Friday, November 26, 2010

Can anyone explain this?

image Next week, December 3rd, is the earliest Shabbos, tied with the following week, December 10th.  It starts at 4:23 both weeks, and then begins to get later.

So what I ask every single year – yes, I really am that tedious – is why the earliest Shabbos does not coincide at all with the solstice – the shortest DAY of the year.  It always seems to come earlier, despite the fact that one would think candlelighting time is somewhat intimately married to day length.  No?

Seriously – please leave your best guess in the Comments section, because I am totally stumped. 

Of course, anytime I’m feeling sorry for myself, I look at candlelighting times for Yerushalayim… where today it happens at 3:56 pm.  That’s because they light 40-minutes before Shkiah (as I understand it, the moment the sun drops over the horizon), whereas outside of Yerushalayim, most people light 18 minutes before.

Still, I guess that’s the trade-off for a holy Shabbos experience like no other. 

But again, any clues about the daylength and candlelighting thing, please leave them below!!!

3 comments:

  1. I believe you are making the mistake in assuming that both sunrise and sunset uniformly change around the solstices together. That's simply not the case.

    For example, take a look at these sunrise/sunset times for NYC:

    Dec 1 659/1629
    Dec 5 703/1628 (note that in five dayus, the sunset has only moved one minute, but the sunrise has moved four).

    Dec 10 708/1628 (sunrise has moved five minutes later, sunset hasn't changed. The day is five minutes shorter -- but Shabbos wouldn't start any earlier).

    Dec 15 712/1628

    Dec 20 715/1630 (note that the day is still a minute shorter than on Dec 15 -- but Shabbos would start two minutes later. Also note that sunset has begun moving later, but sunrise has *still* not yet begun moving earlier.

    In short, day length is determined by the total number of minutes of daylight. The solstices mark the extremes of those time periods. But sunrise/sunset do not follow in a uniform pattern around the solstices. The days get longer after the winter solstice, but that's not necessarily when sunrise starts getting earlier or sunset later.

    The Wolf

    (Sunrise/set times for NYC taken from here: http://www.sunrisesunset.com)

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  2. Isn't it because the Jewish calendar is based on the Moon and the Gregorian calendar is based on the sun?

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  3. I ask that same question every year. And I refuse to believe that Shabbat could possibily be as early as my Jewish calendar says it is. "No, it can't be candlelighting time. It just can't be!"

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