Lost ten days

Imagine that the highest religious authority in the world (Dalai Lama, Pope Francis, Chief Israeli Rabbi?) announces tomorrow that ten days of the 2020 calendar will be wiped out. Instead of having 365 days, we’d only have 355. Think about the turmoil this would create… Instagram, Facebook and Twitter would buzz; traders at the stock market wouldn’t know what to do; conspiracy theories and governments would point fingers accusing each other. Don’t even mention physicists and astronomers. It would be chaos!

Whatever you imagine, this scenario is not new for human beings. It already happened in history.
In the year 1582, the world changed from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, the one we use today.

In the Julian calendar, that was established by Julius Caesar in the year 40 BCE, one year was longer by 11 minutes and 14 seconds than the tropical year (the time the sun takes to return to the same position). In a cycle of 314 years these calendars would differ by a day and therefore corrections to the Julian calendar were eventually needed.

In 1582 Pope Gregory XIII established the Gregorian calendar, a more accurate calendar, the calendar we use today. What many people don’t know is that in order to make the correction, ten days were completely erased from the calendar. If you were born between October 4th and October 14th you probably were not registered, unfortunately, therefore no birthday cake for you! In the year 1582, October 4th was followed by October 15th. For us, this scenario is nearly impossible to imagine

So now, the question our grandparents would ask: Is this good for the Jews?

The answer is unclear. What is important to know is that this is probably the only regulation where the Gregorian calendar affects the Jewish calendar.

If we read the small font of our prayer books carefully, we will see there is a minor change in the ninth blessing of the Amidah either on December 4th or 5th. Well… in the year 2100 this footnote will need to be re-written to be on December 5th or December 6th. In 2200- a day few of us will see- the footnote will continue moving forward to December 6th or 7th and so on. By the Beth El will need to order revised editions of the prayer books!

More information can be found here.

https://www.rabbinicalassembly.org/sites/default/files/public/resources-ideas/cj/classics/11-29-11-calendar/strange-case-december-4.pdf

What really matters is what we do with our days. Do we want to wipe them out from the calendar or make them shine, be highlighted and relevant.

I strongly believe it is not a coincidence that ten days were erased in the Gregorian calendar and ten days are the holiest days of the Jewish calendar. We want our counted days to count. Let’s make them shine in our calendar!

 

Posted by Rabbi Fabián Werbin

2 comments

The Russians did not adopt the Gregorian calendar until 1918, when Lenin changed it. They lost two weeks of February 1918, going from January 31 to February 14.

I just learned from Google that the last to adopt the Gregorian calendar was Turkey, in 1927!
There is a chart showing places and dates after 1582:
https://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/julian-gregorian-switch.html

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