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PALESTINE, LAWS AND CUSTOMS RELATING TO:

Special laws, operative only in the Holy Land, are called "miẓwot ha-teluyot ba-areẓ," and may be classified as follows: (1) Laws that were in force at the time of the Temple ("bi-zeman habayit") and in connection with the Temple service. These relate to: the paschal lamb at the Passover festival; the bringing of the first-fruits to Jerusalem; the pilgrimage three times a year; the test applied to the wife suspected of faithlessness ("soṭah"); all the sacrifices, and the priestly Levitical services. (2) Laws in connection with Jewish civil and military government, as those relating to the king, to covenants with foreign countries, to taking the census, and to military affairs. (3) Laws concerning the products of the land: the heave-offering for the priests; the tithes to the Levites; the poor man's right to the gleanings, the forgotten sheaf, and the unreaped grain in the corners of the field; the use of young trees (prohibited during the first three years); the mixing of different kinds of vegetables (kil'ayim); the Sabbatical year. (4) Health laws: the quarantine regulations; the defilement and purification of persons, dwellings, and garments, and their examination by a qualified priest. (5) Laws connected with the functions of the Sanhedrin in the Jewish state: the ordination ("semikah"); the sanctification of the new moon, and the arrangement of the calendar; the laws of the jubilee, and the blowing of the shofar on Yom Kippur to announce the jubilee; the laws of Jewish servants; the right to sell a thief should he fail to make restitution for his theft; the regulations for the cities of refuge; corporal punishments and fines (capital punishment ceased seventy years prior to the destruction of the Second Temple, owing to the encroachments of the Roman rule, which began to assert its influence in Judea).

Rabbinical Distinctions.

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

Those of the laws of Palestine that were extended after the Exile were originally enacted for the purpose of protecting the judicial administration and economic interests of Palestine, and with a view to encourage settlement there. Hence the semikah was still left in the hands of the Palestinian judiciary, with power to inflict the penalties of stripes and fines, and to announce the day of the new moon on the evidence of witnesses. 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 Palestine and the rest of the world as to the observance of the second day of holy days (see Conflict of Laws).

Furthermore, in Palestine during Purim the scroll of Esther was read on the 15th of Adar as had been done in Shushan (Esth. ix. 18, 19), instead of on the 14th, as was the practise in the walled towns that remained from the time of Joshua (Meg. i. 1, 2b).If a Gentile living in Palestine 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 (Gerim iv.; Yeb. 46b). Similarly, a divorce signed by witnesses in Palestine 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" (Giṭ. i. 1).

Agricultural Restrictions.

As economic measures for Palestine, 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 (B. B. 90b, 91a). Another ordinance was directed against the raising of small stock, as sheep and goats, in Palestine, except in woods or barren territory, in order to preserve the cultivated lands from injury (B. Ḳ. 49b).

To secure an adequate supply of servants in Palestine, the Mosaic law providing for the freedom of a servant who had fled from his master (Deut. xxiii. 15) was made applicable to a servant escaping from other lands to Palestine, but not to a servant escaping from Palestine (Git. 43a; 'Ar. 49b).

For the benefit of settlers it was decreed that the owner of a town in Palestine 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 Palestine may have the contract drawn up on Sabbath to facilitate and bind the bargain, though such a proceeding is prohibited in other lands (B. Ḳ. 80a, b). Residence in Palestine is regarded as becoming immediately permanent. For example: A rented dwelling outside the Holy Land need not have a mezuzah during the first thirty days, as the tenancy is considered temporary for the first month; but in Palestine the posting of the mezuzah is immediately obligatory (Men. 44a).

Settlement in Palestine.

The regulation of migration to and from Palestine had in view the object of maintaining the settlement of the Holy Land. One must not emigrate from Palestine 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 (B. B. 91a). A husband may compel his wife, under pain of divorce, to go with him and settle in Palestine, but he can not compel her to accompany him to another country. The wife has the same right to remove to Palestine, and she may demand a divorce if her husband refuses to follow her (Shulḥan 'Aruk, Eben ha-'Ezer, 75, 4).

Besides these legal variations there were many differences, especially in the early periods, between Jewish practises in Palestine and in 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:

  • (1) The fast-day after Purim in memory of the persecution of the Jews in Alexandria by the Greek general Nicanor prior to his defeat by the Maccabeans was observed in Palestine only (Soferim xvii. 4).
  • (2) The cycle of the Pentateuch reading, which in Palestine was completed in three or three and one-half years, was elsewhere completed in one year, on Simḥat Torah.
Minhagim.
  • (3) In Palestine one of the congregation was honored in being permitted to take the scroll from the Ark, and another was similarly honored in being permitted to return it to its place ("hoẓa'ah" and "haknasah"): elsewhere it was considered an honor only to restore the scroll to the Ark.
  • (4) In Palestine the "kohanim" who blessed the people covered their heads with the ṭallit: elsewhere they did not.
  • (5) In Palestine the ḥazzan and reader faced the Ark: elsewhere they faced the congregation.
  • (6) In Palestine seven persons constituted "minyan" for ḳaddish and barakut: elsewhere no less than ten persons were required.
  • (7) In Palestine the Sabbath was announced every Friday afternoon by three blasts on the shofar: this was not done elsewhere.
  • (8) In Palestine no one touched money on the Sabbath: elsewhere one might even carry money on that day.
  • (9) In Palestine the nuptial ceremony was distinguished by the sanctification of the ring given by the groom to the bride. In Babylon the ring "was not in sight" (this phrase is ambiguous, and some interpret it as meaning that the presentation of the ring occurred not in public at the synagogue, but in private [see "Sha'are Ẓedeḳ," responsum No. 12]).
  • (10) In Palestine the law that a widow should not be permitted to marry within twenty-four months after her husband's death if when he died she had a suckling babe, for fear she might commit infanticide, was enforced even if the child died within that period; in Babylon she was permitted to marry within that time if the child died.
  • (11) In Palestine mourning was observed for any infant: in Babylon, not unless it was older than thirty days.
  • (12) In Palestine a pupil was permitted to greet his teacher with "Peace to thee, master": in Babylon, only when the pupil was first recognized by his teacher.

Another difference between the Palestinian and the Babylonian school 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, the Palestinians did not believe in the apprehension of danger from the occurrence of even numbers, known as "zugot" (Pes. 100b).

Bibliography:
  • Estori Farḥi. Ḳaftor wa-Feraḥ, ch. x.:
  • Israel Shklov, Pe'at ha-Shulḥan, Safed, 1837;
  • Zizling, Yalḳuṭ Ereẓ Yisrael, Wilna, 1890;
  • Müller, in Ha-Shaḥar, vols. vii. and viii.
E. C. J. D. E.
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