I happen to have been born in a Jubilee Year. A Jubilee Year is a biblical thing, specifically Leviticus 25:8-13, and although it is a fairly complicated concept, it can be summed up as a Super-Sabbath of a year. It’s the year after the 7th times 7th year. The 50th year. You rest your cropland in a Jubilee Year. You forgive debts and free your slaves.
It’s been 50 years since then, and now it’s a Jubilee Year again. Since I was born in a Jubilee Year in Israel, and this is a Jubilee Year, and Jubilee Years happen every 50 years, it follows that I am now turning 50. I started to get freaked out about that, until I realized that it was a Jubilee Year.
It is MY Jubilee Year. I don’t have any literal slaves to free or cropland to rest, but I do think there is something wonderful and magical about the concept that I plan on applying to my 50th turn about the sun. Leviticus says, “You shall make the fiftieth year holy, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants.”
Well, then. That’s quite a commandment from quite an authority. Who am I to say no? So I have asked myself: What has made the first 49 years unholy so that this one can be a contrast? What has made the first 49 un-free?
I have been an indentured servant to the law degree I spent years and countless dollars earning. I have toiled in the fields of justice and produced an uneven crop. Somewhere around the age of 16, the age my little baby daughter is now, I set my sights on a path and I never strayed. Haven’t I paid off my debt to the company store by now? Can’t I take a sabbatical and let that field lay fallow while I see what other exotic crop I can grow?
Over the past 49 years, I have made far more than 49 mistakes. 49 x 365 is 17,885, plus 12 for the leap years is 17,897 so that means I have said or done at least 17,897 idiotic things. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – when I look back on some of the things I said and did, I am stunned that anyone who spoke to me before I was 25 or so is still willing to speak to me. It’s time I forgave myself for being human and growing over time.
There’s science behind a Jubilee Year, too. Planting crops in the same soil year after year after year saps the dirt of necessary nutrients. It is critical to let the field lay fallow for a time so it can replenish itself. The ground is more productive if you just let it be for a while. Burnout is literal. Even God rested after six hard days of work. It’s awfully arrogant to say that I need less time off than a Supreme Being, isn’t it? A sabbatical has the potential to recharge my creative energy and make me more productive.
The possibilities are endless. Of course, this is assuming you use the biblical definition of jubilee. If you use the definition as it pertains to food, it means “aflame,” as in Cherries Jubilee, one of my favorite desserts. Therefore, one of those endless possibilities is that the entire thing will go up in flames. The general way 2020 has gone (coronapocalypse, murder hornets, riots) the ‘up in smoke’ option seems more likely. Either way, it will be a Jubilee Year for me.
 Literalists, stop right there. I know that turning 50 marks the END of my 50th turn about the sun, but it isn’t very poetic to say it that way, so shut your crusty little mouths right now.
 And, to a large degree, my parents.
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