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Why are there are two Jewish new years?

Great question - and you will find an explanation below!

Exodus 12: 1 ADONAI spoke to Moshe and Aharon in the land of Egypt; he said, 2 "You are to begin your calendar with this month; it will be the first month of the year for you.

In Exodus 12:1-2, Yahweh tells Moshe that the year from then on will begin "this month", but it is not for the purpose of counting years; rather, it is in commemoration of the momentous transformation, from slavery to physical liberation from Egypt.

Passover, on the other hand (which many call the beginning of the New Year) is celebrated in its own right as the pivotal event which led to the Exodus. Therefore, the 1st day of Nisan became the date for the first month of the Hebrew/Jewish calendar.

In other words, months in the Hebrew/Jewish calendar are numbered beginning with the month of Nisan as explicitly stated in the Torah. In fact, the title "First of the Months" ("Rosh Hodashim" in Hebrew) is reserved in the Torah for the month of Nisan (Exodus 12:2).

Then there is also the "civil year", the point in the year from which the years are counted. This is the historical date agreed upon by the sages that was the date of the creation of man. Yom Teruah/Rosh Hashana (in September 2010), kicked off the year 5771 from the creation of Adam.

Counting years from Tishri (Yom Teruah/Rosh Hashana) is also the date for calculating the release year (i.e., the "Sh'mittah" year, which means "Sabbatical" year, which is every 7th year in the 49-year cycle that governed the Kingdom of Israel [10th century B.C.E. to 8th century B.C.E.] and Kingdom of Judah [10th century B.C.E. to 6th century B.C.E.] in biblical times), and the date for calculating the Jubilee year (a Jubilee year or "Yovel" year in Hebrew is the year after the 49-year cycle that governed the Kingdom of Israel and Kingdom of Judah in biblical times, i.e., the 50th year).

The 1st day of Tishri was also the date that determined the beginning of the year when it came to the three years that the fruit of a tree must be left unpicked (Leviticus 19:23). The 1st day of Tishri was also the date for the "tithe of crops" for the Levites and the Priesthood ("Cohanim" in Hebrew), whose dedication to holy service prevented them from working on the land like the other Hebrews.

Though the month of Tishri is the beginning of the "New Year"; that is, you increment the year count and observe other events, it is counted as the "7th Month" because Yahweh commanded that the months be counted from Nisan. We see that Tishri is counted as the 7th month in Leviticus 23:24, and in 1 Kings 8:2. (Don't get caught up in the names of the months. In Biblical times, what we call today "Nisan" was then "Aviv", and what we call today "Tishri", in Biblical times was "Etanim".)

We see, too, that Tishri is also considered the "beginning of the year" in Ezekiel 40:1, which clearly refers to Yom Kippur (tenth day of the month); yet Ezekiel refers to the month as the beginning of the year (as it is Tishri). So one must simply be savvy on what count or calendar the author is referring to when reading the Bible! Today it causes us great trouble, but in the age in which these things were written, everyone clearly understood!

So, the easiest for us to understand is that months are counted from Nisan in remembrance of the Exodus, but years are counted from Tishri, along with a host of other record-keeping events.

  • The spiritual year, or sacred year starts with Nisan.

  • The civil year or "civil calendar" is determined from Tishri.

The Hebrew traditions also have two other "years", though this is not from scripture. The 1st day of Elul marks the "new year for animals" for the tithing of animals, when a choice animal is dedicated and given to the Levites, and the Cohanim. And there is the 1st day of Shevat which is the "new year for trees" for the collecting and giving of fruit for the Levites and the Cohanim. These two additional "years" are from the Mishnah, the first redaction of the traditional Oral Law.

Since we, today, have no Temple, and no Levites in charge of the Temple, and no Cohen to serve as our priest, we have no way to observe the new year for animals or the new year for trees. But through the Exodus and Passover, and the new year of Rosh Hashanah (1 Tishri) we can honor and observe, which is a blessing!

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Always a good read before the New year! 

As most people dont understand and always ask! 

Well here is your answer ! 

I had no idea there were so many "new Years" I knew of the civil and spiritual but the others...I had never heard of.


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