a cache of usenet and other text files pertaining
to occult, mystical, and spiritual subjects.


The Jewish Calendar Explained

[from private email]

Subject: The Jewish  Calendar Explained

The Jewish calendar is essentially composed of three units that depend 
on a heavenly body for proper calculation. The month is dependent upon 
cycles of the moon, and the day and the year are dependent upon cycles 
of the sun.  For the purposes of  our discussion, we will focus on the 
"month" and the "year." ( The following discussion is oversimplified 
for clarity's sake.)

The Jewish nation was instructed to bless and sanctify each new month. 
The month is the period of time it takes for the moon to complete a 
revolution around the earth. On the average, this takes 29.5 days. As 
we only have complete days in a month,  some months contain 29 days, 
and other contain 30.

As mentioned above, a year is a solar dependent unit of time. It is the
period of time it takes the sun to go through a complete cycle of the 
Zodiac or the time it takes for the sun to repeat the  same point in 
its orbit. A solar month is really just 1/12th of this period of time. 
A solar month has in it of itself has no specific tie to any cycle of 
any celestial body.

Why do we maintain two different systems of time calculation?

If we were to calculate a year by equating it to 12 lunar months, 
we would be faced with a problem.  The period of 12 lunar months is 
shorter than the period of 12 solar months. We know that the seasons 

of the year are dependent on the position of the sun in relation to 
the earth.  Hence, seasons are also dependent on the sun. As 
mentioned in post # 52, each holiday has to be in a specific season.
Holidays occur on a specific date of a lunar month each year.  If we
were to ignore the solar calendar and base our years solely on the
lunar calendar, after a number of years, the holidays would start
moving out of their proper seasons.  There is therefore a need to
keep our months (the lunar unit) and years ( the solar unit) in sync, 
so that the holidays (which are lunar dependent) will fall out in 
the proper season of the year (which is solar dependent).

How do we accomplish this? The Jewish calendar has an established 
system of "leap years." In a leap year, the Jewish year is composed 
of 13 (lunar) months instead of 12. This way, the difference between 
a year (12 solar "months') and 12 lunar months is equalized, and the 
holidays will fall out in their proper seasons. This factor is what 
differs the Jewish calendar from other calendar systems in use. The 
secular (Roman) calendar that we use is totally solar-based. A month 
in the secular calendar, as we said above, is 1/12 of the solar 
cycle, and has no connection to the lunar cycle. The Moslem calendar 
takes the opposite approach. A month is connected with a cycle of
the moon. However, no attempt is made to reconcile the lunar cycles 
with the solar year. Therefore, the year is shorter than a solar 
year, and the months have no connection to seasons.

In summary: By definition,  there are two distinct units of time 
which are not dependent on each other: a year, and a month. A year 
is a unit of time measured by a cycle of the sun, and a month is a 
unit of time measured by a cycle of the moon. In the Jewish calendar, 
we have to reconcile both methods of calculation because we were 
commanded to sanctify the lunar months, and we were also commanded to 
celebrate each of the holidays is its appropriate season. In order to 
accomplish that, we have leap years which contain 13 lunar months 
instead of 12, to make up the difference of days between a solar 
year and 12 lunar months.

YomTov, Copyright (c) 1995 by Rabbi Yehudah Prero and Project 
Genesis, Inc.

This list is part of Project Genesis, the Jewish Learning Network.
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper, 
provided that this notice is included intact.

For information on subscriptions, archives, and other Project 
Genesis classes, send mail to for an automated reply.
Project Genesis, the Jewish Learning Network    
P.O. Box 1230                             
Spring Valley, NY  10977                                   (914) 356-3040


The Arcane Archive is copyright by the authors cited.
Send comments to the Arcane Archivist:

Did you like what you read here? Find it useful?
Then please click on the Paypal Secure Server logo and make a small
donation to the site maintainer for the creation and upkeep of this site.

The ARCANE ARCHIVE is a large domain,
organized into a number of sub-directories,
each dealing with a different branch of
religion, mysticism, occultism, or esoteric knowledge.
Here are the major ARCANE ARCHIVE directories you can visit:
interdisciplinary: geometry, natural proportion, ratio, archaeoastronomy
mysticism: enlightenment, self-realization, trance, meditation, consciousness
occultism: divination, hermeticism, amulets, sigils, magick, witchcraft, spells
religion: buddhism, christianity, hinduism, islam, judaism, taoism, wicca, voodoo
societies and fraternal orders: freemasonry, golden dawn, rosicrucians, etc.


There are thousands of web pages at the ARCANE ARCHIVE. You can use ATOMZ.COM
to search for a single word (like witchcraft, hoodoo, pagan, or magic) or an
exact phrase (like Kwan Yin, golden ratio, or book of shadows):

Search For:
Match:  Any word All words Exact phrase


Southern Spirits: 19th and 20th century accounts of hoodoo, including slave narratives & interviews
Hoodoo in Theory and Practice by cat yronwode: an introduction to African-American rootwork
Lucky W Amulet Archive by cat yronwode: an online museum of worldwide talismans and charms
Sacred Sex: essays and articles on tantra yoga, neo-tantra, karezza, sex magic, and sex worship
Sacred Landscape: essays and articles on archaeoastronomy, sacred architecture, and sacred geometry
Lucky Mojo Forum: practitioners answer queries on conjure; sponsored by the Lucky Mojo Curio Co.
Herb Magic: illustrated descriptions of magic herbs with free spells, recipes, and an ordering option
Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers: ethical diviners and hoodoo spell-casters
Freemasonry for Women by cat yronwode: a history of mixed-gender Freemasonic lodges
Missionary Independent Spiritual Church: spirit-led, inter-faith, the Smallest Church in the World
Satan Service Org: an archive presenting the theory, practice, and history of Satanism and Satanists
Gospel of Satan: the story of Jesus and the angels, from the perspective of the God of this World
Lucky Mojo Usenet FAQ Archive: FAQs and REFs for occult and magical usenet newsgroups
Candles and Curios: essays and articles on traditional African American conjure and folk magic
Aleister Crowley Text Archive: a multitude of texts by an early 20th century ceremonial occultist
Spiritual Spells: lessons in folk magic and spell casting from an eclectic Wiccan perspective
The Mystic Tea Room: divination by reading tea-leaves, with a museum of antique fortune telling cups
Yronwode Institution for the Preservation and Popularization of Indigenous Ethnomagicology
Yronwode Home: personal pages of catherine yronwode and nagasiva yronwode, magical archivists
Lucky Mojo Magic Spells Archives: love spells, money spells, luck spells, protection spells, etc.
      Free Love Spell Archive: love spells, attraction spells, sex magick, romance spells, and lust spells
      Free Money Spell Archive: money spells, prosperity spells, and wealth spells for job and business
      Free Protection Spell Archive: protection spells against witchcraft, jinxes, hexes, and the evil eye
      Free Gambling Luck Spell Archive: lucky gambling spells for the lottery, casinos, and races