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Found A System …

02/05/2019 03:44:59 PM


(Sung to the tune of “Found a Peanut”)

Tishrey, Heshvan, Found a peanut
Kislev, Tevet, found a peanut
Shvat, Adar, found a pea-
Nisan, Iyar, nut la-ast night
Sivan, Tamuz, l a-ast night I
Av, Elul, found a pea-nut
our calendar is sung*. found a peanut la-ast night
*Or nuts! (or legumes!)  

Seriously, the Jewish calendar, and all its variations, can stump the most knowledgeable in the Jewish community.

Play this fun Jewish calendar game! Put the following statements in an order that makes sense:

  • This is a Jewish leap year, which means an extra month (of Adar).
  • Leap years occur in a 19-year cycle – with an extra month in years 3, 6, 8, 11, 14, 17 and 19. (Sorry, no catchy tune for that – suggestions welcome).
  • We follow neither a lunar nor a solar calendar, but a luni solar or intercalated calendar.
  • Jewish months follow the moon [29.5 cycles] and last 29 or 30 days.
  • Gregorian months follow the sun [30.4 cycles] and last 28, 29, 30 or 31 days.
  • Rosh Hodesh, literally, the "head of the month," refers the new moon, and can last one or two days.
  • Jewish months most often begin in the middle of our Gregorian months, giving rise to calendars with the Gregorian date in one corner and the contrasting Jewish calendar date in another - which begin on the previous evening.
  • The verse “Observe the month of Spring [Aviv] to perform the Passover ritual” (Deuteronomy 16:1) is the proof text for the additional month of Adar, ensuring that Passover always falls at the correct time of year.

Rabbi Michael Strassfeld offers a poetic yet scientifically sound explanation for the duality of our calendar system:

“Historical time is constant linear movement in an upward direction … the unchanging sun is its symbol. Cyclical time is circular and consists of recurring patterns. It is established by nature and is found in the four seasons. Its symbol is the moon with its phases.”

The sun is constant; the moon changes. The calendar is fixed; our lives evolve. Our experiences of the holidays are fluid, yet what we commemorate remains anchored in an ancient and inspired tradition, established in consonance with the skies, our planet and its trajectory through time and space.

Hodesh Adar Rishon Tov – Happy Adar-One, 5779.

- Rabbi Liz

Tue, February 25 2020 30 Sh'vat 5780