Thursday, May 26, 2022

Rabbis and Taxes

Nedarim (62b) Rava said: It is permitted for a Torah scholar to say: I will not pay the head tax [karga], as it is written that the king of Persia wrote to Ezra, with regard to the priests, the Levites, and others who worked in the Temple: “It shall not be lawful to impose minda, belo, and halakh upon them” (Ezra 7:24). And Rabbi Yehuda said: Minda; this is the king’s portion. Belo; this is the money of the head tax. And halakh; this is arnona, a levy on people and their animals to perform physical labor in the service of the ruling authority. Since a Torah scholar is considered equivalent to a priest, as he is also dedicated to a sacred task, this exemption applies to him as well.

And Rava said further: It is permitted for a Torah scholar to say: I am a servant of the priests of fire worship and therefore I will not pay the head tax. Rava maintains that a scholar may issue a statement of this kind in a place where the priests of fire-worshippers are exempt from the head tax, because he actually is declaring himself a servant of God, who is referred to as “a devouring fire” (Deuteronomy 4:24). What is the reason that he is allowed to make this statement? He is saying it merely in order to chase a lion away from him, i.e., to avoid suffering a loss.

The Gemara relates that Rav Ashi had a particular forest, and he sold it for its wood to the temple of fire worship. Ravina said to Rav Ashi: Isn’t there the prohibition: “You shall not put a stumbling block before the blind” (Leviticus 19:14), which prohibits assisting others in committing transgressions? And yet you are providing assistance to an idolatrous cult. He said to him: Most of the wood they use is for kindling, not for their ritual service. Consequently, I need not be concerned that the particular wood that I have sold them will be used for idolatry.


  1. Kalonymus HaQatanMay 26, 2022 at 1:36 PM

    The Torah specifically states that the Leviim shall not own any land.
    Would the Rabbis of today who rely on the above, accept this, and surrender their properties?

  2. Kalonymus HaQatanMay 26, 2022 at 2:34 PM

    So we shouldn't lose money in order to be frum. Is that only for rabbis?

  3. Kalonymus HaQatanMay 26, 2022 at 5:47 PM

    Rava's statement is very interesting - it means , for example, a Rabbi can state he is a minister of the Church or New Testament - becasue the Synod is the Sanhedrin; because in Eruvin the rabbis say that the oral Law is like new grapes, and the Tanach is like old wine. If it pays off.

  4. Kalonymus HaQatanMay 27, 2022 at 1:23 AM

    "It is permitted for a Torah scholar to
    say: I am a servant of the priests of fire worship and therefore I will
    not pay the head tax."
    Therefore, it should be allowed to state that he is a Christian - since Christ is from greek for annointed, and we beleive in the Moshiach, it is one of the 13 principles of our religion! So why were people told it is assur to say they are goyim in order to save their lives?


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