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What are the specifications of Dina Dimalchusah? A more targeted question to answer would be: If I ripped off the label of my mattress — the label that says its removal is punishable by federal law — am I also doing a sin? If so, why; if not, why not?

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Pedantic note: that tag doesn't apply to the consumer. –  yoel Sep 5 '11 at 22:58
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Really!!! that's great i find it so annoying .are you sure? –  simchastorah Sep 5 '11 at 23:16
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@simchashatorah, it says on it "not to be removed except by consumer" (IIRC; or words to that effect anyway). So while the entire tag does apply to the consumer, the "not to be removed" part doesn't, as it's immediately qualified by "except by consumer". –  msh210 Sep 6 '11 at 1:26
    
@msh210 thanks, that's what I intended to mean - you are much more clear. –  yoel Sep 6 '11 at 3:46
    
A later question is about dina d'malchusa dina as applied to financial laws. –  msh210 Jul 27 '12 at 19:28
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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

As stated, in the mattress example, that tag is there to prevent mattress manufacturers from putting all sorts of awful stuff in their mattresses and consumers not knowing. Once you've read the "ingredients label" and have bought the mattress, you can do whatever you want with it. (Well if you go to sell it to someone else it gets tricky ...) So rip away!

The Gemara's discussions of dina d'malchusa apply to paying your taxes (pay them).

Rabbi Aharon Soloveichik was of the opinion that dina d'malchusa means halacha absolutely requires you to come to a full stop at every stop sign, even at 3AM when there's no one anywhere in a mile radius.

Other authorities say it's limited to things vital to the state (such as taxes), or things significant enough that the state would actually punish someone for.

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so Jay walking in middle of he night when there is no cars is a doraisia according to those who say Dina dimalchusa is a Doraisia and putting the recycling in the wrong bag wow I have alot to do teshuvah for!! –  simchastorah Sep 6 '11 at 2:51
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I hate to do this too you Shalom dpo you have a SOURCE FOR REB AHRON Soloveichik IT WOULD BE REALLY HELPFUL –  simchastorah Sep 6 '11 at 2:53
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My (limited) understanding of the original use of the term is that legal actions carried out by the government are lawful. That is, if the government takes money from Reuven and gives it to Shimon, even if under Din Torah Shimon is not entitled to it, Shimon may keep/spend it, and it is not considered stolen. –  JXG Sep 6 '11 at 8:18
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@JXG, that's the example in Bava Kama. Another case is in Kilayim where it's talking about wearing extra clothes to smuggle them to avoid paying taxes on them; the Gemara objects that it would violate dina d'malchusa dina. –  Shalom Sep 6 '11 at 12:20
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I heard this from Rav Shmuel Eliyahu:

Dina D'malchuta Dina is limited to laws that are:

  1. Enforced in practice by the government,
  2. Apply equally to all citizens,
  3. and do not contradict Torah.

Even if a consumer of a mattress were forbidden by law to remove the label there would have to be some kind actual enforcement of that law to bring it under DDD (at least according to this opinion).

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To start, it is pretty settled that dina d'malchusa dina applies to paying taxes. According to the Ran's commentary to Nedarim 28a, "paying taxes is like paying rent, it is the cost you pay for living in that country." C.f. Ramah to Choson Mishpat 369:6. Rabbi Joseph Solovechik also held that one should not shop at a store where you know the owner does not pay taxes because you are being lifnei iver (assisting him to sin).

Unfortunately, there are many people, rabbis included, who hold that dina d'malchusa dina applies only to financial laws. That argument, more or less, coincides with the Mechaber who says that dina d’malchusa dina is limited to government interests.

The Rama disagrees and says that it applies to anything that is designed to promote the well being of society. According to Rabbi Eliyahu Fink, most poskim agree with this definition which includes but is not limited to, criminal law, minimum wage laws, environmental laws and child labor laws. My Rav, Rabbi Gedaliah Anemer, zt'l, held that secular laws designed to keep people safe -- e.g. traffic laws -- are especially important to observe. Crossing against the light, for example, was not only illegal under Jewish law by application of dina d'malchusa dina, Rabbi Anemer told me, but the act might be a hillul Hashem if observed by non-Jews as it appears to demonstrate Jewish contempt for the civil laws. That issue was especially personal for Rabbi Anemer who lost his brother, sister-in-law and their entire family in a car crash eruv Pesach in 1957.

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What you are citing as the opinion of the SA you're also citing as "[u]nfortunate[]". –  msh210 Dec 31 '12 at 17:21
    
I don't believe that the previous sources would necessarily limit the rule to taxes. –  Bruce James Dec 31 '12 at 17:34
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