By Orna Ben Dor

Slaves / Michael Angelo

“The slaves of time are slaves of slaves, the slave of God alone is free”.

Rabbi Judah Halevi

“And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and there shall be unto thee the days of seven sabbaths of years, even forty and nine years… And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof; it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.” (Leviticus Chapter 25, verses 8,10).

In this essay I shall address ages 49-50 from two points of view: the Jewish perspective that includes the esoteric method – Kabbalah, and the Anthroposophical one as was presented by Dr. R. Steiner. Both converge with the saying that age 49 is the age in which a person could gain new freedom.

There are certain age points indicated by Steiner as ones in which the fate coming from the past terminates, and the future fate starts to rise; age 49 is the age on which Steiner distinctly claimed – the past is over.

From birth till age 49 a person carries with him fate that begun before he was born. That fate mostly influences one’s childhood, a period with very little possibility for change.

A person is born to a certain nation, a given family, socio-economic conditions, genetics, gender, being tall or short, having certain inclinations and not others, be they mental or physical, as well as encountering certain external events.

In all these cases, a person has very little choice. Hence, it could be stated that a person is a ‘slave’ of his past.

Another aspect of the jubilee slavery is the creation of stipulations that in turn create neurological, psychological, social and other configurations in our lives. That’s the reason why our vision of reality is affected by them and hence is not lucid.

We are enslaved to our perception, to the will passed on to us by our parents, their expectations from us, our prejudice, our property, our anxieties and fear of change, our guilt, our self-image, to the contents we bring with us, and to our obligations to previous lives.

According to Steiner, part of our obligations stem from unsolved relations with people we harmed in this and previous life-times, wrong-doing that was done either deliberately or erroneously, all of which we must fix. All that is our past karma, against which we have no freedom.

The Torah section “In the Mount” in Leviticus deals with the liberation of the Israelite slave; once every seven years he is given the possibility to free himself, and on the 50th year, after 49 years of slavery, the slave must be liberated.

The Zohar Book (Jewish esoteric method) presents a spiritual interpretation of the term, slave. A slave is considered not only one who is formally considered as such, but also the one inside each and every one of us. We humans, are slaves of the mechanical, repetitious, unchangeable course that is called “jubilee”, in other words – people are not free in their lives and do not really have the ability to change their fate.

On the other hand, in Judaism slavery holds an additional meaning: some are jubilee slaves, but there are others who are God’s slaves, and they are also called, sons.

“For unto Me the children of Israel are servants; they are My servants whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus, Chapter 25, verse 55).

If we tie both concepts regarding the slave together with Anthroposophical spiritual science, we may say as follows: up until mid-life we are all enslaved to our fate that comes to us, both internally (body shape, mental structure, desires, personal will, etc) and externally (external events, as well as people affect our fate). In that regard we may be called jubilee slaves. From mid-life onwards (ages 33-42 and beyond) we have the possibility to change our slave status. From these ages we may choose to be slaves of God, namely, seek our true spiritual essence, and strive for new freedom in our life.

According to the Zohar Book, the whole Israelite nation, unlike other nations, has the potential to be God’s slave, and as such to be redeemed, while other nations are bound by their desires, their wills and their past.

According to Steiner, these days we can not regard the Israelite nation as the chosen people that exclusively holds that redeeming potential. All humans are chosen by God, and should they choose to follow the spiritual path, regardless of religion, race or gender, they could set themselves free.

Starting from age 49 our eyes are opened to our fate, we take over the reins, and as is written in the Zohar: ”Each one will return to the step from which his soul is hanging” (free translation).

Most people at that age range start to feel the finiteness of life, not only through subjective cognizance, and as a result start a process of self-examination.

The biographical work enables a person to examine his life up to the present point and find the context of affairs according to biographic rules, and connect the threads of his life into a coherent tapestry and thus refresh his interpretation of those affairs. In addition to the regular psychological interpretation, one may observe one’s life in a spiritual manner, make moral corrections where required, and strive to understand the meaning of his life and his destiny.

We are meant to release ourselves from the cords that we tied ourselves to in the past, or were tied to by external circumstances. In cases where we may change reality, we must change the interpretation through understanding the entirety.

This is what is meant by finding meaning in retrospect. Looking back, and finding the whole through the developing parts during our life. The whole may be found at the end of the process10, and it is not pre-determined, our life develops toward our essence in its entirety.

The release from cables at age 49 is not easy and not ensured. A person is not released automatically. It depends on free will. It will take place only if a certain conscious spiritual work will be done. Otherwise, a person will continue to be bound to another mechanical step of past karma, and will be a pierced slave, as termed in Judaism.


* Special thanks to Mr Kobi Nechushtan for providing Judaic knowledge

[1] Translation: Nirit Olizur