On Monday evening, as the Gregorian calendar, instituted by Papal decree and based on Jew-hatred, began a new year, people gathered on hilltops and scenic overlooks in several locations around Israel to mark a new month in preparation for a “calendar reset.”
The event seemed quite simple; waving a pair of torches on a hilltop just after sunset. But it symbolized an essential part of the Sanhedrin’s activities, announcing the calendar to the communities outside of Israel. The Sanhedrin initiated the event by receiving and interviewing two witnesses on Mount Zion. They then signaled Joshua Wander who stood ready on the Mount of Olives. Wander lit two torches and waved them in the specified manner.
‘For thousands of years, our nation has sufficed with one Festival of Lights; Hanukkah,” Wander told Israel365 News. “Now, we are bringing back the true Jewish tradition of having lights every month. This is an essential sign of our return from the exile.”
Eyal Davidoff organized the event.
“There were about ten locations around the country that participated, from the black mountains of Eilat in the south to Katzrin in the Golan,” Davidoff told Israel365 News. “Some people lit torches without notifying us. There is an awakening going on. Like one fire lights another, the torches are uniting Israel and hopefully the Galut (exile) in the service of God.”
Rabbi Hillel Weiss, the spokesman for the Sanhedrin, emphasized that resetting the calendar was a universal necessity.
“Everyone who looks to the God of Israel, whether he is a Jew or just a believer in the Bible, God has made a covenant with all of Creation. There is one God and one creation.”
Rabbi Weiss noted that the Gregorian calendar is based on the names of pagan gods.
“Counting the months according to the Biblical commandment is a rejection of Idolatry and makes the nations a part of this universal covenant,” Rabbi Weiss said. “The calendar begins in Jerusalem, where, according to Jewish tradition, the creation of the world began. That is why the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem can establish the months.”
The Sanhedrin has, in fact, received requests from other nations, including Pashtun in India and local Muslims, to take part in this effort to reset the calendar.
“The basic authority of the Sanhedrin begins with the rosh chodesh. The world is suffering from a perversion of justice. Reestablishing this basic function of the Sanhedrin will reset the calendar and reset justice in the world.”
According to the Torah, the new month is established by witnesses testifying before the Sanhedrin, or high court, that they have seen the new moon. Setting the new month by witnesses is considered by Rashi to be the first mitzvah that the Nation of Israel received after leaving Egypt. With great spiritual meaning, establishing the calendar is far more than a convenience. It is so important that it takes precedence over the Sabbath, allowing witnesses to travel on the Sabbath in order to testify before the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem.
Determining when the new month begins also determines when the holidays that occur during each month are celebrated since they are set according to the date of the month.
In the times of the Temple, the new month would be established by both calculations and by witnesses appearing before the Sanhedrin. On the 30th day of every month, the Sanhedrin would gather in a large courtyard in Jerusalem called Beit Ya’azek. Pairs of witnesses who claimed to have seen the new moon on the previous night would come to give their testimony and be cross-examined. If the two accounts were corroborated, the evidence was accepted.
The Sanhedrin would then declare the new month to be sanctified (mekudash).
The following night, messengers were sent out and a series of mountaintop pyres were lit to spread the word to outlying communities. Though it was incredibly efficient for its time, this system caused a delay for the outlying communities outside of Israel. It is for this reason that Jewish communities outside of Israel observe holidays for two days.
When the Temple was destroyed and the Sanhedrin disbanded, the Hebrew calendar was figured solely according to the astrological calculations and the template established by Hillel II. It is remarkable that Hillel II’s calculations stood for as long as they did. However, 1,700 years later, there are discrepancies between his calendar and the astronomical reality. As a result, the true date of the appearance of the moon no longer synchronizes with the beginning of the month as it appears on the calendar.
In Temple times, the new month was a festival, marked by the blowing of the shofar and special sacrifices.
Many people mistakenly believe that Tishrei, the month that begins with Rosh Hashannah, is the first month of the Hebrew Calendar. The Talmud notes that the Hebrew year has, in fact, four designated New Years:
The 1st of Nissan is the new year for kings and festivals; the 1st of Elul is the new year for the cattle tithe… the 1st of Tishrei is the new year for years, of the years of release and jubilee years, for the planting and for vegetables; and the 1st of Shevat is the new year for trees—so say the school of Shammai; and the school of Hillel say: On the 15th thereof. (Rosh Hashanah 1:1)
The Hebrew calendar is a lunisolar calendar, meaning that months are based on lunar months, but years are based on solar years. In the times of the Temple, the new month would be established by both calculations and by witnesses appearing before the Sanhedrin. When the Temple was destroyed and the Sanhedrin disbanded, Hillel II, president of the Sanhedrin in the fourth century, established a written calendar based on astronomical calculations.
Since the days begin in the evening, the dates of the Jewish calendar also change in the evening. Therefore, the months, which are based on the lunar cycle, begin in the evening as well. The mean period of the lunar month (precisely, the synodic month) is very close to 29.5 days. Accordingly, the basic Hebrew calendar year is one of twelve lunar months alternating between 29 and 30 days.