20/01/15 Trying to find out- --I know a "shemitah" is a 7 yr. period. What confuses me is this: how do we know what specific years are the "shemitah" (e.g. Sept./07 to Sept./14 or Sept./08 to Sept./15. Then, is a "shemitah year" the 7th year of a "shemitah" or is it the 8th year - e.g. the first year AFTER a "shemitah"? I thought a "shemitah year" is the 7th year- e.g. Sept./13 to Sept./14. So then what year is the Jubilee year (This now being 50 years since the last Jubilee)- is it 2014-2015 or sept./15-Sept./16 ?? I'm trying to nail down exactly (Gregorian) what are the 7 year periods*, the shemitah year, and the Jubilee year. ---*I mean what year is the first year and what year is the 7th year (7th year being 2013 to 2014 OR 2014 to 2015, and is 2015 0r 2016 the Jubilee year. Know what I mean? ----T Y V M
The Sabbatical year, "sh'viis" begins at Rosh Hashanah and actually occurs in years divisible by 7, such as the current year 5775. This isn't because they are counted since creation, but there was a tradition passed down since the time the 2nd Temple was destroyed as to when this year was.
Remember that during the Temple period the cycle was still used to determine years of Maaseh Sheini etc.
The actual regulations are a bit more complex. There are 3 issues: produce from the ground, produce from trees and recovery of debt. Produce from the ground is generally based on when it is reaped (although it is still forbidden to work the ground during the year), whilst fruit trees is when it budded and then I think Tu Bishvat (coming in 2 weeks time) is the start of the year for budding. Thus there is an issue with Shviis fruit well into next year.
With regards to recovering debt, the normal Minhag is that the Pruzbul document is written just before the end of the Shmitta year although there are a few who write one at the start.
The Yovel does not apply anymore and didn't apply during the 2nd temple period either.
With regards to the "Gregorian" calendar, the year before one divisible by 7 is a Shviis year (i.e. January up to Rosh Hashanah) and of course the few months before it. So 2016 is divisible by 7 and 2015 is such a year. An easier way to remember now is to ignore the 2000 part and know that if the last 2 digits are divisible by 7, a Sh'viis year will start at Rosh Hashanah on that year (e.g. 14 is divisible by 7 and 2014 had such a year start in it).