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Jewish Culture

The New Year

Moshe Unger
Posted 12/31/21

What happens in the middle of the winter? It is not the beginning of anything, so why mark it?

There are very interesting correlations between the day cycle and the year cycle. The day has a cycle …

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Jewish Culture

The New Year

Posted

What happens in the middle of the winter? It is not the beginning of anything, so why mark it?

There are very interesting correlations between the day cycle and the year cycle. The day has a cycle of sundown and night and then comes sunrise and day, the cycle of the year has a similar pattern.

The winter is like the night - the trees, the plants, and many animals sleep, then comes spring, which is like dawn, the world slowly starts to wake up.

The Jewish calendar is Lunisolar, which means, it counts the months by the moon and then it adjusts the years with the sun.

Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year, is in autumn, and it marks the beginning of the solar year in the Jewish calendar. Passover is in spring, and that month is the first of the twelve months in the Jewish calendar. There are two beginnings in the Jewish calendar; the main is in autumn but there is also a beginning in spring.

This correlates to the day cycle. There are also two beginnings in the day cycle. There is the morning which is like spring and there is sundown which is like autumn. The day starts at sundown and that’s why Shabbos starts at sundown just like Rosh Hashana is the beginning of the year. However, the morning is also considered a beginning in some respects.

I find it very interesting that in the western calendar the day starts at midnight and correlating to that the year starts in the middle of the winter. I didn’t have the chance to research both, but I believe they don’t originate from the same source. They were probably set at different eras and for different reasons. However, in terms of the correlation between the day cycle and the year cycle they go together. Middle of winter correlates to middle of night.

What happens in the middle of the night or the middle of winter? It is not the beginning of anything, so why mark it? Maybe it marks hope. Because the night and the winter start becoming less intense from their midpoint onwards. The night nears dawn and the long winter nights start becoming shorter as it inches towards spring. That’s a symbolism of hope, that new beginnings are coming soon.

In Judaism, one of the significances of the days of Chanukah is that they fall in the time that the nights start becoming shorter. Also, there is a minor holiday called Tu Bishvat, in about a month from now, which marks the beginning of the trees warming up and the sap rises. Both of these concepts symbolize hope and renewal.

It’s a special skill to be able to draw encouragement and inspiration when it’s dark for a person.

“Human is like the tree of the field” (based on Deuteronomy 20, 19). The goal of personal growth is not to reach a certain summit. The goal of personal growth is to constantly grow. A person should be happy with what they accomplished but not satisfied. In what new area can you grow in year 2022?

May the year be one of much blessing to each and every one of you with continued growth, inspiration, and joy!!

Comments? Email: moshe@mosheunger.com

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