Leap Year- Shannah Me’uberet

In Judaism, a lunar calendar is used to determine and count the days of the year. However, the cycle of each year is solar, according to the sun – Shemesh in Hebrew – שֶׁמֶשׁ. Another important and fundamental principle is that Passover must always be at spring time, as written in Deuteronomy 16:1-

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“Observe the month of Abib, and keep the Passover unto the Lord thy God: for in the month of Abib the Lord thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night.” “Shamor ‘et chodesh ha’viv ve-’asita pesacl la-adonay elo’eychah, ki be-chodesh ha’aviv hotsi’acha adonay ‘elo’eychah mi-mitsrayim Laylah”

“שָׁמוֹר אֶת-חֹדֶשׁ הָאָבִיב וְעָשִׂיתָ פֶּסַח לַיהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ:  כִּי בְּחֹדֶשׁ הָאָבִיב הוֹצִיאֲךָ יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ מִמִּצְרַיִם-לָיְלָה.”

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Because Passover must always be in spring, and every lunar year is 11 days less than

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a solar one (a lunar year is 354 days and solar is 365 days), a solution was found – the leap year- שָׁנָה מְעֻבֶּרֶת. A leap year is a year in which another month, Adar, is added.

You’re probably asking yourself why we add Adar and not Elul, the last month that we commemorate nowadays. Well, dear friends, let’s not forget that there’s a difference between the Jewish calendar today and the original Hebrew Calendar in the old ages. When we read the book of Esther, the last month in the year – the twelfth one – is mentioned as Adar (See Esther 3:13). For that reason if a month need to be added it can’t be the last month that we use today, Elul, but the last month of the old ages, Adar – אֲדָר (Aleph-Dalet-Resh).

Until the time of the Talmud there was a special court that decided whether a month has 29 or 30 days (and sometimes even 31 days), and also how many months will be in the Jewish year – 12 or 13. In the fourth century, a secret was published – the secret of the leap year. There is a 19-year cycle in which seven are leap years – the third, the sixth, the eighth, the eleventh, the fourteenth, the seventeenth, and the nineteenth (3,6,8,11,14,16,19).

This year is a leap year, so we actually have two months of Adar, called Adar Aleph and Adar Bet. Other names are Adar Ri’shon and Adar Sheni, literally the first and second Adar.

Many thanks to Juliet from Denmark for sending me this question on our Facebook fan page. Keep on sending me questions and have a great month – and, this year,  two great months of Adar!

Iris

hebrewsocial@eteachergroup.com

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