The (currently) top rated answer to this other question says that:

R' Aryeh Kaplan z'l teaches as follows:

R' Nehunia ben Hakana brings in Sefer Temuna that there are larger shmita cycles of 7000 years each, of which we are now in the 6th, putting the age of the earth at 42,000 years old.

I am interested in these 7000-year shmita cycles and would like to ask a couple of questions about them:

Is any information available on how old this concept is? For example, if it was perhaps proposed relatively recently such as in 19th century, or if it is older than that.

Does additional information exist (sorry, it would have to be in English) where I can read more about it? I am interested on what reasoning or sources this concept is based on.

Update: The answer by Menachem brought me to the Wikipedia article about Sefer HaTemunah. This article refers to a document called "Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin" which says in Folio 97a (3rd paragraph from the end)

R. Kattina said: Six thousand years shall the world exist, and one [thousand, the seventh], it shall be desolate

and in Folio 97b (3rd paragraph from the beginning)

and the remaining [period] will be the Messianic era, whilst the Holy One, blessed be He, will renew his world only after seven thousand years

So it looks like this concept itself predates the book Sefer HaTemunah?

  • Welcome to MiYodeya and thanks for this interesting first question. Please consider registering your account, to enable more site features, including voting. And unless the number 100487 holds special significance to you, you can even change it. Hope to see you around! – mbloch Jan 2 '18 at 3:54
  • hi @mevaqesh, no, I did not mean any assumptions but just wanted to give an example of what I meant with "relatively recently". My question was not so much about the book but the concept itself. So in that sense I was asking if the concept was relatively recent or if it is an older thought. – user100487 Jan 2 '18 at 17:34
  • yes, @mevaqesh, but I did not know how old the book is either, and that is the reason for my question. – user100487 Jan 2 '18 at 17:52

The source is the Sefer HaTemunah, a 13-14 century kabbalistic work. You can see it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sefer_HaTemunah#Sabbatical_cycles_and_the_age_of_the_universe

Note that, as brought in Torah Ohr of the Baal HaTanya (Shemot, Page 51:4), the Ari HaKadosh holds that:

  1. We are in the 2nd Shmitah cycle (the first one being Olam HaTohu, the present being Olam HaTikkun)

  2. There will not 5 more iterations of Shmitah Cycles, and only the present cycle has a physical world.

  • 1
    If you look at the language from Torah Ohr, the Alter Rebbe says that the Ari z"l disagreed that there needed to be an additional 5 Shemittot after the current one and that this cycle is only the 2nd one in that sense, "even though, in the end, this too will be true." The 2 conclusions you are drawing from that language is not supported and also doesn't follow the majority view of mekuballim. 3 sources you may find of interest are, Sefer Brit Menucha, Sefer Pinot HaMerkava and this lecture by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan. simpletoremember.com/faqs/Kaplan-SimpleToRemember.com.pdf – Yaacov Deane Jan 2 '18 at 15:17
  • thank you Menachem for your answer. The Wikipedia article had a link to a document titled Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin, Folio 97a that refers to this same concept so I take the concept precedes that of the kabbalah? – user100487 Jan 2 '18 at 18:43
  • @user100487: The Talmud there talks about 1 shmitah cycle. – Menachem Jan 2 '18 at 22:15

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