Laws and customs of the Land of Israel in Judaism are those Jewish laws that apply only to the Land of Israel. These include the commandments dependent on the Land (Hebrew: מצוות התלויות בארץ; translit. Mitzvot Ha'teluyot Be'aretz), as well as various customs.


According to a standard view, 26 of the 613 mitzvot apply only in the Land of Israel.[1] Overall, the laws and customs may be classified as follows:

Priestly gifts

Poor man's gifts

Sanctity ascribed to the Land of Israel

Rabbinical distinctions

The Rabbis distinguish between those laws that must be upheld in the land and which are dependent upon the boundaries of the country at the time of the return of Jews from the Babylonian captivity (Hebrew: עולי בבל) (for a delineation of its border, see Mosaic of Rehob), as opposed to a set of different laws which apply to the country that extends beyond the one just named, and which was settled in its entirety by the people who departed Egypt in the days of Moses (Hebrew: עולי מצרים). The laws pertaining to the Seventh Year apply only to that territory formerly occupied by Jews who returned from the Babylonian captivity in the days of Ezra.

After the destruction of Jerusalem, all the special laws of the Land of Israel became obsolete according to a strict interpretation of Mosaic law. However, the Rabbis, desiring to maintain a distinction between the Land of Israel and the rest of the world, and for other reasons stated below, kept in force some of the special laws. These are recognized as "derabbanan" (by virtue of the Rabbis) in contradistinction to "de-Oraita" (by virtue of the Mosaic law).

Those of the laws of the Land of Israel that were extended after the Exile were originally enacted for the purpose of protecting the judicial administration and economic interests of the Land, and with a view to encourage settlement there. Hence semikhah was still left in the hands of the judiciary, with power to inflict the penalties of lashes and fines, and to announce the day of the new moon on the evidence of witnesses. (See Hebrew calendar.) But the power of the Sanhedrin was of short duration in consequence of incessant persecution, which drove the Talmudists to Babylon. The fixed calendar was then accepted everywhere, yet there still remained the difference between the Land of Israel and the rest of the world as to the observance of the second day of holidays.

If a gentile living in Israel claimed to have been converted to Judaism his claim was valid; but the same claim made by a gentile living abroad was accepted only when corroborated by witnesses.[5]

Similarly, a divorce signed by witnesses in Israel was valid on prima facie evidence; but such a writ abroad was not valid unless verified by the oral testimony of the signing witnesses before the rabbinate, that "it was written and signed in our presence".[6]

Agricultural restrictions

The Rabbis prohibited the exportation of provisions which are necessaries of life, such as fruits, wines, oils, and firewood, and ordered that these provisions should be sold directly to the consumer in order to save to the purchaser the middleman's profit.[7] Another ordinance was directed against the raising of small livestock (sheep and goats) except in woods or barren territory, in order to preserve the cultivated lands from injury.[8]

To secure an adequate supply of slaves,[citation needed] the Mosaic law providing for the freedom of a slave who had fled from his master (Deut. 23:15) was made applicable to a slave escaping from other lands, but not to a slave escaping from the land.[9]

Settlement in the Land of Israel

For the benefit of settlers it was decreed that the owner of a town in the Land must leave a public thoroughfare on all four sides of the town, and that a Jew about to purchase real property from a gentile in the Land of Israel may have the contract drawn up on Sabbath to facilitate and bind the bargain, though such a proceeding is prohibited in other lands.[10]

Residence in the Land of Israel is regarded as becoming immediately permanent. For example, a rented dwelling outside Israel need not have a mezuzah during the first thirty days, as the tenancy is considered temporary for the first month; but in Israel the posting of the mezuzah is immediately obligatory.[11]

The regulation of migration to and from Israel had in view the object of maintaining the settlement of the Land. One must not emigrate unless the necessaries of life reach the price of a "sela" (two common shekels) for a double se'ah-measure of wheat, and unless they are difficult to obtain even then.[12] A person may compel his or her spouse, under pain of divorce, to go with them and settle in Israel, which is not true for any other travel.[13]


Besides these legal variations there were many differences, especially in the early periods, between Jewish practices in Israel and Babylon (sometimes called "the East"). The differences are fifty in number according to one authority, and fifty-five according to another. The most important ones are as follows:

Another difference between the Jerusalem and the Babylonian schools was in the degrees of confidence shown in supernatural remedies and charms; these occur much less frequently in the Jerusalem Talmud than in the Babylonian. In particular, those in the Land of Israel did not believe in the apprehension of danger from the occurrence of even numbers, known as "zugot".[15]

See also


  1. ^ HaCohen, Yisrael Meir. The Concise Book of Mitzvoth: The Commandments which can be Observed Today, Trans., Charles Wengrov. Feldheim, 1990.
  2. ^ Kiara, S. (1987). Ezriel Hildesheimer (ed.). Sefer Halachot Gedolot (in Hebrew). Vol. 3. Jerusalem. pp. 396–397. OCLC 754744801., Hil. Orlah
  3. ^ Ishtori Haparchi (1999). Avraham Yosef Havatzelet (ed.). Sefer Kaftor Ve'ferah (in Hebrew). Vol. 3. Jerusalem: Bet ha-midrash la-halakhah ba-hityashvut. p. 232. OCLC 32307172.
  4. ^ a b "Leviticus Chapter 25". Bible.[clarification needed]
  5. ^ Gerim 4; Yevamot 46b
  6. ^ Gittin 1:1
  7. ^ Bava Batra 90b,91a
  8. ^ Bava Kamma 49b
  9. ^ Gittin 43a; Arachin 49b
  10. ^ Bava Kama 80a,b
  11. ^ Menachot 44a
  12. ^ Bava Batra 91a
  13. ^ Shulchan Aruch, Even Ha'ezer, 75, 4
  14. ^ Soferim 17:4
  15. ^ Pesachim 100b

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainEditorial Board Executive Committee & Judah David Eisenstein (1901–1906). "Palestine, Laws and Customs relating to". In Singer, Isidore; et al. (eds.). The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls.((cite encyclopedia)): CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link) Its bibliography: