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Daily manna from the Torah by Dr Ketriel Blad

BeHar 32-5

On the mount

Leviticus 25: 29-38

If it is not redeemed before a full year has passed, the house in the walled city shall belong permanently to the buyer and his descendants. It is not to be returned in the Jubilee.

Lev. 25:30 NIV

What does the Torah say about private property?

The Torah has many rules that defend the right to private property. One of the seven commandments given to Noach and his sons was not to steal. To steal is to seize something that belongs to the neighbour. If there was no right to private property, that commandment wouldn't exist. If everything belonged to everyone there would be no legislation against theft.

The one who steals from the neighbour is rebelling against the principle of management authorities established by the Eternal. By infringing upon the area of responsibility of others we are being disrespectful to the Eternal. The one who grabs something without permission is offending the Creator who gave the robbed person the authority to have that thing.

Even though the verb "to have" doesn't exist in Hebrew – which indicates that everything belongs to the Eternal and men are only administrators of the Creator's goods – there is a word for possession, mainly in relation to land but also to other things. It is the word achuzah אחזה, possession, property of the land – and it appears several times in this context. It comes from the root achaz אחז – which means to grab, to hold, to seize.

This text shows that land assigned to a person doesn't belong only to that person but that it passes along to his descendants forever.

May the Eternal help us to always respect others' private property.


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