinning on the same axis, but in the opposite direction. (Figure 4).         

Figure 3

Figure 4

 

The sun and the stars appear to be attached to the sphere, d to spin along with it. At any moment, he can see only the half the sphere that is above him. The other half is hidden by the Earth on which he is standing. The Earth appears to him not as a I but as a flat disc surrounded by the horizon. Beyond the horizon spins the great sphere that carries the sun and the stars. (figure 5). The plane of this disc is tangent to the surface of the

 

 

Figure 5

 

Earth. The direction that he calls "down" is really the direction toward the center of the Earth. What he calls "up" is really the direction away from the center of the Earth. So up and down are different for people standing at different spots on the Earth. (Figure 6).

Figure 6

 

As we watch the sky during the night, the stars seem to move, most of them from East to West. But there is one star that appears not to move. It is called the North Star, because it is directly above the North Pole of the Earth. Wherever you stand on the Earth, if you face the North Star you are facing North. The reason it does not move is that it is right on the axis around which the great sphere revolves. The stars close to the North Star appear to travel on small circles around it, and the farther a star is from the North Star, the larger a circle it describes. Figure 7 shows the North Star and the paths of the stars around it. The stars that are close to the North Star never rise and set, because the circles on which they travel never cross the horizon, but the stars that are farther away rise in the East, travel in a circle around the North Star, and set in the West. If you could see the North Star during the daytime, you would see that the sun does the same thing. It rises in the East, travels in a circle around the North Star, and sets in the West.

Figure 7

 

Figure 8 shows the sky as it appears from the Northern Hemisphere. You can see that the paths of all the stars are at an angle with the horizon which tilts toward the South. One such line also represents the path of the sun.

 

Figure 8

 

How close to the North Star a star must be for it never to set depends upon where on the Earth a person is standing. Figure 9 shows what the sky looks like to a person standing on the equator looking East. The North Star appears just on the horizon, directly to the North. All the other stars rise and set, and in fact they do so at 90' angles to the horizon. When he looks North, the North Star is on the horizon and the stars close to it appear to travel in semicircles. You can see why at the equator the sun also rises and sets at right angles to the horizon.

Figure 9

Figure 10

 

A person standing a little North of the equator sees the North Star a little above the horizon as in Figure 10, and only the stars very close to it do not rise and set. As he moves farther North, the North Star appears higher and higher in the sky and there are more and more stars that never set. Finally, at the North Pole, the North Star is directly overhead. No stars set. They all travel around the sky parallel to the horizon, each at its own constant height, in a clockwise direction as shown in Figure 11.

 

Figure 11

Figure 12

 

From Figure 12 you can see that the height of the North Star is equal to the latitude at which it is being observed. Remember that the stars are so far away that lines pointing to the North Star from all points on the Earth are parallel.

 

In the Southern Hemisphere the whole appearance of the sky is reversed. The North Star cannot be seen, and instead, the stars of the Southern part of the sky appear to rotate clockwise around a point opposite the South Pole. (Figure 13). The sun rises in the East, but at an angle toward the North, and it sets in the West at an angle toward the South. (Figure 14).

 

We include this to round off our description of the sky, and for the sake of those readers who live in the Southern Hemisphere, such as South Africa and Australia. It is not important for understanding the calendar, since all discussions of the calendar in Shas and Poskim are from Eretz Yisrael, Bavel, North Africa, Asia, and Europe, all of which are in the Northern Hemisphere.

Figure 13

 

Figure 14

 

AUTHORITY

 

Nowhere does the Torah tell us how to regulate the calendar, even though it is impossible to fulfill the Torah's commands, without regulating it. For example:

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:1 Observe the month of Abib and celebrate the Passover of HaShem your God, because in the month of Abib he brought you out of Egypt by night.

 

Shemot (Exodus) 12:1-11 HaShem said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, "This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. Do not eat the meat raw or cooked in water, but roast it over the fire--head, legs and inner parts. Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it. This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is HaShem's Passover.

 

Abib is defined by Strong's as:

 

24 'abiyb, aw-beeb'; from an unused root (mean. to be tender); green, i.e. a young ear of grain; hence the name of the month Abib or Nisan:-Abib, ear, green ears of corn.

 

With the above scripture, and definition, in mind, let me state the problem:

 

Passover must occur in the springtime when the barley is in the green ear stage. Passover must occur in the first month (moon) of the year. A lunar year is approximately 354 days long: 12 months of 29 or 30 days long. This leaves us about 11 days short of a solar year. If we do not account for those 11 days, in less than ten years, Passover will no longer occur in the spring when the barley is in the green ear stage. Therefore, someone must regulate the year to ensure that Passover falls in the springtime. Passover is not the only festival that has calendar requirements. At Hag Shavuot (the Feast of Weeks), the new wheat must be ready to wave before HaShem. At Hag HaSuccoth (the Feast of Tabernacles), the major part of the harvest must be in the barn. From these Torah requirements, we see that the lunar calendar must be regulated

 

The way the Sanhedrin decided to synchronize the lunar and the solar year, is through intercalation, the adding of an additional month, at regular intervals.

 

The Bible does not provide us the complete means for calculating a calendar. There are no calculations provided in the Scriptures. The Bible clearly indicates that there were the components of a calendar in existence almost from the beginning: hours, days, months, seasons, and years are all mentioned. These are the essential elements of any calendar.

 

The Sanhedrin, the highest court of Israel, received its authority as a mandate of HaShem:

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 17:8-13 If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within thy gates: then shalt thou arise, and get thee up into the place which HaShem thy G-d shall choose; And thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and inquire; and they shall shew thee the sentence of judgment: And thou shalt do according to the sentence, which they of that place which HaShem shall choose shall shew thee; and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they inform thee: According to the sentence of the law which they shall teach thee, and according to the judgment which they shall tell thee, thou shalt do: thou shalt not decline from the sentence which they shall shew thee, to the right hand, nor to the left. And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest that standeth to minister there before HaShem thy G-d, or unto the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel. And all the people shall hear, and fear, and do no more presumptuously.

 

Based upon the above passage, a court was developed that determined judgements of religious and legal disputes and controversies. During the time of Yeshua, the highest court of Israel was called the Sanhedrin. This court consisted of 71 judges who met within the Chamber of the Hewn Stone in the Temple. It was overseen by a president who bore the title "Nasi." The Sanhedrin was the only court that had the authority to declare the New Month's beginning.

 

This court on earth, authorized by HaShem, is modeled after a heavenly court. The heavenly court is overseen by the Father Himself as told by the prophet Daniel.

 

Daniel 7:9-10 I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.

 

Midrash Rabbah - Exodus XV:30 30. Another interpretation of THIS MONTH SHALL BE UNTO YOU. God was like a king who possessed treasure-houses filled with gold and silver, precious stones and pearls, and who had one son. As long as the son was small his father guarded them all, but when the son grew up and reached manhood, his father said to him: ‘As long as thou wert small, I guarded them all; but now that thou hast reached manhood, I hand over everything to thee.’ So did God guard everything, as it says: And let them be for signs, and for seasons (Gen. I, 14); but as soon as Israel arose, He entrusted them with all of these, for it says: THIS MONTH SHALL BE UNTO YOU.[127]

 

The Talmud rules that work is permitted on Rosh Chodesh, but describes a tradition that women abstain from work on the day [compare also Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer, chapter 45]

 

Rosh Hashanah 23a Our Rabbis taught ‘Beacon fires are lit only for the new moon which has been seen at its proper time,[128] [to announce that] it has been sanctified. When are they lit? On the night following its announcement.[129] This means to say that we light beacons for defective months but not for full months. What is the reason? — R. Zera said: It is a precaution on account of a defective month which ends on Friday. [In that case] when do we light? On the termination of Sabbath; and if you were to insist that we should light up also for full months, this might give rise to confusion, since people would say: This month may be defective, and the reason why beacons were not lit yesterday is because it was impossible,[130] or perhaps it is full and they are lighting up at the proper time. But why should we not light up whether for a full month or a defective month, and when New Moon is on Friday not light up at all, so that since we do not light at the termination of Sabbath, in spite of the fact that we usually light for a full month, people will know that it is defective? — This nevertheless may lead to errors, since people will say, This month is full, and the reason why they have not lit up is because they have been prevented.[131] But why not light up for the full months and not at all for the defective months? — Abaye replied: So as not to deprive the public of two working days.[132]

 

Rosh Chodesh was celebrated only eleven times a year. In Tishrei, Yom Teruah coincides with Rosh Chodesh; to this day, the new moon of Tishrei is not proclaimed in advance in the synagogue; Yom Teruah rather than Rosh Chodesh is dominant liturgically.

 

It was an established rule that no year should consist of less than four nor more than eight FULL months.

 

Sanhedrin 10b THE INTERCALATION[133] OF THE MONTH BY THREE. [The Tanna of the Mishnah] mentions neither the ‘calculation’[134] nor the ‘sanctification’[135], but the INTERCALATION of the month. [Why then the need of three for this?] Suppose it is not sanctified [on the thirtieth day] it will then be automatically intercalated! — Abaye therefore said: Read then, THE SANCTIFICATION OF THE MONTH. It is also taught to the same effect: The sanctification of the month and the intercalation of the year is to be determined by three. So R. Meir holds. But, asked Raba, does not the Mishnah say, the INTERCALATION? — Hence, said Raba, the Mishnah means that the sanctification made on INTERCALATION, that is on the intercalary day,[136] is determined by three; but on the day after it there is to be no sanctification. And this represents the opinion of R. Eliezer b. Zadok, as it has been taught: R. Eliezer b. Zadok says: If the new moon has not been visible in time, there is no need for the Sanctification next day, as it has already been sanctified in Heaven.[137]

 

The Hatzi (partial) Hallel, the yaaleh v'yavo prayer, and the mussaf (extra) service are done.

 

In second Temple times, a ceremony "blessing the moon" (Birkat haLevanah), sometimes called "sanctification of the moon" (Kiddush Levanah), was developed. Recited from the third evening of the reappearance of the moon (when the moon is clearly visible) up until the fifteenth day of the month (as long as the moon is waxing), the prayer quickly became associated with the messianic hope.

 

"Originally, the New Moon was not fixed by astronomical calculations, but was solemnly proclaimed after witnesses had testified to the reappearance of the crescent of the moon. On the 30th of each month, the members of the High Court assembled in a courtyard in Jerusalem, named Beit Ya'azek, where they waited to receive the testimony of two reliable witnesses; they then sanctified the New Moon. If the moon's crescent was not seen on the 30th day, the New Moon was automatically celebrated on the 31st day."[138] 

 

In addition to the witnesses, the molad for the new moon is also calculated by the Beit Din (Court) that has had their ordination conferred on them in a direct line from Moses. The Beit Din is the only body that is authorized by halacha to sanctify the new moon.

 

If I could calculate the conjunction, and if it were up to me, I might simply declare that the day of the conjunction was the day of the new moon, no adjustments, no confusion. My problem is that I have no authority for one system over the other. The rules are easy to write - the problem is, who writes the rules?

 

Naturally, we would expect to turn to the Bible to see what the law told Israel to do. The problem is that the law didn't tell them. While there are plenty of indirect calendar references in the law, instructions about the calendar itself are almost nonexistent. In fact the only explicit instruction about the calendar is:

 

Shemot (Exodus) 12:2 "This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you."

 

It may be hard to believe, but everything else we know about the calendar we know from the oral law. For example, how can you tell from the text just quoted which month was the first month? What time of year was it? The oral law tells us it was in the spring, but the only help we get from the Bible is the name of the month:

 

Shemot (Exodus) 13:3-4"And Moses said unto the people, Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand HaShem brought you out from this place; there shall no leavened bread be eaten. This day came yet out in the month Abib".

 

And so we know the Hebrew name of the month Abib. And we know that Abib means, "green ears." From other scriptures we learn that the green ears in question were barley, so we infer that the month Abib is the month when there are green ears of barley in the field.

 

All this is very clever of us, but it is curious that something so important was left to the oral law instead of being written in the Torah. Instructions for sacrifices are laid out in excruciating detail. Why were the instructions for the calendar not done the same way? Naming a month after green ears of barley is better than nothing, but it leaves a lot of unanswered questions. What if the ears are not green until the last day of the month ? How would you have known to make that month Abib? Okay, we can decide that the month following the onset of green ears is Abib. But what if the ears turn green on the second day of the new moon? Will they still be green the following month? If not, how could it be the month of green ears'? The ears will often be green in two consecutive months. Which is Abib?

 

The Torah does not explain and we seem to be left with the oral law to tell us how to do it. This decision is critical, because the month of Abib is the beginning of the religious year.

 

The leap years were reasonably predictable. If they had just added a 13th month, they could be sure they would not have to for the next two years. Early on they noticed a 19-year cycle in which the leap years occurred on a repeating basis. Reason suggests that they rarely had to fall back on observation to announce a leap year. Observation could confirm, but it came too late to predict. If they could not predict, how could pilgrims know when to leave home to arrive in time for the festival season. The determination of the calendar had serious practical considerations as well as religious implications.

 

Where did they find all this in the law? They didn't. In fact, they found nothing at all about calendar adjustments, leap years, 13th months, conjunctions or new crescents. The children of Israel found in the law a presumption of a calendar and the sanctification of certain days in that calendar. We know that HaShem had to revealed it to them, or else they would have been rebuked for doing it their own way. What we have is the calendar rules, in the oral law, which they have preserved for us along with the sacred Scriptures.

 

Paul may have been talking about this sort of thing when he spoke of the "oracles" of HaShem. In writing about the Jews and their relationship with HaShem, he asked,

 

Romans 3:1-2 "What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God".

 

The word for "oracles" is the Greek:

 

3051 logion, log'-ee-on; neut. of 3052; an utterance (of God):-oracle.

 

--------------------- Dictionary Trace ----------------

3052 logios, log'-ee-os; from 3056; fluent, i.e. an orator:-eloquent.

 

logion which means, literally, "sayings." The Jews retained an oral law besides the written laws we find in the Torah and the oral law included a calendar system into which HaShem placed all the holy days of the sacred year.

 

Postponement Authority

 

The modern Hebrew calendar is sometimes challenged because the "new moon" may be postponed one or two days based on a complex set of rules. Actually, these rules are applied only once in the year - on the first day of the seventh month - the Feast of Trumpets. This particular new moon (the beginning of the civil year) is determined and then all the others are established by it. Since a cycle of the moon is about 29 1/2 days (plus 44 minutes), the first seven months of the religious year (in which all the Holy days occur) simply alternate between 29 and 30 days. The extra 44 minutes created an extra day at predictable intervals, and that is handled by having two consecutive 30 day months from time to time. In order to keep confusion to a minimum, those months are always in the second half of the year.

 

The objections to the Jewish custom come in two forms: one argues that any postponement from the conjunction is wrong and the other argues that only the observed new crescent can start a month. But we recall at this point that the Bible does not define a new moon either way. If it did, I suppose there would be no argument.

 

In calculating the new moon of the Feast of Trumpets, the pivotal point of the Jewish year, the rules proclaim the new moon on the day of the conjunction with some exceptions. For example, if the conjunction occurs after noon, the official new moon is "postponed" to the following day. In fact, the first new crescent will almost certainly be observed the following day.

 

This rule generally satisfies those who want the month to begin with the observed new crescent. But there is another rule they find more troubling. When the conjunction occurs on a Sunday, Wednesday or Friday, the official new moon (and the Feast of Trumpets) is postponed to the following day for religious reasons. The religious requirements are that the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) must not fall on the day before or after a Sabbath, and the day before the Last Great Day of the autumn feast cannot fall on a Sabbath. (There are other postponements required because of mathematical consequences of the first two.)

 

But can "religious requirements" take precedence over the law? In some cases, yes. When the Pharisees challenged Yeshua and His disciples over Sabbath observance, He asked them, "Have ye not read in the law, how that on the Sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are blameless? (Matthew 12:5). In other words, the priest had to carry on the work of the sacrificial system even on the Sabbath day. This created a conflict between the sacrificial law (which required sacrifices every day) and the Sabbath (which required that no work be done).

 

We would normally assume that when laws come into conflict the lesser laws would give way to the greater. There can be no greater law than the Ten Commandments and yet the sacrificial law superseded even the Sabbath. The priesthood had special responsibilities on the holy days and the new moons, so it would not be surprising if they should take those duties into account when working out their calendar rules - especially when the law gave them no specific instructions to the contrary. They had a modest requirement to make a morning and evening sacrifice (each one lamb) every day of the year. In addition, each Sabbath day they sacrificed two more lambs with meal, oil and drink offerings (Numbers 28:9). All this work increased dramatically on the day of the new moon. On the first of every month, they were required to sacrifice ten animals, two young bullocks, one ram and seven lambs, plus the other offerings (Numbers 28: 11). It is easy to see the importance of predictability when there is this much work to be done.

 

Each of the annual Holy days also had special offerings. On the Day of Atonement, for example, the prescribed offering was one bullock, one ram, seven lambs, plus any prescribed meal, oil and drink offering and a special goat for a sin offering. Since the Day of Atonement is a fast day, it should not be surprising if steps were taken to avoid it falling before or after a Sabbath day. One can, of course, argue to the contrary but there is no Biblical authority that prevents the rules of the calendar from being written this way. We don't know with any precision when the rules for postponements came to be. They seem to have coalesced in their present form in the 10th century, but the principles underlying them are much older. There is evidence dating from much earlier that the authorities "adjusted" their observations to avoid having Yom Kippur fall just before or just after a Sabbath. It was no great trick. They just changed the observation point.[139]

 

A Holy Day

What does it take to make a day holy? When Moses encountered the burning bush, HaShem told him to take off his shoes for the ground he stood on was holy. The ground was not holy of itself; it was holy because HaShem was there. The Tabernacle was not holy until HaShem entered it and filled it with His presence. The spot where the Temple was built was only a threshing floor until Solomon built the Temple on the spot and HaShem entered it.

 

Both the Tabernacle and the Temple were built by human hands. True, HaShem gave them specifications, but it was left to them to build. We know that HaShem inspired the craftsmen, but we still have to guess what certain parts of it looked like. As long as the Temple was a building built by craftsmen, it was on]y a building. It was when HaShem entered it that it became holy.

 

In the same way, the rules of the calendar were written by men. The days of the year were not holy until selected by HaShem. They are, in a sense, made holy by His presence. He told Israel what days in their calendar He would be present - what days He would meet with them (the old expression "tabernacle of the congregation" actually means "tent of meeting").

 

Did HaShem give specifications for the calendar like He gave specifications for the temple? We know that He must have! We know that the Israelites got more from HaShem than the book we call the Bible. The writer of the book of Hebrews opens his account by telling us that HaShem spoke to the fathers in time past at "sundry times and in divers manners." The Tanach, the Old Testament, contains much, but not all of that communication. The leaders of HaShem's people commonly consulted HaShem about questions and judgements and they got answers that are sometimes recorded for us, and sometimes not.

 

We don't know whether Israel's calendar was appropriated by other ancient peoples, but there is sufficient evidence to suggest that HaShem's calendar was widely copied.

 

We also know that HaShem established an administration to go with the law. It may come as a surprise to learn that the law did not answer all questions pertaining to human relationships, not even of man's relationship with HaShem. When Moses complained to HaShem about the burden of leading the people of Israel, HaShem gave him a solution:

 

Bamidbar (Numbers) 11:16-24 "And HaShem said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee. And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone... And HaShem came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease".

 

This is the origin of the "seventy elders" of Israel - the basis of the later Sanhedrin - charged with the responsibility of administering the law of HaShem. We don't know what they did about the calendar, but we do know that the rules and observations of the calendar were, in the days of Yeshua's ministry, in the hands of the Sanhedrin. We also know that in spite of all the issues where Yeshua contended with the Jewish leadership, He never argued with them about the calendar, or their authority.

 

It is important for us to understand that, from the beginning, there was an authoritative judiciary in Israel charged with the responsibility of deciding points of law for the people. This system is described in:

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 17:8-13 If cases come before your courts that are too difficult for you to judge--whether bloodshed, lawsuits or assaults--take them to the place HaShem your God will choose. Go to the priests, who are Levites, and to the judge who is in office at that time. Inquire of them and they will give you the verdict. You must act according to the decisions they give you at the place HaShem will choose. Be careful to do everything they direct you to do. Act according to the law they teach you and the decisions they give you. Do not turn aside from what they tell you, to the right or to the left. The man who shows contempt for the judge or for the priest who stands ministering there to HaShem your God must be put to death. You must purge the evil from Israel. All the people will hear and be afraid, and will not be contemptuous again.

 

When one of these courts rendered a decision, it was as binding as any law given by HaShem Himself - even to the extent of exacting the death penalty. What they bound on earth, was bound in heaven.

 

The Authority of Moses' Seat

 

This is why Yeshua told His people:

 

Matityahu (Matthew) 23:1-3 "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not".

 

In spite of their hypocrisy, they did have authority from HaShem. The calendar is a good example of that authority.

 

From ancient times, the Sanhedrin had the authority to make the rules and observations that sanctified the Hebrew calendar. Yeshua and the apostles accepted their authority in this area. While there is ample evidence that the early Christians kept the Holy days, there is no hint in the Nazarean Codicil (the so called New Testament) that they ever attempted to sanctify a calendar apart from the Jewish calendar.

 

Perhaps the most important thing to remember when one considers abandoning the published Hebrew calendar is that we have no Biblical authority for any other system.

 

* * *

 

TEKUFAH literally ‘cycle’, or ‘season’, is the length of time from where the sun is now, to where the sun is back in the same place a year from now.. The Jewish Calendar, while being lunar, takes cognizance of the solar system to which it is adjusted at the end of every cycle of nineteen years. For ritual purposes the four Tekufoth seasons, are calculated according to the solar system, each being equal to one fourth of 365 days, viz. 91 days, 71/2 hours.

 

Tekufah of Nisan

(Vernal equinox)

March 21

 

 

Tekufah of Tammuz

(Summer Solstice)

June 21

 

 

Tekufah of Tishri

(Autumnal equinox)

Sept. 23

 

 

Tekufah of Tevet

(Winter Solstice)

Dec. 22

 

Should the Tekufah of Tammuz extend till after the Succoth Festival, or the Tekufah of Tevet till the sixteenth of Nisan, the year would be intercalated, so that the festivals might fall in their due seasons, viz., Passover in Spring, Succoth in Autumn.

 

Strong's defines "tekufah" as:

 

8622 tequwphah, tek-oo-faw'; or tequphah, tek-oo-faw'; from 5362; a revolution, i.e. (of the sun) course, (of time) lapse:-circuit, come about, end.

 

"Tekufah" appears in the Scriptures four times:

 

Divrei Hayamim (II Chronicles) 24:23 At the turn [tekufah] of the year, the army of Aram marched against Joash; it invaded Judah and Jerusalem and killed all the leaders of the people. They sent all the plunder to their king in Damascus.

 

Shemot (Exodus) 34:22 "Celebrate the Feast of Weeks with the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the turn [tekufah] of the year."

 

Tehillim (Psalms) 19:4-6 Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, Which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit [tekufah] to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.

 

Shmuel (I Samuel) 1:20 So in the course [tekufah] of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, "Because I asked HaShem for him."

 

INTERCALATION

 

Years are counted from the Era of Creation, or Era Mundi, which corresponds to -3760 October 7 on the Julian proleptic (The anachronistic representation of something as existing before its proper or historical time) calendar. Each year consists of twelve or thirteen months, with months consisting of 29 or 30 days. An intercalary month is introduced in years 3, 6, 8, 11, 14, 17, and 19 in a nineteen-year cycle of 235 lunations. The initial year of the calendar, A.M. (Anno Mundi) 1, is year 1 of the nineteen-year cycle.

 

The calendar for a given year is established by determining the day of the week of Tishri 1 (first day of Rosh Hashanah or New Year's Day) and the number of days in the year. Years are classified according to the number of days in the year.

 

Classification of Years in the Hebrew Calendar

 

                        Deficient Regular Complete

Ordinary year 353 354 355

Leap year 383 384 385

 

                                        COMMON                    LEAP

                                        YEAR                             YEAR

                                       

1 Tishri                          30 30 30     30 30 30

2 Heshvan                     29 29 30     29 29 30

3 Kislev                         29 30 30     29 30 30

4 Tevet                           29 29 29     29 29 29

5 Shevat                         30 30 30     30 30 30

6 Adar I                          29 29 29     30 30 30

7 Adar II                          -- -- --        29 29 29

8 Nisan                           30 30 30     30 30 30

9 Iyar                              29 29 29     29 29 29

10 Sivan                         30 30 30     30 30 30

11 Tammuz                   29 29 29     29 29 29

12 Av                             30 30 30     30 30 30

13 Elul                           29 29 29     29 29 29

                                         --- --- ---    --- --- ---

                                        353 354 355 383 384 385

 

Sanhedrin 11b Our Rabbis taught: A year may be intercalated on three grounds: on account of the premature state of the corn-crops;[140] or that of the fruit-trees;[141] or on account of the lateness of the Tekufah[142] Any two of these reasons can justify intercalation, but not one alone. All, however, are glad when the state of the spring-crop is one of them.[143] Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel says: On account of [the lateness of] the Tekufah. The Schoolmen inquired: Did he mean to say that ‘on account of the [lateness of the] Tekufah’ [being one of the two reasons], they rejoiced,[144] or that the lateness of the Tekufah alone was adequate reason for intercalating the year? — The question remains undecided.

 

Our Rabbis taught: [The grain and fruit of the following] three regions [are taken as the standard] for deciding upon the declaration of a leap-year: Judea,[145] Trans-Jordania,[146] and Galilee.[147] The requirements of two of these regions might determine the intercalation, but not those of a single one. All, however, were glad when one of the two was Judea, because the barley for the Omer[148] was obtained [by preference] in Judea.[149]

 

Our Rabbis taught: The intercalation of a year can be effected [by the Beth din] only in Judea; but if for some reason [it had been decided upon by the Beth din] in Galilee, the decision holds good. Hanania of Oni, however, testified: ‘If the intercalation was decided upon in Galilee, it is not valid.’ R. Judah the son of R. Simeon b. Pazi asked: What is the reason for the view of Hanania of Oni? — Scripture states, Unto His habitation shall ye seek and thither thou shalt come:[150] whatever search[151] you have to make shall be only in the habitation of the Lord.[152]

 

Our Rabbis taught: A leap-year is to be declared only by day, and if it has been declared by night, the declaration is invalid. The sanctification of a month is to be performed by day, and if it has been performed by night it is not valid. R. Abba says: What passage [proves this]? — Blow the horn at the new moon, at the covering[153] of the moon our feast-day.[154] Now on which feast is the moon covered? — We must say on the New Year.[155] And it is thereupon written, For this is a statute for Israel, a judgment[156] of the God of Jacob: Just as judgment is executed by day,[157] so also must the sanctification of the month take place by day.

 

Talmudic sources tell us that the calendar committee did not rely solely on calculation but on observation as well. They added a 13th month "when the barley in the field had not yet ripened, when the fruit on the trees had not grown properly, when the winter rains had not stopped, when the roads for Passover pilgrims had not dried up and when the young pigeons had not become fledged".[158]

 

ROSH CHODESH - The New Moon

 

In principle the beginning of each month is determined by a tabular New Moon (molad) that is based on an adopted mean value of the lunation cycle. To ensure that religious festivals occur in appropriate seasons, months are intercalated according to the Metonic cycle, in which 235 lunations occur in nineteen years.

 

Menachoth 64a I would say that he is in agreement with the Sages.[159] And, on the other hand, perhaps R. Ishmael the son of R. Johanan b. Beroka only said so there, since the requirements for the Most — High have been fulfilled,[160] so that there is no further need to profane the Sabbath; but here, since the requirements for the Most High have not yet been fulfilled,[161] so that there is a need to profane the Sabbath, I would say that he is in agreement with the Sages![162] — Said Rabbah, R. Ishmael and R. Hanina the Vice-High Priest both hold the same view. For we have learnt: R. HANINA THE VICE-HIGH PRIEST SAYS, ON THE SABBATH IT WAS REAPED BY ONE MAN WITH ONE SICKLE INTO ONE BASKET, AND ON A WEEKDAY IT WAS REAPED BY THREE MEN INTO THREE BASKETS AND WITH THREE SICKLES. BUT THE SAGES SAY, WHETHER ON THE SABBATH OR ON A WEEKDAY IT WAS REAPED BY THREE MEN INTO THREE BASKETS AND WITH THREE SICKLES. Now did not R. Hanina the Vice-High Priest say there that where it is possible [to manage with one] we must not trouble [more to work on the Sabbath]? Here, too, since it is possible [to manage with less] we must not trouble [to do more on the Sabbath]. Whence [do you know this]? Perhaps R. Ishmael only said so here, since there is no opportunity for making the matter public,[163] but there, since there is an opportunity for making the matter public,[164] I would say that he is in agreement with the Rabbis.[165] And, on the other hand, perhaps R. Hanina the Vice-High Priest only said so there, for after all, whether one man or three are employed, the service to the Most High is performed according to its prescribed rites, but here, since the service to the Most High is not performed according to its prescribed rites,[166] I would say that he is in agreement with the Sages![167] — Rather. said R. Ashi, R. Ishmael and R. Jose both hold the same view. For we have learnt: Whether [the new moon] was clearly visible or not, they may profane the Sabbath because of it.[168] But R. Jose says. If it was clearly visible they may not profane the Sabbath because of it.[169] Now did not R. Jose say there that wherever it is possible [to manage without them] we do not trouble [them to profane the Sabbath]? Here, too, since it is possible [to manage with less] we must not trouble [to do more on the Sabbath]. Whence [do you know this]? Perhaps R. Ishmael only said so here, since the reason ‘it will result that you will prevent them from coming in the future’ does not apply, but there, since the reason ‘it will result that you will prevent them from coming in the future[170] applies, I would say that he is in agreement with the Rabbis.[171] And, on the other hand, perhaps R. Jose only said so there, since the matter in question is no service to the Most High,[172] and moreover the Sabbath has not been overridden [by another service], but here, since it is a service to the Most High.[173] and the Sabbath has already been overridden [by other acts of work].[174] I would say that he is in agreement with the Rabbis.

 

Full vs. Defective months

 

A full month (lit., ‘a prolonged one’) is one of thirty days, a defective one is one of twenty-nine days. The average year has six months of thirty days each, and six of twenty-nine days each. For there are about twenty-nine and one half days between one new moon and the other, whence a month of thirty days, to restore the balance, must be followed by one of twenty-nine days. However, there are more then twenty-nine and one half days between one new moon and the other, approximately twenty-nine days, twelve hours and forty minutes; furthermore, there are other causes influencing the fixing of the calendar, as the result of which the arrangement of six full and defective months undergoes certain variations, so that one year might have a larger number of full, the other more than the half of defective months. In the time of the Mishna the Sanhedrin decreed the beginning of the new months on the basis of the testimony of witnesses who had actually seen the new moon. But even then conditions would arise (such as non-visibility of the new moon, due to cloudy weather) when the Sanhedrin would be guided by its own astronomical calculations. For such a decree the principle was adopted that no year may have more than eight, nor less than four full months.

 

CALCULATING THE CALENDAR

 

To construct the calendar for a year, you must first find the length of the year by determining the first day of the year (Tishri 1, or Rosh Hashanah) and the first day of the following year. This selects one of the six possible month length configurations listed above.

 

Finding the first day of the year is the most difficult part. Finding the date and time of the new moon (or molad) is the first step. For this purpose, the lunar cycle is assumed to be 29 days 12 hours and 793 halokim. A halokim is 1/1080th of an hour or 3 1/3 seconds. (This assumed value is only about 1/2 second less than the value used by modern astronomers -- not bad for a number that was determined so long ago.) The first molad of year 1 occurred on Sunday at 11:11:20 P.M. This would actually be Monday, because the Biblical day is considered to begin at sunset.

 

Since sunset varies, the day is assumed to begin at 6:00 P.M. for calendar calculation purposes. So, the first molad was 5 hours 204 halokim after the start of Tishri 1, 0001 (which was Monday September 7, 3761 BC. by the Gregorian calendar). All subsequent molads can be calculated from this starting point by adding the length of a lunar cycle.

 

Once the molad that starts a year is determined the actual start of the year (Tishri 1) can be determined. Tishri 1 will be the day of the molad unless it is delayed by one of the following four rules (called dechiyot). Each rule can delay the start of the year by one day, and since the Molad Zaken rule can combine with one of the other rules, it can be delayed as much as two days.

 

* * *

 

Conventions: For purposes of calculating the Hebrew calendar the following conventions are to be noted.[175]

 

The current Hebrew calendar rules are ASSUMED as fixed for all time periods both Past and future. The current Gregorian calendar rules are ASSUMED as fixed for all time periods both Past and future. All Gregorian years will be suffixed with the lower case "g".

 

Hence, 5757 AM is the year that spans both 1996g and 1997g.

 

For purposes of convenience, a Gregorian year 0g is assumed to have existed between -1g and 1g. 0g spans 3760 AM and 3761 AM. -1g spans 3759 AM and 3760 AM. 1g spans 3761 AM and 3761 AM. In this convention 0g is a Gregorian leap year.

 

All Hebrew days begin at exactly 18:00 hours which corresponds to hour 0 of the Hebrew calendar's day. So learn to recognize that in all subsequent calculations hour 0 is actually 18:00 or 6 PM.

 

The rabbis also divided the hours into 1080 halokim (parts), thus making each part 3 and 1/3 seconds and each minute 18 parts. All calculations are done in days, hours and parts.

 

The week days are numbered as follows

 

1 = Sunday

 2 = Monday

 3 = Tuesday

 4 = Wednesday

 5 = Thursday

 6 = Friday

 7 = Saturday

 

The MOLAD Period

 

The time of birth of the new moon, i.e., the MOLAD, is determined by the period of the MOLAD. This period was determined to be 29 days, 12 hours, and 793 parts. The molad is an arithmetical result of the calendar computations which very accurately tracks the time of any mean lunar conjunction to within 1 day in 14,000 years.

 

The 19 Year Cycle

 

The ancient Greek astronomer Meton (c. 4th cent. BCE.) observed that 235 lunation periods brought back the solar year into very close synchronization with the lunar years.

 

Thus, our scholars created a calendar cycle of 19 years consisting of 12 years of 12 lunar months each and 7 years of 13 lunar months each for a total of 235 lunar months.

 

Y''zst j''ud (GUCHADZaT)

The Leap Year Distribution

 

Our scholars eventually declared years 3 (d), 6 (u), 8 (j), 11 (th), 14 (sh), 17 (zh), and 19 (yh) of the 19 year cycle to be leap years of 13 months each.

 

That distribution is easily remembered by the mnemonic Y''zst j''ud (GUCHADZaT) which stands for the Hebrew letters gimel-vov-het aleph-daled-zayyen-tet.

 

A given Hebrew year is a leap year whenever its value divided by 19 leaves a remainder that is either 0, 3, 6, 8, 11, 14, or 17.

 

For example, the year 5757 AM (1996g/1997g) is a leap year because after division by 19 the remainder is 0. That by the way also makes it the last year of the 303rd 19 year cycle.

 

In a Hebrew leap year a 30 day month is added to the year. This month is today known as the month of Adar I and is inserted immediately after the Hebrew month of Shevat. In our times, the insertion tends to take place in the February/March period of the Gregorian calendar year.

 

Molad shel Tohu - s''rvb (BaHaRaD)

 

The s''rvb (BaHaRaD) is the acronym given to the time of the Molad shel Tohu (the birth while formless). That took place on the 1st day of Tishrei of the first year of creation, 1 AM.

 

That molad took place on Sunday (The Hebrew days begin at 0 hours = 6 PM. Hence 5 hours on Monday is actually 11 PM on the civilian Sunday.), September 6, -3760 AM corresponding to the second day of the week (bet - b), 5 hours (hey - v), and 204 halokim (parts) (resh-daled) -s''r. We use this moment as the starting point of the Hebrew calendar, and we calculate every future molad from this point.

 

The Time of Any Molad of Tishrei

 

For any given Hebrew year, AM, you first count the number of months that have elapsed since the first of Tishrei of Hebrew year 1.

 

To calculate any molad of Tishrei:

 

the integer of (235 * AM - 234) / 19

 

You then multiply the mean lunation time of 29 days; 12 hours; 793 parts by the integer result for the total number of months.

 

To that time is added the value of s''rvb (BaHaRad), and the result provides you with the time of the molad of Tishrei for any Hebrew year.

 

That value when reduced to days; hours (max of 23); halokim (parts - max of 1079) will give you the time of the molad for target year AM. The total number of days is then divided by 7 and the remainder is the day of the week.

 

Hebrew Year (AM) Lengths

 

The above rules lead to AM years which can have either:    354, 355, 383, or 384 days.

 

Hebrew Month Lengths

 

The Hebrew months basically alternate between 30 and 29 days beginning with the month of Nisan as follows:

 

Nisan               30

Iyar                  29

Sivan               30

Tammuz          29

Av                   30

Elul                 29

Tishrei            30

Heshvan          29

Kislev             30

Tevet               29

Shevat                         30

(Adar II           30)

Adar                29

 

For leap years the 30 day month of Adar II is added immediately after Shevat. It is this particular placement of the leap month which forces the use of the Molad Zaken rule. Calendar arithmetic can show that if the leap month is placed prior to the month of Kislev, then the Molad Zaken postponement rule is not required.

 

It is now necessary to compute the length of the year. Normally this is done by finding the Rosh Hashanah date of the next year and differencing.

 

When the difference is 355 or 385 days, Heshvan gets a day to become 30 days. When the difference is 353 or 383 days, Kislev loses a day to become 29 days.

 

And there you have it... except that no one can tell you over which spot on Earth the Molad shel Tohu took place at BaHaRaD.

 

An Example

 

The time of the MOLAD for Tishrei 5758 AM is

2,102,728 days; 4 hours; 129 parts.

 

Dividing the days by 7 leaves a remainder of 5, which means that the MOLAD of Tishrei 5758 AM occurs on a Thursday. The postponement rules do not apply for this timing of the molad and so Rosh Hashanah 5758 AM will begin on Thursday.

 

The time of the MOLAD for Tishrei 5759 AM is

2,103,082 days; 12 hours; 1005 parts.

 

Dividing the days by 7 leaves a remainder of 2, which means that the MOLAD of Tishrei 5759 AM occurs on a Monday. The postponement rules do not apply for this timing of the molad and so Rosh Hashanah 5759H will begin on Monday.

 

Taking the days to 5758 AM away from the days to 5759 AM leaves 354.

 

This means that the length of year 5758 AM is 354 days. And from this information it is now possible to layout, not only all of the calendar details for 5758H, but also all of the religious details that are calendar dependent, such as the occurrences of the Holidays, the Torah portions for any given day, the set of psalms to be read each day, and so on.

 

The Tekufot of Reb Shmuel are prescribed in accordance to a completely different set of astronomical parameters, and so require additional arithmetic in order to be mapped onto the Hebrew calendar. This arithmetic, among other things, governs the addition or omission of certain liturgical phrases in such prayers as the Amidah.

 

Hebrew to Gregorian Date Conversion

The Constant Annual Period

 

The annual calendar period which begins on the first day of the 29 day month of Adar and ends with the 29th day of Heshvan forms a constant period of 265 days. It is within that period that may be found all of the biblically ordained festivals such as Pesach, Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Succoth, and Shemini Atzeret.

 

The period of time beginning with the first day of Pesach on Nisan 15th up to and including Shemini Atzeret which occurs on Tishrei 22nd is exactly 185 days long.

 

The period of time from the traditional first day of the vernal equinox which is normally March 21st up to and including the traditional day of the autumnal equinox, usually September 21st, is also exactly 185 days long.

 

It would be interesting to know whether or not these two periods of time are the same length merely by coincidence.

 

It is to be noted that the starting day of the constant annual calendar period is fixed by the first day of Tishrei for the immediately following Hebrew year and not from the day of Rosh Hashanah for the current Hebrew year.

 

The Keviyot - Species of the Hebrew Year

 

The years of the Hebrew calendar can be laid out in exactly 14 different ways. This is due to the calendar arithmetic.

 

Each one of these layouts is described uniquely by the week day for Rosh Hashanah of that particular year and by that particular year's length. Each of these layouts is known as a "keviyah" or species.

 

If a year length is 353 or 383 days the year is called "haser", ie, "deficient", because a day is taken away from the month of Kislev. This keviyah is denoted by the Hebrew letter j.

 

If a year length is 354 or 384 days the year is called "kesidrah", ie, "regular", because none of its months are changed. This keviyah is denoted by the Hebrew letter e.

 

If a year length is 355 or 385 days the year is called "shalem", ie, "abundant", because a day is added to the month of Heshvan. This keviyah is denoted by the Hebrew letter a.

 

A third Hebrew letter is sometimes added to the first two which represents the day of the week for the first day of Pesach in that year.

 

The 14 Keviyot

 

The 14 possible calendar layouts are derived from the fact that if Hebrew years begin on

 

Mondays then they can have only either 353, 355, 383, or 385 days Tuesdays then they can have only either 354, or 384 days Thursdays then they can have only either 354, 355, 383, or 385 days Saturdays then they can have only either 353, 355, 383, or 385 days.

 

The Keviyot

Year Type Sequences

 

The calendar arithmetic develops the following pair-wise sequence of Hebrew (AM) years.

 

By definition, a leap year cannot immediately follow any other leap year. Regular years can not follow regular years, and neither can deficient years follow deficient years. But abundant years can be followed by abundant years. Regular leap years are always followed by abundant years of 355 days.

 

The Hebrew Calendar Repetition Cycle

 

The 19 year cycle does not cause the Hebrew calendar to repeat itself every 19 Hebrew years. For one thing, no specific demands are made as to what the length of the years ought to be for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc... years other than whether or not these require the additional leap month. Moreover all periods of 19 Hebrew years can be either 6938, 6939, 6940, 6941, or 6942 days each. Since none of these values are exact multiples of 7 it follows that no two consecutive periods of 19 years can begin on the same day of the week. Hence, the Hebrew calendar clearly does not repeat itself after every 19 years.

 

At one time some authorities suggested that the calendar would repeat itself after every 13 cycles of 19 years, that is once every 247 years. However, simple arithmetic shows that the 247 year cycle is short by 905 parts (about 50 minutes) in order to be a full repetition. The true calendar repetition cycle actually requires 689,472 Hebrew years, which is 36,288 cycles of 19 years.

 

The Accuracy of the Hebrew Calendar

 

The accuracy of the Hebrew calendar is fixed by the value of the mean lunation period coupled to the 19 year cycle of 235 lunar months. That leads to an average Hebrew year length of 365.2468 days.

 

The mean tropical solar year is about 365.2422 days. Hence, the average Hebrew year is slower than the average solar year by about one day in every 216 years. That means that today, we celebrate the holidays, on average about 8 days later than did our ancestors in 359g at the time that the fixed calendar rules were published.

 

The Accuracy of the Gregorian Calendar

 

The actual repeatable cycle of the Gregorian calendar is 400 Gregorian years. Hence, the average Gregorian year is 365.2425 days long. That means that the Gregorian calendar is slower than the mean tropical solar year by about 3 days in every 10,000 years. So it too, if left unchecked will cause its dates to travel the seasons.

 

The Relative Rate of the Hebrew Calendar

 

The above mean values indicate that the average Hebrew year is slower than the average Gregorian year by about 1 day in every 231 years.

 

In modern terms it simply means that Rosh Hashanah cannot occur any earlier than September 5, which last happened in 1899g and will next happen in 2013g. It also means that Rosh Hashanah cannot occur any later than October 5, which last happened in 1967g and will next occur in 2043g.

 

After the year 2089g, Rosh Hashanah will not be able to occur any earlier than September 6.

 

When Rosh Hashanah advances to a new day in the Gregorian calendar, it always does so in the 9th year of the 19 year cycle.

 

The Most Popular Rosh Hashanah Start

 

An old Jewish tradition suggests that Tuesday is a good day because it was twice blessed at Creation. (See Genesis 1:9-13). Hence, it should follow that Tuesday would be the most popular day on which to start Rosh Hashanah. Amazingly, it ranks a very poor 4th place among the 4 permissible start days of the week.

 

Moreover, Yom HaKippurim can never occur on a Tuesday! But all is not lost. Even though Jewish tradition suggests that Passover took place on a Thursday, it is Tuesday that is the most popular start day for Passover!

 

* * *

 

Table "A"

Terminology of the Hebrew Calendar

Deficient (haser) month: a month comprising 29 days.

 

Full (male) month: a month comprising 30 days.

 

Ordinary year: a year comprising 12 months, with a total of 353, 354, or 355 days.

 

Leap year: a year comprising 13 months, with a total of 383, 384, or 385 days.

 

Complete year (shelemah): a year in which the months of Heshvan and Kislev both contain 30 days.

 

Deficient year (haser): a year in which the months of Heshvan and Kislev both contain 29 days.

 

Regular year (kesidrah): a year in which Heshvan has 29 days and Kislev has 30 days.

 

Halokim(singular, halek): "parts" of an hour; there are 1080 halokim per hour.

 

Molad (plural, moladot): "birth" of the Moon, taken to mean the time of conjunction for modern calendric purposes.

 

Dechiyah(plural = dechiyot): "postponement"; a rule delaying 1 Tishri until after the molad.

 

The months of Heshvan and Kislev vary in length to satisfy requirements for the length of the year (see Table "B"). In leap years, the 29-day month Adar is designated Adar II, and is preceded by the 30-day intercalary month Adar I.

 

Table "B": Classification of Years in the Hebrew

 

Calendar

 

Deficient

Regular

Complete

Ordinary year

353

354

355

Leap year

383

384

385

 

For calendrical calculations, the day begins at 6 P.M., which is designated 0 hours. Hours are divided into 1080 halokim; thus one chalek is 3 1/3 seconds. (Terminology is explained in Table "A".) Calendrical calculations are referred to the meridian of Jerusalem -- 2 hours 21 minutes east of Greenwich.

 

Rules for constructing the Hebrew calendar are given in the sections that follow. Cohen (1981), Resnikoff (1943), and Spier (1952) provide reliable guides to the rules of calculation.

 

THE FOUR DECHIYOT[176]

 (Postponement Rules)

 

The date for Rosh Hashanah may be postponed by up to two days depending on the time calculated for the MOLAD.

 

In addition to the leap year cycle, the length of each year is slightly adjusted to meet a number of constraints called dechiyot. These small adjustments are made by selecting the length of the two months of Cheshvan and Kislev to be 29 or 30 days. There are four possible combinations, but only three are actually used:

 

Year Kind

Cheshvan

Kislev

length of

regular year

Chasera "incomplete"

29 days

29 days

353

 

Kesidra

"in order"

29 days

30 days

354

----

30 days

29 days

----

Shleima "complete"

30 days

30 days

355

 

The four constraints (Dechiyot) that determine the exact year length have to do with the exact timing of the holidays in relation to the phase of the moon and with relations to the day of the week.

 

The 4 special rules, each of which is called a Dechiyah (or postponement), and each of which serve a particular religious, or arithmetic purpose, are as follows:

 

Dechiya 1

Molad Zaken

 

The name for this rule is often translated as the "old moon" or "obsolete moon" rule. If the Molad of Tishrei occurs at 18 hours (i.e., noon) or later of a permissible day then the first day of Rosh Hashanah is postponed to the next allowable day. In other words, if the Tishri molad occurs at or after 18 hours (i.e., noon), then Tishri 1 is postponed one day. If this causes Tishri 1 to fall on day 1, 4, or 6, then Tishri 1 is postponed an additional day to satisfy dechiyah ust -ADU.

 

The moon goes in orbit around the Earth. Every month, there is one instance in which the moon is exactly between the Earth and the sun and the Earth faces the dark side of the moon. This instance is called Molad ("birth" of a new moon) and it marks the beginning of a new month. The Molad of the first month of the year, Tishrei, marks the Jewish New Year or Rosh Hashanah.

 

Since the Earth is facing the dark side of the moon, the moon becomes visible later that day or the next day.

 

In a year when the Molad of Tishrei occurs after 12:00 noon, Rosh Hashanah is postponed until the next day because the moon would not become visible until the next day. This is done by adding one day to the previous year. This rule can postpone Rosh Hashanah by up to 2 days.

 

Some noteworthy scholars have suggested that this rule will guarantee the visibility of the new moon on the first day of Rosh Hashanah.

 

However, simple calendar arithmetic very strongly suggests that the molad zaken rule is no more than an arithmetical device which ensures that the calculated time of any molad does not exceed the first day of any Hebrew month.

 

This dechiyah is an artifact of the ancient practice of beginning each month with the sighting of the lunar crescent. It is assumed that if the molad (i.e., the mean conjunction) occurs after noon, the lunar crescent cannot be sighted until after 6 P.M., which will then be on the following day.

 

Rosh HaShana 20b Samuel said: I am quite able to make a calendar[177] for the whole of the Diaspora. Said Abba the father of R. Simlai to Samuel: Does the Master know [the meaning] of this remark which occurs in [the Baraitha known as] the secret of the Calendar?[178] ‘If the new moon is born before midday or after midday’? — He replied: I do not. He then said to him: Since the Master does not know this, there must also be other things which the Master does not know. When R. Zera went up [to Palestine], he sent back word to them [in Babylon]: It is necessary that there should be [on New Moon] a night and a day of the new moon.[179] This is what Abba the father of R. Simlai meant: ‘We calculate [according to] the new moon's birth. If it is born before midday, then certainly it will have been seen shortly before sunset. If it was not born before midday, certainly it will not have been seen shortly before sunset’. What is the practical value of this remark? — R. Ashi said: To [help us in] confuting the witnesses.[180]

 

R. Zera said in the name of R. Nahman: The moon is invisible for twenty-four hours [round about new moon]. For us [in Babylon] six of these belong to the old moon and eighteen to the new;[181] for them [in Palestine] six to the new and eighteen to the old.[182] What is the practical value of this remark? — R. Ashi said: To confute the witnesses.

 

Dechiyah 2

ust -ADU Sunday, Wednesday, Friday

 

The name ust (ADU) is an acronym formed from the Hebrew letters alef (=1 for Sunday) daled (=4 for Wednesday) vuv (=6 for Friday).

 

If the Molad of Tishrei falls on Sunday, Wednesday or Friday, Rosh Hashanah is postponed by one day to Monday, Thursday or Saturday, respectively.

 

The reason is that if Rosh Hashanah is on Wednesday or Friday, then Yom Kippur would occur on Friday or Sunday. That would make Yom Kippur adjacent to Shabbat and there would be two consecutive days in which it is forbidden to do any kind of work including the preparation of food.

 

If Rosh Hashanah is on Sunday, Hoshana Rabbah would fall on Saturday and that would prevent the custom of 7 Hakafot.

 

This dechiyah increases the possible year lengths from 4 to 8. These Lengths may be either 353, 354, 355, 356, 382, 383, 384, or 385 days.

 

Dechiyah 3 - s'ryd (GaTaRaD)

Molad of Regular Year on Tuesday

 

If the Tishri molad of an ordinary year (i.e., of twelve months) falls on day 3 at or after 9 hours, 204 halokim, then Tishri 1 (Rosh Hashanah) is postponed two days to day 5, thereby satisfying dechiyah ust -ADU.

 

This dechiyah prevents an ordinary year from exceeding 355 days. If the Tishri molad of an ordinary year occurs on Tuesday at or after 3:11:20 A.M., the next Tishri molad will occur at or after noon on Saturday. According to dechiyah molad zaken), Tishri 1 of the next year must be postponed to Sunday, which by dechiyah ust -ADU occasions a further postponement to Monday. This results in an ordinary year of 356 days. Postponing Tishri 1 from Tuesday to Thursday produces a year of 354 days.

 

If the Molad of Tishrei of a regular year with 12 months occurs on Tuesday morning, Rosh Hashanah would occur on Tuesday. However, this would cause a problem with Rosh Hashanah of the following year.

 

To see why, remember that the length of a regular year can be 353, 354 or 355 days. If Rosh Hashanah occurs on Tuesday, we can determine the day of Rosh Hashanah of the following year by adding (days-in-year modulu 7) days to Tuesday (number modulu 7 is the remainder resulting from dividing the number by 7).

 

Year Kind

Days in Year

Modulu 7

Next Rosh Hashanah

Chasera "incomplete"

353

3

Tuesday + 3 = Friday

Kesidra

"in order"

354

4

Tuesday + 4 = Saturday

Shleima "complete"

355

5

Tuesday + 5 = Sunday

 

We can see from this table that if this year has 353 or 355 days, the next Rosh Hashanah falls on Friday or Sunday, which contradicts constraint number 2.

 

Therefore this year must have 354 days and the next Rosh Hashanah will fall on Saturday. However, the accurate length of a lunar month is 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 3 1/3 seconds. The accurate length of a lunar year (12 lunar months) is therefore 354 days, 8 hours, 48 minutes and 40 seconds. This means that if the Molad of this year occurs on Tuesday 6 AM, the Molad of the following year will occur on Saturday 2:48:40 PM, and Rosh Hashanah will have to be postponed to Sunday according to constraint number 1 and then postponed again to Monday according to constraint number 2. In order to do that, this year will have to be 356 days long, which is not possible.

 

The conclusion of the above logic is constraint number 3 which states That if a Molad of a regular year occurs after Tuesday 3:22 AM, Rosh Hashanah is postponed to Thursday.

 

s'ryd (GaTaRaD) eliminates all 356 day Hebrew years. It is not found in the Talmud.

 

Dechiyah 4

Y''pe, u''yb - BaTU TaKaFot

Molad of Leap Year on Thursday

 

If a Molad of a leap year occurs after Thursday 12:00 noon, the next Rosh Hashanah is postponed from Monday to Tuesday.

 

If the first molad following a leap year falls on day 2 at or after 15 hours, 589 halokim, then Tishri 1 is postponed one day to day 3.

 

This dechiyah prevents a leap year from falling short of 383 days. If the Tishri molad following a leap year is on Monday, at or after 9:32:43 1/3 A.M., the previous Tishri molad (thirteen months earlier) occurred on Tuesday at or after noon. Therefore, by dechiyot s'ryd (GaTaRaD) and Molad Zaken, Tishri 1 beginning the leap year was postponed to Thursday. To prevent a leap year of 382 days, This dechiyah postpones by one day the beginning of the ordinary year.

 

 

 



ARBAAH SHAARIM[183]         (The Four Gates - for the four dechiyot)

Day of Rosh Hashanah

Monday c

Tuesday d

Thursday v

Shabbat z

Length of Year

j

a

f

(j) f

a

j

a

Day of Passover

(v) d

(z) v

(z) v

(t) z

(d) t

(d) t

(v) z

Leap Year 3,6,8,11,14,

17,19

Shabbat

12:00 Noon

j''h 'z

1 & 2

Sunday

2:00 PM 491 ch.

T''m, 'f 't

Monday

12:00 Noon

j''h 'c

1

Tuesday

12:00 Noon

j''h 'd

1 & 2

Wednesday

5:00 AM

695 ch.

V''mr, t''h 's

Thursday

12:00 Noon

j''h 'v

1 & 2

Friday

2:00 PM

491 ch.

T''m, 'f 'u

5

Regular Year before a Leap Year 2,5,10,13,16

''

Sunday

3:00 AM

204 ch.

S''r 'y 't

5

''

Tuesday

3:00 AM

204 ch.

s''r 'y 'd

3

Thursday

3:00 AM

204 ch.

s''r 'y 'v

5

''

Friday

3:00 AM

204 ch.

s''r 'y 'u

5

Regular Year Between two Leap Years 7,18

''

''

Monday

9:00 AM

589 ch.

y''pe, u''y 'c

4

''

''

''

''

Regular Year after a Leap Year 1,4,9,12,15

''

''

''

''

''

''

Friday

6:00 PM

408 ch.

j'', 'u

6

Notes:

1. Molad Zoken (an old birth) - The molad (birth of the moon) falls after noon, so Rosh Hashanah must be pushed off to the next day or later.

2. ts''u (ADU or first day of the week [t, the third day of the week [s], or the sixth day of the week [u])- Rosh Hashanah cannot fall on Sunday, Wednesday, or Friday, so it must be pushed off to the next day

3. ds''ryd (GaTRaD - d stands for third day of the week, y for nine hours, and s''r for 204 halokim) - Rosh Hashanah is pushed off from Tuesday to Thursday so that the next Rosh Hashanah can fall on Monday.

4. y''pe, u''yc (BeTU TaKPaT - c stands for the second day of the week, u''y for the fifteenth hour, and y''xe, for 589 halokim) - Rosh Hashanah is pushed off from Monday to Tuesday because the previous year must have 383 days, the minimum length for a leap year.

 

The following affect the length of the year only, not the day of Rosh Hashanah:

5. Next year's molad (birth of the moon) will be molad Zoken (an old birth), so the year must be a day longer, but since that would put Rosh Hashanah of the next year on one of the impossible days, it is two days longer instead.

6. Next year's molad (birth of the moon) will be GaTRaD, so the year must be two days longer to push next year's Rosh Hashanah from Tuesday to Thursday.

 

You can verify notes 5 and 6 by adding 5 days, 21 hours, and 589 halokim for a leap year of 4 days, 8 hours, and 876 halokim for a regular year to the times on the chart to get the molad of the following Tishrei.

 


Determining Tishri 1

 

The calendar year begins with the first day of Rosh Hashanah (Tishri 1). This is determined by the day of the Tishri molad and the four rules of postponements (dechiyot). The dechiyot can postpone Tishri 1 until one or two days following the molad. Tabular new moons (maladot) are reckoned from the Tishri molad of the year A.M. 1, which occurred on day 2 at 5 hours, 204 halokim (i.e., 11:11:20 P.M. on Sunday, -3760 October 6, Julian proleptic calendar). The adopted value of the mean lunation is 29 days, 12 hours, 793 halokim (29.530594 days). To avoid rounding and truncation errors, calculation should be done in halokim rather than decimals of a day, since the adopted lunation constant is expressed exactly in halokim.

 

Lunation Constants for Determining Tishri 1

Lunations        Weeks-Days-Hours-Halokim

            1          =          4-1-12-0793

            12        =          50-4-08-0876

            13        =          54-5-21-0589

            235      =          991-2-16-0595

 

Lunation constants required in calculations are shown in the above table. By subtracting off the weeks, these constants give the shift in weekdays that occurs after each cycle.

 

Determining the Length of the Year

 

An ordinary year consists of 50 weeks plus 3, 4, or 5 days. The number of excess days identifies the year as being deficient, regular, or complete, respectively. A leap year consists of 54 weeks plus 5, 6, or 7 days, which again are designated deficient, regular, or complete, respectively. The length of a year can therefore be determined by comparing the weekday of Tishri 1 with that of the next Tishri 1.

 

First consider an ordinary year. The weekday shift after twelve lunations is 04-08-876. For example if a Tishri molad of an ordinary year occurs on day 2 at 0 hours 0 halokim (6 P.M. on Monday), the next Tishri molad will occur on day 6 at 8 hours 876 halokim. The first Tishri molad does not require application of the dechiyot, so Tishri 1 occurs on day 2. Because dechiyah ust -ADU, the following Tishri 1 is delayed by one day to day 7, five weekdays after the previous Tishri 1. Since this characterizes a complete year, the months of Heshvan and Kislev both contain 30 days.

 

The weekday shift after thirteen lunations is 05-21-589. If the Tishri molad of a leap year occurred on day 4 at 20 hours 500 halokim, the next Tishri molad will occur on day 3 at 18 hours 9 halokim. Because of dechiyah Molad Zaken, Tishri 1 of the leap year is postponed two days to day 6. Because of dechiyot s'ryd (GaTaRaD), Tishri 1 of the following year is postponed two days to day 5. This six-day difference characterizes a regular year, so that Heshvan has 29 days and Kislev has 30 days.

 

* * *

 

The Gregorian (or Julian) calendar is based on the cycle of the Earth around the sun. The length of this cycle, the solar year, is very close to 365 1/4 days.

 

The Hebrew calendar on the other hand is based on the cycle of the moon around the Earth. The length of this cycle, the lunar month, is about 29 1/2 days. Twelve lunar months make therefore about 354 days, which is 11 1/4 days shorter than the solar year.

 

In biblical times, the arrival of the new month was determined by watching the phase of the moon. However in modern times a fixed calendar is used in which the length of the months alternates between 29 and 30 days. Here are the names of the months in the Hebrew calendar:

 

1.         Nisan               30 days

2.         Iyar                  29 days

3.         Sivan               30 days

4.         Tammuz          29 days

5.         Av                   30 days

6.         Elul                 29 days

7.         Tishrei            30 days

8.         Cheshvan        29/30 days

9.         Kislev             29/30 days

10.       Tevet               29 days

11.       Shevat             30 days

12.       Adar                29 days

 

The difference of 11 1/4 days between 12 lunar months and one solar year accumulates in three years to more than a month. If no adjustments are made, a summer month like Av or Elul could shift to the winter.

 

Because the Biblical holidays are closely related to the seasons (for example, the Torah commands to celebrate Pesach (Passover) in the spring), an adjustment to the calendar must be made every few years. Every two or three years one extra month is added to a year. Such a year is called a leap year and it has two months of Adar. Here are the months in a leap year:

 

1.         Nisan               30 days

2.         Iyar                  29 days

3.         Sivan               30 days

4.         Tammuz          29 days

5.         Av                   30 days

6.         Elul                 29 days

7.         Tishrei            30 days

8.         Cheshvan        29/30 days

9.         Kislev             29/30 days

10.       Tevet               29 days

11.       Shevat             30 days

12.       Adar I              30 days

13.       Adar II             29 days

 

Holidays that occur in the month of Adar (such as Purim) are celebrated in Adar 2 in a leap year. The same rule is applied to birthdays, anniversaries and other personal events. The following 19 year cycle determines when a year is a leap year:

 

1.         Regular.

2.         Regular.

3.         Leap.

4.         Regular.

5.         Regular.

6.         Leap.

7.         Regular.

8.         Leap.

9.         Regular.

10.       Regular.

11.       Leap.

12.       Regular.

13.       Regular.

14.       Leap.

15.       Regular.

16.       Regular.

17.       Leap.

18.       Regular.

19.       Leap.

 

<!-- a href="about.html">

        <img border=0 src="abouthebcal.gif" alt="About the Hebrew

New Moon Calculations

According to the Oral Torah

 

1. The beginning of the lunar month occurs at the moment of conjunction between the sun and the moon; i.e. at the moment when the position of the moon is exactly between the earth and the sun. At this point, termed as the molad, or "birth", the moon is not visible from the earth. At least six hours must pass before a very small portion of the moon will reappear. The day on which this occurs is regarded as the first day of the new month. (Rashi)

 

Rosh Hashanah 20b — The latter statement would be seen to be false,[184] the former statement is not seen to be false.[185]

 

Samuel said: I am quite able to make a calendar[186] for the whole of the Diaspora. Said Abba the father of R. Simlai to Samuel: Does the Master know [the meaning] of this remark which occurs in [the Baraitha known as] the secret of the Calendar?[187] ‘If the new moon is born before midday or after midday’? — He replied: I do not. He then said to him: Since the Master does not know this, there must also be other things which the Master does not know. When R. Zera went up [to Palestine], he sent back word to them [in Babylon]: It is necessary that there should be [on New Moon] a night and a day of the new moon.[188] This is what Abba the father of R. Simlai meant: ‘We calculate [according to] the new moon's birth. If it is born before midday, then certainly it will have been seen shortly before sunset. If it was not born before midday, certainly it will not have been seen shortly before sunset’. What is the practical value of this remark? — R. Ashi said: To [help us in] confuting the witnesses.[189]

 

R. Zera said in the name of R. Nahman: The moon is invisible for twenty-four hours [round about new moon]. For us [in Babylon] six of these belong to the old moon and eighteen to the new;[190] for them [in Palestine] six to the new and eighteen to the old.[191] What is the practical value of this remark? — R. Ashi said: To confute the witnesses.

 

The Master has just said: It is necessary that there should be [on New Moon] a night and a day of the new moon. Whence is this rule derived? — R. Johanan said: [From the text]. From evening to evening;[192] Resh Lakish said: [From the text], Until the twenty-first day of the month in the evening.[193] What practical difference is there between them? — Abaye said: The difference between them is only one of exegesis.[194] Raba said: They differ in regard to [the hours up to] midnight.[195]

 

2. The moon resembles a cosmic clock which orbits the earth on the average of 29 days, 12 hours plus 793 parts of an hour (29.53059 days). This figure allows for computing in advance all new moons and their respective holidays.

 

3. In order to calculate the appearance of any new moon in advance (especially Tishrei and Nisan) it is necessary to know in addition to the rate of the moon's orbit, the exact moment at which the cosmic clock went into operation.

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 1:14-15 And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, And let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so.

 

A. According to the position of Rebbi Eliezer (Pirkei D'Rebbi Eliezer chapter 8, Pesikta Rabati 46, Midrash Vayikra Raba Parashat Emor chapter 29a) when Adam was created on the sixth day of creation, that day was the first of Tishrei, New Year's day. Days 1,2,3,4, and 5 of Creation took place successively on the 25, 26, 27, 28, and 29th of the month of Elul of the previous hypothetical year. This entire hypothetical year preceding the first New Year's day is called Shanat Tohu or Primordial Year.

 

New Year's Day, Tishrei 1, is called Yom Harat Olam, the birth-day of the world referring not to the world which was created on the 25th of Elul but to Adam for whom the world was created. (Rashi's commentary to Mahtzor Vitri.)

 

B. According to the Oral Tradition (Tosfot on Rosh Hashanah 8a, Rabbi Ovadiah ben David on Rambam Sanctification of the month 6:8) the first New Moon occurred exactly at the end of the second hour of the sixth morning (12 + 2 hours from sun set at the end of the fifth day of Creation) when Adam was created. This first New Moon is called 6/14 (14 full hours into the sixth day) and is coded in Hebrew as V/YD. (Vav equals 6, Yod-Dalet equals 14). The Oral Tradition therefore reveals that the verse "they shall be as signs..." places the first actual New Moon, not on the fourth day when the luminaries were suspended, but on the sixth day of Creation, when Adam, for whose use they were made, was created.

 

5. Now we know not only the mean-length of the lunar month but the exact moment when the "cosmic clock" went into operation (V/YD). We may now ascertain the appearance of any New Moon is advance by calculating the number of months that have passed since the first New Moon (V/YD) and multiplying by 29.53059. (For a discussion of "simple" (12 months) and "plenary" or "pregnant" years (13 months) which would have to be taken into consideration for such a calculation see Rambam Sanctification 6:10-13.

 

6. However, it is critical to bear in mind that the hypothetical year (Shanat Tohu) that preceded the first actual New Moon V/YD consisted of only five days (Elul 25, 26, 27, 28, and 29) and that the present Jewish calendar takes the beginning of Shanat Tohu as its starting point in order not to omit these 5 days! Our calculations therefore must make up for the approximately 11 months 24.5 days which are missing if we would start at V/YD.

 

7. In order to prevent unnecessary complications of this sort and enable us to calculate in whole years, the sages employed a method which is scientifically accepted today as well, of calculating backwards or extrapolation.

 

8. Calculating backwards: By means of extrapolation we can calculate the first hypothetical New Moon which would have occurred if the World (time) had been created at the beginning of the year instead of at its end. By simply calculating backwards 12 lunar month cycles of 29 days 12 hours 793 parts from V/YD we arrive at Molad Tohu, the Primordial New Moon.

 

9. It is understood that this extrapolation is built in such a way that from the Molad Tohu a period of exactly 12 months would bring us forward to the first actual New Moon V/YD.

 

10. The advantage of employing the concept of Molad Tohu (Primordial New Moon) as the starting point for the Jewish calendar, allows us to work in whole years in the ascertaining of any New Moon we wish to know. (The missing 11 months 29.5 days of the first hypothetical year are automatically included).

 

11. The calculation: When we subtract 12 times 29 days 793 parts from the 14th hour of the sixth day (V/YD) we obtain the Primordial New Moon: 2 days 5 hours 204 parts (or 5 hours and 204 parts of an hour into the second day of the first week of the previous hypothetical year). In Hebrew this number is coded B/H/RD, 2d 5h 204p. (Beit equals 2, hey equals 5, Resh-dalet equals 204).

 

 


              

 


Creation of the World

                        |

                   

                        1 2 3 4 5 6 7

                        | | | | | | |

 |-------------------------------------------------------------------Shabbat

                               |

Shabbat 25th Elul of Primordial Year |

                               |

Primordial New Moon

 B/H/RD                       First New Moon V/YD

 |------------------------ 12 months ---------------------| New Years Day

                        Tishrei of 2nd Year.

 

 

      A. V/YD minus           12(29d 12h 793p) =

 

      B. 6d 14h minus   354d 8h 876p) =

 

      C. 6d 14h minus   (50 weeks* + 4d 8h 876p)=

 

      D.    6d 13h 1080p) =

                              ---------------------

 

                              2d 8h 876p) = B/H/RD

 

 

* Note: Since we are only interested in the day, hour and parts of an hour, we may conveniently drop whole weeks from the calculation.

 


A. Maimonides Laws of Sanctifying the Moon 6:8 The very first conjunction with which you begin, however, is the conjunction of the first year of Creation, which occurred in the fifth hour and two hundred and fourth part of an hour of the night of Monday - in numerals: 2d 5h 204p; and this is the starting point of the calculations.

 

B. Rabbi Ovadia ben David - Commentary on Maimonides ibid. "2d 5h 204p ( B/H/RD ); and this is the starting point of the calculation"...

Know that Adam, the first man, was created at the end of the second hour (beginning of the third hour) of the morning of the sixth Day of Creation, for the Sages have taught: At the beginning of the first hour... Now, since five full days plus 14 hours of the sixth day (5 days, 12 hours of night, 2 hours of day) had passed before Adam's formation, we needed to know (and this is why Rambam refers to this in this Halacha) retroactively the New Year's Day (Tishrei of the primordial year) from which all the previous hypothetical months began. That New Year's Day is B/H/RD.

 

12. From the previous discussion it follows that V/YD and B/H/RD are both known, it is clearly possible to calculate the length of the lunar month (29d 12h 793p or 29.53059) without any difficulty!

 

13. The Hebrew code-word B/H/RD which is connected to the Creation of the World (primordial New Year) is intrinsically related to the sacred 42 letter name of HaShem.

 

Bachya (13th century AD) used an ELS with spacing 42 that started with the first letter of Genesis - D then went to the 42nd letter following that D - R then went to the 42nd letter following that R - H then went to the 42nd letter following that H - B to produce the sequence DRHB, which he showed to produce the 29.530594 day synodic Lunar month. Bachya did not claim to have discovered the Torah-coding of the Jewish Lunar month, but gave credit to Nechunya (1st century AD).

 

C. Mishna Hagiga 11b. The (subject of) forbidden relations may not be expounded in the presence of three, nor the work of creation in the presence of two, nor (the work of) the chariot in the presence of one, unless he is a sage and understands of his own knowledge. Whosoever speculates upon four things, a pity for him! He is as though he had not come into the world, (to wit), what is above, what is beneath, what before, what after. And whosoever takes no thought for the honor of his Maker, it were a mercy,

if he had not come into the world.

 

D. Tosfot "The work of Creation may not be expounded..." Rabeinu Tam explained that this refers to the 42 letter Name, which is coded in the first verse of the Torah and the verse following it.

 

E. Kiddushin 71a Rab Judah said in Rab's name: The forty-two lettered Name[196] is entrusted only to him who is pious,[197] meek, middle-aged,[198] free from bad temper, sober,[199] and not insistent on his rights. And he who knows it, is heedful thereof,[200] and observes it in purity, is beloved above and popular below, feared by man,[201] and inherits two worlds, this world and the future world.[202]

 

* * *

 

The following section was from Jeff Stewart:

 

1080 halekim = 1hr = 1080prt

 

(1080prt/hr x 1hr/3600sec) = .3prt/sec = 1sec = .3prt

 

1 sec / .3prt = x sec / 1prt => x sec = (1sec / .3prt) x ( 1prt ) => x sec= 3.333sec 1prt = 3.333sec

 

The hour is divided into 1080 parts, which are called “halekim”.

 

( 1dy x 24hr/dy ) = 24hr/dy    (24hr/dy x 1080prt/hr ) = 25,920prt/dy 1dy = 25,920prt

 

( 24hr/dy x 60min/hr ) = 1440 min/dy ( .3prt/sec x 60sec/min ) = 18prt/min 1min = 18prt

 

( 1440min/dy x 60sec/min ) = 86,400sec/dy

 

1prt = 3.333sec

1sec = .3prt

1min = 18prt

1hr = 1080prt

1dy = 25,920prt

 

 


 

V/YD - B/H/RD                                                          First New Moon - Year Before 1st New Moon

_____________          = 29dy 12hr 793prt _____________________________________

 

 12months 12months

 


 

29dy 12hr 793prt = 29.53059 days (Will prove later) This is the mean length of the lunar month. This figure allows for calculating all future New Moons and their respective holidays.

 

In order to calculate the appearance of any New Moon in advance (especially Tishrei and Nisan) it is necessary to know in addition to the rate of the moon’s orbit, the exact moment at which the cosmic clock went into operation. The clock went into operation on V/YD the 6th day 14th hour. We may now ascertain the appearance of any New Moon in advance by calculating the number of months that have passed from the first New Moon (V/YD) and multiplying by 29.53059.

 

Man was created on the 14th hour of the 6th day according to oral tradition. We know from Torah that man was created on the 6th day. The sixth day would have started after the sunset of the fifth day (it was dark then). Tradition holds that man was created after sunrise on the 6th day. (6:30pm - 8:30am Sept. 15th)

 


 

 Su Mo            Even Number of Weeks (50) (350days) (0-0) Sat Su M T W T F Sa

|---|---|----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|

0 ß---------------------------------------50weeks------------------------------------à 0

 

|---|---|----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|------------------|

0 B/H/RD                                12months (0 -0)                      World Created           V/YD

 Molad[203] Tohu             Shonat Tohu - Primordial Year          0 day  6th day 14hr

 Tishrei 1                                                                                Elul 25 (hypothetical) Tishrei 1

 Primordial New Moon[204]                                                                                Yom Harat Olam

 2dy 5hr 204prt                                                                       (B-day of the World)

 Monday Night (~11:30pm)                                                   Friday Morning (~8:30am)

 Assuming Tishrei Sunset is around 6:30pm


 


First New Moon = Tishrei 1 (Mid-September Rosh Hashanah)

 


Man Created on V/YD according to oral tradition. B/H/RD is taken from Genesis 1. Count every 42nd letter from the first letter in Bereshit and you will come up with B/H/RD. The number 42 is related to the sacred name of HaShem.

 

B/H/RD

B = Monday Second Day (Bet = 2)

H = 5hrs (Hey = 5)

RD = 204prts ( Resh = 200, Dalet = 4)

B/H/RD = 2nd day 5th hour 204th part of the hour

 

The Molad is the exact beginning of the New Moon, it is when the Moon is exactly between the Earth and the Sun. Six hours must pass before the New Moon is visible to people on Earth. When the moon is visible, this is the first day of the New Moon.

 

Remember that the accepted New Year is Nisan (for creation?)

 

The verse Genesis 1:14-15 ( … and they shall be for signs, and for appointed seasons, and for days, and years.” ) takes place on the 6th day, when man was created and can now see the signs.

 

By watching the moon every month, we can tell that there are about 29.5 days in a month.

 

Man was created on Friday morning (at the exact time of the New Moon) and the Primordial New Moon was on Monday ( a hypothetical year before). That means that if the number of days that are in a lunar month are ABOUT 29.5 then there would be ABOUT 354 days in the lunar year. Monday Evening to Monday Evening ( 50wk x 7dy/wk) = 350 days.

 

Mon - Mon 11:30pm = 50wks. Add 4days and 12hrs Tu=351 Wed=352 Th=353 Fri=354th day. Remember that actually only 5 full days had passed and 14 hrs, but we used the codified 6/14 in the equation. This gives an illusion of an extra day when figuring out the day of the week.

 

Now sometimes this 50 wk number is dropped in the calculation in order to simplify things and round out to the exact minute.

 

The actual calculation is [(V/YD - B/H/RD) + 50wks] / 12months

 

First real New Moon was on V/YD (during the day?) hypothetical new moon was on B/H/RD

 

[(V/YD - B/H/RD) +50wk] / 12mo = X X = 29.53059dy/mo Calculating this number

 

V/YD = 6dy 14hr

B/H/RD = 2dy 5hr 204prt

50wk = 350dy

Minus ( - ) means “the difference”

 

[(6dy 14hr 0prt - 2dy 5hr 204prt) + 350dy] / 12mo => 6dy 13hr 1080prt - 2dy 5hr 204prt =>

 

(4dy 8hr 876prt - 350dy) / 12mo

 

4dy/12mo = 1/3 dy/mo OR .33333 dy/mo

8hr/12mo = 2/3 hr/mo OR .66666 hr/mo => convert to parts => (.66666hr/mo x 1080prt/hr )=720prt/mo

876prt/12mo = 73prt/mo OR 73prt/mo

350dy/12mo = 29 1/6 dy/mo OR 29.16666 dy/mo

 

(29.16666dy + .33333dy + .66666hr + 73prt)/mo => 29.5dy + 720prt + 73 prt => 29dy 12hr 793prt / mo

 

(793prt/ x dy) = 25,920prt/dy => x dy = 793prt / (25,920prt/dy) = .03059dy

(finding out how much of a day 793 parts is)                                    (.5dy = 12hr)

 

29.5dy + .03059dy = 29.53059dy (is the mean length of one lunar month)

 

* * *

 

NOAH'S CALENDAR

 

The Torah tells us that Noah settled in Israel after the great Flood and we know that he brought a calendar with him. The years of Noah's calendar were reckoned from his birth:

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 7:11 "In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened".

 

There are several calendar references in the account of the Flood, including a seventh month, a tenth month, and the first and second months of Noah's 601st year. There is one curious footnote - a period of five months is numbered at 150 days. It seems that Noah used 30 day months. A true lunar month would have alternated between 29 and 30 days; leading to a five month period of either:

 

 29                   30

 30                   29

 29                   30

 30                   29

 29                   30

___                  ___

147                  148

 

Even if we took into account the months of Cheshvan and Kislev which can both have 30 days, we would have 149 days. With the current calendar, 150 days would be unachievable. Since Noah and his family were the only ones alive, they obviously did their own sightings, from the ark. Here is evidence to suggest that the lunar orbit was different in Noah's day.

 

QUESTIONS

 

QUESTION: Do all Jews use the popular Jewish calendar?

 

ANSWER: No. The Karaite Jews, though an integral part of the Jewish nation, do not use the popular Jewish calendar because of the human traditions listed above and other reasons besides.[205]

 

"Why do the Rabbanites differ from us (Karaites) in regard to the dates of their holy days? In ancient times, all Israel sanctified the new moon according to actual observance, by eye-witnesses. The Karaites use Genesis 1:14 and Psalm 104:19 to support their claims; that in the year 801 C.E., the Rabbanites abandoned this so called "scriptural" custom and introduced a calendar reform, which included the following innovations:

 

A. PASSOVER (Pesach) can never fall on Monday, Wednesday or Friday: and it must coincide with the day of the 9th of Av of that year.

 

B. SHAVUOT can never fall on a Tuesday, Thursday, or Friday and it must coincide with the second day of Passover...

 

C. ROSH HASHANAH (Feast of Trumpets) can never fall on a Sunday, Wednesday or Friday, and must coincide with the third day of Passover ...

 

D. YOM HAKIPPURIM can never fall on Sunday, Tuesday or Friday, and must coincide with the fifth day of Passover.

 

E. PURIM can never fall on the Sabbath (Saturday), Monday, or Wednesday and must coincide with the sixth day of Passover.

 

The Karaite's say that the rabbinic "rules" have no basis in the scripture, and are inventions of the Rabbis. In contrast the Karaites continue to base their calendar on the actual observance of the new Moon. Therefore the holy days fall on different days."

 

So, lets examine the scripture, cited by the Karaites, to see if there is scriptural support for their visual sightings. Let's start with Genesis 1:14-15:

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 1:14-5 And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, And let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so.

 

I do not see any mention of witnesses or the need to actually sight the new moon in the above passage. Let's see if there is any mention in the Psalm passage:

 

Tehillim (Psalm) 104:19 The moon marks off the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down.

 

Again, I do not see any mention of witnesses or the need to actually sight the new moon in the above passage.

 

The scripture seems to agree that the Karaites are doing what seems "right in their own eyes". This was overwhelmingly condemned by the scriptures:

 

Shoftim (Judges) 21:25 In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 12:8-9 You are not to do as we do here today, everyone as he sees fit, Since you have not yet reached the resting place and the inheritance HaShem your God is giving you.

 

Tehillim (Psalm) 12:4 Who have said, With our tongue will we prevail; our lips [are] our own: who [is] lord over us?

 

In conclusion, there is no support for the Karaite's contention that the majority of Jews are using the wrong dates. The matter of "sighting" the new moon was a matter of oral law before the Karaite's, and the current manner of sanctifying the new moon is also from that same oral law.

 

* * *

 

For further study:

 

"Understanding the Jewish Calendar", by Nathan Bushwick, Moznaim Publishing 1989

 

"The B'nai Yissasschar: A Thematic Translation and commentary" in "Worlds of Jewish Prayer: A Festschrift in Honor of Rabbi Zalman M. Schacter-Shalomi, ed. Shoshana Harris Wiener and Jonathan Omer-Man, Hillel Goelman, Jason Aronson Inc 1994

 

"Foundation of Astronomy", Michael A. Seeds, Wadsworth Publishing Company - Belmont WA.

 

SEASONAL IMPLICATIONS

 

Lauren Schiff <Laurenrs@aol.com wrote:

 

My Artscroll Siddur says to add the words `tal u'matar' [prayer for rain] starting the evening of December 4th. Later I saw in the Book of our Heritage that it says December 5th. Which date is correct?

 

The Book of our Heritage is correct.

 

In Talmudic times, the rainy season in Babylon started 60 days after the autumn `tekufa' -- i.e., the halachic equinox. That's the time of year when the Jews in Babylon started to pray for rain. The Sages fixed this date for all Diaspora Jews.

 

Whereas all Jewish holidays are based on the moon and don't correlate to the civil calendar, the `tekufa' is based on the sun. That's why it's the only yearly Jewish occurrence associated with the civil calendar.

 

The Talmudic sage Shmuel approximated the year to be 365 and 1/4 days long. The `tekufa' is based on this figure. The Roman calendar established by Emperor Julius Caesar is based on the exact same figure -- 365 1/4 days. For a thousand years, everything was rosy.

 

But in 1582 Pope Gregory XIII changed the calendar to what is now known As the Gregorian calendar, which is the one currently in use. According to this calendar, every fourth year is a leap year except those century years which cannot be divided by 400. For example, the year 1600 was a leap year, but the years 1700, 1800 and 1900 were not. The year 2000 is a leap

year.

 

So the year 1900, which was a leap year according to the Julian calendar, was not a leap year according to the Gregorian. Therefore, the calculations made in the 1800s are no longer valid.

 

Most current English prayer books today are based on reprinting prayer books from the 1800s; hence, the mistake. Therefore, the words `V'tein tal u'matar L'vracha' -- 'Give dew and rain for blessing' -- should have been added this year on the fifth of December, and not on the fourth.

 

Sources:

o Tractate Ta'anit 10a

o Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 117:1

o Iggrot Moshe Orach Chaim 4:17 that the `tekufa'

 is according to Shmuel

o Rabbi Yedidya Menat, author of Luach Kir

 

 [* In Volume II, Danny Koffman wrote: In Chapter 3, Mishna 2 in Berakhot it says "(We) ask for the rains in The Blessing of the Seasons...". Kehati says in his commentary: (the insertion), 'and give dew and rain', is added from the 7th of [Mar] Cheshvan until the Mincha service of the day before Pesach. This is the custom in all of Eretz Israel. Elsewhere it is recited on the sixtieth day after the "tekufah of Tishrei" (i.e. the autumnal equinox). ]

 

Now that we don't have Babylonia as the seat of the diaspora, many feel That the proper time would be in coordination with Israel's time slot. The Rosh raises this question and even suggests that the custom should prevail to be on the seventh of MARCHESHVAN. The Rema and the other rishonim do not concur and we are forced to start reciting, "v'ten" at the time of the rest of the diaspora.

 

Additionally, there is a solar blessing, Birkhat Hachama, once every 28 years which celebrates the sun being in its original position as the time of creation.

 

I wonder if anyone can suggest a solution to a seasonal problem my son-in-law, Adam, and I found while learning Mishna the other day. In Chapter 3, Mishna 2 in Berakhot it says "(We) ask for the rains in the Blessing of the Seasons...". Kehati says in his commentary: (the insertion), 'and give dew and rain', is added from the 7th of Marheshvan until the Mincha service of the day before Pesach. This is the custom in all of Eretz Israel. Elsewhere it is recited on the sixtieth day after the "tekufah of Tishrei" (i.e. the autumnal equinox). Our query is, why the reliance on the solar calendar outside Israel? I can't think of another situation where it is used - though Adam thinks there is a solar blessing every 24 years.

 

The designated period during which we recite the bracha of veten tal umatar (and give dew and rain) corresponds to the rainy periods in Bavel (Babylonia), where most of the Jews lived at the time the prayers were developed. The Gemara Ta'anit 10a explains that this period begins on the sixtieth day of the autumn season. (It makes sense for the date to be based on the solar calendar since seasons are solar based). It should be noted, that this declaration applies to Eretz Yisrael as well. However, a provision was made for Eretz Yisrael because it was assumed that Israel needed more water. Thus, they decided that the Israeli inhabitants should start saying this bracha on the seventh of Cheshvan . In other words, originally, the solar calendar was relied upon in both Israel and outside of Israel; the law was just changed a bit.

 

* * *

 

Dates of the Passover

near the time of Yeshua Crucifixion

 

Year Biblical Rabbinical

C.E. Calculation Calculation

 

28 Wednesday, 28 April Monday, 26 April

29 Monday, 18 April Sabbath, 16 April

30 Friday, 7 April Wednesday, 5 April

31 Wednesday, 25 April Wednesday, 25 April

32 Monday, 14 April Monday, 14 April

33 Sabbath, 1 May Friday, 3 April

34 Thursday, 22 April Wednesday, 21 April

 

* * *

 

Astronomical Accuracy or a Grab for Power?

The Jewish Controversy about Calendar Postponements

 

[Saadia's controversy with Ben Meir about Hebrew calendar postponements in 921 C.E. mirrors modern arguments in which a power struggle is disguised as a concern about calendar computation for new moons, months, years, Holy days and Feasts involving lunar-solar approximation. Remember: "The Calendar was made for man, not man for the Calendar!"]

From "Saadia Gaon: His Life and Works" by Henry Malter, Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America. 1921. Chapter IV. Saadia's Controversy with Ben Meir. pp. 70-88

 

"I should prefer to escape discussion of a subject that ranks as one of the obscurest and most complicated in Jewish literature. Besides, the origin and history of the Jewish calendar does not readily lend itself to a popular presentation. Our purpose here will be served best by a brief summary of principles, avoiding as far as possible the details of computation.

 

It is generally accepted that the Jewish festivals were, in Biblical times, fixed by observation of both the sun and the moon. Gradually, certain astronomical rules were also brought into requisition, primarily as a test, corroborating or refuting the testimony of observation. Such rules are mentioned for the first time in the Book of Enoch, in the Book of Jubilees, in the Mishnah, and later in the two Talmudim [Babylonian and Jerusalem]. It has been authoritatively proved that in spite of a more advanced knowledge of astronomy the practice of fixing the new moon and the festivals by observation was in force as late as the latter part of the fifth century. The right to announce the new moon after receiving and testing the witnesses who had observed its appearance was the prerogative of the Palestinian Patriarchs, and the repeated attempts of the authorities in Babylonia to arrogate this right unto themselves were promptly frustrated by interdicts from Palestine. With the beginning of the fourth century, however, Palestine, owing to the terrible persecutions suffered at the hands of the Romans, gradually ceased to be the spiritual center of Jewry. Babylonia, where better conditions prevailed under the Persian rule, took its place, and the religious right to fix the calendar likewise passed over to the heads of its flourishing academies, though not without protests from Palestine. In Babylonia also, the practice of observation was continued until the time of the last Amoraim, although a practical system of reckoning had been known to scholars for more than a century. It was only after the close of the Babylonian Talmud, in the sixth or perhaps later, in the seventh century, that the observation of the moon was entirely given up, and a complete and final system of calendation introduced. This was adopted by all the Jews of the Diaspora, and has been accepted as binding down to the present day.

 

The real originators of this calendar as well as the circumstances under which it was enforced are lost in the general obscurity of the history of the Oriental Jews during the first two centuries after the completion of the Talmud.

 

According to a Babylonian [Jewish] tradition of Gaonic times, it was Hillel II (in the IVth Century C.E.) who fixed the Jewish calendar and established its rules. However, these rules of Hillel II were only one phase in the history of the Jewish calendar, which was not completed before the sixth-seventh century. (Hayyim Schauss (1938) The Jewish Festivals, Cincinnati: Union of American Hebrew Congregations, n.121, p.299)

 

It is certain, however, that the whole system of calendation, although promulgated in Babylonia, originated in Palestine. There are indications that the Palestinian Jews felt sore at heart that they had to bow to the Babylonian authorities, whom they must have considered as usurpers of their inherited rights, and from time to time they must have tried to re-establish their lost authority, but in vain.

 

With the beginning of the tenth century the situation was again changed. The once flourishing Babylonian academies of Sura and Pumbedita, especially the former, owing to general conditions and to the lack of strong leaders, began to show a marked decline, so that the Sura academy was on the point of closing its doors, and the sister-academy in Pumbedita was greatly reduced in strength by a bitter struggle between its leading scholars and a pugnacious exilarch. At this juncture a man of marked ability arose in Palestine, who, recognizing the propitious moment, sought to take advantage of the situation in order to restore its former prerogatives to his country.[206] This man was [Aaron ?] Ben Meir, a Palestinian by birth and the head of a school in his native land. He claimed to be a descendant of the Patriarchs of the house of Hillel, mentioning particularly R. Gamliel and R. Judah Hanasi as his progenitors. With genuine scholarly attainments and considerable facility in writing he combined strong will and determined character; all of which gained for him great influence even outside of Palestine.

 

In order to bring out Ben Meir's point of view it is necessary to explain some of the elementary rules of the Jewish calendar: The Jewish lunar year consists of twelve alternating months, of 29 or 30 days, respectively. Such a year, counting 354 days, is called normal or regular. For certain reasons, to be explained presently, the year is sometimes made to count only 353 days, in which case it is designated as deficient; or a day is added, making 355, and then it is called full. To make a year full or deficient, the months of Heshwan and Kislew (approximately November and December) were selected for the necessary addition or subtraction. In a regular year Heshwan always counts 29 and Kislew 30 days (=59); in a full year a day is added to Heshwan ( =60), and in a deficient year a day is subtracted from Kislew ( = 58). Whether a year is to be declared regular, full, or deficient depends upon four rules, called "Postponements," or the " Four Gates".[207] These must be observed in the appointment of every Jewish New Year's day (first of Tishri, approximately September). We shall here mention only the two rules necessary for the understanding of Ben Meir's attempted reform.

 

The first of these rules is that New Year's day should never be appointed on either a Sunday, or Wednesday, or Friday. Sunday is considered unfit, because with Rosh Hashanah falling thereon, the seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles (Hosha'na Rabbah) on which the ceremony of "beating the willow-twigs" is an important part of the service, would fall on the Sabbath, and the observance of the ceremony could not be permitted. Wednesday and Friday are likewise inadmissible, because the Day of Atonement would then, to the great inconvenience of the people, fall on either Friday or Sunday immediately before or after the Sabbath. If, therefore, the new moon of the month of Tishri was observed in the night preceding one of these three days (Sunday, Wednesday, Friday), New-Year was proclaimed on the day following; a custom still in force now that calculation has been substituted for observation, the calendar having been fixed in agreement with this rule of Talmudic origin [tractate Rosh Hashanah 20a].

 

The second rule is that in order to proclaim a New-Year's Day it is necessary that the new moon be seen before noon of this day. If the new moon is not observed until exact noon, or later, no matter on what day of the week, the New Year has to be postponed to the following day. If that happens to be one of the three days declared inadmissible for Rosh Hashanah, the festival is of course postponed for two days. The supposed reason for this rule is that it takes fully six hours from the moment the new moon is caught sight of from some place of vantage until it becomes again visible. Now if the conjunction (Molad), that is the meeting of the moon and the sun in the same degree of the zodiac, takes place at 12 (noon) sharp, or still later, there is no chance for the moon to become visible until sunset (six o'clock), when the Jewish astronomical day is considered over. In strictness, this rule (which is also Talmudic, [tractate Rosh Hashanah 20b]), has pertinence only to a system depending on observation; but, as stated before, the rules of calendric calculation were made to agree with the original rules of practice though the reasons given may have lost their value.

 

It will be readily understood from the above that whenever New Year is postponed, the year is made shorter, being reduced to 353 days and thus turned into a deficient year. The month of Tishri, however, is not made to suffer by this reduction. As stated before, the two days are taken off from the next following months, Heshvan and Kislev which are made to count only twenty-nine days each. To use the technical term, they are both made deficient. It may be added to complete our survey that to bring the solar year and the lunar year into coincidence in a certain cycle (19 years), an intercalary month is inserted into the Jewish year at necessary periods, making a leap year of 383 to 385 days.

 

When observation was replaced by calculation, the calendar did not, indeed, have to be fixed by the authorities from year to year. Anybody familiar with the rules on which it was based could determine many years ahead on what day of the week New Year or any other festival would fall in a given year. In fact it was most essential to know, in order to arrange the calendar for any year, on what day Rosh Hashanah would fall two years later.

 

In the year 4681 of the Jewish era (=921 common era) it was anticipated that in the year 4684 (September, 923) the rule of two days' postponement, described above, would come into operation. Calculation showed that if observation had been still in practice, the new moon of Tishri could not be observed till about thirteen or fourteen minutes after meridian on the Sabbath. Consequently the accepted rules required, observation or no observation, that New Year be postponed to Monday. Now, it must be borne in mind that there is a difference of four, occasionally of five, or even of six days (leaving fractions out of consideration) between two successive years. That is to say, the festivals of a given year fall from four to six days later in the week than those of the preceding year. This is due to the fact that fifty weeks of the regular common year and fifty-four weeks of the regular leap year contain, the first only 350, and the second 378 days, while a complete year of twelve regular months counting alternately twenty-nine and thirty days, contains 354 days, and thirteen such months make a year of 384 days. If therefore in 923, the year under consideration, New Year was to fall on Monday, Rosh Hashanah of the previous year (922) must take place four days earlier, i.e., on Thursday. Again, in 922 New Year had to be approximately six days later than in 921, because the year 921 happened to be a leap [intercalary] year. This would bring New Year of 921 on Friday; but as Friday had been declared unfit, Thursday had to be substituted. To sum up: the accepted order of the calendar in those three years was as follows: In 4682 (921/22) New Year on Thursday, the Year full (385 days, because it was leap year, 355 + 30), that is Heshvan and Kislev containing each thirty days, and Passover (which is also to be mentioned for reasons that will become obvious later), falling on a Tuesday. In 4683 (922/23) New Year on Thursday, the year regular (354 days), Heshvan and Kislev counting together 59 days (29+30), and Passover on Sabbath.

In 4684 (923/24) New Year Monday (Postponement), the year deficient (353 days), Heshvan and Kislev counting together fifty-eight days (29+29), and Passover on Tuesday.

 

We may now return to Ben Meir, but for a full understanding of his position it is necessary to mention one more point, namely that in the system of the Jewish calendar the hour is divided not into 3600 seconds but into 1080 chalokim (parts).

 

As a learned man, the head of an academy, Ben Meir was naturally well informed on the question of the Jewish calendar. The four principal rules of calendation had been known for centuries, and in the main he recognized them as binding. All that he apparently asked, when he began the controversy, was a modification of the rule which required that to proclaim any day as Rosh Chodesh [first of a month] the new moon must be discovered (or, in times of reckoning, be due to appear) before noon. Following either another computation or a definite Palestinian tradition, he added 642 "parts" (about thirty-five minutes) to the time limit, so that if, for instance, the new moon of Tishri was due to appear on the Sabbath at noon or within the 642 chalokim after noon, no postponement should take place. The Sabbath would thus be declared Rosh Hashanah, while according to the accepted calendar the festival had to be postponed until Monday (Sabbath being ineligible on account of the belated appearance of the new moon, and Sunday on account of rule I).

 

This being precisely what was due to happen in Tishri of the year 4684 (September 923), Ben Meir, believing the time favorable for the long-sought overthrow of the Babylonian authority came out in the summer of 4681 (921) with the declaration that Heshvan and Kislev of the ensuing year (4682=November and December 921) should both be made deficient. Now the year 4682 could be declared deficient only when the year 4684 was to be declared full; that is, if Rosh Hashanah of the last named year was not to be postponed on account of a belated new moon, but was to take place on the Sabbath of the new moon's appearance. In fact it was the anticipated postponement of the New Year of 4684 which Ben Meir attacked. He contended that inasmuch as in that year the new moon was due only 237 chalokim (about fourteen minutes) after midday and thus much in advance of the allowed 642 parts, it was not to be considered as late, and hence no postponement could be admissible.

 

Ben Meir's order for the three years was accordingly:
4682: New Year Thursday, deficient, Passover Sunday;

4683: New Year Tuesday, regular, Passover Thursday;

4684: New Year Saturday, full, Passover Tuesday.

 

Such, and apparently so technical if not trivial, was the actual issue between Ben Meir and Babylon.

 

The question forces itself upon us: What was Ben Meir's reason for the addition of 642 parts to the given time limit? It is hardly credible that a learned and pious man, as Ben Meir undoubtedly was, should have undertaken to change essentially one of the most sacred religious institutions of the Jewish people, one upon which depended the celebration of the festivals in their proper season, unless there were strong reasons to justify his action.[208] Moreover, it would have been the most injudicious step for a leader to take, as he could foresee that no conscientious Jew would follow him, unless the religious expediency of his procedure was proved. As a matter of fact, many Jewish communities in Palestine and outside[209] accepted Ben Meir's view, and soon after were ready to celebrate, or actually did celebrate, the Passover of the year 4682 on Sunday instead of Tuesday.

 

Various views have been advanced in explanation of the matter; among them that the accepted calendar being based on the time in the city of Babylon, where noon is approximately 56 minutes earlier than in Jerusalem, Ben Meir, claiming Jerusalem as the right basis, added 642 parts (35 minutes) partly to offset the difference. Against this it has been properly pointed out that the fixing of the calendar was originally the prerogative of Palestine, and it is therefore inconceivable that it should have been based on Babylonian time. Nor is there any proof that later Babylonian authorities assumed to transfer the basis from Jerusalem to Babylon. Besides, if this was the reason for the addition, Ben Meir would certainly not have failed to mention it. Finally, the addition of precisely 642 parts (35 minutes instead of 56) would after all be an arbitrary and futile act.

 

Another, more acceptable explanation is that Ben Meir's real purpose was to reduce the number of postponements provided for in the accepted calendar. These postponements were, in his opinion, frequently the cause of celebrating the festivals at a time other than that prescribed in the Torah. Most of them resulted from the rule concerning the belated new moon, and when this operated in connection with another rule, it might readily necessitate a postponement for two days. Finding that a slight extension of the time set for the appearance of the moon around mid-day would greatly reduce the number of such postponements, he considered it a religious duty to issue a proclamation to this effect. The claim that the rule opposed by him was based on the authority of the Talmud did not appeal to Ben Meir, as the passage in question is rather obscure and allows of differing interpretations.

 

Plausible as this explanation seems to be, it is still difficult to see why he should have selected exactly the number of 642 for his addition, and the suggestion has therefore been made that in this respect Ben Meir relied on a definite Palestinian tradition. Various passages in the controversial letters dealing with the subject seem to support this view. It is quite possible that others before Ben Meir had attempted to rectify the calendar by the same addition of 642 parts, but that the literary records, if there were such, have not been preserved.

 

At this point the subject of the calendar may be dismissed, and we may revert to the discussion of the course of events connected therewith, which led to the defeat of Ben Meir and ultimately to the rise of Saadia to the Gaonate.

 

Ben Meir's intention to make Heshvan and Kislev of the year 4682 deficient and to have the Passover of the same year celebrated two days earlier than that fixed by the Babylonian authorities (Sunday instead of Tuesday) became known in the summer of the year 4681 (921). In what way he had manifested this intention cannot be ascertained from the available material. At that time it seems he had not yet issued an official proclamation. The rumor reached Saadia in Aleppo. He at once addressed several letters to Ben Meir, demonstrating to him the correctness of the established calendar and warning him against the change advocated. This is reported by Saadia himself in the two letters which he addressed during the subsequent winter to his pupils in Egypt. He further informs us, in the same letters, that in Bagdad, whither he had gone from Aleppo, he learned that his repeated warnings had had no effect on Ben Meir, who had meantime issued his official proclamation, much to the perturbation of the Babylonian Geonim. The date of Ben Meir's proclamation is not given by Saadia. In all probability it was issued on Hosha'na Rabbah (the seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles) in the year 4682 (autumn, 921), on which day, as is known from other sources, it was customary among the Palestinian Jews of that period to assemble annually on the Mount of Olives (east of Jerusalem) for prayer and solemn processions around the mount (Hakkafot). The occasion was used for the discussion of the various religious communal needs of the people, and decisions as to future actions were adopted.

 

As soon as the news of this proclamation reached Babylon the Exilarch David ben Zakkai, in conjunction with the Geonim of both academies and probably also Saadia, addressed an official letter to Ben Meir setting forth in urgent words the validity of the established calendar and warning him against the contemplated change. At the same time the Geonim sent out circular letters to the various Jewish communities, advising them to abide by the old order, and not to heed the innovations proposed.

 

It was about this period that Saadia wrote to his Egyptian pupils. The first half of his letter was given above (pp. 55 f.); the second reads as follows:

 

"Know that when I was yet in Aleppo, some pupils came from Ba'al al Gad [a town at the foot of the Lebanon mountains] and brought the news that Ben Meir intends to proclaim Heshvan and Kislev deficient. I did not believe it, but as a precaution I wrote to him in the summer [not to do so]. The Exilarch, the heads of the academies, all the 'Allufim [senior scholars], teachers and scholars, likewise agreed to proclaim Heshvan and Kislev full, and that Passover be celebrated on Thursday. In conjunction with their letters I too wrote to most of the great cities, in order to fulfill my duty. Persist ye also in this matter and close up this breach, and do not rebel against the command of God. None of the people dare to profane the festivals of God willfully, to eat leavened bread on Passover, and eat, drink, and work on the Day of Atonement. May it be the will [of the Lord] that there be no stumbling-block and no pitfall in your place or in any other place in Israel. Pray, answer this letter and tell me all your affairs and your well-being. May your our peace grow and increase forever!"

 

Here we have Saadia's own testimony as to the part he took in the struggle, and the rank to which he had attained among the Babylonian authorities at this period. Not only did they invite his co-operation in signing their official letters in order to confer special weight upon their ordinances, but Saadia issued such letters on his own account to the largest congregations in and outside of Babylon - a proof of the great fame and popularity he must have enjoyed in Jewry in general.

 

Meanwhile Ben Meir, far from heeding the interdicts of Babylonia, repeated his attack by sending his son to Jerusalem, to proclaim there, for the second time, the proposed changes of the calendar. To the charges of the Geonim and of Saadia he replied in a disrespectful and aggressive tone, denying their authority in matters of the calendar, which, he claimed, should be left, as in former times, in the hands of Palestinian scholars. In a lengthy letter to his adherents in Babylonia, in which he sets forth with much detail the reasons for his reforms, he pours out his whole wrath on Saadia in particular, denouncing him and "his arrogant followers" in scathing terms. This is also significant of the role Saadia evidently played in the affair. In the meantime the feast of Passover was approaching. The congregations were bewildered by commands and countermands. Some prepared to celebrate the festival on the date set by Ben Meir, others stood up for the accepted calendar. A serious rupture was imminent in the ranks of Jewry, not dissimilar to that brought about previously by the Karaites. Saadia again addressed a letter to his pupils in Egypt, and probably also to various communities elsewhere imploring them to remain steadfast and to abide by the regulations of the Geonim. To his credit it must be remarked that in this letter there is not a single harsh word against Ben Meir, the originator of all the trouble.

 

The repeated notes of warning did not bring about the desired result. Most of the Palestinian and some of the Babylonian communities actually celebrated that Passover, and consequently the other festivals, two days earlier than the official date. The schism must have assumed alarming proportions. Even a non-Jewish historian of the following century considered it important enough to include it in his account of historical events. Twice more, so far as our records give us information, the Babylonian representatives of Judaism expostulated with Ben Meir. This happened in the ensuing summer. Again letters of warning and exhortation were sent to the "divided house of Israel," but to no effect. "The two parties indulged in mutual recriminations and excommunications, and even went so far as to charge one another with fraud and deception."[210] How long the quarrel lasted, and by what means it was brought to an end, cannot be learned from the scanty material that was discovered in the Genizah [storage room under an old Cairo synagogue]. From the report of the Syrian historian and from Karaitic sources we know only that at the beginning of the year 4683 the quarrel was still in progress. Rosh Hashanah of that year was observed by the two opposing parties on different days in accordance with their divergent views.

 

We know, however, that Ben Meir and his supporters ultimately met with crushing defeat, and as may be plainly seen from Ben Meir's epistles, he attributed his downfall particularly to the activity of Saadia. Ben Meir's judgment was doubtless right on this point. Neither the Geonim who presided over the two academies, nor any of the scholars among their followers had either the intellectual capacity or the complete command over the people to parry the determined onslaught of Ben Meir, whose influence reached far beyond the boundaries of his own country and whose contention was not without merit. In fact, it was partly because of the weakened standing of the Gaonate that Ben Meir could venture to assert his authority above that of Babylonia. But Saadia's fiery genius, his profound learning, and above all his superior literary skill proved more than a match for his opponent and finally brought about Ben Meir's overthrow.

 

It is characteristic of the situation, that, as Saadia himself tells us, the Babylonian authorities, having failed in all their efforts against the disturber, had thought of calling the government to their assistance. For some reason not stated they gave up the plan and decided upon issuing a memorial-volume (Sefer ha-Zikkaron)[of which only fragments remain], in which all the misdeeds of Ben Meir from the beginning of the controversy to its end, his errors in calculation, the proceedings of the Gaonate against him, and particularly the reasons for their continued upholding of the accepted calendar, were to be minutely recorded. The volume was to be spread broadcast among all the Jews of the Diaspora with the special injunction, that it be read annually in public on the twentieth of 'Elul, before the approach of the high Holy Days, and thus serve as a warning against possible upheavals of a similar nature in all future generations. It was again Saadia who was charged with the composition of this important document. He wrote the book in the summer of 4682 (922) while the struggle was at its height. It was read publicly, as provided, in the month of 'Elul of the same year. Its effect on the communities was very great, apparently putting an end to the agitation, which had lasted for nearly two years. At all events, nothing more is heard of Ben Meir during the following years, though his main intention was to change the date of Rosh Hashanah of the year 4684 (923).

 

How important a part Saadia had in the regulation of the present calendar can be seen also from the fact that eminent authorities of later centuries [Tosafist Jacob Tam] describe him as the father and founder of the science of the calendar. Most, if not all, of his work in this field was done in connection with the controversy with Ben Meir or his polemics with the Karaites. Its contemporary importance may be judged from the fact that it paved the way to Saadia's election to the Gaonate; but the lasting moment of Saadia for the Jewish world and his influence on the development of medieval Jewish literature have a better basis than his discomfiture of Ben Meir. Considering the acrimony - almost ferocity - with which the quarrel over the calendar was carried on by both controversialists,[211] especially in the last stages of the argument, one cannot but designate it as a deplorable episode.

 

 

Notes: (omitted notes only contain references to sources) Omitted notes refer the reader chiefly to:

·       H.J. Bornstein. Sefer ha-Jobel. Warsaw. 1904.

·       A. Epstein. Ha-Goren, V, 120ff.

·       F. K. Ginzel. Handbuch der mathematischen und technischen Chronologie, II. Leipzig 1911.

·       S. Poznanski. Jewish Quarterly Review, X, 158.

·       S. Poznanski, REJ., LXVII (19I4), 291.

·       S. Schechter, Saadyana. Cambridge. 1903.

 

 

* * *

 

BOOKS

 

Arthur Spier, The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar, 3rd ed., Spring Valley, NY / Jerusalem: Feldheim 1986 [brief guide to the Jewish calendar and conversion tables for 5660-5860 / 1900-2100 with Shabbat readings]

 

R' Nathan Bushwick, Understanding the Jewish Calendar, New York / Jerusalem: Moznaim 1989 [easy to follow, with many examples, tables and diagrams; some references to halachic sources]

 

R. M. Feldman, Rabbinical Mathematics and Astronomy, 4th ed., New York: Sepher-Hermon 1991 [1st ed. 1931; more technical, analyzes astronomical calculations in the Talmud and in Maimonides' Kiddush ha-chodesh]

 

This study was written by

Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David

(Greg Killian).

Comments may be submitted to:

 

Rabbi Dr. Greg Killian

4544 Highline Drive SE

Olympia, WA 98501

 

Internet address: gkilli@aol.com

Web page: http://www.betemunah.org/

 

(360) 918-2905

 

Return to The WATCHMAN home page

Send comments to Greg Killian at his email address: gkilli@aol.com



[1] Sc. of the seasons.

[2] The science of astronomy was necessary for the fixing of the calendar, upon which Jewish Festivals depended. In early times this was done by observation, but gradually calculation took its place. Hence Rab's indignation at one who fails to employ such knowledge.

[3]Excerpted from Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia. Copyright © 1994, 1995 Compton’s NewMedia, Inc.

[4]Excerpted from Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia. Copyright © 1994, 1995 Compton’s NewMedia, Inc.

[5] Acknowledgment is made to the classic work Qiddush Hahodesh by Rabbenu Moshe ben Maimon, and to A Guide to the Solar-Lunar Calendar by B. Elihu Rothblatt.

 

[6]Excerpted from Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia. Copyright © 1994, 1995 Compton’s NewMedia, Inc.

[7] The Jewish year is lunar, and the actual fixing of the months and the years depends on the moon, though a month is intercalated in leap years in order to harmonize the lunar with the solar years.

[8] The townlet of Temarta in Judea; Hul. 62a.

[9] Justa is an abbreviation of Justus or Justinus; Habra ( trcj ) may either be part of the name or mean a haber, an associate, one of a body who were particularly scrupulous in their observance of the laws of tithes and purity

[10] This is based on the tradition that the Nisan (the first month of the Jewish year) in which the Exodus took place fell on a Thursday, while the actual New Moon occurred after midday on the preceding Wednesday; it is further assumed that when this happens the moon is not visible until the second evening following, i.e. the evening of Friday. Hence if we counted time solely from when the New Moon is visible, then by the Thursday on which they left, a fortnight after, there would only have been thirteen sunsets. Since, however, it is called the fifteenth of the month, we see that the month was calculated from the first sunset after the New Moon

[11] The moon is sometimes seen by day too, and thus encroaches, as it were, upon the domain of the sun.

[12] Num. XXVIII, 22; XXIX, 5, 11, passim.

[13] Therefore I need a sin-offering; cf. Hul. 60b.

[14] I.e. Rome.

[15] The Encyclopedia Brittanica

[16] Acknowledgment is made to the classic work Qiddush Hahodesh by Rabbenu Moshe ben Maimon, and to A Guide to the Solar-Lunar Calendar by B. Elihu Rothblatt.

[17] Literally., ‘they made for them large banquets’.

[18] Literally., ‘become accustomed to come’.

[19] If they came on Sabbath, as they had already exceeded the limit of two thousand cubits.

[20] Lit., ‘an elevated’ or ‘refined expression’, i.e., not belonging to the language of everyday life.

[21] Isaiah V, 2. E.V. ‘and he dug it and cleared it’. The Hebrew is uvezghu which the Talmud connects with the Aramaic tezg ‘a ring’, so that Beth Ya'azek would refer to the stone wall round the court.

[22] In allusion to the fact that they were (originally) confined to the courtyard the whole of the day. But cf. Tosaf. s.v. ut

[23] Jeremiah 11:1. The Hebrew word is ohehztc .

[24] I.e., both kindly and rigorously.

[25] The meaning of this is discussed in the Gemara.

[26] I.e., in which direction were the horns turning.

[27] Literally, ‘he has not said anything’.

[28] Literally, ‘with heads of subjects’.

[29] Literally., ‘so that they should (still) be accustomed to come’.

[30] The new moon can be seen only about sunset, close to the sun, when the sun is travelling towards the north. We should therefore naturally take ‘in front of the sun’ to mean ‘to the north of the sun’, and ‘behind the sun’ to mean ‘to the south of the sun’.

[31] I.e., whether the rim of the moon visible from the earth is concave or convex in relation to the sun. By ‘in front of’ Abaye understands ‘turned towards’, and by ‘behind’, ‘turned away from’.

[32] Job XXV, 2.

[33] And in this way God keeps the peace between the sun and the moon.

[34] The rainbow in this case having the appearance of a bow bent by the sun against the earth.

[35] Reading this sentence in its present context, we must suppose it to mean, ‘if he says, (it was inclined) to the north’ etc. This is very difficult to understand, and it is much more natural to suppose that the words to be supplied are ‘that he saw it’, and that this sentence is to be connected with the words in the Mishnah TO THE NORTH OF IT OR TO THE SOUTH. So apparently it is taken by Rashi. V. Maharsha, ad loc.

[36] Literally, ‘the days of the sun’: the summer months.

[37] The new moon always appears due west. Hence in the summer months when the sun sets in the north-west it is south of the sun, and similarly in the winter months north of the sun.

[38] Apparently this means here, one of a pair of witnesses.

[39] If the preceding paragraph related to the inclination of the moon, it obviously should have followed this paragraph, which is another reason for transferring the last Mishnah heading to the beginning of this paragraph. V. n. 1.

[40] Who gives the same version as he does.

[41] Lit., ‘of ourselves’.

[42] I.e., with the object of testifying.

[43] I.e., on the thirtieth day.

[44] On the thirtieth or the thirty-first day, as the case may be.

[45] Leviticus 23:44.

[46] Ibid. 4. Heb. o,ut

[47] Literally, ‘you’, implying that the public should join in the proclamation.

[48] Ibid. 2.

[49] The word ov ‘they’, being superfluous.

[50] Ibid. The Hebrew word is htren , ‘callings’ or ‘proclaimings’, the plural implying at least two.

[51] Since there is no need to impress its sanctity on the public.

[52] Leviticus 25:10.

[53] On the thirtieth day.

[54] I.e., New Moon is not declared till the thirty-first day.

[55] Ex. XX, 20.

[56] Lit., ‘like them’. Out of the same or other materials.

[57] Ulam, the hall leading to the interior of the Temple, v. Mid. IV, 7. All exedra had only three sides, but since the fourth side of the Temple hall had a very wide entrance it is not counted. V. Tosaf. a.l.

[58] Since a candlestick of other metal besides gold would have been permissible in the Temple. V. Men. 28.

[59] I.e., can the Beth din even in Nisan declare that the year just begun is to be a leap year?

[60] In the time of the Second Temple the calendar was not fixed, but the Beth din declared any year a leap year (i.e., inserted an intercalary month) according as they judged necessary, subject to certain rules.

[61] Because if this were done, by the time Adar came round people might forget.

[62] E.g., if they were afraid that they might be prevented from issuing the decree later.

[63] V. Sanhedrin, Soncino ed. p. 55 notes. (15) R. Joshua and R. Pappias. Sanhedrin 87a Ed. VII, 7.

[64] And once Purim had passed, the next month had to be Nisan of the next year and not the second Adar of the present year.

[65] I.e., the emissaries of the Beth din instructed the public on the matter during this time.

[66] If in the interval Passover was postponed for a month, they would not observe the new date of the Passover.

[67] Literally, ‘this calculation had not been completed by the Rabbis till now’.

[68] This section is excerpted from "Seasons of the Moon"

[69] Loudolt Bornstein Group vol. a Sec 2.2.4 Spriugr, Berlin 1965

[70] Presumably because the Rabbis have so enacted for us to keep the two days as one continuous day of holiness and it is their ordinances that we observe.

[71] They indicated the new moon outside Jerusalem by means of fire signals whether the day just elapsed was the 30th of the past month or the 1st of the coming month.

[72] In lighting beacons at other times to confuse the Jews. For the term Cuthim v. J.E. vol. IV, p. 398.

[73] V. R.H. 22b (Soncino ed. p. 96, n. 7).

[74] And we reverted to the lighting of fire-signals.

[75] The distance covered by the traveling messengers was relative, dependent on what day in the month a festival fell, so that sometimes they would cover more territory than at others.

[76] Evidently the observance of two days was not an enactment for all time.

[77] The calendar was fixed about the beginning of the fourth century. [This has been ascribed to Hillel II, v. Graetz IV, pp. 316-318.]

[78] To the Jews in the Diaspora. Cf. Sanh. 17b. [probably this refers to the message sent by R. Jose (J. ‘Er. III) a contemporary of Hillel II, urging the people of the Diaspora not to depart from the ancestral customs despite the calendar which have been introduced by the Patriarch, v. Graetz IV, p. 456.]

[79] To destroy all the sacred writings and prevent the study of the Law and thus all knowledge of fixing the calendar would be lost.

[80] Var. lec. Raba.

[81] [So Tosaf. and MS. M., cur. edd. ‘we’.]

[82] By Biblical law Festivals are holy on the first and the seventh days only (Pentecost one day altogether). But owing to uncertainty in early time about the exact day of New Moon, i.e., when the month began, it became a binding practice in the Diaspora to observe two days instead of one, and this remained binding even when New Moon was ascertained by mathematical calculation, which obviated all doubt.

[83] On the second day of Festivals. [I.e., when I happen to be in Babylon, v. infra p. 52a.]

[84] [Var. lec. ‘Biram’ on the West bank of the Euphrates. v. Asheri and MS.M. In Biram, which was the home of R. Nathan b. Asia, only a one day Festival was observed, v. R.H., Sonc. ed. p. 100, n. 2 and Obermeyer, p. 99].

[85] As the ban would damage his prestige more than corporal punishment. This proves that the ban is a severer punishment.

[86] Understanding the Jewish Calendar, by Rabbi Nathan Bushwick

[87] Rashi, Rosh Hashanah llb and Baba Mezia 106b; Oruch 'Kima"

[88]Excerpted from Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia. Copyright © 1994, 1995 Compton’s New Media, Inc.

[89] Understanding the Jewish Calendar, by Rabbi Nathan Bushwick

[90]Excerpted from Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia. Copyright © 1994, 1995 Compton’s NewMedia, Inc.

[91] A full month (lit., ‘a prolonged one’) is one of thirty days, a defective one is one of twenty-nine days. The average year has six months of thirty days each, and six of twenty-nine days each. For there are about twenty-nine and one half days between one new moon and the other, whence a month of thirty days, to restore the balance, must be followed by one of twenty-nine days. However, there are more then twenty-nine and one half days between one new moon and the other, approximately twenty-nine days, twelve hours and forty minutes; furthermore, there are other causes influencing the fixing of the calendar, as the result of which the arrangement of six full and defective months undergoes certain variations, so that one year might have a larger number of full, the other more than the half of defective months. In the time of the Mishnah the Sanhedrin decreed the beginning of the new months on the basis of the testimony of witnesses who had actually seen the new moon. But even then conditions would arise (such as non-visibility of the new moon, due to cloudy weather) when the Sanhedrin would be guided by its own astronomical calculations. For such a decree the principle was adopted that no year may have more than eight, nor less than four full months.

[92] Of the Feast of Weeks, v. Leviticus XXIII, 27. Since they could not be eaten before the lambs of the sacrifice had been offered up, they were not as profane food, for which alone permission to bake or cook was given on the Holy Day on which all manner of work is prohibited. And as not immediately ready for human food, and hence not under the category of permitted labor, these breads had to be baked on the day before the Feast of Weeks, or, if the latter fell on a Sabbath, on the Friday preceding it. i.e., on the third day. Ex. XII, 16: Save that which every man must eat, that alone may be done by you, excludes that which is not immediately available for human use.

[93] Placed every Sabbath on the Table in the Sanctuary and consumed by the priests on the following Sabbath, they had to be baked on the preceding Friday (not earlier, since they were to be fresh). If a Holy Day fell on Friday, they were baked on Thursday. If the two days of the New Year fell on Thursday and Friday (the only Holy Day which could, even in the time of the Sanhedrin, last for two days. v. Men. 100b), the shew bread would be baked on Wednesday to be eaten on the following Sabbath, on the eleventh day, its baking overriding neither the Sabbath, nor a Holy Day.

[94] The circumcision performed on the eighth day overrides both Sabbath and Holy Day. Here, however, we deal with a boy born Friday eve at twilight. Hence his birthday is doubtful: it may be either Friday or Saturday. the twilight may be considered as belonging either to the day past or to the following one. The Sabbath following may therefore be the eighth or the ninth day after the birth and the circumcision must be postponed (for a doubtfully eighth day circumcision does not override the Sabbath) to the following, the tenth day. If the following day be a Holy Day, the circumcision could not take place before the eleventh day. If the two days of New Year fall on Sunday, the circumcision is postponed to the twelfth day. V. Shab. 137b.

[95] The new moon, coming say on Wednesday, with New Year starting only on the Sabbath. This discrepancy would cause popular murmuring against the ‘arbitrariness of the Sages’.

[96] But the arrangement of eight months, too, would leave a difference of two days, hence what is the value of limiting it to eight full months? Normally six full months plus six defective ones would take care of the situation.

[97] I.e., a year of thirteen months.

[98] Which may be either full or defective, and having made the intercalation of the preceding year defective, we have regained one day. which is counter-balanced by one day of the eight full months this year.

[99] Yet, even with one month full, and one month of last year incomplete. we gain only one day, so that one day still intervenes between the new moon of Tishri and the fixation of the New Year; so that popular clamour against the Sanhedrin's margin would be aroused still.

[100] A one day's margin would not be considered abuse of the Sanhedrin's function.

[101] And ‘for what reason’, he says.

[102] ‘Ulla's interpretation of the Mishnah: No less than four full months, but not more either, because ‘it did not seem right to the Sages to have more than eight defective months’, so that the New Moon should not appear three days after the New Year.

[103] And the prolonged month was made full, the consideration being the reverse of the former.

[104] Cf. n. 3 mutatis mutandis.

[105] The people assume in this case that the Sanhedrin had good reason, the basis of which, the actual seeing of the new moon, had escaped themselves.

[106] R. Huna and ‘Ulla. R. Huna accepts R. Simeon b. Gamaliel's view and ‘Ulla that of the first Tanna.

[107] A month of twenty-nine days. The margin is the point of difference.

[108] The second day of Passover (v. Lev. XXIII, 10-12) i.e., on the same day of the week as the second day of Passover. The fifty days are counted from the sixteenth of Nisan to the first of Shabuoth. Hence the fiftieth day must fall upon the same week-day as the first, the day of the waving.

[109] Or iburo, the night of its being made a full month, because upon the night depends its completeness, for if the new moon is proclaimed for the thirty-first day, that fact renders the month just passed full (one of thirty days).

[110] [Normally the twelve months of the year beginning with Tishri are full and defective in rotation. Where there is a departure from this order, the only months affected are Kislev in the winter and Sivan in the summer, which months are made defective instead of being normally full. Now if both these months are made defective, giving eight defective months for the year, there is an interval between the 30th of Nisan and the first of Tishri of eight days of the week, i.e., the first of Tishri falls on the same day of the week as the 31st of Nisan; and since the 30th of Nisan falls on the same day as the day of waving, which is exactly fifteen days before, the New Year will also fall on the day of waving. Should, on the other hand, only one of these two months be made defective — namely Kislev, whilst Sivan is full, there would be nine days of the week difference between the 30th of Nisan and the first of Tishri, so that New Year will fall on the 31st day. i.e., the day following the night of the last day of the full month of Nisan.]

[111] [On the view of R. Huna that we make eight full months, the two months Heshvan (in winter) and Iyar (in summer) normally defective are made full, with the result that one extra day of the week is added as interval between the 30th day of Nisan and the first Tishri making New Year to fall two week-days after the 30th of Nisan.]

[112] [By making the extra full month in the summer, there would be added an extra day of the week as in p. 51, n. 6 with the same result.]

[113] The statement that the New Year must fall either on the day of the week on which the waving day falls or upon the day following the night after the last day of the full month is in accord with the teaching of ‘Others’, who hold that all months are full and defective in strict rotation, making a total of 354 which is four days over fifty weeks, leaving four days of the week as interval between one New Year and the other in a normal year and five in a prolonged year.

[114] [Having added in winter an extra full month, Nisan is made defective, with the result that we have four defective months during the summer, making New Year fall on the day of the waving. v. p. 51, n. 5.]

[115] From the fact that all months follow each other in regular order, it follows that there are four days’ difference between the New Years.

[116] Even without having actually seen the new moon the new month may be proclaimed by the proper authorities.

[117] Granted that ‘Others’ go by the order of the new moons, yet it happens that in a simple (not prolonged) year, five days may intervene between one Passover and the other. For the forty minutes above twenty-nine days and twelve hours, between one moon and the other, make in one year an additional eight hours, in three years an additional day.

[118] And even when that is accounted for, there remain minutes, which added to one another amount in every thirty years to one complete day. The exact duration is: twenty-nine days, twelve 793/1080 hours, which time fragments combined add one day in every three, and one additional one every thirty years.

[119] Of the defective ones (i.e., Cheshvan and Iyar) they add two days, i,e., three hundred and fifty-six days altogether; if two of the full ones (i.e., Kislev and Sivan) are made defective, there are two days less than usual, and the year has but three hundred and fifty-two days.

[120]Excerpted from Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia. Copyright © 1994, 1995 Compton’s NewMedia, Inc.

[121] If the seam gapes, and he pulls the thread to draw the pieces together. This constitutes sewing.

[122] One of the priest craft of Ancient Persia.

[123] This is an idiom expressing strong abhorrence, cf. similar expressions in Sanhedrin 58b and 59a. The Magi were hostile to Jews, and caused them much suffering in various ways; cf. Sanhedrin, Soncino ed., p. 504, n. 6 and 98a: Yeb. 63b; Git. 17a. This evoked the present remark.

[124] Sc. of the seasons.

[125] The science of astronomy was necessary for the fixing of the calendar, upon which Jewish Festivals depended. In early times this was done by observation, but gradually calculation took its place. Hence Rab's indignation at one who fails to employ such knowledge.

[126] Understanding the Jewish Calendar, by Rabbi Nathan Bushwick

[127] The fixing of the new moons (i.e. the months, and consequently the ‘seasons’-the festivals) now rests with you.

[128] I.e., on the thirtieth day of the outgoing month.

[129] ruchg ouh , ‘the day of the prolongation’. V. supra, p. 81, n. 1.

[130] On account of Sabbath.

[131] Through having drunk too much on Sabbath, and become intoxicated (Rashi).

[132] It was customary to abstain from work on New Moon (v. Tosaf. s.v. ouan ). In this case the thirtieth day would always he kept as New Moon from doubt, and if the actual day fixed was the thirty-first, there would be two days New Moon.

[133] The commencement of the month was dated from the time when the earliest visible appearance of the new moon was reported to the Sanhedrin. If this happened on the 30th day of the current month, that month was considered to have ended on the preceding 29th day, and was called deficient. But if no announcement was made on the 30th day, that day was reckoned to the current month, which was then called full, and the ensuing day was considered the first of the next month.

[134] The ‘calculation’ as to which and how many months were to be intercalated. It was an established rule that no year should consist of less than four nor more than eight full months.

[135] The proclamation by formal ‘sanctification’ of the new moon on the thirtieth day.

[136] The thirtieth day.

[137] I.e., it is patent to all that the next day is the new moon, as no month exceeds 30 days.

[138]From the Jewish Encyclopedia

[139] See the Encyclopedia Judaica, article, "Calendar".

[140] This species must be ripe in the mouth of Nisan which is known in the Bible as the Abib (Ex. XIII,44) the month of ears (of corn), in reference to the ripeness of the corn in that month.

[141] Which should, as a rule, ripen close before ‘Azereth (Pentecost), the time when the Pilgrims bring the first fruits to Jerusalem (Num. XXVIII, 26). If it happens that the fruit is unripe, the year may be intercalated so as to prevent a special journey.

[142] Literally, ‘cycle’, ‘season’.

[143] Because if the corn-crop is already ripe and the intercalation prompted by other reasons, the prohibition of new produce till after the Omer Offering (v. p. 50, n. 4) according to Leviticus 23:14, would be unduly prolonged for another month.

[144] Because if the Tekufah was in order, and the intercalation had been effected for other reasons, the pilgrims would be subject to wintry weather when returning from Jerusalem after the Succoth Festival.

[145] South of Palestine.

[146] East of Palestine.

[147] Northern Palestine.

[148] A measure of barley (1/10th of an ephah) taken from tender ears, was brought on the 16th day of Nisan to the Temple as a heave-offering. v. Leviticus 23:10-11.

[149] For two reasons, firstly, because the grain taken for the Omer offering had to be tender, and this could only be so if it was cut from a field in the proximity of Jerusalem, for if it were brought from a far-off distance, the stalks would become hardened in transit, by the wind. Secondly, according to the Talmudic rule, that one must not forego the occasion of performing a commandment (cf. Yoma 33a), the ripe corn in the vicinity of Jerusalem offered the earliest opportunity of fulfilling the precept (v. Men. 64b). If the grain in Judea, however, gave no cause for intercalation, it would be overripe at the time of the Omer, and so unfit for the purpose.

[150] Deuteronomy XII, 5.

[151] I.e., religious inquiry, or investigation.

[152] I.e., Jerusalem the Capital of Judea, which the Lord (Heb. Makom, lit., ‘the Place’, v. Glos.) has selected as habitation unto Himself.

[153] vxf (E.V. ‘full moon’) is taken from txf ‘to cover’.

[154] Ps. LXXXI, 4.

[155] Which alone of all festivals is fixed for the 1st of the month.

[156] E.V. ‘ordinance’.

[157] V. infra 32a: ‘Money cases are to be tried by day’.

[158] Arthur Spier, The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar, p. 1

[159] That the whole must be flayed.

[160] By the removal and offering of the sacrificial portions.

[161] For it is more commendable to derive the tenth from a larger quantity, thereby obtaining the choicest.

[162] That in regard to the ‘Omer there is no distinction between the Sabbath and a weekday. But the Sages are satisfied that the choicest is obtainable even out of three se'ahs.

[163] For whether the ‘Omer is obtained out of five or three se'ahs the people will learn nothing of importance thereby.

[164] The employment of more persons in the service of the ‘Omer obviously gives the matter greater publicity and impresses immediately the mind of the people with the Rabbinic standpoint that the ‘Omer must be offered on the second day of the Passover irrespective of the day of the week, thus creating stronger opposition to the Sadducees who held that the ‘Omer must always be offered on a Sunday; v. infra 65a.

[165] That although one person would be sufficient three are to be employed to create greater publicity.

[166] For according to R. Ishmael the ‘Omer must be taken out of five se'ahs and not three in order to obtain the choicest flour.

[167] V. supra n.1.

[168] Any who saw the new moon may transgress the Sabbath limits to go and give evidence before the court of the appearance of the new moon. As the calendar was not fixed the evidence of witnesses was a matter of the greatest importance for the determination of the dates of the Festivals.

[169] As it is most probable that the members of the court themselves had also seen the appearance of the new moon, so that it would be unnecessary for any to profane the Sabbath for this purpose; R.H. 21b.

[170] For even when the new moon was not clearly visible to all, those who did see it might refrain from going to give their evidence believing that they were not justified in profaning the Sabbath on its account as others too might have seen the appearance of the new moon like themselves.

[171] That whatever the circumstances people should be encouraged to go and give their evidence.

[172] For it is no offering, neither is it an important need of the community since the new moon was seen clearly everywhere.

[173] To offer the choicest of five se'ahs.

[174] Viz., the reaping, winnowing, etc. of the three se'ahs.

[175] This section is excerpted and modified from Hebrew Calendar Science and Myths, by Remy Landau

[176] Reference: Understanding the Jewish Calendar by Rabbi Nathan Bushwick. Moznaim Publishing Corporation, 1989.

 

[177] Heb. rucg lit., ‘taking across’: the word used for the prolonging of the year and the month.

[178] This was a Baraitha made up of enigmatic sentences like the one which follows.

[179] I.e., that there should be no appearance of the old moon in this period, viz., after the closing of the twenty-ninth day; otherwise New Moon cannot be proclaimed on the thirtieth.

[180] Because if the conjunction is calculated to have been after midday and they claim to have seen the new moon before nightfall, they are not telling the truth.

[181] Which would imply that in Babylon the new moon is not visible till eighteen hours after its birth (Rashi).

[182] Which would imply that in Palestine the new moon is visible six hours after its birth (Rashi).

[183] This table is based upon the one found in Machlokes Rav Saadia Gaon Uven Meir, by C.Y. Borenstein

[184] Because other people might have seen the new moon.

[185] Because it could not be proved that they had not seen it (Rashi). R. Hananel: Provided they had seen a semblance of the new moon].

[186] Heb. rucg lit., ‘taking across’: the word used for the prolonging of the year and the month.

[187] This was a Baraitha made up of enigmatic sentences like the one which follows.

[188] I.e., that there should be no appearance of the old moon in this period, viz., after the closing of the twenty-ninth day; otherwise New Moon cannot be proclaimed on the thirtieth.

[189] Because if the conjunction is calculated to have been after midday and they claim to have seen the new moon before nightfall, they are not telling the truth.

[190] Which would imply that in Babylon the new moon is not visible till eighteen hours after its birth (Rashi).

[191] Which would imply that in Palestine the new moon is visible six hours after its birth (Rashi).

[192] Lev. XXIII, 32, in connection with fasting on the Day of Atonement. This shows that the day follows the night in reference to the festivals.

[193] Ex. XII, 18, in connection with eating unleavened bread on Passover. This shows that the festivals end at even.

[194] Lit., ‘the interpretation of exegeses’.

[195] According to R. Johanan,the ‘night’ referred to is on the same footing as the night of the Day of Atonement which commences at nightfall. But according to Resh Lakish, it is on a par with the first night of Passover, which, in relation to the Paschal lamb, was a continuation of the afternoon before. Hence Resh Lakish holds that even if the old moon was seen in the early part of the evening, the next day may still be declared New Moon.

[196] Maim. in ‘Moreh’ I, 62, conjectures that these multiliteral Names, of which no trace is found, were perhaps composed of several other divine names; also that not only the names were communicated, but their real meanings too. [On these names v. further Blau L. Das altjudische Zauberwesen pp. 137ff and Bacher. JE XI 264.]

[197] [ gubm denotes simply a modest man careful to carry out his religious obligations, a pious man, and not a member of a particular sect — an Essene. v. Buchler Types, pp. 59ff.]

[198] Lit., ‘stands in the middle of his days’.

[199] Lit., ‘he does not get angry, does not get drunk’.

[200] Not to use it lightly.

[201] Lit., ‘his fear lies upon mankind.’

[202] In general the name of God was regarded more than a mere designation, but represented His nature or character and His relation to His people. It thus came to partake of His essence, His glory and power. This probably explains the mystic awe with which its pronunciation was surrounded, on the one hand, and the powers attributed to the right manipulation thereof on the other. Cf. Sanh. 91a: ‘He who pronounces the Divine Name according to its letters loses his portion in the world to come; also 65b and 67b on the human powers of creation by means of the Sefer Yezirah, which Rashi a.l. explains was effected by combinations of the Divine Name. [On this subject v. Marmorstein The Old Rabbinic Doctrine of God, I, p. 17.]

[203] Molad means “birth”.

[204] Primordial means Beginning or happening first in a sequence.

 

[205] Calendar booklet published by the Universal Karaite Religious Council in Israel.

[206] Epstein presents the matter as if Ben Meir's motives in starting the conflict were purely scientific, that he tried to rectify what he considered erroneous in the established calendar. This view can be accepted only with great reservation. For whatever the merits of Ben Meir's calculation may have been, there is no doubt that his personal ambition and perhaps still more, his desire to reassert the authority of the Holy Land, played, consciously or unconsciously, a very important part in his contention. More than once in his letters he emphatically denies to the Babylonians the right to fix the calendar, which, he constantly reiterates, is the exclusive prerogative of his country; comp, below, note 3

[207] The Four Rules, for which see Ginzel, II, 9I f., are found together in a writing called "The Four Gates", because it treats of the four days of the week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday), on which alone Rosh ha-Shanah is allowed to fall, the days forming thus, as it were, the gates through which we enter into the respective new year. The original work, of which the Four Gates formed a part, is lost. Nor can it be ascertained when and where or by whom it was composed. From the Ben Meir controversy we can see that as early as the beginning of the tenth century its authority was generally recognized. A certain Jose Al-Nahrawani probably a contemporary of Saadia, versified that part of the work which dealt with the Four Rules, and his versification also bears the same name. Steinschneider discovered the work of Jose in a MS. at the Bodleian library, written in 1203, and published it in the periodical Kerem Chemed IX (1856), 41. A. Epstein re-edited the same with copious notes in the REJ., XLII (1901), 204-210. At the same time a commentary on Genesis and Exodus by Menahem b. Solomon (12th century) was published by S. Buber (Berlin, 1901), wherein a different recension, of Palestinian origin, is found in connection with the verse Exod., 12, 2 (vol. II, 90-92).

[208] Ben Meir guards himself against the reproach that his desire to re-establish the authority of the Holy Land was the only reason for his reforms, by pointing out to his opponents the correctness of his calculation; comp. note 1.

[209] As may he seen from a letter of Saadia to three Rabbis in Egypt, published by Hirschfeld, JQR., XVI, 290-297, the Egyptian Communities too, or at least some of them, during the time of the quarrel celebrated the festivals according to the computation of Ben Meir.

[210] Poznanski JQR., X, 154, based on the testimony of the Karaite Sahl b. Mazliah.

[211] Ben Meir's letters abound in personal denunciations and abuses of Saadia, which reveal the extreme bitterness of the writer. Not satisfied with the attacks on the character of his opponent, Ben Meir tried to defame also Saadia's family, asserting, as he says, "on good authority " that the latter's father was a Muezzin in the service of the Muhammedans, defiled himself by eating abominations, until he was driven out of Egypt and died in Jaffa. Saadia retaliates by adorning Ben Meir with the epithets "the obscurantist," and "the accursed one," both in satiric allusion to the name "Meir". Ben Meir's sons he terms "calves".