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When is the next Jubilee year?

When is the next Jubilee year?

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In short, the answer to your question is that the Jubilee year is currently not observed or commemorated. The reasons for this are complex and involve many different opinions on the matter. In the following lines I will attempt to briefly relay the relevant issues.

According to biblical law, the Jubilee is only observed when all twelve tribes of the Jewish nation are living in Israel, as is derived from the verse,1 “And you shall sanctify the fiftieth year, and proclaim freedom throughout the land for all who live on it,” which implies that the Jubilee is only sanctified when “all who live on it”—meaning, all who are meant to be living there—are in the Land of Israel. Furthermore, the Jubilee is only observed when every tribe is living in the specific part of the land which was it was allotted when the Land of Israel was divided. However, some are of the opinion that the Jubilee is observed as long as there is a partial representation of each tribe, even if most of the tribe is not in Israel.

In the 6th century BCE, the Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel and sent the majority of its population into exile. Those who were deported are historically known as the Ten Lost Tribes.

We are certain that before that point in time the Jubilee was regularly observed. We also know that, with the destruction of the Second Temple and the disbandment of the Sanhedrin (supreme rabbinical court), we ceased to mark the Jubilee year in any form. The periods about which there is a question are the remaining years between the exile of the Ten Tribes and the destruction of the First Temple, and the Second Temple Era.

According to the opinion that partial representation of each tribe is sufficient to fulfill the scriptural requirement, biblically mandated Jubilees were fully observed throughout the periods in question, because there remained a small representation of each tribe in Israel.

However, according to the first opinion mentioned above, with the exile of the Northern Kingdom the required condition for the Jubilee to be sanctified was lost. Thus, the last time there was a biblical requirement to observe the Jubilee was about 150 years before the destruction of the First Temple.

The question remains, however, whether according to this opinion Jubilee years were designated or observed during this time by rabbinic injunction. This is the subject of debate amongst the sages.2

As mentioned above, though, today the Jubilee year is neither designated nor observed.3

And now for the answer to your question: “When is the next Jubilee year?”

We eagerly await the day when G‑d will bring our entire nation back to our homeland—including the ten “lost” tribes—and we will again resume observing the Jubilee year, as well as so many other mitzvot which we are incapable of performing until that awaited day.4

Rabbi Baruch S. Davidson

FOOTNOTES
1.

Leviticus 25:10.

2.

The reasons behind this debate: Although there was no biblical requirement to observe the Jubilee year after the Ten Tribes were exiled, the observance of the shemittah (Sabbatical year) remained a biblical obligation. The integrity of the seven-year Sabbatical cycle depended on the larger fifty-year cycle—after completing seven seven-year cycles, a one-year hiatus was taken before the new cycle began (on the 51st year). It was thus necessary to designate a (non-observed) fiftieth “Jubilee” year. Others explain that the sages also instituted the (partial) observance of the laws of Jubilee to commemorate the biblical mitzvah.
However, there is also an opinion in the Talmud that the Jubilee is not an “in-between-cycles year,” but rather that it is the first of the next 49-year cycle, and thus not designating it would not impact the calculation of the Sabbatical cycles. This opinion also maintains that the Sages never instituted the Jubilee year as a commemoration.

3.

Although the laws of shemittah are observed in Israel to this very day, the Jubilee year is not designated or observed. There are many reasons for this. Some of them: a) The Jubilee only affected the shemittah cycle when the shemittah was established and declared by the Sanhedrin, as opposed to today when it is automatically programmed into the perpetual Jewish calendar. b) The observance of shemittah today is only a rabbinic decree, and therefore the Jubilee year does not affect its cycle. c) No commemoration is in order when there is no Sanhedrin, whose participation in the declaration of the Jubilee year was integral. In fact, it was the Sanhedrin’s blast of the shofar (ram's horn) on Yom Kippur which signaled the entry of the Jubilee year.

4.

The information in this response is taken from Encyclopedia Talmudit, vol. XXII, s.v. “Yovel.”

Rabbi Baruch S. Davidson is a member of the Chabad.org Ask the Rabbi team.
All names of persons and locations or other identifying features referenced in these questions have been omitted or changed to preserve the anonymity of the questioners.
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Discussion (130)
March 6, 2015
The Year of Jubilee
I hear you saying that since there is no Sanhedrin the Jubilee is not observed. Is that really what you meant? The Sanhedrin did not set up the Shemitah nor the Jubilee. These were instituted by God Almighty concerning the Israelites for ALL time. You can read all about it in the book of Leviticus.
To answer the question, "When is the next Jubilee?" It begins at the end of the Shemittah we are currently in Sept 2014-Sept 13, 2015 and is a year long.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
Ed's note: The Jubillee is not observed as the Holy Temple is not standing.
Pamela McRae
Arkansas
March 1, 2015
Temple and Jubilee
Thank you for the info about the First and Second Temples, interesting. Would like to cite references if possible as in history for one reason or another so many things get shuffled under the rug. I seem to recall hearing discussions about the actual Temple location before but dont recall the sources. If this is so it means Israel could still build another Temple and not bother with the ugly thing that is in the Temple mount right now. My understanding is that the pool of Siloham had steps leading up to the Temple in ancient times so that should be a clue for the Temple location.
Regardless I still think the jubilee is off by two years so that it is actually in 2017.
Shoshana
GA
February 23, 2015
First and Second Temples
Watcher on the wall,

Is your comment directed to me? If so, would you please explain what it is that you are wanting or looking for in my response to Shoshanna?
Thank you.
Cyrus
Texas
February 23, 2015
Thank you for that insight Cyrus.
Charles Reed
Graham, WA
February 23, 2015
When is the next year of Jubilee
Thank you for your answer. I appreciate the time and effort to answer my questions.

God Bless You.
Anonymous
Pella
February 21, 2015
so at the end of all that education , your saying you don't know .....wow thanks
watcher on the wall
February 20, 2015
First and Second Temples
Hello Shoshana,
When people refer to the First and Second temples I ask "Which one?" Solomon built the First Temple everyone agrees and Zerubabbel built the second temple. Here is the part most people miss, including rabbis, Antiochus Epiphenes sacrificed unclean animals on the altar and John Hyrcannus of the Hasmonian Dynasty, was not king but rather the High Priest and after consulting Torah he realized the only way he could cleanse the temple (house) was to tear it down to the ground. He did so and even removed the ground beneath it. What is now Lower Jerusalem was Upper Jerusalem and what is now Upper Jerusalem was in fact lower Jerusalem. The Essenes got so angry with John Hyrcanus that they left and moved to Qumran. Then in @18BC Herod built the third temple. All three temples were built in the same location even though each was larger than it predecessor by almost double but none were built on the "Temple Mount". All were rightly built over the Gihon Springs.
Cyrus
Texas
February 19, 2015
Jubilee
Are we calculating back in the years lost between the first and second Temples?
Shoshana
GA
December 29, 2014
As stated by Baruch, It is not heavily celebrated. Though one of the things observed on or in the jubilee is a financial reset. Hope this is helpful. Ose Shalom.
Rabbi Dean J. Brewer
December 29, 2014
As stated by Baruch, It is not heavily celebrated. Though one of the things observed on or in the jubilee is a financial reset. Hope this is helpful. Ose Shalom.
Rabbi Dean J. Brewer
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