Holy Land, Sacred Space: Land for Peace in the Jewish Tradition
Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller


Current opinion has it that trading land for peace is contrary to halachic thinking and can only be permitted on account of a consideration of pikuah nefesh (saving an endangered life). However, an analysis of the teachings of RamBam and RamBaN regarding kedushat ha'aretz (the sanctity of the land) demonstrates that there exists two distinct conceptual views-one mystical and essentialist and the other rational and instrumental-that define two fundamental attitudes toward the land, each of which lends support to a different political option.

We will study section of Nachmanides' commentary on Torah and of Mainonides' Mishneh Torah to illustrate their dichotomous positions. We will also demonstrate that there is intriguing relationship between classical Zionist theory and essentialist tradition and that Isaiah Leibowitz and David Hartman, not surprisingly, are outspoken representatives of the Maimonidean option.

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