The Sanhedrin English The Sanhedrin English

Psak 5769 Av 23

Informal translation from Hebrew of the Av 23, 5769, (13 August 2009) statement:

Special Court for Matters Concerning the Nation and the State
Tel: 02-5661962, cell 050-6733831, fax: 057-7976007
Email: 47 Rachel Imeinu St. Jerusalem 93228

Court of the Sanhedrin, 23 Menachem Av, 5769

Regarding the sale / rental of real estate to non-Jews in Israel at this time

A session of the Beis Din of the Sanhedrin heard the petition of Mr. Aryeh King, head of the Land Redemption Fund in the Land of Israel. In his appeal to the court, he asked that the Beis Din rule on the question of whether it is permissible for a Jew to sell or lease an apartment or other realty asset to a non-Jew.

The question came up in relation to the transfer of ownership, the sale, lease, transfer of control and possession of real estate from Jews to non-Jews in Jerusalem neighborhoods, in the satellite cities around Jerusalem, and throughout the country. {whether it is done by individual Jews or whether by government master plans which have been frozen in the meantime, or whether by benign neglect by the authorities in turning a blind eye to illegal Arab land grabs].

In recent years, there has been a widespread phenomenon of Arabs purchasing land/apartments in neighborhoods which are populated by Jews, and in this way slowly gaining possessing of Jewish neighborhoods until they have obtained possession of entire cities. This has been done in Nazareth Illit, in Carmiel, Acre, Jaffa, Ramle, Lod, even around Jerusalem. Likewise Arabs have taken possession and criminally seized lands that do not belong to them, even by the use of threats and damage to the persons and property of private individuals. Thus hundreds of thousands of dunams of land in the Negev and Galilee have already been taken over and used to build tens of thousands of illegal houses. This nationalistic momentum is receiving economic, political, and moral support from outside elements hostile to the Jewish people and their state and is even , regrettably, getting support either explicitly or by being deliberately ignored by Hellenist elements of Jewish origin who are influential in the government establishment and the courts. Some of them consequently enjoy outstanding benefits in their relations with foreign agencies. Transactions which involves transferring Jewish property to Arabs must be seen as nationalistic transactions par excellence, as a stage in the expulsion of the people of Israel from their land,. It will not be allowed to happen.

The process of dispossessing the Jewish people of its land happens in the following way:

First Stage

In the first stage, Arabs buy or rent single apartments in Jewish neighborhoods by offering a very high payment to the owner, who is attracted by the higher price than what Jews are willing to pay. The source of the higher payments are, among others:

  1. Discrimination in the collection of taxes, since the tax authorities are apprehensive about collecting a true tax (income tax, VAT, National Insurance, city taxes, etc., as Police Commander Alec Ron testified after the last riots) from the Arab sector for fear of a violent uprising. As a result, the Arab sector has more available money than the Jewish sector.
  1. Money from foreign agents, such as the Arab oil states and even foreign support in legal and diplomatic areas.

Second Stage

In the second stage, Jews start to leave the neighborhood, and the selling of assets increases, while the prices of assets belonging to Jews that is sold to Arabs begins to plummet since the Jews are afraid of the Arabs’ dangerous behavior (giving refuge to terror and criminality).

Third Stage

The third stage, the many Jewish residents are forced to sell their assets at a loss because of increasing criminal pressure on them, which includes harassing young women and even increasing numbers of incidents of kidnapping and rapes, while the police and the courts find it difficult to enforce the law and to protect the welfare and property of the residents.

The members of the local Jewish community are hurt badly by the deeds of the few who began the process of selling to Arabs.

Ruling [Psak Din]

The Jewish people are commanded to inherit the land, the land beloved by our forefathers, to work it and to preserve it and to observe all of the commandments associated with it and not to abandon it in the hands of anyone other than ourselves.
“The Land of Israel is acquired with suffering” (tractate Brachot 5,A). Of the land of Israel it is written, “As a man chastises his son, so does the Lord your G-d chastise you”, and afterwards it is written “Because the Lord your G-d is bringing you to a good land”.
Therefore, even if in the difficult trials of these times, a Jew loses much money because he is not persuaded to sell his assets to a non-Jew, then he has withstood the test and the Almighty will recompense his loss.
As the national struggle intensifies between Israel and Ishmael and Esau - under whatever name they go - trade in land has taken on special significance in the State of Israel. Under these circumstances, one must be very scrupulous in real estate transactions with non-Jews since the non-Jew is not negotiating for himself only but rather on behalf of his nation/religion. Therefore any Jews who rents or sells an apartment or land to a non-Jew in a place where Jews live, such as an apartment building, a single house where there is a Jewish neighbor, a city, or agricultural zone, is abetting the persecution of his fellow Jews who remain there. And then he is guilty of the serious crimes of handing over a Jew to the enemy, persecuting an innocent person, and treason.
This deed, in addition to harming the Jews who live in the place, also undermines the sovereignty of the Jewish people in their homeland.
  1. It is a special mitzvah to redeem the lands of the holy Land as stated in the Netziv, Levit. 25:24. And this mitzvah sometimes even takes precedence over observing the Sabbath (as explained by the Vilna Gaon on the Shulhan Aruch, Hoshenmishpat 194:a).
  1. Regarding the sale/lease of land to a non-Jew, one must consult the following attached sources, some of which we have appended for convenience (explanations have been added in the parentheses).

A) The Rambam's opinion is that since [today] we do not allow him [= a non-Jew] to live in the land with the status of a ger toshav [a non-Jew who has formally renounced idolatry], his living in the land is not permitted even if in practice he observes the Seven Noachide Laws; if he has not specifically accepted them in recognition of the G-d of Israel, we do not know how strictly these non-Jews keep them and we are not expert in their customs. But the Ravad says that if he observes the Seven Noachide Commandments, he is worthy of being allowed to live in the Land, except that due to the difficulty involved, we have been absolved of the obligation to accept him and to sustain him among us, lest everyone come en masse to Israel to live. In any case, there is no prohibition against their living here, because there is no concern that they might cause others to sin, etc… Even the Ravad does not allow non-Jews to reside in Israel unless he accepts the G-d of Israel and the fact that the people of Israel were commanded to observe 613 commandments and the non-Jews were commanded to observe seven. If, however, they hold false religious beliefs to which they are committed, even if these do not include actual idolatry, and even if they observe the Seven Noachide commandments out of natural integrity - since it is not proper to accept them as a ger toshav they are included in the prohibition of "not allowing them a foothold in the land" and "not allowing them to reside in the land", because of the concern that they will lead others into iniquitous behavior with their idolatrous beliefs (this leads, among other ills, to mixed marriages).

B) From the words of Rabbi Isaac Halevi Herzog (Huka l’Yisrael: Sidrei Shilton Umishpat, Mossad Harav Kook, 5749, pp. 15-16), we learn: “But if this (i. e. accepting Moslems as residents and allowing them a foothold in the land) poses any danger of dispossessing the people of Israel from its land.. therefore, every Jew who sells land to a non-Jew, and even to a Moslem Arab, is undermining the foundations of our possession of the land of our forefathers and putting obstacles on the road to Redemption. And he shall be known as a traitor and a villain.

C) The laws quoted here were written outside of Israel and their stringencies must certainly be true in the Land of Israel. In Hoshen Mishpat III, 125: 40, 41. Anyone who sells or leases to a non-Jew is excommunicated until he accepts an obligation to compensate the neighbors for any damage caused by the non-Jew so that the non-Jew will commit himself to observe Jewish law in regard to what he is allowed to do on his property without infringing on his neighbors and if he acts in a way that is not permitted by Jewish Law and the neighbor is damaged by this, the Jew who sold him the land is made to pay. If the non-Jew inflicted such damage on his neighbors and the Jew has died, his children must pay. This is in a case where the land was sold to a non-Jew where he could have sold it at the same price to a Jew. But if the Jew offers less, the owner is allowed to sell it for more to the non-Jew.(This is only true outside of Israel. In Israel, he is not allowed to sell to the non-Jew in any case)

But even outside of Israel, if the non-Jew raises his payment considerably above the normal market price, it is forbidden to sell to him since his intention is to take over a place in a Jewish area. And these are his words: And when the non-Jew raises the price much more than is generally paid, the [Jewish owner] must still sell to a Jew at the proper price.

Therefore the Beis Din of the Sanhedrin strictly and absolutely forbids Jews to sell, lease, rent, or grant implied possession in any form to a non-Jew in the land of Israel at this time. The Jew who owns or leases the property is required to scrupulously guard the land so that it cannot be implied that he has ignored it or has transferred it to the control of non-Jews.
The rental of a property to a non-Jew, which brings danger to the Jewish community, is an act of treason against the Torah and the People of Israel. This is an act of behaving like an informer against one’s people, by handing over a national asset of the utmost importance to foreigners.
A Jewish person who hands over the possession of land to a non-Jew, from the day that this ruling is published, cannot serve as a leader of prayer in the synagogue, is not worthy of praying with a quorum, and should not be called up to the Torah.
The Beis Din is aware of unusual cases, such as renting rooms in hotels to tourists, or the threat of danger to individual Jews. In every such case, the Jew should consult an independent Beis Din and ask for a specific consideration of his case, in writing, in advance of whatever action he takes.

Marginal comment

The Beis Din finds it proper to relate to the main source of this problem, which is the failure to observe the first commandment in the Torah (Gen. 1:22) “Increase and multiply and fill the land”.., and as written in the prophet (Isa. 45:18) “God did not create the world to be a waste land; he formed it to be inhabited”. It is a positive commandment to have children. The Beis Din calls upon the children of a holy people to raise large families, to avoid postponing marriage and to marry as soon as possible.

Sanhedrin Spokesman
Rabbi Hillel Weiss

Sanhedrin Secretary
Rabbi Dov Meir Stein

Click here to see the Hebrew version


This ruling in the news