Making and unmaking the boundaries of holy land

Menachem Lorberbaum*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


"The Land of Israel is Holier than all other Lands" (Mishnah Kelim 1:6) Introduction What kind of a good is territory? How do we reason about land? The concept of territory has a unique role to play in the manner in which we think about land issues. Ordinarily we speak of territory as if it were analogous to a private individual's real estate holding. People sell and purchase territory and people inherit the land of their ancestors. Upon closer examination, however, the analogy breaks down. Consider the case of inheritance. Rules of inheritance guide the intergenerational movement of accumulated wealth. The point of transition between the generations is determinable, and the relevant agents can be individuated. The death of a parent occasions inheritance by a child. Territory does not move in the same way between generations. The line demarcating a generation is not the line between an individual parent and child. Generations are marked off in hindsight, and the process is closer to a process of periodization in history. In fact, territory does not “move” at all. The role of the concept “territory” is to transcend generational difference. Like the concept of a people or a nation, territory is transgenerational and connotes continuity over time. Territory is a political concept; it cannot be privatized.Discussions of territorial boundaries usually relate to one of two sets of considerations. First, is a discussion of territory in terms of the geographical, topographical, or defensive integrity of a sovereign polity.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStates, Nations, and Borders
Subtitle of host publicationThe Ethics of Making Boundaries
EditorsAllen Buchanan, Margaret Moore
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9780511613937
ISBN (Print)0521819717, 9780521819718
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2003


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