בס"ד

The Hebrew Calendar "Y6K"

by Dr. Irv Bromberg, University of Toronto, Canada email icon

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The Year 6000

A common reaction to my Hebrew calendar studies is a comment like "In the Hebrew year 6000 the Messiah is coming and/or the physical world will come to an end (as we know it), so of what relevance is your proposed calendar reform?"

Actually, it is that type of comment that is itself irrelevant, to everybody who is alive today, our children, grand-children, great-grand-children, and beyond. Allowing the Talmud standard 25 years per generation, the Hebrew year 6000 is more than 9 generations into the future, so of what relevance is the year 6000 to our generation? Why should we defer taking action or predicate anything we do on the eventual arrival of the year 6000?

The year 6000 will be the last year of the 6th millennium, because the Hebrew year count started from year one. The year 6001 will therefore be the first year of the 7th millennium. The sages of the Talmud debated whether the Messiah will come at the beginning, middle, or end of the 7th millennium. After various sources were considered, it was agreed that nobody knows when he will come. The debate concluded with the statement that all must wait for the Messiah even if he comes only on the last day of the 7th millennium, in other words more than 49 standard generations into the future.

See the Talmud Bavli tractate Sanhedrin, bottom of page 97a, continuing to the top of page 97b.

Fulfilling a Mitzvah (Commandment)

The first Torah commandment to the children of Israel was recorded as "Guard the month of Aviv (spring) and make a Pesach to the Lord thy God..." (Deuteronomy chapter 16 verse 1). Although English translations commonly render the word Pesach as Passover, and that is common usage in modern Hebrew, in the language of the Torah the term Pesach refers specifically to the sacrificial Paschal lamb, whereas the phrase Chag HaMatzot (Feast of Unleavened Bread) is the Torah term for Passover. The slaughter and sacrifice of the Paschal lamb (Korban Pesach) used to take place in the afternoon of the 14th of Nisan, starting 1/2 hour after Noon, so this could imply that the calendar leap cycle should keep that moment at the earliest opportunity that is after the equinox, within the constraints of the lunar month structure.

Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon ("Rambam"), also commonly known by his Greek name, (Moses) Maimonides, wrote a book entitled Hilchot Kiddush haChodesh (title translated as "Sanctification of the New Month" or alternatively as "Sanctification of the New Moon") around the Julian year 1178 or Hebrew year 4938, which is one of the treatises in his Mishneh Torah collection (code of Jewish Law). In that book Rambam indicated that the primary criterion for whether to designate a year as a leap year (13 months) was the timing of the spring equinox: a leap month was required if otherwise the equinox would occur after the end of the first day of Passover.

In the present era of the traditional Hebrew calendar, however, in more than 20% of years Passover begins more than a full month after the equinox. As the traditional Hebrew calendar continues to drift later than the equinox, the proportion of years that are more than a month late will relentlessly increase.

For futher information about guarding the month of spring, please see my web page entitled, "The Seasonal Drift of the Traditional (Fixed Arithmetic) Hebrew Calendar" at <http://individual.utoronto.ca/kalendis/hebrew/drift.htm>.

Cold, Wet Sukkot

Whenever the traditional Hebrew calendar is a month late in the autumn, the festival of Sukkot is cold and rainy (and, in Canada, snowy).

The Rectified Hebrew calendar would eliminate such exceptionally late dates for all Hebrew calendar events and High Holy Days, and would keep this festival close to the autumn harvest dates in Israel.

Beyond the Year 6000

The traditional Hebrew year count (5766 at the time of writing) is based on one specific set of interpretations of a traditional reckoning of the chronology outlined in the Torah (which is not a "history book").

There is plenty of evidence that human civilizations originated much earlier than 6000 years ago — the following are just a few examples:

There is plenty of evidence that living things and the Earth itself are much older than 6000 years, a few examples include:

The age of Earth and our solar system is estimated at about 4+1/2 billion years:

As to the age of our Milky Way Galaxy and for that matter the entire Universe, every day the Hubble Space Telescope and similar instrumentation records images of galaxies and quasars that are more than 7 billion light years away, so the Universe must be much older than that, otherwise how could the light have reached us across such vast distances? The following web sites briefly review some of the scientific evidence regarding the age of the Universe, which is currently estimated at about 13.7 billion years:

If the year 6000 "since Creation" (anno mundi) ever had any true significance, today it no longer matters because the World is already very far past the true count of that year number anyway!

The traditional Hebrew year number is nothing more than an annually incrementing arithmetic value used to regulate its leap cycle and to record events relative to an agreed-upon epoch.


Updated 24 Kislev 5780 (Traditional) = 24 Kislev 5780 (Rectified) = Dec 21, 2019 (Symmetry454) = Dec 23, 2019 (Symmetry010) = Dec 22, 2019 (Gregorian)