Leap Months

by Rabbi Ilene Bogosian, February 5, 2015

I’m disappointed. This year is not leap year on either of my calendars. There is no February 29th and on the Jewish calendar there is no second month of Adar. We Jews do not settle for adding just one day every four years to adjust our calendar to the true length of the solar year. We add an entire extra month every so many years. It’s a good thing we don’t use that system on the secular calendar. Can you imagine February I and February II? No one ever says “July 4th came early this year.” There are no surprises in the secular calendar. It is always hot on the 4th of July, but Rosh HaShanah services can take place during the sweltering humidity of the first week of September, the fresh chill of early October, or anytime in between.

Along with that variability comes the potential for surprises. No experience of the holiday is ever quite the same. The continuity of living our holy days happens indoors. The liturgy is the same each year. The musical theme of each holiday is familiar and our homes smell like the food of the season.

I love the way our calendar floats us through the river of time. We can predict what we will be doing on each sacred day in our year, but not the seasonal context. This continuity within a universe of change is one of the treasures of our tradition. We are a people who have thrived on complexity within a framework of tradition for millennia. That is why we are the people of the joke. You know – the one that says if you have two Jews in the room you are guaranteed X (fill in any large number) opinions about any matter under discussion. The Talmud recounts our long history of disagreements. Our tradition calls them “arguments for the sake of heaven.” Although only some of the opinions recorded by our tradition guided actual practice when they were offered, all of them were preserved because they might be needed to guide the lives of future generations during times of change, “i.e. interesting times.”

Even if there is no leap year in 5755, we are living in “interesting times” at Solel Congregation. We are about to welcome Rabbi Audrey Pollack to our community. Your conversations with her about the future will be complex and, I hope that all of you will be part of the process. It will be business as usual if every gathering of two or more of you offers twenty opinions. I also hope that you will listen well to each other and “record” them all so that they remain available to guide the congregation – next year and in that unknown future when you might find yourselves in an unexpected season. May all of our discussions be “for the sake of heaven.” I am very much looking forward to doing all I can to help Rabbi Pollack and her family become Solelniks!


Rabbi Ilene Bogosian

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