The New Moon and the Feasts: A Calendar of 2015’s Fall Feasts

I thought I’d write this post to clarify the dates of 2015’s Fall Feasts. Rabbinically, Yom Kippur will begin Tuesday – Wednesday, September 22-23 and the Feast of Sukkot will begin Sunday evening, September 27. However, according to Leviticus 23, the dates for YHVH’s Feasts are always established in relation to the new moon. Furthermore, in Genesis, YHVH set the precedent that the sun, moon, and stars were to be signs for His “set-times.”

“God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate day from night; they shall serve as signs for the set times – the days and the years; and they shall serve as lights in the expanse of the sky to shine upon the earth.’ And it was so. God made the two great lights, the greater light to dominate the day and the lesser light to dominate the night, and the stars.” Gen.1:14-16

These two great lights are the sun and the moon, respectively. The word for ‘set times’ here is moedim (appointed times) which is the very word that Yahweh chooses to use to describe His festivals. One more passage that speaks of these two lights is found in Psalms 104:19: “He made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows when to set.”

This passage clearly sets the moon apart as the main marker of the seasons, while the sun is to mark the day. The moon that reflects the light of the Sun confirms throughout the month as it waxes and wanes that the created order is not chaotic. Its visible rebirth each month is very orderly and precise, but not absolutely predictable. Therefore, each month has a degree of expectancy about it.

If you read my last post about Yom Teruach (a.k.a. the day and the hour which no man knows), then you’ll know that this particular holiday cannot start until the new moon is spotted. This year, after much anticipation (and several delays), the new moon was finally spotted the evening of Tuesday, September 15, 2015. The days for Yom Kippur and Sukkot are dependent on Yom Teruach and when the new moon is spotted. Yom Kippur is always on the 10th day of the month while Sukkot is always on the 15th day of the month. Therefore, according to the pattern YHVH established in Leviticus 23, the following days will be the Biblical dates of the Fall Feasts:

Yom Teruach: Tuesday, September 15, 2015 (sundown) – Wednesday, September 16, 2015 (sundown)
Yom Kippur: Thursday, September 24, 2015 (sundown) – Friday, September 25, 2015 (sundown)
Sukkot: Tuesday, September 29, 2015 (sundown) – Wednesday, October 7, 2015 (sundown)

Chag Samaech! L’shanah tovah tikatev v’taihatem

Joyous festivals! May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year!

*Photo Credit: Nehemiah Gordon in Jerusalem*