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Landlords in Israel Add ‘Messiah Clause’ to Contracts

Many Jerusalem residents believe not only that the Messiah will return, but that his arrival is imminent--so imminent they have taken legal precautions to ensure they can return to Jerusalem immediately upon his return.

In apartment contracts around the city, there are clauses stipulating what will happen to the apartment if or when the Jewish Messiah comes. Using something called a “Messiah Clause,” the contracts stipulate that, in the event of the coming of the Moshiach, or Jewish redeemer, the lease “may be immediately terminated at the will of the landlord.” The owners, generally religious Jews living abroad, are concerned that he will arrive, build a third temple, and turn Israel into paradise--and they will be stuck waiting for their apartment tenants' contracts to run out before they can move back.

It is prophesied in the Jewish scriptures that there will be no more war, murder, or theft, the Jerusalem Temple will be rebuilt, and all the Jews will return to the land of Israel upon his arrival.

There is no count of how many leases in Jerusalem contain such a clause. But although not standard, the Messiah clause is requested enough that every Jerusalem property manager and real estate lawyer contacted by reporters had heard of it, and all except one had dealt with it firsthand.

The fact is, with only biblical prophecy and the conjecture of religious leaders upon which to rely for sketches of the next world, the level of zeal surrounding the associated legal and spiritual preparations is astonishing. Perhaps it’s all a safety net, just in case the scriptural forecast ends up being correct, but what a statement of faith, nonetheless.

The opinion among the property managers and real estate lawyers was unanimous that their clients would know the Messiah when they saw him. Sarah Eiferman, a real estate agent said, “When he comes, we’ll know. It’s in the Old Testament.”

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