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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
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 writer who lives with his family in Brooklyn, N.Y.
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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Malkie Janowski for Chabad.org Chabad.org November 1, 2016

There are numerous commandments that can only be performed when the Holy Temple is standing, and for all of those, we need to wait until Moshiach comes before we can fulfill them. Reply

Desiree Maui October 19, 2016

"so many other mitzvot which we are incapable of performing until that awaited day."

What other mitzvot are you incapable of performing at present, and why? Reply

Deborah Rigler Phoenix June 15, 2016

You stated: "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." 

2 kings 18:10-12 At the end of three years they captured it; in the sixth year of Hezekiah, which was the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel, Samaria was captured. Then the king of Assyria carried Israel away into exile to Assyria, and put them in Halah and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes, because they did not obey the voice of the L ord their God, but transgressed His covenant, even all that Moses the servant of the L ord commanded; they would neither listen nor do it. Reply

Betty Wade Michigan. U.S.A. March 3, 2016

This was very helpful as I research the Jubilee year. Might it be that this observance is a foreshadowing of the Messiah??? Reply

Country Codger Texas September 8, 2015

Hi John,
What Pamela is saying is essentially correct. If you will look at 2 Kings 19:29 you will see in Scripture the picture of a Sabbatical and Jubilee year, back to back. I do not agree with the years of the Hillel II calendar but I do agree that they are back to back. You find this also mentioned in Lev: 25:1-17. Go back to Lev. 23:15-22 and read about Shavuot. This is why I call this the Shavuot system of counting. 7x7=49 + 1= 50 which is the first day of the new week, or in the case of the Jubilee, is the first year of the new cycle. Hope this helps.
CC Reply

Charles Graham, WA September 8, 2015

John, indeed there are two years of no reaping, pruning and sowing. The 49th Sabbatical year, there is no reaping, pruning, sowing and harvesting. Then again, during the 50th year, Yovel (the year of Jubilee) there is no reaping, pruning, sowing and harvesting. In addition there is a release of debts and the land returns to its original owner. Vayikra (Leviticus) Chapter 25 describes this. Reply

John Houston Texas September 6, 2015

Pamela....there is a conflict in your suggestion....if the Jubilee starts at the end of the The Shemitah, this would require two years of refraining from sowing/reaping.

John Reply

Anonymous Texas August 21, 2015

Judah ben Samuel of Regensburg (born 1150 in Speyer, Germany - Feb. 22, 1217 in Regensburg), also called HeHasid or 'the Pious' in Hebrew, was a leader of the Chassidei Ashkenaz, a movement of Jewish mysticism in Germany considered different from Kabbalistic mysticism because it emphasizes specific prayer and moral conduct. Judah settled in Regensburg in 1195. He wrote Sefer Hasidim (Book of the Pious),
Rabbi ben Samuel wrote a prophecy which would signify the beginning of the Messianic end time, in the prophecy he talk about 8 Yovels that would have to happen before the Messiah appears. Can you tell me about this prophecy. Reply

mark prillwitz florida August 8, 2015

I am puzzled by the logic of footnote 2 in comparison to Leviticus chapter 25 verses 8 thru 11.it clearly states your 49 and your 50 I fail to see how year 50 starts the cycle but rather completes the cycles Reply

Shoshana GA June 30, 2015

Pamela you make an excellent point. The Almighty is the one who has established His Jubelee and He certaintly is not dependant on man to carry it.

"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. " Reply

Sheila June 30, 2015

Thank you so much for your explanation of the Jubilee. Reply

Francis Tan Kuala Lumpur June 19, 2015

Pamela McRae: Not September 13, 2015, as that is the first day of the seventh month. The Shemitah begins and ends on the 10th day, so for the current Shemitah, it ends on September 23, not the 13th.
You may confirm it for yourself from Leviticus 25, verses 8 onwards. Reply

Pamela McRae Arkansas March 6, 2015

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. Reply

Shoshana GA March 1, 2015

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. Reply

Cyrus Texas February 23, 2015

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. Reply

Charles Reed Graham, WA February 23, 2015

Thank you for that insight Cyrus. Reply

Anonymous Pella February 23, 2015

Thank you for your answer. I appreciate the time and effort to answer my questions.

God Bless You. Reply

watcher on the wall February 21, 2015

so at the end of all that education , your saying you don't know .....wow thanks Reply

Cyrus Texas February 20, 2015

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. Reply

Shoshana GA February 19, 2015

Are we calculating back in the years lost between the first and second Temples? Reply