Sabbatical Year (Shemitah) and Jubilee Year (Yovel)

The Sabbatical Year and Jubilee Year provided for a period of both social equality and ecological recovery.

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Jubilee

[Jubilee is] the institution described in the book of Leviticus (25:8-24) where it is stated that a series of forty-nine years [was] to be counted (there is considerable uncertainty as to the date from when the counting is to begin, but traditionally it is from the creation of the world) and every fiftieth year declared a special year during which there was to be no agricultural work; all landed property was to revert to its original owner; and slaves were to be set free. The name Jubilee is from the Hebrew word yovel, “ram’s horn,” the year being so called because a ram’s horn was sounded when it was proclaimed (Leviticus 25:9). Since this verse says: “[Proclaim liberty] throughout the land for all its inhabitants,” the Talmudic view is that the Jubilee was not observed during the Second Temple period because the majority of Jews no longer lived in the land of Israel.

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Rabbi Louis Jacobs

Rabbi Dr. Louis Jacobs (1920-2006) was a Masorti rabbi, the first leader of Masorti Judaism (also known as Conservative Judaism) in the United Kingdom, and a leading writer and thinker on Judaism.