web analytics
April 21, 2015 / 2 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Q & A: The Leap Year At Adar (Part I)

QuestionsandAnswers-logo

Why does the Jewish leap year always consists of two Adars? Why specifically Adar?

Menachem
(Via E-Mail)

Answer: Both the Babylonian Talmud (in two places: Rosh Hashanah 7a and Sanhedrin 12a) and the Jerusalem Talmud (Sanhedrin 1:2) state that we only create leap years during Adar. The Rambam (Hilchot Kiddush Hachodesh 4:1) codifies this as the halacha. Seemingly everyone, even a young child, is aware of this fact. However, your question is a good one: Why only Adar?

A baraita (Sanhedrin ibid., which is the source for this halacha) states: “We do not intercalate the year before Rosh Hashanah [in Elul], and if they did intercalate, it is [not valid]. However, in times of duress, they may intercalate immediately after Rosh Hashanah. Even so, the intercalation is done for the month of Adar.”

Not only is the intercalation restricted specifically to the month of Adar, but beit din (in earlier times) was only allowed to meet in Adar regarding the intercalation. The Gemara (Sanhedrin ibid.) makes note of this and the unusual exception that was made when Rabbi Akiba was in prison. The sages joined him there and proclaimed not one but three (successive) intercalations (for three different years). The Gemara explains that after sitting with Rabbi Akiba, they then met and sat again as a beit din in Adar.

Rashi (ad loc. svein ma’avirin”) explains: “Beit din does not sit before Rosh Hashanah to delve into the matter and proclaim that this year be intercalated with two Adars because there will be forgetfulness due to the [long] lapse of time, with the result that people will come to be careless with chametz [on Passover].”

Tosafot (Sanhedrin 12a, svEin me’averin ela Adar”) offer a scriptural reason for intercalating Adar specifically: “We do not intercalate [any of] the other months [save for Adar] because of the following verse (Esther 3:7) ‘[Bachodesh harishon hu chodesh Nissan bishe’nat shteim esreh la’melech Achashveirosh hipil pur, hu hagoral lifnei Haman, miyom l’yom u’me’chodesh] l’chodesh shneim asar hu chodesh Adar – [In the first month, which is the month of Nissan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, they cast pur, that is the lot, before Haman from day to day, from month to month,] to the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar.’ Now if we are to intercalate one of the other months, then Adar will not be the twelfth month.”

We must note the reason for intercalating altogether: the discrepancy between the lunar and solar years. Simply put, the lunar year is basically 354 days, which is the approximate time it takes for 12 new moons to occur. On the other hand, the solar year is basically 365 days, which is the approximate time it takes for the earth to complete one solar revolution. There remains an approximate discrepancy of 11 days between the two. Thus, every several years, the cumulative missing days are combined to form an additional month of Adar, delaying the next lunar year from starting again and allowing the lunar and solar years to be in sync once more.

It is interesting to note that many other peoples follow a lunar year. The most prominent examples are the Muslims and Chinese. Since Muslims do not have a leap year, their calendar proves to be quite interesting in that their principal month-long fast and feast, Ramadan, occurs in different solar months in different years. Not so the Jewish year, where the lunar year is adjusted with extra months to ensure that the holidays are celebrated in their correct seasons.

(To be continued)

About the Author: Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Q & A: The Leap Year At Adar (Part I)”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Rav Aharon Lichtenstein
Republished: My Rebbe Rav Aharon Lichtenstein Is Awarded the Israel Prize 2014
Latest Judaism Stories
Torah scroll. (illustrative only)

For humans, reducing flesh is generally a good thing whereas its expansion is generally a bad thing

Hertzberg-041715

Lincoln was not a perfect man. But he rose above his imperfections to do what he thought was right not matter the obstacles.

Arch of Titus

Adon Olam: An Erev Shabbat Musical Interlude Courtesy of David Herman

Daf-Yomi-logo

Oh My, It’s Copper!
‘…And One Who Is A Coppersmith’
(Kethubboth 77a)

The omer sacrifice of loose barley flour was more fitting for animal consumption than human consumption and symbolizes the depths to which the Jewish slaves had sunk.

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

When Chazal call not eating treif food a chok, that refers to how it functions.

His mother called “Yoni, Yoni!” Her eyes, a moment earlier dark with pain, shone with joy and hope

Kashrut reminds us that in the end, God is the arbiter of right and wrong.

In a cab with Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach & Rav Elayshiv discussing if/when to say tefillas haderech

The successful student listens more than speaks out; wants his ideas critiqued, not just appreciated

Why would it not be sufficient to simply state lehoros from which we derive that in such a state one may not issue any psak?

What do we learn about overcoming loss from the argument between Moses and Aaron’s remaining 2 sons?

Each of the unique roles attributed to Moshe share the common theme that they require of and grant higher sanctity to the individual filling the role.

Because of the way the piece of my finger had been severed, the doctors at the hospital were not able to reattach it. They told me I’d have to see a specialist.

“The problem is that the sum total is listed is $17,000. However, when you add the sums mentioned, it is clear that the total of $17,000 is an error. Thus, Mr. Broyer owes me $18,000, not $17,000.”

More Articles from Rabbi Yaakov Klass
Q-A-Klass-logo

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Question: What if someone forgot to count sefirah Thursday evening but only realized after he finished davening Friday evening? The catch is that he accepted Shabbos early so that it is still light outside. Can he still count for Thursday evening and then count for Friday night with a berachah once it gets dark?

Pesach Bernstein
(Via E-Mail)

Question: What if a person counted the Omer but forgot to utter the blessing beforehand? Has he fulfilled his obligation? Incidentally, why do we recite a blessing for this counting but not for the “zayin nekiyim – seven clean days”?

M. Goldman
Miami Beach, FL

Question: Must one spend great sums of money and invest much effort in making one’s home kosher for Passover? Not all of us have such unlimited funds.

Name Withheld
(Via E-Mail)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/ask-the-rabbi/q-a-the-leap-year-at-adar-part-i/2014/02/27/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: