Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Land Theft I

By Rabbi Daniel Travis

And there was a quarrel between the herdsmen of Avram and the herdsmen of Lot. (Bereshith 13:7)

Lotís unscrupulous herdsmen grazed their cattle in fields that belonged to Avraham. They claimed that since Avraham had no heir, his nephew Lot would inherit the land, and therefore their appropriation of his pastures did not constitute robbery.(1) If relationships among all the herdsmen had been peaceful until now, what initiated this quarreling between the herdsman of Avraham and those of Lot?

Before this time there had been a war in the area and in times of war the fields are considered ownerless. Thus, these same actions of Lotís herdsmen had not previously been considered theft. Now that peace reigned in the region, however, they had no right to allow their animals to graze on land that was not theirs, so Avrahamís herdsmen protested.(2)

Based on the claim made by Lotís herdsmen that the land actually belonged to Lot, it appears that their intention was to take possession not only of the produce of the land, but also of the land itself. Yet property is not an object that can be picked up and carted away, so how is it possible to steal it? Our Sages tell us that if one uses land for oneís own purposes, although one has not actually acquired the property, it is considered an act of theft.(3) It is accepted as halachah(4), for example, that moving oneís fence even a hairsbreadth into another personís property is an act of theft. One who does this in the land of Israel has violated an additional prohibition of hasagath gvul (border manipulation).(5)


1. Rashi on Bereshith 13:7.
2. Maharil Diskin on Bereshith 13:7.
3. Responsa Choshen HaEphod 2.
4. Rambam, Laws of Theft 7:11; Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 376.
5. Devarim 19:14.


Text Copyright © 2006 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org


 

ARTICLES ON TERUMAH:

View Complete List

Build a "Cottage" for Hashem
Shlomo Katz - 5758

Saving Face
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5768

Of Givers and Takers
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5762

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

The Ultimate Elevated-Offering
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5767

The Divine Expectation
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5762

Community Funds for Golden Vessels
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5766

> Doing What We Must
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5762

Give and Take
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5763

The Power of Unity
Rabbi Yosef Kalatsky - 5763

Looking for a Chavrusah?

The Perfect Giver
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5771

A Love Based on Nothing
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5756

Are We Men, Or Are We Angels
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5758

ArtScroll

Invest in Yourself
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5758

Inspiration Needs To Be Translated Into Physical Action
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5766

A Real Place of Holiness
Rabbi Label Lam - 5765

The Meaning of the Mishkan
Shlomo Katz - 5766



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information