Unclaimed Territory

Antarctica Territorial Claims

Exodus: Yitro

Unclaimed Territory

Antarctica is perhaps one of the strangest territorial disputes in modern times. There are no native people. It is one of the most hostile environments on Earth. It does not have resources worth the effort of exploitation. Yet half-a-dozen countries, all separated by frigid oceans from that frozen land, have competing claims to parts of the continent.

Curiously enough, there are still huge unclaimed areas. The nations of the world (a number of which already have claims) have agreed not to allow further claims as well as not to do anything beyond scientific research on that glacial desert.

Our forefathers found themselves in a different desert: the desert of Sinai. It was also unclaimed territory. Rabbi Hizkiyahu ben Manoach (Hizkuni) explains that its being unclaimed is a critical aspect for the place where God would present The Law to the Jewish nation.

According to Hizkuni, the Torah was specifically given in a land that belongs to no one, so that everyone could have equal access to the event. One did not need a passport or to declare a certain nationality to enter the desert of Sinai and claim the Torah for oneself. It is open and free for the taking for all comers.

Hizkuni implies that this situation is meant to be eternal. The Torah is ready and waiting for anyone who wants to take her. No one has an exclusive claim to it nor is prevented from acquiring it.

May we each claim our portion in the Torah and share it broadly.

Shabbat Shalom,



To Rabbi Dovid Ostroff and the rabbinic and administrative staff of Pirchei Shoshanim, that have organized a unique semicha (rabbinic ordination) program. And to my fellow now-Rabbis on their accomplishment. Mazal Tov!

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