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Is everything in outer space hefker? For example if a private person lands on the moon or an asteroid can he be koneh it? Do you retain the rights to something that you send into space?

  • 1
    Do you mean land or chattel or both? – Double AA Nov 6 '12 at 17:04
  • 1
    Shamyaim belongs to Hashem and aretz belongs to us. – sam Nov 6 '12 at 19:36
  • 5
    @sam pretty sure the aretz belongs to him too ;) – user1668 Nov 6 '12 at 20:01
  • What about bamidbar? Isn't that a similar case? – Charles Koppelman Nov 6 '12 at 20:38
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    Why would think you could not be koneh on it? – Ariel Nov 6 '12 at 23:35
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First you have to differentiate between Reshut HaRabim and Hefker.

Nobody can do a Kinyan on Reshut haRabim; it belongs to everybody unless the "king" or local equivalent decides otherwise. (Unless you cause damage; it belongs to you insofar as you are responsible for restitution.)

When a tract of land is Hefker you can do a Kinyan - appropriate to land like digging in it - but only that piece of land you dug up is yours. Unless it's fenced in, but then it's probably not Hefker. Fencing in a tract of land may be a Kinyan.

(Based on my reading Tur and Shulchan Aruch Choshen HaMishpat these past few months. How to do Kinyan on an heirless Ger's estate comes to mind.)

So the question really becomes: do things in outer space have the status of Hefker or Reshut haRabim.

As was pointed out, you may not be able to claim ownership of the sea floor, as it probably is Reshut haRabim by common agreement. Once out of territorial waters, ships seem to have a "free route" and nobody would want to change that.

So, do we (sensible earthlings) want outer space to be Hefker or Reshut haRabim?

0

You couldn't do it halachically anyway. Treaties signed by the major nations declare space as the common heritage of mankind, with ownership of any portion of celestial body by any nation explicitly forbidden. Most opinion articles seem to believe this also extends to private ownership, that the goods created by any private party must be equally shared among all the people of Earth, rich and poor nations alike.

If you are a citizen of a country who is signatory to these treaties, then as a Jew you must obey that treaty, since that is the law of your land. Therefore, sanctification of ownership in this instance should be meaningless.

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    What if you renounce your citizenship and move to Mars? – Double AA Nov 29 '13 at 7:29
  • Laws and international agreements can change or get interpreted away. If private extraterrestrial property ever becomes physically practical, I strongly suspect that corporations and nations will find ways to make it legal. – Isaac Moses Nov 29 '13 at 8:29
  • @Double AA, not that easy. Most countries will consider you a subject under their laws even if you renounce citizenship. It's called citizenship by blood rather than citizenship by law. If you reached Mars as a stateless person the US would still consider you to be a citizen by blood, and therefore still a subject to their laws for the purpose of the treaty, – Aule Nov 29 '13 at 10:11
  • @Isaac Moses. It won't happen. The treaties practical result is to keep us grounded and completely remove all possible private incentive. Believe me, no company would want to be the one to lose their shirt to enable all other companies from benefiting from our gains. The laws are stagnating our ability to travel and settle space. – Aule Nov 29 '13 at 10:14
  • @aule so what about the rest of the countries of the world? – Double AA Nov 29 '13 at 14:24
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To answer this question you have to understand the idea of the property on Earth. All monetary matters are subject to social approvement, in other words, "דינא דמלכותא דינא".

So imagine you find an iceberg in Iceland and you'd like to privatize it - is it Halachicly yours? The only way to answer this is to ask others - It makes no sense of having a property with no humans around, think about that.

So there is no difference in boundaries for that social approval - you might claim you own 5 square miles on Uranus, but as long as there's no existing agreement about Uranus, your claim is meaningless.

  • The application of Dina d’Malchusa was already discussed here; what more are you adding? – DonielF Mar 21 at 14:03
  • @DonielF I don't see it mentioned at all. People don't understand the very dependence of the Halachic status of the property on the approval of society. So itis crucial to link between the two. – Al Berko Mar 21 at 14:07
  • “If you are a citizen of a country who is signatory to these treaties, then as a Jew you must obey that treaty, since that is the law of your land.” What more would you like? – DonielF Mar 21 at 14:10
  • @DonielF "you must obey that treaty" acc to the civil law but Halachicly? This says nothing about the Halacha. – Al Berko Mar 21 at 14:21
  • What is the literal translation of Dina d'Malchusa? He doesn't say "If you are a citizen of such a country, you must obey that treaty," but rather "as a Jew you must obey that treaty." If anything, this sounds like it should be a comment on that post asking for clarification rather than a standalone answer. – DonielF Mar 21 at 14:24

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