The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Dei’ah 151) rules that, included in the prohibition of lo s’chaneim is lo sitein lahem chanayah b’karka – do not provide for them (non-Jews) a residence on your Land (Eretz Yisrael).

Rav Betazalel Zolty once posed the following query to the Chazon Ish: What about trading land with a non-Jew – does this fall under the prohibition as well, or is the prohibition limited to a case in which the Jew receives no land in return? The Chazon Ish replied unequivocally that this, too, is prohibited, stating that one may not exchange land for money or for other land with a non-Jew, and furthermore, one may not sell land even to a Jew, if that Jew is to be suspected of later selling it to a non-Jew. Rav Zolty further quotes the Chazon Ish as adding that while redeeming land from a non-Jew’s hands is a mitzvah, it is not to be done at the expense of the aveirah of switching.

Rav Shneur Zalman of Lublin, author of Toras Chesed, on the other hand, ruled leniently, arguing that had the Torah used the expression “lo simkor” – do not sell – one might assume that just as selling is prohibited, so too switching is prohibited. However, “lo s’chaneim” means do not give them (residence), implying that switching would be permissible.

The Minchas Chinuch raises a related question. Is a limited-term sale included in the prohibition of lo s’chaneim? The Rambam does rule that a limited-term sale constitutes a halachically valid sale. The question here is whether the “sale” alone creates the transgression, or would a permanent sale be required? The answer to this question hinges on our understanding of the prohibition, which can be formulated in one of two ways:

The prohibition of lo s’chaneim is essentially one of selling the land to a non-Jew. Since, as pointed out earlier, a limited-term sale constitutes a halachically valid sale, it would be prohibited.

The prohibition of lo s’chaneim is to afford them residence, and a temporary sale would be permissible.

This, in fact, is the subject of a dispute among the Tana’im in Maseches Avodah Zarah:

Rav Meir holds that just as selling is prohibited, so too renting is prohibited. Rav Yosi, on the other hand, maintains that renting property to a non-Jew in Eretz Yisrael is permissible. It seems that this dispute is based on the same reasoning. Rav Meir would hold that it is the sale itself that is prohibited, while Rav Yosi holds that giving them permanent residence is prohibited, and renting would be permissible.

This consideration, perhaps, would also shed light on the question posed to the Chazon Ish. May one trade one piece of property for another with a non-Jew? If the prohibition is the sale per se, then since chalipin constitutes a valid sale, and the fact that the non-Jew already has property in Eretz Yisrael would be irrelevant. However, if the prohibition involves providing them residence, in the case where the non-Jew already has residence, it should be permissible.

By Chaim Fuhrer