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Any Day You Die Will Be A Jewish Holiday — Hitler’s Death and the Hebrew Calendar

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It’s an old joke from WWII. Hitler went to a palmist who studied the Führer’s hands, carefully looking for some sign of the future. She looked up at him finally, pointing to a small line, saying, “mein Führer, you are going to die on a Jewish holiday.”

His curiosity piqued, he asked, “Which one?” She answered, “Any day you die will be a Jewish holiday.”

It didn’t quite work that way. Adolph Hitler, unlike the vast majority of us, chose the time of his death. On the Christian calendar, it was 30 April, 1945, 61 years ago by the reckoning of that calendar. By that time, the Russian army was already inside of Berlin, closing in on the bunker that Hitler had made his headquarters in the final days of his struggle. According to most records, the death was by suicide, after he married a long time mistress, Eva Braun. The wedding ceremony took place in the early afternoon, and he shot Eva Braun around 3:00 p.m. and himself around 3:30. He had left instructions with his aides who remained with him in the bunker in Berlin. He wanted a “Viking” funeral, after the tradition of the Norse warriors who were burned after they died.

It was a hard request to fulfill. The bunker was under bombardment by the advancing Russian army and shells were falling all over the place. In the late afternoon, Hitler’s body was taken outside the bunker and put into a shell pit. Gasoline was poured over the body and it was set alight. Hitler’s aides stood for a few minutes, saluted and retreated into the bunker before they themselves were killed by the bombardment.

Given that the fighting continued for a few of days, it is likely that Russian shells hit the burning gasoline and the body in the pit, keeping it burning into the night past sundown, but this I do not know for sure.

But I do know for sure that the suicide took place on the 17th day of the month Iyar on the Hebrew calendar, in the year 5705. Also, I know for sure that when the sun set that day, Jews prayed Arvít, marking the arrival of a new day, the 18th day of Iyar. This day is a Jewish holiday, a holiday called La”g b’Omer, the 33rd day of the counting of the ‘Omer between the holidays of Passover and Sh’vuót, the “holiday of Weeks”. The ‘Omer was a grain sacrifice offered daily first at the “Mishkan”, the sanctuary of the L-rd, and then in the Temple of Solomon and later, the Temple of Nehemiah. This Biblically commanded sacrifice was how the time was marked between Passover and Sh’vuót.

It turned out that after the destruction of the Temple of Nehemiah, which had morphed into the Temple of Hordos (Herod), there was a rebellion against the Romans led by Shim’on bar Kokhba, who was originally declared the messiah by Rabbi Akiva, z”l. His students were soldiers of bar Kokhba and they apparently lacked sufficient respect for one another. A plague broke out among them during the counting of the ‘Omer that lasted until the 33rd day of the counting of the ‘Omer — when it stopped. Rabbi Akiva declared a day of celebration and so it has remained among us. It is likely that the “Viking” funeral of Adolph Hitler continued into the beginning of the Jewish holiday, La”g b’Omer.

There is an eerie mirroring of events in our celebration of La”g b’Omer in Israel. We gather wood and pile it high all over the country, and celebrate La”g b’Omer with bonfires in the night that last until morning. The whole country smells like one of Smokey the Bear’s nightmares.

Coincidence, right? Maybe not.

Our rabbis, explaining how to determine whether one is obliged to seek out the owner of a lost item, use this analogy to explain their holding. The lost item has to have some mark of ownership. If it lacks a mark of ownership, like a coin, one is not obliged to seek out the owner. Finders keepers, losers weepers, in other words. But not all the time. If you find one coin on the road, you can keep it. If you find two coins on the road, even relatively close to one another, you can still keep them. But if you find three coins stacked one on top of one another, even on the road, you are obliged to seek out the owner. The stacking is a mark of ownership, the rabbis say.

Lacking advanced mathematics to explain the concept or any understanding of the laws of statistics, the rabbis also had laid out a concept of probability. Given the high unlikelihood that a person would stack coins one on top of another and leave them in the road for no purpose, the finder was obliged to seek out the owner. It was the unlikelihood of the event that was the mark of ownership.

Looking at events in history through the eyes of the Jewish calendar, one can see the concept at work.

1. Joseph Stalin either suffered a stroke or was poisoned on Purim 5713 (1953). Before he died, he had laid plans to murder off the Jews in the USSR. His death buried the plans.

2. Ten major Nazi criminals were hung at Nürnberg on the holiday Hoshana Raba in the year 5707 (1946). The holiday Hoshana Raba is traditionally the day that G-d begins to execute the judgments he had sealed on Yom Kippur (Day of Judgment), particularly judgments concerning Jews. In every scroll of Esther, three letters are found that are small and one that is large. The three small letters (zayin, taf, shin) add up to the number 707, and the large one (vav) has the numerical value of six. They occur in a list of Haman’s ten sons, whom Esther had requested the King to hang – after they had been killed! The six is the sixth millennium, the 5,000’s on the Hebrew calendar – the 707 is the year. The last of the ten Nazis to die, Julius Streicher, screamed before his death, “Purimspiel (Purim play) 1946!”

3. The first Gulf War ended the day before Purim in 5751 (1991) and started up again 12 years later the day after Purim in 5763 (2003).

4. The Great War began on Tish’a b’Av 5674 (2 Aug. 1914). This war set into motion the events that led to the holocaust and the events that led to the reestablishment of a Jewish state after 1,300 years. Tish’a b’Av is both a day of disaster for the Jewish people (the Temple was destroyed twice on that day) and is also said to be the “birthday” of the messiah, signifying his coming.

5. The day that independence was declared here, 5 Iyar 5708 (15 May 1948), was a Friday. The Portion of Prophecy read the next day in the synagogues included this from the prophet Amos (Amos 9:11-15):

On that day I will erect David’s fallen booth, I will repair their breaches and repair his ruins and I will rebuild as in days of old. So that they will conquer the remnant of Edom for My name is upon them – the words of Hashem Who brings this about.

Behold – days are coming – the words of Hashem – when the plower will encounter the reaper and he who treads upon the grapes will meet the one who brings the seeds; the mountains will drip with wine and the hills will melt (with fat). I shall bring back the captivity of My people Israel, and they will rebuild desolate cities and they will and plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. I shall implant them upon their land; they will not be uprooted again from their land that I have given them, says Hashem their G-d.

Not three coins found in the road stacked one upon another, but five. A wise man will not scatter them, snorting “coincidence.” He will examine them carefully, that he might seek out their Owner.

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About Ruvy

Hi!! Thanks for coming to my article! I was raised in Brooklyn, was graduated from the City University of New York in 1978 with a BA in political science and public administration there. I lived in Minnesota for a number of years. There I managed restaurants and wrote stories. We moved with our children family to Israel where we now reside. My work can be found at Ruvy's Roost, Jewish Indy,, and on Facebook under my full name, Reuven Kossover
  • Dawn

    Wow, that was both informative and bewildering. I wish I’d paid attention in Hebrew school more, sadly, I spent most of my time trying to learn the Hebrew alphabet and trying with great difficulty to write right to left.

    Religious instruction isn’t for the weak.

  • Joey

    Very interesting, I have run across many calendar articles which I find facinating. The Mayan calender also has some significance in numerology. Yet, those dates are in the future. Oddly the Mayan and the Hebrew are both calculated using the Moon as a reference, and not the Sun. 10 Months verses 12. Bible readers would find a number of passages relevant if they had an idea (based on the phases of the Moon) when certain events really took place. Additionally events like taxes, holy journeys during specific times of the year etc… are all laid out in scriptures. Opening wide the understanding of the events during those periods of history, which have been perserved throught the antiquities and associated archaeological discoveries.

    Thanks Ruvy. This is yet another profound alignment which is significant.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Dawn, Joey,

    Thank you for the kind words, both of you.

    Dawn, when I got to sixth grade, I quit Hebrew school. It was only later, as an adult, that I began to see these things, and that motivated to learn Hebrew, concentrated on reading from right to left, counting in Hebrew, etc. If you are not terribly motivated to do these thngs you don’t, and for a good part of my life I wasn’t.

    I was just looking at a bank statement in Hebrew. Bank statements are bank statements in any language, and fortunately, I was able to see, even in the Hebrew, that we have a little money in the bank. It will disappear soon enough.

    Joey, from what I remember, the Long Cycle in the Mayan calendar ends in 2012. What the significance of that is, I do not know, but it is only six years away. This article was posted to Desicritics, and the editor who published it wanted to know if this could be extrapolated to other calendars as well.

    Events that occur in the Hindu religious cycle, may well be connected to events in the Hindu calendar, and may have connections to the history of India; likewise for the Zoroastrian calendar, for Zoroastrians. I do not know enough about either religion to speak intelligently to the issue. But in my eyes, it is very important for Jews to understand that the calendar we have, which comes from ancient Sumer, is for more than just birthdays.

  • MAOZ

    Ditto to Dawn and Joey’s admiration. And I gotta say, that last paragraph of yours knocked it outta the park!

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Thank you, MAOZ. Thank you very much.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    one Question, if i may

    out of the 365 day year, how many holidays are there in number?

    Excelsior?

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Gonzo,

    Why do you have to ask such damned hard questions?!

    First of all, the Rabbinic year does not have 365¼ days. It is a lunar calendar that has 354 days in normal length and 384 days in its leap years with one leap-month added 7 times every 19 years. Actually, it is a hell of a lot more complicated than that, but that will do for the basic explanation.

    Second of all, you need to define what you mean by a holiday. The most important holy day and holiday on the Rabbinic calendar is the Sabbath which comes every seventh day.

    I’m going to work on the assumption that you do not mean the Sabbath when you mean holiday, though I certainly view the Sabbath as a holiday… There are 50½ Sabbaths in a regular year.

    Second of all, there are 8 fast days on the Rabbinic calendar. Of the eight, only one is specified in the Torah, Yom Tzom Kippur – the Day of Atonement Fast. On this fast day alone, all of the rules of a Sabbath also apply. So this day counts as a “holiday.” The other fast days are not holidays as such and have no restrictions on one’s behavior aside from restrictions on bathing, using perfume and oils, and the consumption of food and drink.

    So we have one holiday under the belt, so far. Now we need to add Rosh haShanah, which is the first and second day of the month Tishri. That’s two more days. Then we skip over to Sukkot, which lasts eight days – but not all of them are considered full holidays. Nevertheless, for the sake of simplicity, we’ll add eight more days to the three we have already – eleven. The next holiday is Hanukkah, which also has eight days – this brings us to nineteen. The next holiday is T”u b’Shvat, one more day. That’s twenty. The nest holiday is Purim, which in Israel is effectively three days – now we’re at 23 days. The next holiday is PessaH which in Israel lasts for seven days – that’s 30 days total, so far.

    In 1945, there was no independence day or remembrance day to celebrate, nor was there a Jerusalem Day to mark the reunifying of a city that had not yet been split. So we’ll skip those days. There is La”g b’Omer, one more day – 31; then follows Shvuot, one more day – 32; That is nine holidays with 32 days in them.

    And your point?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    30 days out of the 365 is about 9% chance of the circumstances you speak of falling on a holiday, each…the statistical probability is not cumulative for calculation purposes

    so the numbers crunch well within the parameters of circumstantial with the data given

    that aside, this Article was a good read, and i’m sorry i missed it the first time around

    Excelsior?

  • STM

    I have a big barbecue on the Queen’s Birthday holiday long weekend (one of about 20 long weekends a year we have in Oz:).

    One year, I arrived at the bottleshop to buy a couple of extra cases of beer just before closing time (seconds to spare, and in Oz the only place you can buy it) and realised I’d left the wallet at home, which would have made it a dry old night.

    The guy behind the counter was a casual employee who I didn’t know, as everyone else had buggered off, so credit was out of the question. I think I said something like: “God help me, what am I gunna do now”, possibly with a couple of Aussie expeletives thrown in, and rolled my eyes towards heaven.

    Lo and behold, when I looked down again there was a nice, fresh crisp $100 note at my feet, and I swear it wasn’t there before. So a couple of cases, and plenty of change from $100. I did, at the time, thank the big fella upstairs.

    So … seek, and ye shall find. See, like Ruvy, I just don’t believe in co-incidence when it comes to important stuff.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Stan,

    You saw the rabbinic principle of finders keepers, losers weepers played out in front of you. And you saw how you get Divine help – and you had enough sense (unlike some who write here) to be thankful for the Divine help.

    Now read the rest and perhaps you’ll see that what I write is not madness at all…. History backs me up.

  • Silver Surfer

    I was trying to lighten up the tone of the comments, but I was actually being serious Ruve … I don’t believe in coincidence.

    God-incidence maybe, but coincidence, no. I’m sure C.Rose will have a shot at me about that, but that’s how I see it.

    The Jesuits told me to look for the presence of God in all things, all people, and all situations.

    Well, I found it in a miraculous $100 note I used to buy two cases of beer at closing time on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend.

    And as everyone in Australia knows, that’s a pretty important thing.

    I’ve found it in other things too, though.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Stan, to extrapolate on what someone once said, if God does exist then not only does he have a sense of humor but he must be almost as fond of Aussies as he is of beetles.

  • Silver Surfer

    DD: “As fond of Aussies as he is of beetles.”

    Geez Doc, I dunno. That might be stretching it a bit.

  • Dr Dreadful

    I love that in Australia the Queen of England’s birthday is a national holiday. It’s not even a holiday in England.

  • Silver Surfer

    It’s just one long holiday here Doc, as you know.

    It’s a long weekend this weekend too. Fair dinkum.

    Geez I love this country.

  • Dr Dreadful

    You know, I sometimes think I should’ve just picked up the wife at San Francisco airport and kept going. It’s only another 14 hours’ flying, after all…

  • Dr Dreadful

    And if your boys win the RWC I should think the whole rest of the year will be a holiday.

  • Silver Surfer

    “It’s only another 14 hours’ flying, after all…”

    And light years away. And as I keep pointing out to Clav, you’d be flying into the future (literally).

    My now is your tomorrow. On that basis, time travel is real if time simply a human construct designed to measure something measurable.

    If it’s something else, we’re all fucked …

  • Silver Surfer

    On getting your wife here, all I can say is that Americans can now have dual US/Australian citizenship, so it’s win-win, not win-lose.

    Plus there’s the small issue of the corner of the flag, which should at least make you happier. Americans tend to like the idea that it also at least has some stars over the rest of it.

  • Dr Dreadful

    I’ve noticed that you don’t type the full word f.ck when you’re at work (as STM). Is that so your comments can get out past Uncle Rupert’s firewall?

    I know it’s not from your religious sensibilities…! ;-)

  • MAOZ

    Well, I’m not quite sure where Ruvy is getting his “rabbinic principle of finders keepers, losers weepers” in #10 from. All I know (speaking off-the-cuff and without immediate access to my reference library) is that Judaism obligates us to try to return lost items to their owners.

    Moadim l’simcha/Happy Holidays, Yehudim yekarim!

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    MAOZ,

    The “rabbinic principle of finders keepers, losers weepers” comes from Stan Denham’s example of finding a $100 bill on the floor of a liquor shop. With most found items, one is obligated to seek out the owner. But when you deal with money, unless there is a clear sign of ownership on the money (i.e. three coins stacked in the road), one is not obligated to seek out the owner. Go back and re-read the essay and you’ll see this.

    Mind you, this does not mean that upon finding a large sum of money once, I didn’t worry myself sick over who lost it. But I could figure out no way of seeking out the owner without finding thousands of hands seeking hundreds of shekels…

    Moadim l’simHa,
    Reuven

  • Catey

    If you had found a large sum of money stacked in a pile in the road , would you have been able to figure out a way of seeking out the owner without finding thousands of hands seeking hundreds of shekels?

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Catey,

    People like you scare me. Taking the example of a Talmudic rabbi and turning it into a practical question of real money is what your not supposed to do! ;o))

    Seriously, that is exactly what you are supposed do and the question is not as hard to answer as it seems.

    Let’s take a couple of examples. As part of my duties as a restaurant manager for a Burger King, I used to do deposits. Let’s say the that most of the days receipts for deposit was in twenties, about $2,000 worth. That’s 100 $20 bills. They would be wrapped with a mark on the wrap BK 10/1/2007. Let’s say for some reason, this bundle of $2,000 fell out of the bag and onto a street in St. Paul. The name of the bank would be likely be on the wrapper, somewhere. An honest person (we have to presume that the person is honest) would bring this bundle either to the bank on the wrapper, or to a different branch and inquiries would be made.

    Naturally, I’d be shitting bricks upon finding out of the $2,000 loss – my job would be on the line, not to mention my liberty. Hopefully, the connection would be made, and I’d still have my job – maybe….

    But let’s take another example, one not so easy to figure out. The rabbinical example of coins stacked in the road points to the extreme unlikelihood of someone purposely stacking money in the road and leaving it there.

    So lets posit that someone placed four 20 coin stacks of 10 shekel coins on King George V Street in Jerusalem at 3:30 in the morning. That’s 800 shekels all tolled, ($200 at the present market rate), a lot of scratch. That is exactly the situation where the person is OBLIGATED to seek out the owner. And you know something? I don’t know off hand what I would do if I found the money myself. But I would start by taking the money home and putting it in a bag. The next move would be to place an ad on the English and Hebrew buy/sell lists specifying four stacks of ten shekel coins found on King George V Street in Jerusalem on 1 October at 03:30.

    It’s one thing to walk off with 4 two hundred shekel notes folded in your pocket. It’s quite another to lug 80 ten shekel coins around.

    I’d get many many answers – that’s for sure. Then I’d have to look for the answers. And talk with each person who answered. Someone who stacks 800 shekels on King George V Street likely has damned good reason for doing so, and it is not necessarily that he lost the money.

  • Catey

    There is a street in Jerusalem named after King George V?

    Excellent examples Ruvy…

    If we approached it like a criminal investigator, we would look for the real ‘suspect’ by leaving out a certain detail…like how many coins were in each stack ;)… thus eliminating false confessions. And this could be done, even if the coins were scattered and not stacked :) Then, after enough time has passed and no one has claimed it, quietly donate it to charity ;)~

    I feel dizzy…

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    “I feel dizzy…”

    Jewish law can do that to people….. ;o))

  • sexy boy

    I am sexy.

  • Marcia Neil

    Beliefs that EurAsian written languages ‘may’ be machine-made forms of the handwritten American alphabet ‘cut-off’ at machine-imposed mimeograph/photocopy/printer-copy margins, ‘may’ also be indicative of beliefs about brown-eyed people in general.

  • MAOZ

    Hey, Ruvy, Shavua Tov!
    I’ve been out of contact for quite a while, so I don’t know whether you (or anyone else, for that matter) has noted the following: The Pope is scheduled to arrive in Jerusalem on 11 April, by the Gregorian calendar. By our calendar, that day is Yud-Zayin Iyyar. In other words, this German Pope, who was — reluctantly or otherwise — a former member of Hitler Youth, is going to come to our Land, to our holy capital city, on Hitler’s [y”sh] yartzeit. And according to various news reports, going to demand we hand over assorted pieces of our Land to Vatican control.

    Oy! Interesting times, no?

  • MAOZ

    Oops, I typed “11 April” above, but of course I meant to type “11 MAY”. Sorry, must be still caught in the time-warp.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Caught your comment, MAOZ. This garbage with twenty comments to a page threw me off.

    My friend Aryeh Gallin did what little he could to help the rabbi of the Sephardi Synagogue resist Vatican pressure. The problem is with the government, of course, a government as blind as fools.