Sunday, September 16, 2012

WORLD CALENDARS: Happy Jewish New Year: Beginning of our Days of Awe

Nadene Goldfoot
For us Jews, tonight is the start of the year 5773.  It is the start of the High Holy Days, or Days of Awe.  This month will include the special days of Rosh Hashannah on Monday and Tuesday which is the start of the 10 days of Repentance in which we ask G-d for forgiveness for our sins, known to us or unknown.  It is important to also ask forgiveness of people who we may have sinned against somehow as well, not just G-d.

The end of the 10 days is acknowledged with the Fast of Yom Kippur, when our name will be recorded in a great book which states information about us. This is the holiest day of the year for us.   It's like a grading period every year which decides if we get another year or not, in a sense.  Were we worthy?

This is the time of looking back and examining our actions up to this date.  Have we followed the commandments towards G-d and people?  It's a serious time.

2,500 years ago our first Temple fell in Jerusalem to the Assyrians.  We remember this event to this day with another Fast called the Fast of Gedaliah as this fall of the Temple marked the destruction of Israel.

May we all have a sweet and good New Year.  With violence pervasive in the Middle East today, we all need to say such a prayer.  You can remember the time by eating sweet apples dipped in honey.  That's how we will start a big seder or dinner tonight.  Another symbol used for this holiday is the pomegranate, something discovered today as being so high in antioxidants, vitamin C and K and pantothenic acid which are so good for us.  Our reasoning dates back to ancient times, so ancient that the pomegranate was used in artistic decorations then.  It is of the numerous seeds in it to remind us that our merits should be as numerous that we have it at our seder.  I guess you could say that Judaism has used a merit system on each and everyone of us since our beginnings, at least with Moses.

Rosh Hashannah, our New Year has been thought of as the birthday of the creation of the world, but Arutz Sheva's article explains that the creation started 6 days earlier on the 25th of Elul.  It's the birthday of the creation of man according to Jewish tradition.  It goes on to say that G-d created light on the first day.  Scientists have confirmed this as fact with the "Big Bang" theory, according to Professor Nathan Aviezer.

Abraham, Father of Monotheism and our biblical patriarch who we trace our ancestry from along with many Arabian tribes, the prototype of humility and kindness, lived at the beginning of the 2nd millennium BCE or about 2,000 BCE.  That's 1,761 years from creation to Abraham, which sounds reasonable for Man to have been aware of who he was and what he must do to survive.  We were in Egypt during the Exodus and first went into the country when the Semitic Hyksos dynasty was in power from the 18th to 16th centuries BCE.  King Solomon had married an Egyptian princess and concluded a trade treaty.  He lived  in 961-920 BCE and was the son of King David and Bathsheba.

Another calendar very similar to the Hebrew is the Chinese calendar who also use the moon and sun for determination.  This is the year of the dragon and their calendar was said to be created in the 14th century BCE, so was invented in 2637 BCE.  Theirs goes in cycles of 60.  February 2, 1984 was the start of a 60 year cycle.  On February 10, 2013, the 30th year of that cycle will start.  One would think that the fire from a dragon's mouth has stirred up the Middle East riots this past weekend which the Oregonian newspaper reports this morning that the US braces for unrest to persist in Mideast.

The Mayan calendar is more complicated to me than our present computer system, but also is figured on a 365 day year, though is is said to be a more accurate  system.  December 21st is the end of their important cycle which depends on alignment of the planetary system.  Many speculations have been made for this date; whether it is the end of the world or a time to just to tear a page off of the Mayan calendar for the next cycle to appear.

The Arabic calendar is also a lunar calendar.  Their calendar starts with the year 622 CE when Muhammad, their prophet of Islam,  made his journey to Medina which is called the Hijra.  The Islamic year  1434 begins on about on November 15, 2012.  Since then according to their calendar, 1433 years have passed since this journey.  This reminds me that our American Election Day falls on November 6th, a Tuesday..  Today on the calendar is 29 Shawwal 1433.  Shawwal is the 10th month.  Their calendar is 11 days shorter than the Christian calendar and cannot be printed beforehand.

Resource: Arutz Sheva:
Oregonian newspaper 9/16/12 front page: US braces for unrest to persist in Mideast, NY times
New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia 

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