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Tashbetz II Print E-mail

writingsA question put to Rav Duran concerned the Jewish calendar, Although it is a lunar calendar, the lunar months, by the addition of an extra month In some years, are made to tally with the solar year. Or, as the question puts it, so far as the months are concerned we reckon by the moon, but so far as the years are concerned we reckon by the sun. Why is this? Duran replies that is Biblically ordained since the Biblical word for ‘month’ is hodesh, meaning ‘renewal’ and referring to the phases of the moon, yet Passover is said to be a spring festival, falling always in ‘the month of Abib’ (Deut. 16: 1). Duran observes that far from our having to apologize for our calendar, we ought to appreciate how superior it is to that of the Christian and the Muslims. The Christians, who have a solar calendar are obliged to fix the months in a purely arbitrary fashion, some months having thirty days, others thirty-one. The beginning of each month is decided purely by convention and is not based on Nature, as in a lunar calendar. The Muslims, who do have a lunar calendar, pay the price of having a movable feast. We Jews have the best of both worlds, a natural series of months and a fixed spring festival. Duran conclude: ‘You find a difficulty here but, in reality, it is a source of pride to us and a demonstration of the superiority of our holy Torah. Would you have wished us to be like them? They walk in darkness but to all the children of Israel there is light.’
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