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Sync Your Calendars

Sync Your Calendars

Humans have always looked up to the sky for a clue into the mystery of the universe, and for an understanding of their place within it.

Some fell in love with the moon. Intrigued by her soft and gentle glow, comforted by her light illuminating the night sky. As they watched the waxing and waning of the moon, completing a cycle in just about thirty days, they realized that she offered a convenient and straightforward way to mark the passage of time.

As people became more sophisticated, inventing technology and developing agriculture, they began to realize the power of a solar calendar. Although the sun's changing position in the sky is harder to notice as compared with the changing shape of the moon, they  understood the power of the solar calendar to predict major economic events. From following the agricultural cycle to predicting the overflowing of the Nile, you need to look to the sun. Craving the sun’s power, strength, and brilliance, they began moving away from the lunar calendar and adopting the solar one.  

The first Commandment G-d commanded the Jewish people, just as he was about to liberate them from Egypt, and establish them as an independent free people, was the commandment to establish a Hebrew calendar. As slaves they did not control their own time, nor were they free to think about time on their own terms. Their time and their perspective on life was enslaved to the powerful Egyptians. To be truly free, they would have to learn to think about time, it's purpose and meaning, on their own terms.  

So which calendar should they choose?

Which would be their primary one? would they identify with the mighty, powerful, masculine, sun, or with the more subtle, reflective, feminine, beauty of the moon?

The essential feature of the Hebrew calendar, is that it synchronizes the lunar and solar cycle. It does so by establishing a leap year, adding a lunar month approximately every three years, closing the eleven day gap between the lunar and solar cycle.  

While not the first to do sync the calendars (ancient Egypt, for example, eventually moved to eliminate the discrepancies between the solar calendar, wit's primary one, and the lunar calendar, by introducing a leap year with a thirteenth month), the Hebrew calendar is the first to place the synchronization of the sun and the moon as it's central feature.

The way we think about time informs our attitude to the universe as a whole: Is there a purpose to creation? Is there meaning to life? Is there meaning to the time that is ticking by?  The Jew’s answer is that the purpose of everything is the unity of the sin and the moon, of giver and receiver, of G-d and the Jewish people.

The brilliant sun symbolizes the consistent, powerful and illuminating light of G-d. The moon shining in the dark sky represents the Jewish people, whose job it is to reflect the light of G-d into a dark world. The Jewish people, therefore, are subject to challenges imposed by the world, at times they shine in all their glory and at times their light is invisible.

The first commandment demonstrates the goal of all the following commandments, which is to synchronize the sun and the moon. Every Mitzvah we perform draws down Divine energy and connects the light of G-d with the Jew in this world, uniting them, forming one reality where “in the heaven above and on the earth below there is nothing beside him[1]”.

No surprise then, that the commandment to establish the calendar was one of just a few commandments related to both Moses and Aaron: “ The Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying[2]”. If our calendar synchronizes the sun and the moon that it's commandment should be given through our, metaphorical, sun and moon. Moses - the giver of the Torah is our sun. He shines with a radiant light shines from above, communicating Divine wisdom, with great passion and energy.  Aaron is our moon. He teaches us how to refine ourselves to the point that we can reflect the light of G-d. He teaches us how to get along with other people. He is passionate about people. He understands that peace may, in some cases, be more important then truth.

Both the word of G-d and the way the people absorb and reflect it are important to our mission. We need a Moses and an Aaron. A sun and a moon.



[1] Deuteronomy 4:39. 

[2] Exodus 12:1. 

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