Rabbi Yoni Kirsch
Rabbi Yoni KirschYair Yulis

The Yovel Year- Freedom From Enslavement

In this week's Parsha we are exposed to a special mitzvah -- yovel. The Yovel, or Jubilee, which occurs every fiftieth year, is a unique one in that it demands us to release all slaves, refrain from all agricultural work (similar in this way to the shmitah year) and above all- "the right of return"- where all real estate is returned to its original owners, set according to the different tribes (Vayikra 25:8-13).

Some insight of this holy year could be explained by its name- yovel. Yovel is another name for "shofar" (Rashi 25:10). At the beginning of this 50th year a shofar is blown, marking the sign to release all slaves. This is the call for freedom.

The Rashar Hirsch (Vayikra 25:10) explains that the word yovel comes from the word of "hovala" – meaning to lead, leading something from one point to the place it is meant to be, leading reality to its destiny.

Throughout our history there were other momentous occasions where the shofar ("yovel") was heard:

On Mount Sinai, the sign of the Shechina on the mountain was brought to the attention of the nation by the sound of the blowing of the shofar (Shmot 19:13). Rashi mentions that this is a remembrance of the ram (ayil) used at Akedat Yitzchak.

These three occasions--Akedat Yitzchak, the receiving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, and the year of the yovel, have commonality. They seem to be high points in history where everything is clear, everything is pure. These are times that are above the regular enslavements of reality. (I cannot resist mentioning the iconic picture from the Six Day War, at the Western Wall, of Rabbi Shlomo Goren's famous shofar blowing).

And here I'd like to continue with another phrase mentioned in this Parsha that can also have much meaning for our times.

Geula- Redemption and Return

The word used for having all lands and real estate return to its owners is "Geula" (25:23). Normally we use this word to describe our redemption and advancing towards the days of Moshiach. Apparently, this is no coincidence. When a land is repurchased by a close family member (this is a right that we are taught in the Parsha; that if one is NOT capable of buying it back, then the advent of the yovel year causes it to be returned to the original owner automatically), the land is put back in its original state.

This isn't just a regular sale; this is the "right of return". In this week's Haftorah (Yirmiyahu 32) we read about the Prophet Jeremiah purchasing his cousin's land just before the destruction of the First Temple. The word 'Geula' is utilized here. This represents Hashem's promise that the nation of Israel will return from exile.

In conclusion, this should give us much comfort knowing that the Geula is not merely a great event that we are praying for, but a necessary process that MUST take place, either through our own actions, or if that is ineffective, through Hashem supernaturally returning the world to its pure destiny.