Jewish time


This is also posted at http://www.examiner.com/article/jewish-time, but if you don't wish to be bombarded by the pictures and ads on that site, you can read it here.


In common usage, "Jewish time," like "New York time", indicates the opposite of "sharp" for starting time. However, there really is a different sense of Jewish time orientation that defines our calendar.
You have to let go of the assumptions we normally hold in the western world to appreciate them, just like we have to not take it for granted that everyone orients toward the north for direction with east to the right and west to the north.. In Biblical orientation, the forward direction is east, so what is to right is south and what is to the north is left.
In the Jewish calendar, we count both days and months. As mentioned in http://www.examiner.com/article/spring-and-the-month-of-nissan, the first month of the year is Nissan, the start of the spring season and the month in which we celebrate Pesach [Passover]. It used to simply be called the "first month," and the name for it, as for the other 11 months came later. But the days of the week in Hebrew remain just "first day," "second day," etc. The only exception is the seventh day, which is called Shabbos/Shabbat [Sabbath]. In fact, each of the designated shir shel yom, chapter of Tehillim [Psalms] that is designated for each day of the week, begins with "Today is ___ day of the Sabbath," filled in with first, second, third, fourth, fifth, or sixth.
This is part of the fulfillment of the injunction to remember the Sabbath day, which is in the portion of the Torah will be reading this Sabbath, Yithro. Every day of the week, we are not only counting up to the Sabbath but thinking about it in the course of our daily activities. We accomplish this by following the principle of Shamai as recounted in Beitza 16a here (even though we normally follow the practice of Hillel) in looking out every day for something special for the Sabbath table. (for more on this topic, see what Rav Moshe Taragin wrote in vbm-torah.org/archive/metho/shabbat/02zakhor.doc)
The idea is if you see a nice piece of meat on Sunday, which you can safely keep in the freezer until you cook it on Friday, then you buy it then. If on a subsequent shopping trip, you see something that looks even better, you can then buy it for you Sabbath dinner and then prepare what you bought earlier in the week for your weekday dinner. You may buy a melon on Wednesday and then see a nicer one on Thursday and so eat it that melon you bought earlier on Thursday while you keep the nicer one for the Sabbath. In that way, every day's meal becomes a step in honoring the Sabbath.
That brings me to two points on the Sabbath that Rav Goldwicht shared this past Monday night. One is in connection to the days that we always introduce as "of the Sabbath." He said that according to a Midrash, the week was set to be made of 6 days of 28 hours (to correspond to the 28 year cycle of the sun that is commemorated with a special blessing, as last observed in 2009). Each day gave up 4 hours in order to add on a seventh day, the Sabbath. Consequently, each day of the week has its share in that day.
The second point he made was in connection to food preparation for the Sabbath. It is considered meritorious to taste the food in advance to be sure it is spiced just right. In fact, the reward for this is good health. Rav Goldwich pointed out that this is a Torah-true segula, recorded in venerable sources, unlike the ones that simply sprout up in marketing ploys today, as detailed in What works in Jewish tradition and an open letter.

PS After I posted the link to this article on a LI group, someone argued that it is not possible for there to have been the idea of 6 28 hour days a week. While I never doubted Rav Goldwicht, I wanted to locate the source. My husband (AKA Divrei Chaim) was able to find this http://shvileipinches.com/2011/01/19/parshas-yisro/:

 The Shearis Yisroel, written by the great, Rabbi Yisroel Dov Ber of Vilendik, zy”a, (Shaar HaZmanim, Succos, 2), teaches us that HKB”H created the Shabbos from the contributions of the six weekdays; each day contributed four of its hours with which the complete twenty-four hour Shabbos day was formed. After much research into the matter, I found the original source for this concept in the sefer Gevul Binyamin written by the heavenly kabbalist Rabbi Binyamin Hakohen, printed in Amsterdam in the year 5487; he attributes the concept to the Ramak, the heavenly kabbalist Rabbi Moshe Cordoverao, z”l.
He points out that at the beginning of creation, the days were each supposed to last twenty-eight hours; however, since each of the six days were equal to one another, they lacked a leader and dominant force. They requested that HKB”H appoint a king to reign over them. HKB”H responded that the king must arise from among themselves. By receiving four hours from each day, the king will have dominion over them. These donations resulted in the formation of the twenty-hour day of Shabbos.
The Gevul Binyamin adds his own explanation, why the six days of the week originally consisted of twenty-eight hours each. The hours in a day corresponded to the twenty-eight times, “itim,” enumerated by Shlomo HaMelech in megilas Koheles (Chapter 3): Everything has its season, and there is a time for everything under the heaven”.Note that the twenty-eight “itim” are separated into two categories—fourteen negative and fourteen positive.
HKB”H created the six days of the week, consisting of twenty-eight hours, to correspond to these twenty-eight “itim.” The fourteen hours of the day, during which there was light, represented the fourteen positive or good times; whereas, the fourteen hours of the night, ruled by darkness, represented the fourteen bad or negative times. Afterwards, however, each of the days contributed four of its hours—two from the day and two from the night—to form the day of Shabbos.
Shabbos repays the six weekdays by giving them all her blessingsBased on this understanding, we can comprehend what we the Zohar hakadosh (Yisro 88.) teaches, that all blessings of the six days of the week depend on Shabbos. Due to the fact that Shabbos was created from the donations of the six weekdays, Shabbos recognizes its debt of gratitude and returns the favor to the weekdays by imparting to them an abundance of good and a new lease on life for another six days.








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Comments

Mrs. S. said…
Nice post!
Here in Israel, "Jewish time" is fondly called "שעון בני עקיבא" ("Bnei Akiva time")... :-)
Ariella said…
Thanks, Mrs. S. Is there a political connotation to that? Is there also a shaon Agudah or some equivalent?
Mrs. S. said…
No, it’s not political at all. It’s simply that as any parent could tell you, youth group performances and activities never start on time. :-) (I’m sure there’s a chareidi equivalent. I just don’t know what it’s called...)
Ariella said…
Thanks for clarifying. If you have Bnos or Pirchei groups over there, I suppose they may use that.

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