Thursday, October 2, 2008

Yovel and Geulah

(Hopefully this post will summarize all the posts on the subject of Yovel to date, as this still seems to be a topic of interest for many.  I will be adding some more to this post, so check back if you are interested.  Edited last 10/15/2008 3:15pm IST, minor changes towards the end)

Chapter 1

The Rambam on Counting Yovel

The following is an excerpt from chapter 10 of the Mishneh Torah Hilchot Shmitah v'Yovel chapter 10.

1.    It is a positive commandment to count years, 7 by 7, and to sanctify the 50th year, as it is written "And you shall count for yourselfs 7 sabbaths of years... and you shall sanctify the 50th year" (Leviticus 25:8).  And these two commandments are the responsibility of the Great Court (the Sanhedrin) alone.  And from when did they start to count?  They started 14 years after entering the land, as it is written "For 6 years you shall plant your fields, and for 6 years you shall prune your vineyeard" (Leviticus 25:3), when every person should know their land.  And they spent 7 years conquering the land, and 7 years in division.

2.    We see from this that in the year 2503 from the Rosh Hashanah after the birth of Adam HaRishon, which is the 2nd year of creation, they began to count. And they did the year 2510 from creation, which is the 21st year from the time they entered Eretz Yisrael, Shmitah. And they counted 7 Shmitah years and sanctified the 50th year, which was the 64th year from the time they entered Eretz Yisrael.

3.    Am Yisrael counted 17 Yovels, from the time they entered Eretz Yisrael to the time they left, and the year they left, in which the 1st Beit HaMikdash was destroyed, was the year after Shmitah, and year 36 of the Yovel, for the 1st Beit HaMikdash stood 410 years.

4.    And due to the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash, this count ceased, for the land was nullified. And the land remained destroyed, 70 years; and the 2nd Beit HaMikdash was built, and stood 420 years. And in the 7th year from its construction, Ezra came up to Eretz Yisrael, and that is the Bi'ah Shniyah, and from this year a new count began. And they made the 13th year of the 2nd Beit HaMikdash Shmitah, and they counted 7 Shmitah years and sanctified the 50th year, even though there was no Yovel during the time of the 2nd Beit HaMikdash, they would count it in order to sanctify the Shmitah years.

5.    We see from this that the year that the 2nd Beit HaMikdash was destroyed, whose start is from Tishrei after the destruction by 2 months, for it is from Tishrei that we count Shmitah and Yovel, that year was the year after Shmitah, and year 15 of the 9th Yovel.

6.    And according to this calculation, this year, which is 1107 of the Destruction, which is 1487 to the count of Shtarot, which is 4936 to Creation, is a Shmitah year, and it is year 21 from the Yovel.

7.    However, all of the Geonim said that it is a tradition in their hands, from one generation to the next, that they only counted Shmitah during the 70 years between the Destruction of the 1st Beit HaMikdash and the Building of the 2nd Beit HaMikdash, without Yovel, and thus it is since it was destroyed this last time, we don't count the 50th year, but rather just every 7 years alone, from the the beginning of the year of the Destruction. And thus is the conclusion from the Talmud Avodah Zarah, according to this calculation, which is a tradition.

8.    And the year of Shmitah is well known by the Geonim and the people of Eretz Yisrael, and all of them counted only from the years of the Destruction, and removing the remainders of 7. And according to this calculation, this year which is 1107 to the Destruction, is the year after Shmitah. And this is what we rely on, and according to this calculation we teach for the matter of Maaser, and Shmitah, and Shmitat Kesafim, for the tradition and the deed are great pillars for instruction, and upon them it is proper to depend.

 

Chapter 2

Explanation of the Rambam

1. It is a positive commandment to count years, 7 by 7, and to sanctify the 50th year, as it is written "And you shall count for yourself 7 sabbaths of years... and you shall sanctify the 50th year" (Leviticus 25:8).  And these two commandments are the responsibility of the Great Court (the Sanhedrin) alone.  And from when did they start to count?  They started 14 years after entering the land, as it is written "For 6 years you shall plant your fields, and for 6 years you shall prune your vineyeard" (Leviticus 25:3), when every person should know their land.  And they spent 7 years conquering the land, and 7 years in division.

The Exodus took place in the year 2448, according to the count brought in Midrash Seder Olam Rabba.  The 40 years in the desert finished in 2488.  After this there were 7 years in which Yehoshua bin-Nun led B'nei Yisrael in conquering the land, ending in 2495.  A further 7 years went in to dividing the land amongst the 12 tribes.  This ends in the year 2502.

2. We see from this that in the year 2503 from the Rosh Hashanah after the birth of Adam HaRishon, which is the 2nd year of creation, they began to count. And they did the year 2510 from creation, which is the 21st year from the time they entered Eretz Yisrael, Shmitah. And they counted 7 Shmitah years and sanctified the 50th year, which was the 64th year from the time they entered Eretz Yisrael.

The Rambam here tells us that they started in the year 2503, but counting from year number 2.  Really, then, the count started in year 2504.  This is implied by the fact that the 1st Shmitah is recorded as the year 2510. The first Yovel was, therefore, in 2553.

Background: Midrash Seder Olam Rabba assumes that Adam HaRishon was born in year 1.  The Rambam, however, states that we count starting from the "Year of Chaos".  If Adam HaRishon was born on the 1st of Tishrei, that means that the other 5 days of creation were in Elul, and since we don't have a year 0, we shift the creation of Adam HaRishon to year 2.  Then, in order to simplify our calendrical calculations, we calculate backwards to the prior hypothetical Tishrei, and that is the 1st Molad, on which all other calculations are based.  This is called Molad BaHaRa"D.  (BaHaRa"D is an acronym for the 2nd day of the week, the 5th hour, and 204 chalakim)

In Tractate Arachin, there is a disagreement on how to count the Yovel Cycle.

  • Rabbanan say that the 50th year does not count as part of a Shmitah Cycle.  (Arachin 33A)
  • Rebbi Yehudah says that the 50th year is also the 1st year of the next Shmitah cycle. (Arachin 12B)

The Rambam brings as the halachah the opinion of Rabbanan, that we count 7 Shmitah Cycles, and then have a Yovel Year.  The following year is number 1 of the followign Shmitah and Yovel Cycles.

3. Am Yisrael counted 17 Yovels, from the time they entered Eretz Yisrael to the time they left, and the year they left, in which the 1st Beit HaMikdash was destroyed, was the year after Shmitah, and year 36 of the Yovel, for the 1st Beit HaMikdash stood 410 years.

The 1st Beit HaMikdash, which stood from 2929 to 3339.  Continuing these 50 year cycles onward from 2504, we see that 3339 was the 36th year of the 17th Yovel cycle.  That is to say that 16 Yovel cycles were completed, and the Destruction was during the 17th cycle.

4. And due to the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash, this count ceased, for the land was nullified. And the land remained destroyed, 70 years; and the 2nd Beit HaMikdash was built, and stood 420 years. And in the 7th year from its construction, Ezra came up to Eretz Yisrael, and that is the Bi'ah Shniyah, and from this year a new count began. And they made the 13th year of the 2nd Beit HaMikdash Shmitah, and they counted 7 Shmitah years and sanctified the 50th year, even though there was no Yovel during the time of the 2nd Beit HaMikdash, they would count it in order to sanctify the Shmitah years.

The Rambam's opinion is that during the 70 years of the Babylonian Exile, Shmitah and Yovel were not counted, due to the nullification of the initial holiness of the land imparted in the time of Yehoshua bin-Nun.  As the Gemara teaches, the holiness imparted by Yehoshua was for its time, but the 2nd holiness, imparted in the time of Ezra, is eternal, even to our days.

This is an interesting idea.  We have seemingly separate issues: The counting of Shmitah and Yovel, and the holiness of the Land of Israel.  According to the Rambam, the counting of Shmitah and Yovel is dependent on the holiness being in force. 

5. We see from this that the year that the 2nd Beit HaMikdash was destroyed, whose start is from Tishrei after the destruction by 2 months, for it is from Tishrei that we count Shmitah and Yovel, that year was the year after Shmitah, and year 15 of the 9th Yovel.

There is a very old tradition brought down that both of the Temples were destroyed in the year after Shmitah.  In order to make this work, the Rambam asserts that in the case of the 2nd Beit HaMikdash, we are referring to the year after the destruction.  It should be noted that the Tosefot on Arachin says that the 2nd Beit HaMikdash stood 421 years; this makes the calculation work.

6. And according to this calculation, this year, which is 1107 of the Destruction, which is 1487 to the count of Shtarot, which is 4936 to Creation, is a Shmitah year, and it is year 21 from the Yovel.

Following the idea in Halachah 4, the holiness of the land is still in force, and therefore we should still count Yovel cycles.  These numbers are the result.

7. However, all of the Geonim said that it is a tradition in their hands, from one generation to the next, that they only counted Shmitah during the 70 years between the Destruction of the 1st Beit HaMikdash and the Building of the 2nd Beit HaMikdash, without Yovel, and thus it is since it was destroyed this last time, we don't count the 50th year, but rather just every 7 years alone, from the the beginning of the year of the Destruction. And thus is the conclusion from the Talmud Avodah Zarah, according to this calculation, which is a tradition.

The Rambam here brings a tradition which nullifies his own conclusion.  During the time of the Babylonian Exile, the counting did continue, but only Shmitah cycles.  Thus it is also during the Exile of Edom in our days, we continue with only the Shmitah cycles.  This calculation, that 3829, the year of the Destruction, was a Shmitah year, leads to the year 5768 also being a Shmitah year, as we practice now as halachah.

8. And the year of Shmitah is well known by the Geonim and the people of Eretz Yisrael, and all of them counted only from the years of the Destruction, and removing the remainders of 7. And according to this calculation, this year which is 1107 to the Destruction, is the year after Shmitah. And this is what we rely on, and according to this calculation we teach for the matter of Maaser, and Shmitah, and Cancellation of Debts, for tradition and deed are major pillars for instruction, and it is proper to depend upon them.

The Rambam here stresses the need to follow this tradition from the Geonim, despite the logic for this decision not being evident to us.  We submit to their superior judgement.

 

Chapter 3

Arriving at a Combined Approach

As mentioned before, there are two opinions on how to count Yovel.

  • Rabbanan say that the 50th year does not count as part of a Shmitah Cycle.  (Arachin 33A)  The result is that the year after Yovel is the first year of the following cycle.
  • Rebbi Yehudah says that the 50th year is also the 1st year of the next Shmitah cycle. (Arachin 12B)  The result is that the year after Yovel is second year of the following cycle.

The conclusion in the Gemara is that the halachah is according to Rabbanan, and that is the counting system used by the Rambam, cited above.

  • According to Rabbanan, the 46th, 47th, and 48th Yovel years from the time of Ezra would be in 5715, 5765, and 5815 respectively.
  • According to Rebbe Yehudah, the 46th, 47th, and 48th Yovel years from the time of Ezra would be in 5670, 5719, and 5768 respectively.

There is a problem with both of these systems: They contradict our halachic practice.  Per Rabbanan, Shmitah was in the year 5764.  Per Rebbi Yehudah, it was in 5767, and our accepted halachah is that Shmitah was last in 5768.

It would appear that there is a secret behind the disagreement between Rabbanan and Rebbi Yehudah which is hinted at in the tradition of the Geonim.  The tradition that we have states that after the destruction of each Beit HaMikdash, instead of counting according to Rabbanan, we count just Shmitah cycles of 7 years.  Perhaps that is not entirely precise.

I propose the following:

During the time of Exile, both Babylon and Edom, the halachah is like Rebbi Yehudah.

That is to say:

  • From 2504 until 3339, the counting is like Rabbanan, with 50 year cycles.
  • From 3340 until 3415, the counting continues, but it is now according to Rebbi Yehudah, with 49 year cycles.
  • From 3416 until 3829, the count restarts/resets, and the counting proceeds according to Rabbanan.
  • From 3830 until the Yovel will be reinstated, the counting continues, again according to Rebbi Yehudah, with 49 year cycles.

This is hinted at in Sefer Yehezkel chapter 40, verse 1:

In the 25th year of our exile, on Rosh Hashanah, on the 10th of the month, in the 14th year after the city was hit, in the midst of this day, the Hand of Hashem was upon me, and brought me there.

What year has the Rosh Hashanah on Yom Kippur?  That is Yovel.  And thus it is, since the 1st Beit HaMikdash was destroyed in the 36th year of the Yovel, the following Yovel would be in the 14th year after the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash.

Per the Rambam, cited above, the purpose of the Yovel count (when the commandment of Yovel is not in force) is in order to ensure that Shmitah is observed in the proper years.  However, if we use the counting system of Rebbi Yehudah, it is now no longer necessary to count Yovel for that purpose.

If we examine the Yovel years that occur from the time of Ezra, where the count restarted in the year 3416, we find a startling result:

  • The 46th Yovel took place in the year 5678 (1917/1918CE), the year of the Balfour Declaration.
  • The 47th Yovel took place in the year 5727 (1966/1967CE), the year of the Six-Day War and the Unification of Jerusalem.

The events of those Yovel years have obvious ramifications for the Redemption of the Land of Israel, which is one of the ideas of Yovel itself.

The 48th Yovel will take place in the year 5776, after the next Shmitah year.  If we count the Yovel years starting in the time of Yehoshua bin-Nun, 5776 will be the 66th Yovel.

 

Chapter 4

A Yovel of Yovels

By the commandment of Counting the Omer, we see two seemingly contradicting commands:

  1. We are commanded to count 50 days.
  2. We are commanded to count 7 complete weeks.

For halachah, we count 49 days, and Shavuot is celebrated on the 50th day, without any counting.  There is an idea of 49 days of our efforts from below, and then Hashem completes the 50 days for us from above.

If we consider from the time of Ezra that there are to be 49 Yovel Cycles of our own efforts, we stand today 7 years ahead of the beginning of the 49th cycle.  The 49th cycle is destined to be the completion of the efforts of the nation of Israel.

If we look at the original count as being 50 year cycles, and that our goal, even then, was to arrive at a Yovel of Yovel years, then we see an act of kindness from Hashem: Switching to 49 year cycles shortens the time of Galut by decades.  In our case, we are set to arrive at the 48th Yovel a total of 39 years earlier than we would in a 50 year cycle count.  That is because the first 9 Yovel years are identical in the 2 sets, so 48 – 9 = 39 years.  Hashem has mercy on us, and the end comes towards us (Tehillim 102:14 per Kol HaTor)

Looking at the Yovel cycles as parallel to the Omer period, we also find parallels.  To name a few:

  • 3416-3765 is the period corresponding to the Yovel “week” of Chesed, in which the Beit HaMikdash stood.  The Chesed she’be’Chesed (the 1st “day”), 3416-3455, included the founding of the Great Assembly (HaKnesset HaGedolah), the last remnants of prophecy until the days of Moshiach.
  • 3816-3865 is the period corresponding to Gevurah she’bi’Gevurah (the 8th Yovel cycle), in which the 2nd Beit HaMikdash was destroyed.  The 8th day of the Omer is the day after Isru Chag, full mourning customs begin at this point.
  • 4992-5041 is the period corresponding to Hod she’be’Hod, which is Lag BaOmer, in which we celebrate the revelation of the Zohar.  This Yovel cycle brought the publication of the Zohar.
  • 5482-present is the period corresponding to the Yovel “week” of Yesod, and the Geulah is rooted in the sefirah of Yesod, per Kabbalah.

 

Chapter 5

Yovel Number "Yovel"

 

In the book Imrei Binah, the years 5719 and 5768 are mentioned in relation to the Geulah, because they are the 2 Yovel years which encase the 48th Yovel cycle.

Why is the 48th Yovel significant? It is because the Gematria of the word Yovel is 48.  Therefore, the 47th Yovel, which is the 1st year of the 48th cycle, marks the beginning of Am Yisrael's movement towards the Geulah, whereas the end of the cycle, on the 48th Yovel itself, will bring Am Yisrael's return to its land, with the arrival of Moshiach.

We now stand after this 48th Yovel cycle, and we can see that the events did not materialize as the text has said explicitly.

With the combined counting system mentioned above, the beginning of the 48th cycle is the year 5727, the year of the Six-Day War, with obvious implications.

The year 5719 is given dual significance by Imrei Binah

  • It is the beginning of the 48th Yovel cycle (3416 + 47 * 49)
  • It is the end of the 301st lunar cycles of 19 years (301 * 19 = 5719).

The year 5727 has a similar nature:

  • It is the beginning of the 48th Yovel cycle (3416 + [8 * 50] + [39 * 49] = 5727)
  • It is the year in which Pesach falls latest in the solar year (hinted at in the Baraita in Brachot 59b), which is currently the 8th year of the lunar cycle of 19 years (8 + 301*19 = 5727)

This calculation for 5727 is stated in Zohar Chadash in Ma'amar Darach Kokhav miYaakov:

At the time of the End of Days, according to the hour of the day, at the time that the sun shines, from the 6th Day, at the time that is ready according to the count of years, of Yovel and Shmitah together, which is רע"ד (Raa'd, 274 in Gematria) from the 6th Day...

This is at 60 years of the 6th millenium...

Shmitah and Yovel fell together in 5727.  The reason that 5727 is called Shmitah, or rather why the latest year of the 19 year cycle is called Shmitah, I will not explain now.  But notice that the Zohar gives a confirmation: It is 274 years from the end of the 6th day, or 6001 - 274 = 5727.  It is 6001 and not 6000, for the Zohar counts using the system of Seder Olam Rabba, which is one year lower than our count.  This can be shown also from the Introduction to the Tikkunei Zohar 4a, wherein the author implies that that the 2nd Beit HaMikdash was destroyed in the year 3828, which accords to the Seder Olam Rabba.

The end of this same passage of the Zohar Chadash makes it clear that it is describing the events surrounding year 60, which as Zohar Vayera 119 tells us, is the Pekidah, a rocky beginning to the Geulah.

If the Zohar defines 5727 as year 60, let us try to complete the picture.

Imrei Binah says that the following Yovel, Yovel number 48, brings the arrival of Moshiach.  The Zohar in Vayera says that in year 66, Moshiach will be revealed in the Galil.

This next Yovel, in 5776, is also the 66th Yovel counting from Yehoshua's time.  That is to say, counting the 16 Yovels before the destruction of the 1st Beit HaMikdash, the 2 during Galut Bavel, and then the 48 more Yovel years from Ezra until 5776, for a total of 66 Yovel years.

We must remember that the revelation of Moshiach, per the Zohar, is in 66, whereas the Zechirah, which brings the Geulah, is after another half time.  This too is hinted at in Imrei Binah, where the author refers to the Dome of the Rock as the desolate abomination.  A total of 1335 years after its construction brings us to 5783-5786.

Nonetheless, it is no wonder that the Yovel year brings such advancement in the Geulah process, for this is already taught in Kabbalah that the Geulah comes from the side of the Upper Yovel.

3 comments:

  1. Hazak Uvaruch!
    Excellent job, and thanks for the summary post. It makes it a lot easier to follow.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks. Please leave comments on things you think should be added.

    ReplyDelete