Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

The Ran in Nedarim (28a) states:

enter image description here

"The Law of Dina Demalchusa only applies to a non Jewish King, for the land is entirely his, and he can say if you do not follow my edicts I will banish you from the land. However, a Jewish king cannot say this, because all of the Jewish People have a partnership in the Land."

My question is: Is, according to the Ran, Shevet Levi included in Dina Demalchusa Dina, because they were not included in the Nachala of E'Y? Does the fact they they have the 48 Levite Cities count for having a "partnership in the land"?

share|improve this question
I hope you don't mind if I use this question as a springboard to rant about how I believe this Ran is often misunderstood... – Matt Feb 9 '15 at 16:32
@Matt i dont mind per se' but your tangent is not helpful given the question at hand. – Mefaresh Feb 10 '15 at 11:21
funny... if I undelete my first answer which didn't really answer but was upvoted 3 times, I'd get (half) the bounty by default... – Matt Feb 16 '15 at 21:58
up vote 1 down vote accepted

The Leviim are just as much owners of the land as any other tribe. The cities of the Leviim were apportioned to them by lottery in the same way as the rest of the land (see Malbim Yehoshua 21:2) and they were complete owners. However, you may be right in thinking that their ownership might be different in this regard. The Gemara tells us that ארץ ישראל מוחזקת היא מאבותנו and a firstborn got double portion from the land (see Bava Basra 119b). Thus, one could say that initially the land was the property of the entire nation, but God removed the ownership rights of the Leviim until after the division of the land. Thus, the Leviim were not among 'original partners' in the land like the rest of the nation, and might be considered like citizens of other countries, whose king allows them to live there.

However, when the Ran (as well as his source, Shut Baalei HaTosfos no. 12), says that a king cannot force laws upon Jewish citizens of Israel, his actual reasoning is because the king doesn't own the land and therefore cannot evict his subjects and has nothing to do with partnership. This is (I believe) clear from context. Therefore, when the Ran says that 'all of Yisrael are partners in the land', he doesn't mean that they are literally partners, or that a 'partnership' is a necessary part of being excluded from a king's edicts. He just means to say that it is not owned by the king. (In Yeshiva-speak: "I'm saying that the Ran is lav davka, and it's clear from the context that he's lav davka").

Furthermore, even if the initial 'partnership' was necessary for the Jews to be exempt from governmental edicts, that's only because their ownership (as partners) preceded that of a kings. This is equally true of the Leviim as well, because despite not having an actual ownership in the land (במוחזק) the people of Israel - king included - are obligated to give up some land for the Leviim (like a tithe, see Malbim Yehoshua 13:33). Thus, the king has no right to evict the Leviim any more than a Jew from another tribe.

share|improve this answer

I would suggest a different understanding of the word 'partnership'. The Chochmas Shlomo writes in his gloss on Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat siman 369 "a king who rules the entire world is not applicable the laws of dinei dimalchusa, for how can he say that he doesn't want to live in his land, all the lands are his! Should he fly in the air?" We find that the need to listen to king is based on the fact that a person chooses to live in the kings land. By living there he is accepting the king's laws. Seemingly living under a tyrant who doesn't allow one to leave would also be a ptur from these dinim. Also when the King of Kings 'gives' you a land to live in, the king of flesh and blood can no longer say 'my way or the highway'. This should apply to leviim and kohanim too.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.