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וקדשתם את שנת החמשים שנה וקראתם דרור בארץ לכל ישביה יובל הוא תהיה לכם ושבתם איש אל אחזתו ואיש אל משפחתו תשבו

You shall sanctify the fiftieth year and proclaim freedom throughout the Land for all its inhabitants; it shall be the Jubilee Year for you. You shall return each man to his ancestral heritage, and you shall return each man to his family. (25:10)

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An obvious redundancy appears in this pasuk. “(You shall) proclaim freedom throughout the Land” implies that people who heretofore had not been free (bondsman) will now be set free. If so, why does the pasuk conclude, “You shall return each man to his ancestral heritage, and you shall return each man to his family?” How many times can one be freed? Furthermore, once freedom is mentioned (twice), what is added by ish el mishpachto, “each man to his family”? To whom else is he returning?

The Brisker Rav, zl, asks these questions and explains the freedom process with the words of the Rambam (Hilchos Shemittah V’Yoveil 10:19). Rambam writes: “From Rosh Hashanah (fiftieth year) until Yom Kippur, the avadim, Hebrew bondsmen, did not return home, but remained in their master’s home, (as “guests”).

They did not perform any labor. They ate and drank and acted joyously. Fields did not return to their original owner. As soon as Yom Kippur arrived, Bais Din sounded the shofar, and everyone returned – avadim and fields.”

Implied by Rambam is that two criteria establish Yoveil, the Jubilee Year. The first is, V’Kidashtem es shnas ha’chamishim; “You shall sanctify the fiftieth year” which occurs on Rosh Hashanah. During the next ten days, one is in limbo, a time in which the slave no longer works for his master, but does not go home. Tekias Shofar on Yom Kippur releases the avadim and properties. Thus, complete freedom is achieved on Yom Kippur. The pasuk is no longer redundant, since the first “freedom,” proclaiming freedom throughout the Land, occurs on Rosh Hashanah, effecting a cessation of work. The second complete freedom takes place on Yom Kippur. Thus, the Torah emphasizes that now the bondsman can return to his family.

Veritably, freedom that does not permit one to return home to family and friends is flawed and incomplete. True freedom within the context of returning home to family involves experiencing a profound sense of belonging, acceptance and emotional connection. In the supportive environment of family and friends, one feels liberated to his true self. Family is a place in which one: finds solace; shares in life’s milestones – both joyous and challenging; and thrives in a nurturing environment. The individual can be himself, return to who he once was – a person – not a slave. A man, due to his economic hardship, had resorted to an unbecoming life. He paid his dues, and now he wants the embrace of family, so that he can finally be free.

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