In halacha, is it considered “stealing” for a nation to colonize another piece of land if that piece of land doesn’t have a system of property rights. For example, the Americans colonizing the indigenous people of North America and their tribes who didn’t have a system of property rights. Obviously you have to take into account all the murder, rape etc. but other than that was there something halachically or hashkafically problematic with annexing the land? This question is in the context for gentile nations, not about the ethics of the Jewish nation.

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    The Torah is replete with records of nations conquering nations. The Torah is also replete with statements from Hashem that He is the one causing this to happen. There is no real criticism of these nations for doing this. Would be interesting to see if this has been discussed though
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Nov 14, 2023 at 9:30
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    The Talmud refers explicitly to the ability of nations to acquire land through warfare, so post-facto there's certainly no issue in living on conquered land. Even regarding the permissibility of the original war, it would seem to be permitted. As @RabbiKaii said, the fact that there are many examples from the Torah of nations fighting nations (and Jews conquering other lands outside Eretz Yisrael) with no clear criticism implies that it's legitimate. Ultimately though, it's not desirable, as can be seen from the famous prophecy about beating swords into ploughshares (Yeshaya 2)
    – AKA
    Nov 14, 2023 at 21:32
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    I'll check it out later, but I'm pretty sure there's a Ramban regarding [Amalek's attack which states that the Amalekite attitude was particularly heinous because they were not motivated by] the five acceptable reasons for going to war Nov 16, 2023 at 5:15
  • The question can possibly be rephrased: Does a tribe that does not have the notion of kinyan karka said to be in possession of their native lands? If so, I would say that is a disingenuous question.
    – The GRAPKE
    Nov 16, 2023 at 7:37

1 Answer 1


I gather from the excellent comments above, that it is proper and morally right, for a nation to colonize another people and land if it will bring them to the knowledge of the True Tzaddik or if the Tzaddik and his name will be aggrandized.

Because this is the opposite of Amalek, whose entire war and purpose is only to hide the name of the True Tzadik, as Rashi explains, "And he tailed you" - Ex.25:18 ויזנב בך -- He would take mediocre people and make them Leaders and big shots, because his entire war is to hide the name of Moshe-Mashiach. He is content for you to follow this rav or this Sadiq as long as it's not the Rosh Bayit, the Sadiq haDor the Tzaddik of the era. This is Likutei Moharan II:66-67 iirc plus numerous places in Likutei Halakhot. R's Nathan reminds us like R' Nachman said however, only the student, only the Joshua can fight for his master's name, a prisoner can't free himself.

As long as ancient Yisrael honored Moshe Rabbeinu they did right in their conquests and were successful and if not not.

The people of Rashbi were under too much Roman brutality to do anything. But wasn't Rashbi a superb general?🤔

The Arizal's people were too busy with his dank Torah to care about colonizing.

The Besht colonized the east, and Rabbi Nachman had his followers and one time made a secret trip into a city where Jews were not allowed to stay overnight. He stayed there, no one knows how, and then Jews were allowed after that, so he "colonized" it. Plus his big trip to Zaslov, Brod and Lemberg, Rabbi Nathan in Chayey Moharan says no one knows the purpose or what he accomplished on that trip, but I'd say there was definitely some kind of colonization to his name and purposes. Many of his Sefarim were printed in Lemberg or is it Lviv.

Saba colonized Eretz Yisrael look every where you go you see his name on every rock, house, head and automobile. His followers colonized it.

Edit: אֲשֶׁר קָרְךָ בַּדֶּרֶךְ, וַיְזַנֵּב בְּךָ כָּל-הַנֶּחֱשָׁלִים אַחֲרֶיךָ--וְאַתָּה, עָיֵף וְיָגֵעַ; וְלֹא יָרֵא, אֱלֹהִים.

Deut. 25:18 How he cooled thee by the way and made you mediocre, by character assassinating the head, Moshe, and raising the hindmost of thee to positions of authority and false pride, all those weak meagre wannabees in thy rear, making you faint and weary; having no fear of God whatsoever.

Source: Rashi there and Sifrei Breslev


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