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The Status of Jerusalem When Moshiach Comes

There was a time when it was forbidden to purchase a permanent home in Jerusalem.  Will this be the case when Moshiach comes?

To provide a little background, there are a number of laws surrounding the Jubilee year, the fiftieth in an established cycle.  One of those laws is that in unwalled cities in the Land of Israel, any purchase of a house is temporary.  In the Jubilee year, the house returns to its original owner.  In a walled city, houses can be sold permanently.  An exception to this rule is Jerusalem; although it is surrounded by a wall, one may not buy or sell a house permanently.

When Moshiach comes, the laws of Jubilee and inheritance will be reinstated.  There is dispute, however, over the status of Jerusalem.  Jerusalem is the only city in Israel that was never included in the original partition of land amongst the tribes, and is not part of the inheritance of any tribe.  Therefore, no one has permanent ownership over any property in Jerusalem, and has no right to transfer that ownership to anyone else.

In the future, Rabbi Meir Halevi rules in his book “Yad Ramah,” the city will be divided amongst the twelve tribes.  The Metzudat David commentary writes:  “All tribes will have an equal share in the city.”  If so, Jerusalem will have the same rule as a walled city, in which property can be bought and sold permanently.

Opposing this view is Don Yitzchak Abarbanel, in his commentary to the book of Jeremiah:  “Jerusalem will not be assigned to any particular tribe, but will be sanctified to G-d alone.  As explained in Ezekiel, Jerusalem will be a consecration to G-d from the land.”  He holds that Jerusalem will not be divided amongst the tribes, and the past rule will still apply to it.

(Sources:  Ezekiel 45:1-6, commentary of Radak.  Ibid 48:31, commentary of Metzudat David.  Yuma 12:1.  Baba Kama 82:2.  Chidushei Rabbi Meir Halevi, Baba Basra 122:1.  Abarbanel on Jeremiah 31:37 .  Malbim, ibid.  Yemos Hamoshiach B’halacha, p. 187)


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