The current Jewish year is 5774 however it is popularly abbreviated as 774 - תשע״ד. I would like to know why this abbreviation was adopted. I realize that to write out the number 5,000 would require several letters; but then why stop at the hundreds column, why not just '74 - ע״ד instead?

  • You'd prefer תתתתתתתתתתתתתתקע"ד? Why stop at the tens column? Why not just ד? – Double AA Mar 26 '14 at 14:58
  • @DoubleAA 5,000 would be ץץץץץך which is basically the same as the roman numerals for something like 1998 - MCMXCVIII. But whatever the case, how do we know that we can abbreviate in legal documents without affecting their status? – user5092 Mar 26 '14 at 15:05
  • A) That looks even weirder than what I wrote. B) That's a completely separate question, which you can ask separately but be sure to provide examples where we do abbreviate. In most Ketubot, for instance, the year is written out in full בשנת חמשת אלפים שבע מאות שבעים וארבע למנין שאנו מונים כאן במי יודע... – Double AA Mar 26 '14 at 15:07
  • The century (or even millennium) a two digit year is in tends to vary. – sharshi Mar 26 '14 at 15:23
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    For the same reason everyone doesn't write C.E. after they write a date in 2014? Everyone knows what you mean, why write more. BTW, I have only seen it written ה'תשע"ד, if it is written fully out (or ד, etc. for the appropriate millennium). – Yishai Mar 26 '14 at 15:37

I was told that the reason is that since there is no 'thousands' letter equivalent, we tend to show it as a separate indicator. It is similar to people who write the secular year as a two digit rather than a four digit number. Thus, the thousand indicator is shown as the letter with an apostrophe.

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