I recently spoke about my new calendar/agenda, so let’s discuss this Jewish Calendar thing. What is it? Why do we use it? Does it really matter what day we celebrate Rosh Hashanah or Pesach? Sometimes it’s not so convenient for a holiday to fall on a Wednesday night, so can we move it to Saturday night, just this year, pretty please?
Whenever I prepare girls for their upcoming Bat Mitzvah I always teach them about the Jewish Calendar. I seriously think it’s a fundamental topic and no girl should enter the age of mitzvot and responsibilities as a Jewish woman without understanding the meaning behind this thing that as I said here, will be part of what she’ll be juggling as an adult. Not to mention that as an adult she will need this information to give an educated and informed answer when faced with the question of why Jews have a different calendar even in this day and age.
We go through the technical parts of the calendar and learn how the Hebrew calendar is the most comprehensive one, as it combines both the lunar cycle (moon’s orbit around the Earth) as well as the solar cycle (Earth’s orbit around the Sun). I illustrate how this works using different color balls. You can learn more about the system’s complexity here. More than the technical aspect, I want my students to understand the spiritual significance of time. (It is no coincidence that the setting of a calendar was the first mitzvah that we were given as a nation right before we left Egypt.)
Jewish time is not linear. It’s more like a spiral. Think about the Hebrew dates as all the points in a level of the spiral and one cycle/level of the spiral as a complete year. When we stand at a point the spiral today, it corresponds to the same point that we stood upon (above us or below us on the spiral) last year and all other previous years.
That is to say that if I stand on one point of the spiral right now and I can imagine a ray of energy shooting down from above, the ray of energy shooting down is the same as the one that hit me last year at the same point of the spiral and that will hit next year on the same point/date, but now on the next level of the spiral.
If we take our Hebrew birthday for instance, which we spoke about here and here, the same energy that entered the world, 15 years ago is now hitting the world 15 years later when you stand on that same point on the spiral (same Hebrew date) only 15 ranks lower or higher. Same thing with any date. Thus, when we celebrate a Holiday, we can’t just arbitrarily change the date. A beautiful Rosh Hashana dinner on a Saturday evening, when Rosh Hashana fell on a Wednesday evening that year, is not a Rosh Hashanah dinner. It’s just a beautiful dinner. And what’s the problem with that, you say?
The slight problem is that as we’ve mentioned before, the physical without the spiritual, is not our way. We’re meant to be always fusing the two. A beautiful dinner on Rosh Hashanah evening IS now a truly beautiful dinner, because both the external and internal beauty are now combined. (Even more so, if in addition it is a kosher dinner, and there is kiddush, and candles lit on time etc.)
The just beautiful dinner, on a regular Thursday evening is missing the ENERGY that we can only tap into on the Wednesday night of Rosh Hashana. And we don’t want to miss out on tapping into that energy. Our souls need it. The same goes with every single Jewish holiday and every single day. There’s a spiritual energy that it contains, that we have access to, on that specific time.
So next time we’re bothered by the inconvenience of a certain “Jewish time”, lets think about us standing on the spiral and G-d’s energy coming down at us, and let’s make sure we’re able to receive that energy not only by virtue of standing on that rank of the spiral, but in addition let’s tap into that energy because we are fully aware and cognizant of where we are in time.
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