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The Jewish Day

The Jewish Day


"And it was evening and it was morning, one day" (Genesis 1:5).

Jewish Calendar Date

When G‑d created time, He first created night and then day. Therefore, a Jewish calendar date begins with the night beforehand. While a day in the secular calendar begins and ends at midnight, a Jewish day goes from nightfall to nightfall. Shabbat begins on Friday night, and a yahrtzeit lamp is kindled the evening before the yahrtzeit (anniversary of a person's passing), before nightfall. If the 10th of Iyar falls on a Wednesday, and a child is born Wednesday night after dark, the child's birthday is the 11th of Iyar.

On those dates wherein certain activities are restricted — such as working on Shabbat or major holidays — the restrictions go into effect the night beforehand.

[Most fast days begin at dawn ("alot hashachar"), and as such are an exception to this rule. Yom Kippur and Tisha b'Av, however, do begin at nightfall of the previous night.]

Though the day and its restrictions begin the night beforehand, many obligations associated with specific calendar dates — such as hearing the shofar on Rosh Hashanah, taking the Four Species on Sukkot, or hearing the daytime reading of the Megillah on Purim — must be performed during daylight hours only.1

Definition of Nightfall

While a day starts and ends at nightfall, the exact moment when night — and the next calendar date — begins is not clear.

The twilight period, from sunset ("shekiah") until three stars are visible in the sky ("tzeit hakochavim"), is an "iffy" time period, known as "bein hashmashot." Shabbat and all the holidays begin at sunset, the earliest possible definition of nightfall, and end when three stars appear in the sky the next evening, the latest definition of nightfall.

A rabbi should be consulted if a boy is born during bein hashmashot (to determine when the circumcision should be scheduled), or if a person passes away during this time (to determine the date when the yahrtzeit should be observed).

See also Why do Jewish holidays begin at nightfall?


According to biblical law, dawn marks the beginning of the daytime, and all mitzvot associated with daytime hours can then be performed. For various reasons, however, the Sages instituted that the observance of many of these mitzvot should be delayed until sunrise ("hanetz hachamah"), or the moment when "one can recognize a familiar acquaintance."

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Ivor Cape Town November 9, 2017

An interesting explanation and for years I had thought that it was due to our long sojourn in Babylon, where the Babylonians worshipped the moon. Just shows that acculturation does not always take place. Reply

Jaswinder Singh Suniara Uk October 31, 2017

If the Jewish day begins at nightfall and this is when 3stars are visible,which 3stars? also atmospheric turbidity, latitude, altitude Reply

Wasajja daniel Uganda October 26, 2017

Then why do others celebrate are new day at 12am what is reason ? Reply

Simcha Bart for February 9, 2017

There are two meanings to the word "Yom" - day. One meaning is the entire 24 hour period made up of night (first), then day. Another meaning is of Yom is day vs. night - i.e. daytime. In a day that begins at 6 AM and concludes at 6 PM - 9 AM would be the end of the 3rd "Halachic hour" of the day - see here for more about these "hours".


shaun Washington February 9, 2017

If a new day begins at nightfall, then how would the 3rd hour of that day be 9 a.m.? Reply Staff via December 25, 2016

To Jon The first day begins Saturday night at nightfall end ends Sunday at Sundown. Reply

Jon December 25, 2016

1st day of the week So, when does the 1st day of the week begin and end? Reply

Yochanan Heimeyer Bradenton October 15, 2016

Manna fell every day except the day before Shabbat, where twice as much was gathered early (two Ephehs per family) so that there would be no gathering on Shabbat and nothing gathered on the other days could be left over or worms would spoil it Reply

Robert D Quist Daytona Beach Fl March 22, 2016

The first day The light that was created was the daybreak of creation and with the rotation of the earth that daylight became evening then night then morning the end of the first day. Logically it was 23 hours 56 minutes, 4.09 seconds like it is today Reply

Anonymous nebraska May 15, 2015

Day and night are caused by earth's rotation. How fast did the earth rotate? Couldn't it have taken thousands of our currant years, to make one rotation in the beginning? Reply

Solomon Accra,Ghana November 15, 2014

Genesis 1:5 says "it was evening and it was morning, one day".
My question is ; what is the difference between evening and night ?
Because the scripture says:the evening and the morning makes a day!..meaning the night is not part of the day.....advice. Reply

Jeanine West Jordan June 4, 2014

Rythm of the Jewish Day Is there a rhythm to the traditional Jewish day? Do they follow a certain schedule as the day goes? Reply

rudy December 22, 2013

to Theodore The days do not have names, except The Sabbath, which is the seventh day. All the others are day one, day two, etc.
Similarly, Portuguese calls the days first day, second day, etc.
I hope that helps. Reply Staff April 14, 2013

Re: Beginning of Jewish Day That's right Carmen. You got it. Reply

Carmen Texas April 13, 2013

Beginning of Jewish day (date) equals what gregorian date Example....would the 3rd day of Lyyar (5773) begin the evening of the 12th day of April, 2013 on the gregorian calendar? Reply

Theodore Griffin New York February 21, 2013

Please tell me the names of the days I am not jewish, I know the secular calander is named after Roman Gods Etc. But I want to know what G-d called them. Reply

Menachem Posner for September 7, 2010

To Beth: You are correct. The day begins at nightfall. As such, we begin the fast at the evening following the 9th, into the 10th, and then fast for the next 25 hours.

Yes, it would indeed seem that one should perhaps fast for 48 hours, but that is impossible. Thus we eat on the 9th so that we will have strength to fast for the entire duration of the 10th. However, the fact that the Torah did use words that can imply that one should fast on the 9th teach us a number of things. One thing we infer is that we must take in the fast a bit early and actually begin our fast when it is still the 9th. Another thing we infer is that the feasting on the 9th, which helps prepare us for the 10th, is as important as the fasting on the 10th.

The calendar date corresponds to the 18 hours of overlap, not the 6 hours where the Jewish calendar precedes the secular one. Reply

Anonymous Henrico, VA September 6, 2010

Jewish days and calendars I'm not Jewish but I'm discussing this topic with another Gentile about the Jewish concept of days. We're trying to base our understanding on the Torah but we differ on interpretation.

If eveningg & night is 1 day & feasts are celebrated from evening until the next evening, please explain Yom Kippur -- We know it's Tishrei 10. G-d's people are to fast the evening of the 9th until the next evening which would be the evening of the 10th.

1. Is this the day before the feast?

2. The beginning of a 25hr fast doesn't seem to meet the technicall definition of a evening of the 9th (in Genesis) to the evening of the 10th.

2. Why is the word evening mentioned 3 times in Lev. 23:32?

3. When Jewish calendars are published with Hebrew dates numbered in each block, does the printed day not begin until that evening or does that particular # 'd date really begin the night before? IOW, does the correct calendar date # accompany the 18 hrs of the day or the 6 hrs of previous evening? Reply

Dave Kalkaska, mi November 15, 2008

Genesis 1:5 says "it was evening and it was morning, one day".
My question is this; what was before the first evening?
Posted By Stephen L. Dubinsky, Chicago, IL

Eternity.... Reply

Menachem Posner for via July 15, 2008

RE: time/creation Before creation there was G-d himself, and His desire to make the world. Reply

Since Biblical times the months and years of the Jewish calendar have been established by the cycles of the moon and the sun. Torah law prescribes that the months follow closely the course of the moon, from its birth each month to the next New Moon.
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