Abiding by Civilian Law

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In general, there is a halachic principle called dina di-malkuta dina, which means that Halacha demands obedience to the laws made by civil authorities. However, it's important to note that this principle is limited and is discussed at length by the modern day Rabbinic authorities.


  1. The Gemara says Dina D'Malchusa Dina ("the law of the land is the law").[1]
    1. Some explain this is a social contract.[2]
    2. Others explain that the land belongs to the king.[3]
    3. Others explain that the king has dominion over all property in the country.[4]
  2. Dina d'malchuta dina applies to democracies such as the United States.[5]
  3. There is a discussion as to which laws one is obligated to follow the dina d'malchusa:
    1. Some say that dina d'malchusa dina only applies to laws related directly to the land (i.e. real estate).[6]
    2. Some say that dina d'malchusa dina applies to all financial matters[7]
    3. Some say that dina d'malchusa dina applies to government legislation, but not to rulings of the secular court. [8]
    4. Some say that dina d'malchusa dina applies to government legislation and rulings of the secular court whenever they are for the benefit of society, but personal matters are not under the jurisdiction of dina d'malchusa.[9]
  4. Some say that it doesn't apply to Israel.[10]
  5. Dina D'malchuta is ineffective in causing an Asmachta to be binding.[11]
  6. Dina Dmalchuta generally doesn't apply when there is an interaction between two Jews. However, if it is a very reasonable law for the benefit of society it is binding.[12]

Stealing from the Government

  1. see Stealing from the government

See Also

Secular Court


  1. Baba Kama 113a, Nedarim 28a, Gittin 10b, Bava Basra 54b. The principle of dina di'alchusa dina is accepted as the halacha (Ritva Nedarim 28a says that there's no opinion in the Gemara that argues with it). Rambam Hilchot Gezelot 5:11 and Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 369:6 codify this principle as halacha regarding the taxes of the government. Shulchan Aruch C.M. 104:2 quotes this with regards to paying debts. Most assume this is a binding from the Torah (Rashi Gittin 9b s.v. “chutz,” Meiri Nedarim 28a, and Vilna Gaon Choshen Mishpat 369, 34). However, Beis Shmuel (Choshen Mishpat, 28:3) says dina d'malchusa is Rabbinic in nature
  2. Rambam Hilchot Gezelah Vaveidah 5:18 and Rashbam Baba Batra 54b s.v. "Viahamar Shmuel" writes that the taxes and laws of the king are binding because the people accept it upon themselves. The Terumas HaDeshen 341 notes that this is true even if you voted against this government. Legislation is part of the way government runs and by living in the country, you establish that you accept its laws. Avnei Nezer YD 312:12 elaborates on this idea and explains that it is based on the phrase על ממלכתו הוא ובניו בקרב ישראל (Devarim 17:20) that the authority of a king derives from the consent of his people. An expression of how dina dmalchuta is based on the people is that the people of that country accept to use the coins of that king, and the Rambam says this shows their acceptance of the king. (Gra CM 369:9).
  3. Ran Nedarim 28a s.v. "Bamoches" says because the land belongs to the king, he can make the laws, and if you don't abide he can kick you out of his land. Shitah Mekubetzes Nedarim 28a explains that this is just like all property owners who can insist on standards on their property. Chatom Sofer 1:44 writes that the Ran is only referring to taxes that are against the will of the people, but laws related to custom and manners even the Ran agrees that these are binding because the people agree to the king's dominion. Rav Yakov Arieli extends the Chatom Sofer to any taxes that is for the benefit of the people such as money spent on highways and bridges.
  4. Rabbenu Yona (Aliyot of Rabbenu Yona Baba Batra 54b s.v. "Umi Amar") says this works like hefker beit din hefker, that the king has dominion over all property. Mabit (Kiryat Sefer Gezela 5), Meiri (Nedarim 28a) and the Vilna Gaon (Choshen Mishpat 369, 34) say that this is derived from the laws of a king derived from Sefer Shmuel Alef Perek 8.
  5. Halachos of Other People's Money pg. 34. see note 71 where he quotes from Rav Yosef Eliyahu Henkin (Writings of Rav Yosef Eliyahu Henkin 96:8), Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Maadanei Eretz 20:8), Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igrot Moshe CM 2:62), Shevet Halevi 2:58
  6. Re'em brought in Beis Yosef C.M. 369
  7. Ra’aviah brought in Beis Yosef C.M. 369
  8. Sema 369:21 trying to resolve a contradiction between Rama C.M. 369:8 where he says dina d'malchusa applies across the board and 369:11 where he limits it to things which are beneficial for the king or for the good of the people, but not about going to secular court (as this would abolish Jewish law)
  9. Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe C.M. 2:62) quotes the Sema's explanation and disagrees
  10. Ran Nedarim 28a s.v. Bamoches writes that Dina Dmalchuta is based on the fact that the king owns the land and everyone has to abide by his law. However, in Israel where Hashem gave the land to the Jewish people, there is no Dina Dmalchuta. This is quoted in Darkei Moshe CM 369:3 and Gra 369:35. Emek Hamishpat 1:31:18 writes that in his opinion we follow the Ran.
  11. Emek Hamishpat 1:31:18 citing Maharsham in Mishpat Shalom 207:15
  12. Even Shoham 111:5 applies the following sources to explain why copyright laws are halachically binding. Shach 356:10 writes that a local practice is binding for two Jews because it is understood that the contract was made with such assumptions. Kesot 259:3 writes that for a proper practice it is binding upon Jews to go beyond the law. Chatom Sofer CM 44 adds that any law for the benefits of the industry workers is binding.