Thursday, 18 July 2019

Arachin 32: Walled Cities and Their Sanctification

In yesterday's daf (Arachin 31) we learned about laws specific to the sale of a home within a walled city.  Such a sale could be reversed within twelve months.  The rabbis disagreed about whether or not the monetary exchange might be the same as interest, which is forbidden by Torah law, or not - because this was a sale and not a loan, thus interest is not an applicable concept.

We learn from a Mishna in today's daf about the arei choma, walled cities, of Ha'Aretz.  They included cities walled from the days of Joshua, including Tzippori, Gush Chalav, Yodfat, Chadid, Ono, and Yerushalayim.  

A baraita tells us that Rabbi Yishmael b'Rabbi Yosei believes that these cities were counted because they were identified by those who returned to Ha'Aretz from their exiles at the beginning of the second Temple period and resanctified.  The land had to be resanctified because the original sanctification was not intended to last into the future.  If Ezra sanctified the cities after the fall of the First Temple, then they were considered to be walled cities with their own special laws.  Those laws include the sale of a home, as mentioned earlier, and the need for a metzora, one with a skin condition called leprosy, to leave the city completely.

The Rambam rules that the holiness of these cities was removed when the Second Temple was destroyed, and they still require resanctification when the Third Temple is built.  Kedushat Yerushalayim, the holiness of Jerusalem, however, is different.  It will never end because it stems from the presence of G-d..