5770 at a Glance: Facts and Figures about the New Year

by | in Jewish World

image* The position of 5770 as the 13th year of the 304th 19-year cycle (machzor katan) since Creation means that it is a “shanah peshutah,” a “regular” year of twelve months with only one Adar. It is the second year of the 207th 28-year solar cycle (machzor gadol), and also the second year of the current shemittah cycle.
* 5770 will begin on Shabbat (Rosh Hashanah will be Shabbat and Sunday). Years begin on Shabbat 28.5 percent of the time, which is about as often as two out of the other three days (Monday and Thursday) on which Rosh Hashanah can occur. A Tuesday start, which happened last year, is the least frequent (11.5 percent).
* 5770 has 355 days, including 51 Shabbatot. It’s interesting to note that the gematria (numeric value) of the word for year, shanah, is 355. Years with 355 days (or 385 days when there are two Adars), in which both Cheshvan and Kislev have 30 days, are termed “shalem” (complete).
* Based on the above, the calendrical “code” for the 5770 year-type is pei-zayin-shin (pei for peshutah, zayin for Shabbat, i.e., the seventh day of the week, and shin for shalem). Although Pei-zayin-shin is the second most common year-type (there are 14), occurring 13.7 percent of the time, it is not scheduled to reoccur until 5788.
* Since the first day of Rosh Hashanah is Shabbat, the shofar will be blown only on the second day. The special combination of Kiddush and Havdalah—often referred to by the mnemonic YaKNeHaZ (Yayin; Kiddush; Ner; Havdalah; Zeman)—is to be recited on Motzaei Shabbat, the second evening of Rosh Hashanah.
* Since the first day of Sukkot is Shabbat, the lulav will not be waved on that day. In chutz la-Aretz (outside of Israel), the YaKNeHaZ Kiddush/Havdalah combination will also be recited on the second evening of Sukkot and on the evening of Simchat Torah. In Israel, the regular Havdalah is said on both of these Motzaei Shabbatot, since that is when Chol Hamoed begins there.
* There are other interesting differences this year between Israel and chutz la-Aretz; these differences concern Simchat Torah, which in Israel is combined with Shemini Atzeret. Hence, Simchat Torah will be celebrated on Shabbat in Israel, while in chutz la-Aretz it will be celebrated on Sunday. The differences are: 1) The special Torah reading for Simchat Torah consists of five aliyot read from Parashat Vezot Haberachah, which is commonly read over and over again to allow every man in the congregation to receive an aliyah. But on Shabbat, seven aliyot are required. In Israel, therefore, most shuls will split the first aliyah in half and will read further into Vezot Haberachah than if it were a weekday. Even so, the reading for Chatan Torah remains unchanged (starting with verse 27), as do the readings for Chatan Bereishit and maftir. 2) In chutz la-aretz, the beginning of Vezot Haberachah will be read at Minchah on Shabbat Shemini Atzeret. In Israel, since Vezot Haberachah will have been read that morning, the beginning of Bereishit will be read at Minchah. Bereishit is never read in chutz la-Aretz at Shabbat Minchah.
* Chanukah 5770 runs from Shabbat to Shabbat. Two Shabbatot Chanukah happen only about 18 percent of the time, so the haftarah for the second Shabbat Chanukah is read relatively rarely. In years with two Shabbatot Chanukah, Parashat Vayeishev is always read on the first Shabbat, and Parashat Miketz on the second.
* Shabbat Parashat Beshalach, known as Shabbat Shirah, coincides this year with Tu BeShevat. Surprisingly, this coincidence happens nearly 30 percent of the time, but it is nonetheless special.
* Six of the seven pairs of parshiyot that are sometimes combined and sometimes separated are combined in 5770. Only Parashat Chukat and Parashat Balak will be read on separate Shabbatot.
* Purim 5770 will be on Sunday, so Ta’anit Esther, usually the day preceding Purim, is pulled back to the previous Thursday, the 11th of Adar, as no fast is allowed to be on Shabbat except Yom Kippur. Because the fast day is not followed immediately by Purim this year, Avinu Malkeinu and Tachanun are said at Minchah on Ta’anit Esther. In Jerusalem, even though Purim will be on Monday, Ta’anit Esther is observed there on the same day as it is in the rest of the world.
* When days such as Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Memorial Day) or Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) occur just before or just after Shabbat, Israeli authorities usually move their observance in order to avoid any possible breach of Shabbat laws. This year, Yom Hashoah, officially the 27th of Nisan, will be observed instead on Sunday evening and Monday, the 28th. Yom Hazikaron (IDF Memorial Day) and Yom Ha’atzmaut will each be observed a day later than usual, i.e., on Sunday night and Monday, the 5th of Iyar, and Monday evening and Tuesday, the 6th of Iyar, respectively.
* Parashat Bamidbar 22:5 records that Balak sent a delegation to Bil’am to “inform” him about Bnei Yisrael and to solicit his aid in the fight against us. The gematria of this entire pasuk is 5770—a reminder, perhaps, that still today we must be ever-vigilant concerning those who seek to harm Israel and the Jewish people.
* And finally, the Hebrew letters that correspond to the year 5770 can be looked at as rashei tevot (a literary abbreviation) for “Hashem, tishreh Shechinatecha aleinu—God, may Your Divine Presence rest upon us!”

Phil Chernofsky is the educational director of the Seymour J. Abrams Orthodox Union Jerusalem World Center and the editor of Torah Tidbits, its famed English-language weekly Torah and informational publication.

This article was featured in Jewish Action Fall 2009.

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