A Jewish Calendar – By Ben

5775, 2015, A.D. B.C.E. Solar calendar, Lunar calendar. Leap year?


For someone curious about their Jewish roots, the idea of adding a new calendar’s time frame may seem frivolous.  What wisdom would possibly be derived from an archaic, non-standard (in the real world) calendar, whose holidays seems to jump around?  To answer that, one has to understand that Judaism looks at the VERY CONCEPT of time very differently from the secular world.

1) Solar vs Lunar

LUNAR: The concept of a “Month” in a solar calendar is completely arbitrary.  It isn’t tied to anything other than the number of days decided for each month when the Gregorian Calendar first emerged in 1582. But in a lunar calendar, a month is tied to the cycle of the moon.  And when your holidays are tied to that month, you have an international reference point.

SOLAR: But if you go only by the lunar cycle, your accounting for time is not at all tied to the Earth’s revolution or tilt on its axis. Meaning that your seasons won’t be accounted for in a Lunar year (since a lunar year is 11 days short of a solar year).

The Jewish calendar is BOTH.  The months are based on the moon and a new month (a holiday called Rosh Hodesh) is celebrated.  In fact, whenever there is a full moon you know it is the 15th of the month.  But Judaism also has a leap month to make sure the calendar lines up with the seasons. Because Pesach must be celebrated on the 15 of Nissan but it must also be celebrated in the Spring.

2) The Spiritual

Those are the nuts and bolts.  But in Judaism there is always a deeper understanding.  Why is it so important Pesach is celebrated in the Spring?  Judaism believes that much like the seasons cycle through the year (unless you live in LA where we only have 1 season) SPIRITUAL ENERGIES cycle through the year too.  We as Jews have the ability to tap into an opportunity uniquely available during that time of the year.  And our Torah holidays (not to be confused with Rabbinical holidays, but that’s another conversation entirely) specifically are about tapping into these spiritual opportunities.

The spiritual energy of Yom Kippur is repentance (or teshuva), Sukkot is joy, and Pesach is freedom.  Another way of thinking about it is that Pesach didn’t happen because the Jews left Egypt. The Jews left Egypt because it was Pesach.

When you are aware of these spiritual times of year, it gives you a special awareness to really accomplish and grow and enjoy and contemplate these energies.  We get so overwhelmed by all the ways we want to improve our lives, it’s really fantastic to be reminded by a calendar that this is the time to work on or be aware of X.  So going into Passover, maybe take the time to consider, what in your life do you want to be free of?

2 responses to “A Jewish Calendar – By Ben

  1. Pingback: Ugh. Not High Holidays services again. — By Ben | Six Degrees Of Kosher Bacon·

  2. Pingback: De eerste christenen hun vieringen | Stepping Toes·

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