Blessings of the Leap Year

Do you wish you had more time?
What if you could double your time and joy?

Each autumn we observe daylight savings time. We “fall back” and gain an extra hour. Some people are so happy to get to sleep a little longer on the weekend. There seems to be so much happiness generated from a single extra hour!

In the Gregorian Calendar, every four years is a leap year. During a leap year we add an extra day: February 29. This year, 2024, is a leap year. The Gregorian calendar is a Solar calendar with minor seasonal adjustment and one extra day every four years. Many holidays are locked to a specific day regardless of the year. This is why Christmas is always on December 25, Easter is always a Sunday, and Thanksgiving a Thursday.

In comparison, the Muslim calendar is lunar based with no seasonal adjustment. Therefore, Ramadan moves back 10 days each year in comparison to the Gregorian calendar.

The Jewish calendar adds a whole month (Adar 1) seven times in 19 years, “roughly” one year in three – actually Years 3, 6, 8, 11, 14, 17, and 19. This is why Hanukkah can overlap with both Thanksgiving and New Year’s.  You can read more about the Jewish calendar here.

The significance of time and meaning of time is of paramount importance in the bible.

In Genesis, G-d mapped out the concept of the 7 days of creation.  Sacred time was outlined in Leviticus 23 when the festival framework was developed. You can read my eldest daughter’s discussion of Sacred Time in her Bat Mitzvah speech here.

In the book, Sabbath Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel explored the concept of Judaism being the celebration of a Temple of Time vs. a Temple of Space.

This distinction can be seen as an important persistence of Jewish celebration even in the darkest of times. Like the lighting of a menorah in a Concentration Camp during WWII or in the October 7 War in Gaza when the IDF celebrated the Maccabees while stationed in Gaza.

I would like to share an additional perspective on Adar 1 and Adar 2.

It is written in the Talmud in Taanit 29a: “When the month of Adar enters, we increase in joy”

I would like to share a recent joyous moment that I experienced at the beginning of this Leap Year.  On New Year’s Eve, Dec 31, 2023, my younger daughter Lucy visited me to celebrate New Years. Although it was just the two of us, our evening developed into a full and vibrant celebration of joy and jubilation. I had prepared a dinner of Lucy’s favorite recipes. Lucy suggested that we watch the Taylor Swift Eras Tour Video on Apple TV.  I promptly said yes! We watched the 3 hour concert while eating our New Year’s eve dinner. I was filled with joy to watch Lucy dance and dance. I also joined in and we danced together. As the clock count proceeded, we began our leap year of 2024 leaping and laughing.

Last weekend during Adar, Lucy visited me again and we reflected on our joyous NYE’s moment and agree that we will cherish it forever. These memories reminded me of when Miriam spontaneously grabbing a timbrel and lead the women in song and celebration of crossing the Sea of Reeds and reaching the wilderness safely (Exodus 15:20-27). It was a truly joyous moment for the children of Israel as they escaped slavery in Egypt

If we can experience joy from an extra hour (daylight savings time) or an extra day (February 29), imagine the possibilities of an entire extra month (Adar 2).

This special period of double Adar is an opportunity for a double portion of Adar’s joy.  It is an opportunity for double jubilee in seeing, believing, and celebrating with friends, family, and those around you.

Additional Reading:

  • You can watch video of Miriam Song by Debbie Friedman here.
  • You can read more about the celebration of sacred time here.
  • You can read more about the month of Adar here.