Following my previous question "measuring-levis-cities".

The tribe of Levi got hold of the Cities of Refugees. IIRC, they all received some real estate inside and outside the walls that they bequeathed to their children.

Halachicly speaking, how the holding of their real estate in those cities was so different from that of all other tribes in terms of monetary rights, like buying, selling, bequesting, etc, that the Torah called it "אין להם אחוזה בארץ" and therefore they need to live on donations?

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See the last Mishna in ערכין (and some earlier ones) that quote and explain explicit verses in the Torah, that the laws of selling and buying back holdings are different for Levi-property than for other holdings.

יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁיָּרַשׁ אֲבִי אִמּוֹ לֵוִי, אֵינוֹ גוֹאֵל כַּסֵּדֶר הַזֶּה. וְכֵן לֵוִי שֶׁיָּרַשׁ אֶת אֲבִי אִמּוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל, אֵינוֹ גוֹאֵל כַּסֵּדֶר הַזֶּה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה), כִּי בָתֵּי עָרֵי הַלְוִיִּם, עַד שֶׁיְהֵא לֵוִי וּבְעָרֵי הַלְוִיִּם, דִּבְרֵי רַבִּי. וַחֲכָמִים אוֹמְרִים, אֵין הַדְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים אֶלָּא בְעָרֵי הַלְוִיִּם. אֵין עוֹשִׂים שָׂדֶה מִגְרָשׁ וְלֹא מִגְרָשׁ שָׂדֶה, וְלֹא מִגְרָשׁ עִיר וְלֹא עִיר מִגְרָשׁ. אָמַר רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר, בַּמֶּה דְבָרִים אֲמוּרִים. בְּעָרֵי הַלְוִיִּם. אֲבָל בְּעָרֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, עוֹשִׂין שָׂדֶה מִגְרָשׁ וְלֹא מִגְרָשׁ שָׂדֶה, מִגְרָשׁ עִיר וְלֹא עִיר מִגְרָשׁ, כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יַחֲרִיבוּ אֶת עָרֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל. הַכֹּהֲנִים וְהַלְוִיִּם מוֹכְרִים לְעוֹלָם וְגוֹאֲלִים לְעוֹלָם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שם), גְּאֻלַּת עוֹלָם תִּהְיֶה לַלְוִיִּם:‏

If an Israelite inherited from his mother's father who was a Levite, he cannot redeem it according to the order prescribed here. Also if a Levite inherited from his mother's father who was an Israelite, he cannot redeem it according to the order prescribed here, As it says, “As for the houses of the cities of the Levites” (Leviticus 25:32) [this order does not apply] unless he is a Levite and in the cities of the Levites, the words of Rabbi. The sages say: these things apply to the cities of the Levites. One may not turn a field into pasture land, nor pasture land into a field, nor pasture land into a city, nor a city into pasture land. Rabbi Elazar said: When is this so? When it comes to the cities of the Levites, but when it comes to cities of Israelites one may turn a field into pasture land, pasture land into a field, pasture land into a city, but not a city into pasture land, in order that they should not destroy the cities of Israel. Priests and Levites may sell [a house] at any time and redeem it at any time, as it is said: “The Levites shall forever have the right of redemption” (Leviticus 25:32)

Vayikra 25:32-34 reads:

וְעָרֵי֙ הַלְוִיִּ֔ם בָּתֵּ֖י עָרֵ֣י אֲחֻזָּתָ֑ם גְּאֻלַּ֥ת עוֹלָ֖ם תִּהְיֶ֥ה לַלְוִיִּֽם׃‏

As for the cities of the Levites, the houses in the cities they hold—the Levites shall forever have the right of redemption.

וַאֲשֶׁ֤ר יִגְאַל֙ מִן־הַלְוִיִּ֔ם וְיָצָ֧א מִמְכַּר־בַּ֛יִת וְעִ֥יר אֲחֻזָּת֖וֹ בַּיֹּבֵ֑ל כִּ֣י בָתֵּ֞י עָרֵ֣י הַלְוִיִּ֗ם הִ֚וא אֲחֻזָּתָ֔ם בְּת֖וֹךְ בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃‏

Such property as may be redeemed from the Levites—houses sold in a city they hold—shall be released through the jubilee; for the houses in the cities of the Levites are their holding among the Israelites.

וּֽשְׂדֵ֛ה מִגְרַ֥שׁ עָרֵיהֶ֖ם לֹ֣א יִמָּכֵ֑ר כִּֽי־אֲחֻזַּ֥ת עוֹלָ֛ם ה֖וּא לָהֶֽם׃ ‏

But the unenclosed land about their cities cannot be sold, for that is their holding for all time.

  • Thank you, unfortunately, I never fully understood those lines. Can you please summarize the differences in plain English. – Al Berko Sep 15 at 11:47
  • @AlBerko - Try the Rambam in הלכות שמיטה ויובל י״ג 'who explains it in easier Hebrew. sefaria.org.il/… – Danny Schoemann Sep 15 at 12:14
  • That looks like very minor details, Leviim's hold of the cities was not so different to claim that they have no אחוזה בארץ, I think. Do you agree? – Al Berko Sep 15 at 12:17
  • 1
    @AlBerko - who defines "minor"? If you sell your land/house and forget or couldn't afford to buy it back in time, you won't consider this "minor". – Danny Schoemann Sep 15 at 12:21
  • I rephrased my question to focus on why, even considered those minor differences, it is not called נחלה - they sit on the land, they owned it, they bequested it - what else? – Al Berko Sep 16 at 18:13

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