The Jewish Calendar || הַלּוּחַ הָעִבְרִי

What is הַלּוּחַ הָעִבְרִי?

  • The Jewish calendar is different to the one we use in America (called the ‘secular calendar’ or ‘common calendar’). 
  • The secular calendar is based on the earth going around the sun and has 365 days. the Jewish calendar is based on the moon going around the earth. 
  • That is why we also call it the ‘lunar’ calendar (the word ‘lunar’ tells us it has something to do with the moon). 
  • The lunar year has 354 days and the secular year has 365 days. By adding an extra month - חודש אדר ב - in the lunar year (on a leap year, שָׁנָה מְעֻבֶּרֶת), the lunar calendar matches the secular one.

The names of the months

  • The names of the Jewish calendar’s months are all in Hebrew and come from the Babylonian calendar, from a very long time ago. 
  • The first Jewish calendar was written by a man named הִלֵּל הַזָּקֵן.
  • Each month has either 29 or 30 days.
  • Although ראש השנה is in the month of תשרי, in the Torah, the months are counted from Nissan as the Jews left Egypt in the month of Nissan.

The names of the months

  1. תִּשְׁרֵי Tishrei
  2. חֶשְׁוָן Cheshvan
  3. כִּסְלֵו Kislev
  4. טֵבֵת Tevet
  5. שְׁבָט Shevat
  6. אֲדָר Adar
  7. נִיסָן Nissan
  8. אִיָּר Iyar
  9. סִיוָן Sivan
  10. תַּמּוּז Tammuz
  11. אַב Av
  12. אֱלוּל Elul

What is the first month?

  • In the Torah, the first month of the Jewish calendar is נִיסָן‎‎ which is in the Israeli spring. 
  • The Jewish New Year, however is in תִּשְׁרֵי (which is the seventh month). This is not so strange: think about how the Australian new year begins in January, but the Chinese new year begins a month or two later. So, the Jewish calendar has different starting points for different reasons.

Rosh Chodesh = רֹאשׁ חֹדֶשׁ

  • The beginning day/s of each month are very important in the Jewish calendar. We call these days רֹאשׁ חֹדֶשׁ. 
  • On Shabbat before the beginning of the new month, and on the actual days of the new month, we say special prayers. This Shabbat is called שַׁבַּת מְבָרְכִים.

Leap Year = שָׁנָה מְעֻבֶּרֶת

  • As we said, a regular Jewish year has 354 days and the secular year has 365 days. 
  • By adding an extra month - חודש אדר ב - in the Jewish year, the lunar calendar matches the secular one.
  • This special year is called a leap year, שָׁנָה מְעֻבֶּרֶת. The regular year has 12 months; a leap year has 13 months.
  • In a leap year we have 2 months of אדר. The extra month is simply called אדר ב.
  • The calendar works on a 19 year cycle, of which 7 are leap years. 
  • This equals out the discrepancy of 11 days between the solar and lunar years.
  • Approximately, every 3 years there is a leap year. 
  • The Torah does this so that פֶּסַח is always in the Spring.