Hebrew calendar

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The Hebrew calendar (הלוח העברי ha'luach ha'ivri), or Jewish calendar, is a lunisolar calendar used today predominantly for Jewish religious observances. It determines the dates for Jewish holidays and the appropriate public reading of Torah portions, yahrzeits (dates to commemorate the death of a relative), and daily Psalm reading, among many ceremonial uses. In Israel, it is an official calendar for civil purposes and provides a time frame for agriculture.

Originally the Hebrew calendar was used by Jews for all daily purposes, but following the conquest of Jerusalem by Pompey in 63 BCE (see also Iudaea province), Jews began additionally following the imperial civil calendar, which was decreed in 45 BCE, for civic matters such as the payment of taxes and dealings with government officials.

The Hebrew calendar has evolved over time. For example, until the Tannaitic period, the months were set by observation of a new crescent moon, with an additional month added every two or three years to keep Passover in the spring, again based on observation of natural events, namely the ripening of barley to reach the stage of "aviv" (nearly ripened crop).[1] Through the Amoraic period and into the Geonic period, this system was displaced by mathematical rules. The principles and rules appear to have been settled by the time Maimonides compiled the Mishneh Torah.

Because of the roughly eleven-day difference between twelve lunar months and one solar year, the length of the Hebrew calendar year varies in a repeating 19-year Metonic cycle of 235 lunar months, with an intercalary lunar month added according to defined rules every two or three years, for a total of 7 times per 19 years. Seasonal references in the Hebrew calendar reflect its development in the region east of the Mediterranean and the times and climate of the Northern Hemisphere. The Hebrew calendar year is longer by about 6 minutes and 25+25/57 seconds than the present-day mean solar year, so that every 224 years, the Hebrew calendar will fall a full day behind the modern solar year, and about every 231 years it will fall a full day behind the Gregorian calendar year.

The present counting method for years use the Anno Mundi epoch (Latin for "in the year of the world", לבריאת העולם), abbreviated AM or A.M. and also referred to as the Hebrew era. Hebrew year 5770 began on 19 September 2009 and ended on 8 September 2010. Hebrew year 5771 (a leap year) began on 9 September 2010 and ends on 28 September 2011.

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