FEBRUARY 2016 BLUFFTON SUN
RABBI DR ARTHUR SEGAL
Shalom and greetings:
In our tour through the Jewish calendar this year, February brings us an additional month, a leap month if you will, named Adar One. It can get confusing, because Adar Two is the regular Adar with its holiday of Purim. Adar One has no real holidays so we will use it to discuss the Jewish Lunar Calendar. This will help answer why Jewish Holidays fall on deferent dates in the Gregorian calendar, but in the same season.
The first commandment given to the recently freed Hebrew nation involves our Jewish courts setting our lunar calendar as well as its continued modification (Ex. 12:02). Without a calendar the holidays could not be observed and religious chaos would follow.
The Jewish calendar is based on the Moon but regulated by the Sun. Each new moon is 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, and 3.5 seconds. Months must have complete days. Jewish months have either 29 or 30 days. 12 lunar months makes a 354 day year. Jewish holidays are seasonal and agriculturally based (Passover is the ''spring holiday''). Hence we have a leap month, a second Adar, seven times in every 19-year cycle. This way Rosh Hashanah and Sukkoth are in the fall, and Passover is in the spring.
In 358 C.E. Rabbi Hillel II preset a lunar calendar for the future and a monthly court would no longer be needed. However 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 an average of about 8 days later than did our ancestors in 358 C.E.
Should no new calendar reform take place, our holidays will have drifted out of their appropriate seasons. Passover would be observed in the winter. As you are reading this, ''this'' moment never existed before from the time the Earth was created, and ''this'' moment will never exist again. Every ''now'' has its meaning. Carpe Diem! Seize the day! Cherish and do not waste these precious moments of our lives. A freed people, and a free person, control their time. Let us not be in self-bondage to our clocks and calendars.
Jewish Spiritual Renewal
Hilton Head Island, SC; Bluffton, SC; Savannah, GA