Sunday, May 30, 2010

Dina dmalhusa - viiolating laws of the land

Dina Dmalchusa Dina, the law of the land, has become a much-talked about topic of late. For painfully obvious reasons, people have been doing much soul searching as to their responsibilities’ with respect to the government. There is much to be said about the practical aspects of illegal behavior; we are all painfully aware of the severe consequences of breaking the law, and the tremendous Chillul Hashem it may cause. Nevertheless, these issues will not be the focus of this presentation. This article will explore the Halachic ramifications of civil law.

Throughout our collective history, there has often been a true conflict between Halachah and civil law. During the Spanish Inquisition, one could not be both a good Spanish citizen and an observant Jew. Under communist rule, one could not be a good Russian comrade while retaining his belief in Hashem. Many of our ancestors literally sacrificed their lives to keep Halachah in the face of religious discrimination from fanatical governments. Clearly, our behavior is guided by Halachah, and if a civil government outlaws Judaism, we would reject such discriminatory laws, and continue to engage in Torah and Mitzvos. This may lead a person to conclude that a Frum Jew need not be concerned about civil law, and can act as they please as long as they are not caught.
What may add to this misperception is the fact that there is no mention throughout the torah of any prohibition against money laundering, check kiting, speeding, or similar types of behavior. If it is not outlawed by the Torah, what could possibly be wrong with such behaviors? If our sense of values and justice is derived from Halachah, which is silent on these matters, why should we consider such behaviors unethical? The following will present a (brief) synopsis of some relevant Halachos.
There is a well known but little understood concept of Dina Dmalchusa Dina, the law of the land is law. This concept is accepted without question by all Halachic opinions. It states a simple Halachic fact. Torah recognizes the right of a sovereign government to create laws for its citizens, and such laws are Halachicaly binding. Dina Dmalchusa is not a Mitzvah per say; one does not fulfill any particular positive commandment when obeying civil laws. Nor does one violate any prohibition when one violates a law. Rather, it is a simple statement of Halachic fact, that a government’s civil laws are Halachically binding on its citizens. [...]


  1. ...1 thing i noticed that those steal the govt (tax, misrad hadatot, etc) will soon steal from fellow jews...

  2. It's important to note that the Ran in Nedarim (28a or 22b) clearly paskens that Dina Dmalchusa Dina is inapplicable in Eretz Yisroel, as the halacha of dina dmalchusa dina stems from the fact that the Melech can expel his people from his land, but in Eretz Yisroel every Yid has a G-d given right to live there.

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  4. In countries where DDD does apply (i.e. outside Eretz Yisroel), some of the meforshim hold that it only applies to financial matters, i.e. governmental taxation is halachicly binding per DDD. But other issues - i.e. conflicts between 2 parties - are NOT included in DDD.

  5. it's "per se" (in itself) only ignorants write "per say".


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