8 You will count seven Sabbatical years—seven years, times seven; they will be to you the days of seven Sabbatical years, the forty-ninth year. 9 You will send around a thunderous shofar in the seventh month on the tenth day of the month: on the Day of Atonement, you send around the shofar in your entire country. 10 You will consecrate the fiftieth year in which you will proclaim liberty for all the inhabitants; it will be the Jubilee year for you; everyone will return to their property and return to their family.Leviticus 25
No need to search for the idea of Utopia that is the Jubilee Year incarnate! That shofar is the essence of the modern Olympic torch, which is passed around among the nations for all to see and follow its light to an endeavor above human strife and international conflict.
The sounding of that shofar calls us to:
- Rise to the occasion,
- Raise ourselves up by our bootstraps,
- Get a grip on our lives,
- Be fair and honest, even if is for just one year in every 50 years.
14 When you make a sale to your friend or buy from your friend, do not defraud one another. 15 According to the number of years after the Jubilee year, buy from your friend; according to the number of years of profit, your friend will sell to you. … 17 You should not defraud your friend but you will fear your God; …Leviticus 25
Would the world shift in its access if people really altered their behavior? How long could this go on until someone would spoil the transformation in human behavior? Could it last for even on minute after the change had begun?
8 Everyone has been told what is right and what YHWH requires of you: only to do justice, and love kindness and to walk humbly with your God.Micah 6
Should we close our eyes and wish for a chance to make utopian dreams into reality?
Let’s go out into a forest in summer and feel the light breeze rustle through the branches of leaves or pine needles on the trees around us. Above us rays of sunlight filter down to us with every shifting leaf and branch. Stare up and into the dappled canopy that hides the sky.
When you are safe and secure in your own grove of trees, smile. When you are hiking around a nature reserve, grin.
If you can only remember a day gone by in the shaded summer forest, then you already understand the dream of Utopia, of the Jubilee year.
21 Restore us, YHWH to you and we will return; renew our days as before.Lamentations 5
We, who comprehend the loss, ache for the dream to come true. We pine for the return, for the restoration and for setting right the wrong that has been done. Not even a Jubilee Year miracle could repair the empty years spent contemplating our “paradise lost”.
Ultimately we turn away from the Jubilee Year as an aberration and return to the present. If it happens that we come upon trees in summer swaying in sunshine, then we can relax under their shade and be joyful. But when there is no tree to shade us, do not despair – dream on to that era of lovely utopian shade as our ancestors did when they imagined the shofar sounding the beginning of the Jubilee Year.
While searching for shade let’s listen to sounds from the Pines of Rome: III. Pines of the Janiculum
Midrash Harabah and English translations by Rabbi Gail Shuster-Bouskila ©2021