1

Although the tribe of Levi does not have an ancestral portion within Eretz [Yisrael],1 the Jewish people were commanded to give them cities2 to dwell in3 and [additional] residential property.4 The cities include the six cities of refuge and 42 additional cities.5 When cities of refuge will be added in the era of Mashiach,6 all will be given to the Levites.

א

שֵׁבֶט לֵוִי אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין לָהֶם חֵלֶק בָּאָרֶץ כְּבָר נִצְטַוּוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל לִתֵּן לָהֶם עָרִים לָשֶׁבֶת וּמִגְרְשֵׁיהֶם. וְהֶעָרִים הֵם שֵׁשׁ עָרֵי מִקְלָט וַעֲלֵיהֶן שְׁתַּיִם וְאַרְבָּעִים עִיר. וּכְשֶׁמּוֹסִיפִין עָרֵי מִקְלָט אֲחֵרוֹת בִּימֵי הַמָּשִׁיחַ הַכּל לַלְוִיִּם:

2

[The obligation to give] the non-developed land around the cities is explicitly mentioned in the Torah as being [a radius of] three thousand cubits in every direction from the wall of the city outward, for [Numbers 35:4-5] states: "From the wall of the city onward, 1000 cubits on all sides" and continues: "You shall measure from the outside of the city 2000 cubits on the eastern side." The first thousand are left as [additional] residential property and the 2000 that are measured outside this residential property are for fields and vineyards.

ב

מִגְרְשֵׁי הֶעָרִים כְּבָר נִתְפָּרְשׁוּ בַּתּוֹרָה שֶׁהֵם שְׁלֹשֶׁת אֲלָפִים אַמָּה לְכָל רוּחַ מִקִּיר הָעִיר וְחוּצָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר לה ד) "מִקִּיר הָעִיר וָחוּצָה אֶלֶף אַמָּה סָבִיב". וּלְהַלָּן הוּא אוֹמֵר (במדבר לה ה) "וּמַדֹּתֶם מִחוּץ לָעִיר אֶת פְּאַת קֵדְמָה אַלְפַּיִם בָּאַמָּה" וְגוֹ'. אֶלֶף הָרִאשׁוֹנִים מִגְרַשׁ וְאַלְפַּיִם שֶׁמּוֹדְדִין חוּץ לַמִּגְרָשׁ לְשָׂדוֹת וּכְרָמִים:

3

Every city is given a cemetery outside these boundaries, for they do not bury their dead within their cities, as [implied by ibid.:3]: "The residential area will be for their animals, their property, and all their vital needs." [This land] was given "for their vital needs" and not for burial.7

ג

וְנוֹתְנִין לְכָל עִיר בֵּית הַקְּבָרוֹת חוּץ לִתְחוּם זֶה. שֶׁאֵין קוֹבְרִין מֵתֵיהֶם לִתְחוּם עָרֵיהֶם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר לה ג) "וּמִגְרְשֵׁיהֶם יִהְיוּ לִבְהֶמְתָּם וְלִרְכֻשָׁם וּלְכל חַיָּתָם" לְחַיִּים נִתְּנוּ וְלֹא לִקְבוּרָה:

4

In the cities of the Levites, the city itself should not be transformed into an outlying residential area and the outlying residential area should not made part of the city. This outlying residential area should not be converted to fields, nor should the fields be converted into such a residential area, as [Leviticus 25:34] states: "The fields of the residential area of their cities should not be sold."

ד

אֵין עוֹשִׂין בְּעָרֵי הַלְוִיִּם עִיר מִגְרָשׁ וְלֹא מִגְרָשׁ עִיר וְלֹא מִגְרָשׁ שָׂדֶה וְלֹא שָׂדֶה מִגְרָשׁ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה לד) "וּשְׂדֵה מִגְרַשׁ עָרֵיהֶם לֹא יִמָּכֵר":

5

According to the Oral Tradition,8 it was taught that the phrase "should not be sold" should be interpreted as "should not be changed."9 Instead, all of the three, field, a residential area, and a city should remain in its original circumstances forever.

Similarly, in the other cities of [Eretz] Yisrael, the outlying residential area should not be converted to fields, nor should the fields be converted into such a residential area. The city itself should not be transformed into an outlying residential area and the outlying residential area should not be made part of the city.

ה

ומִפִּי הַשְּׁמוּעָה לָמְדוּ שֶׁזֶּה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה לד) "לֹא יִמָּכֵר" לֹא יְשׁוּנֶה אֶלָּא הַשָּׂדֶה וְהַמִּגְרָשׁ וְהָעִיר כָּל אֶחָד מִשְּׁלָשְׁתָּן כְּמוֹת שֶׁהוּא לְעוֹלָם. וְכֵן בִּשְׁאָר עָרֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל:

6

A person should not destroy his home to make it into a garden, nor should he plant a garden in his ruin, lest one destroy Eretz Yisrael.10

ו

לֹא יִסְתֹּר אָדָם אֶת בֵּיתוֹ לַעֲשׂוֹתוֹ גִּנָּה וְלֹא יִטַּע חֻרְבָּתוֹ גִּנָּה שֶׁלֹּא יַחֲרִיבוּ אֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל:

7

The priests and the Levites who sold fields from the fields of their cities or homes from the homes in their walled cities do not redeem their property according to the procedures [explained above].11 Instead, they may sell their fields even directly before the Jubilee and redeem them immediately.12 If they consecrated a field, they may redeem it from the possession of the Temple treasury after the Jubilee.13 They may redeem houses in a walled city whenever they desire, even after several years,14 as [Leviticus 25:32] states: "The Levites will have eternal rights of redemption."

ז

כֹּהֲנִים וּלְוִיִּם שֶׁמָּכְרוּ שָׂדֶה מִשְּׂדֵה עָרֵיהֶם אוֹ בַּיִת מִבָּתֵּי עָרֵי חוֹמָה שֶׁלָּהֶן אֵין גּוֹאֲלִין כַּסֵּדֶר הַזֶּה. אֶלָּא מוֹכְרִין הַשָּׂדוֹת וַאֲפִלּוּ סָמוּךְ לַיּוֹבֵל וְגוֹאֲלִין מִיָּד. וְאִם הִקְדִּישׁוּ שָׂדֶה גּוֹאֲלִים מִיַּד הַהֶקְדֵּשׁ לְאַחַר הַיּוֹבֵל. וְגוֹאֲלִים בָּתֵּי עָרֵי חוֹמָה כָּל זְמַן שֶׁיִּרְצוּ אֲפִלּוּ אַחַר כַּמָּה שָׁנִים שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה לב) "גְּאֻלַּת עוֹלָם תִּהְיֶה לַלְוִיִּם":

8

When an Israelite inherits property from his maternal grandfather who was a Levi,15 although he is not a Levite, he may redeem [the property] as if he was a Levite. Since these cities or fields belong to the Levities, they may be redeemed forever. For this law is dependent on [the characteristics of] these places, not of the owners.16

ח

יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁיָּרַשׁ אֶת אֲבִי אִמּוֹ לֵוִי הֲרֵי זֶה גּוֹאֵל כִּלְוִיִּם אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינוֹ לֵוִי הוֹאִיל וְהֶעָרִים אוֹ הַשָּׂדוֹת שֶׁל לְוִיִּם גּוֹאֵל לְעוֹלָם. שֶׁדִּין זֶה תָּלוּי בִּמְקוֹמוֹת אֵלּוּ וְלֹא בַּבְּעָלִים:

9

When a Levite inherits the property of his maternal grandfather who is an Israelite,17 he does not have the redemption rights of a Levite, only those of an Israelite, for the verse "The Levites will have eternal rights of redemption" applies only in the cities of the Levites.

ט

וְלֵוִי שֶׁיָּרַשׁ אֶת אֲבִי אִמּוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל גּוֹאֵל כְּיִשְׂרָאֵל וְלֹא כִּלְוִיִּם שֶׁלֹּא נֶאֱמַר (ויקרא כה לב) "גְּאֻלַּת עוֹלָם תִּהְיֶה לַלְוִיִּם" אֶלָּא בְּעָרֵי הַלְוִיִּם:

10

The entire tribe of Levi are commanded against receiving an inheritance in the land of Canaan,18 and they were commanded against receiving a share in the spoil when the cities are conquered,19 as [Deuteronomy 10:9] states: "The priest and the Levites - the entire tribe of Levi - should not have a portion and an inheritance among Israel." "A portion" [refers to a portion] of the spoil; "an inheritance" refers to [a portion of] the land. And [Numbers 18:20]: "You20 shall not receive a heritage in their land, nor will you have a portion among them," i.e., in the spoil. If a Levite or a priest takes a portion of the spoil, he is punished by lashes.21 If he takes an inheritance in Eretz [Yisrael], it should be taken from his possession.22

י

כָּל שֵׁבֶט לֵוִי מֻזְהָרִין שֶׁלֹּא יִנְחֲלוּ בְּאֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן. וְכֵן הֵן מֻזְהָרִין שֶׁלֹּא יִטְּלוּ חֵלֶק בַּבִּזָּהּ בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁכּוֹבְשִׁין אֶת הֶעָרִים שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יח א) "לֹא יִהְיֶה לַכֹּהֲנִים הַלְוִיִּם כָּל שֵׁבֶט לֵוִי חֵלֶק וְנַחֲלָה עִם יִשְׂרָאֵל". חֵלֶק בַּבִּזָּה וְנַחֲלָה בָּאָרֶץ. וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר (במדבר יח כ) "בְּאַרְצָם לֹא תִנְחָל וְחֵלֶק לֹא יִהְיֶה לְךָ בְּתוֹכָם" בַּבִּזָּה. וּבֶן לֵוִי אוֹ כֹּהֵן שֶׁנָּטַל חֵלֶק בַּבִּזָּה לוֹקֶה. וְאִם נָטַל נַחֲלָה בָּאָרֶץ מַעֲבִירִין אוֹתָהּ מִמֶּנּוּ:

11

It appears to me23 that the above applies only with regard to the land for which a covenant was established with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, their descendants inherited it and it was divided among them. If, however, other lands will be conquered by a king of Israel, the priests and the Levites have the same rights as the entire Jewish people.24

יא

יֵרָאֶה לִי שֶׁאֵין הַדְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים אֶלָּא בָּאָרֶץ שֶׁנִּכְרְתָה עָלֶיהָ בְּרִית לְאַבְרָהָם לְיִצְחָק וּלְיַעֲקֹב וִירָשׁוּהָ בְּנֵיהֶם וְנִתְחַלְּקָה לָהֶם. אֲבָל שְׁאָר כָּל הָאֲרָצוֹת שֶׁכּוֹבֵשׁ מֶלֶךְ מִמַּלְכֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הֲרֵי הַכֹּהֲנִים וְהַלְוִיִּם בְּאוֹתָן הָאֲרָצוֹת וּבְבִזָּתָן כְּכָל יִשְׂרָאֵל:

12

Why did the Levites not receive a portion in the inheritance of Eretz Yisrael and in the spoils of war like their brethren? Because they were set aside to serve God and minister unto Him and to instruct people at large in His just paths and righteous judgments, as [Deuteronomy 33:10] states:25 "They will teach Your judgments to Jacob and Your Torah to Israel." Therefore they were set apart from the ways of the world. They do not wage war like the remainder of the Jewish people, nor do they receive an inheritance, nor do they acquire for themselves through their physical power. Instead, they are God's legion, as [ibid.:11]: states: "God has blessed His legion" and He provides for them, as [Numbers 18:20] states: "I am your portion and your inheritance."26

יב

וְלָמָּה לֹא זָכָה לֵוִי בְּנַחֲלַת אֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל וּבְבִזָּתָהּ עִם אֶחָיו מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהֻבְדַּל לַעֲבֹד אֶת ה' לְשָׁרְתוֹ וּלְהוֹרוֹת דְּרָכָיו הַיְשָׁרִים וּמִשְׁפָּטָיו הַצַּדִּיקִים לָרַבִּים שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים לג י) "יוֹרוּ מִשְׁפָּטֶיךָ לְיַעֲקֹב וְתוֹרָתְךָ לְיִשְׂרָאֵל". לְפִיכָךְ הֻבְדְּלוּ מִדַּרְכֵי הָעוֹלָם לֹא עוֹרְכִין מִלְחָמָה כִּשְׁאָר יִשְׂרָאֵל וְלֹא נוֹחֲלִין וְלֹא זוֹכִין לְעַצְמָן בְּכֹחַ גּוּפָן. אֶלָּא הֵם חֵיל הַשֵּׁם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים לג יא) "בָּרֵךְ ה' חֵילוֹ". וְהוּא בָּרוּךְ הוּא זוֹכֶה לָהֶם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר יח כ) "אֲנִי חֶלְקְךָ וְנַחֲלָתְךָ":

13

Not only the tribe of Levi, but any one of the inhabitants of the world27whose spirit generously motivates him and he understands with his wisdom to set himself aside and stand before God to serve Him and minister to Him and to know God, proceeding justly as God made him, removing from his neck the yoke of the many reckonings which people seek, he is sanctified as holy of holies.28 God will be His portion and heritage forever and will provide what is sufficient for him in this world like He provides for the priests and the Levites.29 And thus David declared [Psalms 16:5]: "God is the lot of my portion; You are my cup, You support my lot."

Blessed be the Merciful One who provides assistance.

יג

וְלֹא שֵׁבֶט לֵוִי בִּלְבַד אֶלָּא כָּל אִישׁ וְאִישׁ מִכָּל בָּאֵי הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר נָדְבָה רוּחוֹ אוֹתוֹ וֶהֱבִינוֹ מַדָּעוֹ לְהִבָּדֵל לַעֲמֹד לִפְנֵי ה' לְשָׁרְתוֹ וּלְעָבְדוֹ לְדֵעָה אֶת ה' וְהָלַךְ יָשָׁר כְּמוֹ שֶׁעֲשָׂהוּ הָאֱלֹהִים וּפָרַק מֵעַל צַוָּארוֹ עַל הַחֶשְׁבּוֹנוֹת הָרַבִּים אֲשֶׁר בִּקְּשׁוּ בְּנֵי הָאָדָם הֲרֵי זֶה נִתְקַדֵּשׁ קֹדֶשׁ קָדָשִׁים וְיִהְיֶה ה' חֶלְקוֹ וְנַחֲלָתוֹ לְעוֹלָם וּלְעוֹלְמֵי עוֹלָמִים וְיִזְכֶּה לוֹ בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה דָּבָר הַמַּסְפִּיק לוֹ כְּמוֹ שֶׁזָּכָה לַכֹּהֲנִים לַלְוִיִּם. הֲרֵי דָּוִד עָלָיו הַשָּׁלוֹם אוֹמֵר (תהילים טז ה) "ה' מְנָת חֶלְקִי וְכוֹסִי אַתָּה תּוֹמִיךְ גּוֹרָלִי":