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Jewish reckoning of time

Rabbi David SperlingNisan 18, 5774
982
Question
Shalom and love from the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I have a question concerning the Jewish reckoning of time during the day. According to my research so far the Jewish day begins from sundown of one day to the sundown of next day( or perhaps to nightfall of the next day-please correct me wherever I’m wrong). In any case how do you reckon the hours. Are there different watches during the day like groups of three hours(6 AM to 9 AM, 9 AM to 12 PM, 12 PM to 3 PM, 3 PM to 6 PM and so forth)? Is is the same for nights also? I’m not sure if I put forth this question in the apt way so you can understand. But perhaps I could summarize by asking whether the Jewish reckoning of hours is as precise as the secular reckoning of time which is precise by the minute?
Answer
Greetings, The Jewish reckoning of time is incredibly exact. The day is divided not only into hours (which are one twelve of the daylight), but the hours into minuets, and then (for certain exacting laws such as fixing the Jewish calendar), even into fractions of minuets and seconds. This has been in practice for more than a thousand years, and in fact our tradition has it that when Moses said to Pharoh that the first born would be killed "about midnight", he only used the world "about" so that the Egyptians, who did not have such a grasp on time as the Jews, would no miscalculate and think that the plague came early or late – but in fact Moses and the Jews knew exactly how to determine time. From the earliest times we find time being measured to find the length of time the lunar month is. Jewish months are calculated at 29.53059 days (I have seen quoted that modern science puts the figure at 29.530588 days). I hope this is of some help to you. Blessings.
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