Home Subscribe Services Support Us
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Land Theft II

By Rabbi Daniel Travis

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

The previous essay discussed the issues of an outright act of stealing land and border manipulation. A subtler act of land theft is taking a shortcut through a private estate. The halachoth of such a shortcut depend on the circumstances surrounding its formation.

If the property owner originally consented to allow the path to traverse his land, then he has forfeited his rights to it. If at some point he were to take it back, refusing to let people use it, he would be committing an act of theft (1). The owner does not have the right to replace this path with another one on the side of his property. Nevertheless, if he does offer an alternate path, the public has the right to use the new path, while retaining the right to use the original path (2). Even if people forgo their right to use the original path, it still belongs to them (3).

If the owner of the land was not consulted when people began using a section of his land for a shortcut, even if he never contested the creation of the path, he retains the right to protest its use at any time. Thus, if at first he did not need the land and only later decided that he needs it, or if the number of people using the path has increased to the point that it is disturbing him, then he has the right to prevent people from traveling through his property. According to this halachah, if the hallway or stairwell of a building has become a shortcut for public use, the building’s residents retain the right to protest (4).

1. Mordechai, Bava Metzia 506; Rema, Choshen Mishpat 377.
2. Bava Bathra 99b; Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 377. The Maharshal adds that nowadays this halachah would be subject to the law of the country in which the question arose.
3. Bava Kama 28a.
4. Mishpatei HaTorah 2:69.

Text Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and



View Complete List

The Dawn of a New Adventure
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5760

This Time
Rabbi Label Lam - 5767

One Man
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5766

Looking for a Chavrusah?

The Nature of Human Behavior
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5773

From Dust To G-dliness
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5764

Great Expectations
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5770

> Reality Check
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5763

A Final Solution
Rabbi Label Lam - 5760

From the Beginning, Again
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5760

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

The Oldest Lesson in History
Rabbi Label Lam - 5763

Two Halves of a Whole
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5761

Between Light and Darkness
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5758


Nobody Ever Promised We'd Understand
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5762

In the Image of G-d
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5760

Rabbi Frand on Parshas Bereshis
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5770

All Beginnings Are Hard
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5770

Project Genesis Home

Torah Portion

Jewish Law



Learn the Basics




Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base


About Us

Contact Us

Free Book on Geulah! Home Copyright Information