5777: Jewish Years Explained

Image: Street sign in Jerusalem “Happy New Year St.” Photo Mt Scopus Radio  Some rights reserved

We’re about to begin the year 5777 and sooner or later, someone will wonder, “5777 years from WHAT?”

The simple answer: 5777 years from the creation of the world, as determined by counting back years in the Bible. The setting of this date is credited to Maimonides, who mentions it in his book, Mishneh Torah: Sanctification of the Moon, 11:6, written about 1178 CE, but it may have been in use for some time before that. This kind of numbering is called Anno Mundi meaning “Year of the World.”

You and I both know that human beings weren’t created on the sixth day after the Big Bang. We could get into a very interesting discussion about “days” in the context of creation (literal days? or something more metaphorical? or is the Creation story not really about time at all?). And then we could look at some of those times listed in the Bible – (Noah lived how long?) We could stomp off harumphing about how the Bible and science are completely incompatible.

The truth is that religion and science had a battle long ago, and many of us decided that scientific method was better at addressing the “how” of the world, so we quit looking to the Bible for science. Torah explores the meaning of creation, a question that science can’t and won’t address.

BUT – long before we abandoned the notion of a six day Creation a few thousand years ago, we Jews began numbering the years by a certain pattern. We remember many things in terms of their placement in Jewish time. Also we are “a stiff-necked people” and we cling to some things just to be stubborn. So even though it is a bit anachronistic, we still number our years by the old system. On Rosh Hashanah morning, the shaliach [service leader] will announce the arrival of the year Five Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy Seven.

So the more complex answer to the question, “Why 5777?” is “Tradition!”


Published by


Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi based in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, mom, poodle groomer, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at https://coffeeshoprabbi.com/ as the Coffee Shop Rabbi.

13 thoughts on “5777: Jewish Years Explained”

  1. I hope you will, at some point, discuss the varied rabbinic interpretations of time and counting it. I have never studied with a rabbi who interpreted the Bible to be saying that the world was created in six 24-hour days. This goes for Reform, Conservative and Orthodox rabbis. They have all been quick to point out that Torah has four levels and the simple words are only the surface level. We can’t understand that is being said until we learn to delve into the deeper levels. The deeper levels are so dazzling!


    1. If the world was not created in six 24 hr days (evenings and mornings), then was it created in six God days (a day unto the Lord = 1000 years). If so did Adam die before God rested on the seventh day, seeing that he lived only 930 years.


  2. Growing up, I always loved a particular chant during High Holy Days services. The English translation would be “On Rosh Hashanah our fate is written, and on Yom Kippor it is sealed.” Can you tell me the Hebrew for this chant, in transliteration, or point me to the Hebrew script? Thanks!


  3. there is two things to catholics priest fuckin cardinals and pope

    biggest sin is to foregive sins in the name of god…

    only god yehuwah can forgive sins

    and try live as should

    sanektas tah sah


    im highest commander of all angelarmies,i those black weared which i call aswelons


Comments or Questions? Speak up!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s