Why the call not to sell land to non-Jews in Safed?

Without entering the fray, this essay seeks to provide the Jewish legal background for a more informed discussion.

By SHLOMO BRODY
November 19, 2010 12:18
4 minute read.
Zvieli and Eliahu's shared balcony

Safed balcony. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

The recent statements of a few prominent rabbis and politicians have drawn heated responses, with some denouncing them as undemocratic and racist, while others defend them as bold and patriotic. Without entering the fray, this essay seeks to provide the Jewish legal background for a more informed discussion.

When enjoining the Israelites to uproot the seven nations residing in the Promised Land, God declared, “You must doom them to destruction: Grant them no terms and give them no quarter [lo tehanem]” (Deuteronomy 7:2). While the last clause clearly forbids mercy on the inhabitants during war (Hilchot Avoda Zara 10:1), the sages understood this prohibition to further proscribe offering general accolades, free gifts and territorial hold within the Land of Israel (Avoda Zara 20a).

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