The new moon was sighted in Israel on May 11, 2013 – two days after the calculated Rabbinical calendar sets rosh chodesh (i.e., the start of the new month). As a result, most observant Karaites celebrated rosh chodesh on a different day from observant Rabbanites.
1100 years ago, though, (at least some) Palestinian Rabbanites set their calendar by the actual sighting of the new moon – and even observed “Rosh Hashanah” on a different day from the Babylonian Rabbanites.
This came as a bit of a surprise to me. I’d always been taught (by Rabbanites) that after Calendar of Hillel II was set in the fourth century, Rabbanites were bound by that fixed calendar.
But according to Dr. Marina Rustow, there was a calendar tussle in the early part of the tenth century between Babylonian Rabbanites and their Palestinian counterparts. (Dr. Rustow, Heresy and the Politics of Community, pp. 15-20.) Dr. Rustow adds that certain contemporaneous Karaite sources asserted that some Palestinian Rabbanites still sighted the new moon into the 11th century.
Over time, the Babylonian Rabbanites, their Talmud and their insistence on a calculated calendar generally won the day in the Rabbinic community.
But if some Palestinian Rabbanites could insist on the observance of the new moon a millenium ago – even if it meant celebrating “Rosh Hashanah” on a different day – maybe some Rabbanites today would be interested in doing the same – even if only on months that do not contain major Jewish holidays.
So, if you’re a Karaite, a Palestinian Rabbanite, or just a Rabbanite that comes in the spirit of the Palestinian Rabbanites on this issue, drop me a line (Shawn@ABlueThread.com) and I’ll put you in touch with some new moon observers.
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Today is the 2nd day of the 7th week of seven weeks. Today is the 44th day of the counting of fifty days from the day of the waving of the Omer on the morrow after the Sabbath.