Birthdays are important (unless we are trying to forget our age) and as Jews today, we are lucky to have two birthdays on two different calendars.
Most of us know our birthdate but may not be able to find what it is on the Jewish calendar. Today finding the answer is easy — Google it! Just ask for the “Jewish Birthdate Calculator.”
After you have done that, you need to check the Jewish calendar every year for your birthday. Now you have two days to celebrate and they could be weeks apart.
More important for Jewish remembrance is the Jewish date of death. That date is the traditional date to remember the person who has died by going to the synagogue to say the Kaddish or to light a candle. For many people, however, the calendar date is the one they remember and that is OK, too.
We have just entered the month of Adar I and now it is even more confusing because this year we have two months of Adar. It is the “Jewish Leap Year” that we celebrate seven times in 19 years (just check the calendar — it is easier that figuring it out). Being born or dying in Adar can be confusing on when to celebrate or remember, but there are many helpful Internet sites as well as lots of helpful rabbis.
Adar is a wonderful month because it is the month of Purim. But it is also a month to commemorate. It is the month of Moses’ birthday and death. Here is some interesting information:
We are told that Moses was born in Egypt on the seventh of Adar of the year 2368 from creation (1393 BCE). He was the third child of Jocheved and Amram — brother Aaron was three years older and sister Miriam was seven years older. How do we know it was his birthday? Because the Talmud gives us this information:
In Deuteronomy 34:8, it says that the Jews mourned for 30 days after Moses died. This was in the Plains of Moab which borders Israel, east of the Jordan river.
In the Book of Joshua, God command that the people should cross the Jordan in three days’ time. Since this was told right after Moses died, it was understood that they needed to do this after the 30 days of mourning.
In Joshua 4:19, it says that the Jews crossed the Jordan on the 10th of Nissan. Subtract three days between the command and the crossing, plus the 30 days of mourning; it means that Moses died on the seventh of Adar.
We know that the seventh of Adar is also Moses’ birthday because on the day of his death in Deuteronomy 31:2, he says, “Today I am one hundred and twenty years old.”
So there you have it — a special day in Adar and one to be celebrated and commemorated in a variety of ways. May we all live to 120 and change the world as much as Moses did.
Shalom … from the Shabbat Lady.
Laura Seymour is director of Camping Services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.