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Heads Up for the Jewish New Year

Updated: Oct 3, 2022

Sunset tonight (9/25/22) marks the beginning of the Jewish Year 5783. The Hebrew “ Rosh HaShanah” translates to “Head of the Year” and 5783 represents the years counted from when the Earth was created.

Yet Rosh HaShanah is not the only Jewish New Year holiday that occurs each year. In fact, in the twelve (12) months that it takes for the earth to spin a full cycle, there are four (4) Jewish New Years. That’s right, each season is considered a “New Year” and the Jewish people take the opportunity for a festive feast, commonly referred to as a Seder.

Autumn - Rosh HaShanah - marks the beginning of, and coincides with the US federal government's fiscal year. Rosh Hashanah is a time to reflect on the past 12 months —and look forward to the coming year. The holiday's celebratory meal, the Seder, can include favorites like yeasty round challah, and apples dipped in honey. The shofar was blown at Mt. Sinai when the Torah was given. On this Rosh Hashanah, we blow the Ram's Horn Trumpet to mark the beginning of a New Year.

Winter - Tu B’Shevat - which marks the New Year of trees and is a time to focus on planting and nurturing these life-giving organisms.Tu B’Shevat is celebrated as an ecological holiday or a “Jewish Earth Day.” Many people incorporate into their “Seders” the Seven Species associated with the Land of Israel in the Torah, which according to Deuteronomy 8:8 are wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates.

Spring - Passover - comes three months after Tu B’Shevat. This holiday, known as the “head of months” connects to the Exodus story. Passover Seder customs include telling the story, discussing the story, drinking four cups of wine, eating matzah ( unleavened bread) , partaking of symbolic foods, and reclining in celebration of freedom

Summer - Shavuot - coincides with the grain harvest and is one of three pilgrimage festivals mentioned in the Torah. Dairy foods are often consumed on Shavuot Seder, including cheesecake, blintzes, and kugels.

Time and years were counted differently when the Torah was brought to light. So when the Bible refers to a new year and to a person’s age, is it possible that they are referring to the number of Seasons, or the number of Full Moons? Abraham and Sarah were “old” when Sarah was pregnant at 90 years. Could it be that 90 was a count of the seasons (= 22.5 calendar years)? After all, in 2000 BC, the average human life expectancy at birth was 18 years, and pregnancy occurred shortly after puberty. Sarah lived to be 127 (31.75 years old) almost double the average.

In the age where it was thought that the world was flat and the earth revolved around the sun, could it be that some defined a ”year” as the appearance of a full moon? Is it possible that Methuselah, who died after 969 years, actually lived till about 80 by today’s calendar?

The system of counting when the earth was created is another mystery. How does 4.5 billion years convert to 5783?

As a side note, did you know that in 2020 Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Jewish President of Ukraine, declared Rosh Hashanah an official holiday? This makes Ukraine the only country, besides Israel, where the day is a national holiday.

Let us pray for peace and freedom to all in this coming New Year. Shanah Tovah!

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1 Comment

Awesome. Time is indeed relative.

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