Bintel Blog

Offbeat Israel: Happy Passover 3322?

By Nathan Jeffay

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Happy New Year!

Yes, it’s a little-known fact that for one of the leading Modern Orthodox rabbis in these parts, the start of Passover is New Year.

Rabbi Yaakov Medan, a rosh yeshiva or academy head at Yeshivat Har Etzion in the West Bank — considered the Harvard of modern-Orthodox scholarship — follows an often-overlooked rabbinic text that recommends calculating the date from the Exodus, instead of the more commonly used supposed date of creation.

So while most of us are in 2009 and, when we use the Jewish calendar 5769, as of Seder Night Medan is in 3322 as Passover supposedly marks the 3322nd anniversary of the Exodus. He will use this date when he writes a letter now, or sends out a memo to staff and students.

Medan claims Biblical precedent as the Bible itself establishes the Exodus as the key event for dating.

The “first month” in biblical references does not apply to Tishri, the month of Rosh Hashanah, as we might expect. Instead, it is Nisan, the month of Pesach. According to Exodus, the second book of the Bible, just before God tells Moses and Aaron the plan to take the children of Israel out of Egypt, He states: “This month shall be unto you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.”

Medan claims that his system is a way of religious Jews killing two birds with one stone — writing the date and fulfilling an obligation in Jewish law, namely commemorating the Exodus daily (which he says you do just by using it to date from). The only snag is that, as he discovered a couple of years ago when he sent out invitations to his son’s wedding on “29.12.3319” (the 29th day of Adar, the twelfth month, in the year 3319), nobody has a clue what date you are talking about.

(the 29th day of Adar, the twelfth month, in the year 3319), nobody has a clue what date you are talking about.


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