For most of my life I have been taught to observe a weekly Sabbath day, and more often than not I take that day of rest for granted. In trying to gain a better perspective, I have read about how other faiths than mine observe the Sabbath, and one that I admire most is Judaism.
In Judaism the Sabbath is extremely important, and there are several observances: the Sabbath Day, Sabbath Year, and Jubilee year.
The Sabbath Year occurs every seventh year of Israel’s calendar. While Sabbath days are a time of rest for people and animals, the Sabbath year is a time of rest for the land. No crops are planted or harvested, but any plants and produce that grow on their own may be used.
Jubilee Year happens after every seventh cycle of Sabbatical years, during every 50th year of Israel’s calendar. The word “jubilee” in this case, doesn’t mean a celebration or party. It comes from the Hebrew word yobel, meaning “ram’s horn,” because Jubilee Year began with the sounding of the ram’s horn. During Jubilee Year, not only did the land rest, but all Hebrew slaves were set free, debts were forgiven, and all land was returned to its original owner or owner’s family. The two main ideas of Jubilee Year are that the land belongs to the Lord who determines its proper use, and that God’s people are to be free. Redemption is always possible.
I think the traditions of Jubilee Year are beautiful. I especially love the focus on rest, renewal, and starting over. Life gets hectic and I struggle to practice these principles one day a week, much less a whole year.
Jubilee Year got me thinking about why rest is so important for living things. Rest is necessary for the body to heal itself. Naps are a nice way to get rest, but I also think taking rest by reading a book, working on a relaxing hobby, or any calming activity can heal bodies and minds. Taking time to rest from life is very healthy and leads to a renewal of focus, happiness, and motivation.
In observing a weekly Sabbath, I love the chance not only to rest, but to start each week over and try to be better. I thought about ways I could start over each week, and I decided to take some time each Sabbath to think about how the previous week has gone and come up with simple goals to make the next week better.
Studying Jubilee Year made me think more about the Sabbath than I have in years. I realized what a relief and blessing it is to have one day a week for rest, renewal, and to start over. I feel inspired to take better advantage of my weekly chance to make my life better. The Sabbath is truly a gift from God for our health, sanity, and devotion. I hope to make it a more important part of my life.
Katie Steed is a graphic designer who also loves to write. In her spare time she’s either biking, reading, or traveling.