The Christian calendar follows the sun, Islam follows the moon, but Jews follow the moon yet modified by a leap month to not ignore the sun fully. Also the Chinese follow the moon modified to the position of the sun.
After the recent piece about rain, let’s discuss nature in Israel a bit more and the Jewish calendar now the New Year of the Trees is approaching.
The Rabbis advise us to believe that G^d both wrote the Torah and created Nature, and therefore, that there can’t be a contradiction between the two. We can and should check that for ourselves. If the two don’t jive, our natural observations or understanding of the Torah (or both) is wanting.
As I mentioned much earlier, in Israel, nature starts twice a year. In winter, it’s too cold and dark and almost all seems dead. In summer, it’s too hot and dry and almost all seems dead. But after them, nature starts to blossom again—literally. After winter, the extra sun puts the winter rain to work. After summer, the milder sun allows dew to do its generous work. Seeds sprout, perennials grow new leaves or needles, butterflies and bees reappear, and flowers are everywhere.
And—likewise—the Jewish Tradition tells us the Jewish year starts twice too. The Talmud explains that in Spring, Passover time, G^d thought to make the world (and our spiritual life hangs in the balance), and in Autumn, High Holidays time, He actually created it (and our physical life hangs in the balance). Both beginnings are a good time to better our ways (again), and traditionally, we actually wish each other a good year. We too, like nature, return to (true) life.
The Jewish (and Muslim) months begin with the appearance of the first sliver of the moon. Full moon for us is halfway the month. Many Festivals, major and minor, rather surprisingly, begin not at the start of a month but rather at the 15th of the Jewish month. Why would that be?
Maybe this is to have the twice-yearly beginnings stand out. The months of Nissan (Passover time) and Ellul (High Holidays time) stick out by having other yearly highlights fall halfway the month.
The full-moon events are the Feast of Tabernacles (general harvest time), the New Year of the Trees (trees beginning to blossom with the almond tree taking the lead), Pooreem (happy, time to begin planting veggies?), Passover (the beginning of harvesting the winter (-planted) wheat), and the Festival of Love (the happiest day of the year, matchmaking).