Following the split chareidi vote on the bill in Knesset to save the Ulpana neighborhood homes in Beit El, Rav Yisrael Gellis on Wednesday, 16 Sivan 5772 told the following story.
Rav Gellis explained the story took place in the time of HaGaon HaRav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld ZT”L and he felt that from this event one may extrapolate what should have been done concerning the Ulpana homes.
There was a property in Meah Shearim that belonged to sheikh, a resident of Kfar Lifta located in the Jerusalem corridor. One day, a member of the old yishuv decided to purchase that property for a number of families. 100 people became involved in the effort to make the purchase of 170 dunams (42.5 acres) to construct homes for 100 families.
It was realized that the actual property was too small to accommodate the new area that was to be constructed for the families, so each night, a number of people went out and moved the border markers a bit to enlarge the property on the south and west sides.
The sheikh was not present in the area and he did not measure the property. Apparently he did not become aware of the nighttime activities, which in actuality resulted in the borders being moved into an adjoining plot of land.
One of the old yishuv residents was not comfortable with what was taking place and decided to approach R’ Sonnenfeld to ask if the gezeila of the property is permitted.
The Sonnenfeld responded that it was not gezeila, but “pediya” (redeeming). “We are not stealing land but rather redeeming land. We are paying the Arab because this is the galus and there is no alternative but in essence, it is not his land”. Therefore, the actions are permitted and that area has become known as Meah Shearim.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)