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5. The Shemita calculation for today’s calendar:
When was the first Shemita observed? The counting of Shemita first began when the Jews entered Eretz Yisrael and settled the lands. This occurred 14 years after the entrance into Eretz Yisrael, as it took 7 years to conquest the land and another 7 to settle it. Hence, the first Shemita was only observed 21 years after entering Eretz Yisrael.
The calculation until the destruction of the first Temple: As stated above, the first Shemita cycle began when the Jews entered Eretz Yisrael and settled the land. This occurred 14 years after the entrance into Eretz Yisrael, as it took 7 years to conquest the land and another 7 to settle it. [We entered Eretz Yisrael in the year 2488/2489, 1272 BCE, and thus the first year of the 1st Shemita cycle was in the year 2503, 1257 BCE.] They then counted Shemitas and Yovlos for over 16 Jubilee cycles plus another 36 years [836 total years] until the destruction of the first Temple. Thus, there were a total of 117 Shemitas and 16 Yovlos counted from the settling into Eretz Yisrael until the destruction of the first Temple. The year of destruction was the first year of the 118th Shemita cycle.
The calculation after the destruction of the Temple-Counting the Yovel year: When some of the tribes of the Jewish people were exiled in the times of Sancheirev [many years prior to the destruction], the Yovel year was abolished as it is contingent on Eretz Yisrael being inhabited by all Jews. Nevertheless they continued counting the Yovel year, every 50th year in order not to confuse the Shemita cycle which is only to begin after the Yovel year. However, during the time of the 70 year exile between the destruction of the first Temple and rebuilding of the 2nd Temple, it is disputed as to whether the Jews counted the Yovlos during that time. The Rambam in his first opinion holds that they continued to count the Yovlos just like prior to the destruction, however he then brings the opinion of the Geonim who have a tradition that they did not count the Yovlos during these 70 years. This same dispute applies also for after the destruction of the second Temple. According to the Geonim, ever since the destruction of the second Temple we no longer count the Yovel year at all and hence the 50th year is the first year of the next Shemita cycle. According to this opinion, the year 5782 is the seventh year of the 279th Shemita cycle since the destruction in 3829. However, according to the first opinion in the Rambam ibid, it is a totally different calculation, as every 50th year we push off the start of the new Shemita cycle one year. Hence, according to the first opinion in the Rambam, in the 1,953 years between the destruction in 3829 and our current year of 5782 we have 39 Jubilee years that were not counted in the cycle and hence in his calculation, 5782 is the 3rd year of the 273rd year of the Shemita cycle and the year 5782 is not Shemita! Practically, the Rambam concludes that we rely on the Geonim, as tradition is a great pillar in Jewish law and is to be relied upon. This is the final ruling today as brought in the calculated years of: Admur 36; Rama Choshen Mishpat 67/1 [year 5320]; Michaber Yoreh Deah 331/19 [year 5313]. Nonetheless, this still does not resolve the question as to which year is Shemita as we find another debate in the Rishonim regarding the exact year that the Temple was destroyed, as we will now explain.
The dispute in when the Temple was destroyed and which year of Shemita it was: Aside for the above debate regarding if the Yovel years are counted excluding the Shemita years, there is another debate regarding the year of the destruction and the year of Shemita that it took place in, which is from when today’s Shemita is calculated from. According to Rashi the destruction took place in the Motzei Shemita year, meaning that the year of the destruction [i.e. 3829] was the first year of Shemita. However, according to the Rambam, the destruction took place in the Shemita year, meaning that the year of the destruction was the actual seventh year. According to Tosafus, the destruction took place in the year 3830 which was the Motzei Shemita year, and hence for all practical purposes his opinion is identical to that of the Rambam. Accordingly, there is a one year discrepancy between Rashi and Tosafus/Rambam regarding the correct year of Shemita, with Rashi saying it is a year earlier, and Tosafus and Rambam saying it is a year later. Practically, we rule like the Rambam, and hence we calculate seven year cycles from the year of the destruction to determine the Shemita year. This applies both for leniency and stringency, and it is even forbidden to be stringent to keep two years as Shemita to suspect for the opinion of Rashi.
The year 3829 of Shemita [in the time of the writing of these laws by the Alter Rebbe] was 5544/1784. Thirty-four cycles of Shemita have passed since that time. The year 5782 is the 34th Shemita year and the year 5783 will begin the 35th Shemita cycle from the Shemita year written in Admur.
Dividing the current Jewish year by seven: Although the Shemita calculation only began over 2,500 years from creation, practically, according to the current accepted custom of the Shemita year, it ends up that each Shemita year divides equally by seven. Meaning, if one divides the Shemita year of 5782 by seven, the number will equal 826. Thus, a simple way of calculating what year of Shemita we are in is to divide the current Hebrew year by seven, and if it is an equal divide that means that year is Shemita, and if it is not an equal divide, then one is to divide the remainder by .14 to determine what year of the upcoming Shemita cycle we are in. Thus, if one divides the year 5784 by seven, the result is 826.286. If one then divides .286 by .14 it equals 2, showing that the year 5784 is the second year of Shemita.
The upcoming Shemita years are:
*All years of the secular calendar refer to the dates corresponding to the start of the Hebrew year. Thus in 5775 the Shemita year begins in the 25th of Sept. 2014 and continues until the 14th of Sept. 2015.
 See Kaftor Vaperach 51 in great length; Rashi and Tosafus Avoda Zara 9b; Rambam Shemita 10:2; Tur Y.D. 331 and C.M. 67:9; Beis Yosef ibid; Admur 36; Rama Choshen Mishpat 67/1 [year 5320]; Michaber Yoreh Deah 331:19 [year 5313]; Halichos Shevi’is p. 30
 Rambam Shemita 10:2; Toras Kohanim Behar 1; Aruch Hashulchan Haasid 15:2; Encyclopedia Talmudit Vol. 2 p. 220
 See Seder Hadoros Halperin who writes the year was 2489, although others write 2488, which is 40 years from Matan Torah which was in 2448.
 The Yovel years in between do not count as part of the seven-year cycle and hence one must decrease 16 Yovel years from the 836-year calculation. See Rambam 10:7; Nedarim 61 following the opinion of Rabanan as opposed to Rebbe Yehuda
 See Rambam 10:4 and 8
 Erechin 32b; Rambam 10:8
 Erechin 32b; Rambam 10:3
 See Rosh Hashanah 9a that according to Rebbe Yehuda the Yoval year counts as the first year of the next Shemita, while according to Chachamim it does not count as the first year of Shemit and thus the first year of Shemita only begins the next year. [Kaftor Vaperach ibid]
 Shemita and Yovel 10:3
 There are 1,953 years between the year 3829 and 5782. Now, 1,953 divided by seven is 279, which means that the year 5782 is the seventh year of the 279th seven-year cycle, which makes the year 5783 be the first year of the 280th Shemita cycle.
 There are 1,953 years between the year 3829 and 5782. Now, according to the Rambam, we must minus 39 Yovel years from this calculation, as there are 39 sets of 50 years within the number 1953. This calculates to 1914 years. Now, 1914 divided by seven is 273.4, which would make the year 5782 the 3rd year of the 273rd Shemita cycle, and the next Shemita according to the Rambam would only be in the year 5786.
 See Tur Y.D. 331; C.M. 67:9; Beis Yosef 331; Rosh Avoda Zara 7; Kaftor Vaperach 51; Sefer Chareidim 53; Halichos Hashevi’is p. 30 and 303
 Avoda Zara 9b
 Rambam Shemita 10:6
 Avoda Zara 9b
 Admur Halvah 36; Rama Choshen Mishpat 67”1 [year 5320]; Michaber Yoreh Deah 331:19 [year 5313]; Tur C.M. ibid; Sefer Chareidim 53; Shut Maharalbach 108 and 143; Rambam Shemita 10:6; Kaftor Vaferach ibid
Other opinions: Some Poskim rule like Rashi, and hence say that one should follow Shemita one year earlier than our Shemita year cycles. [Gr”a C.M. 67:8; Opinion of Rabbanim recorded in Sefer Chareidim ibid and Shut Mahralbach ibid; See Chazon Ish Shevi’is 3:33] Some Poskim rule that due to the confusion and debate as to the correct Shemita year, therefore there is no longer a Mitzvah of Shemitas Kesafim in our times. [Sefer Hateruma Shaar45 in name of Baal Hamaor]
 See Halichos Shevi’is ibid page 305
 Sefer Chareidim 53; Shut Maharalbach 108 and 143
The Safed controversy: In the year 5340 there were Sages in Safed [i.e. Rav Yosef Ashkenazi, Chavrusa of the Beis Yosef] who desired to be stringent also like Rashi and keep the Shemita year in both the year 5340 as rules Rashi, and in 5341 as rules Tosafus and Rambam. Practically, they were excommunicated for doing so. [See Sefer Chareidim 53; Shut Maharalbach 108 and 143; Halichos Shevi’is ibid p. 306]
 Admur Hilchos Halvah 36; Geonim; Custom of Eretz Yisrael brought in Rambam Shemita 10:6; Rama Choshen Mishpat 67:1 [year 5320]; Michaber Yoreh Deah 331:19 [year 5313]
 Kaftor Vaferach 51; Halichos Hashevi’is p. 30