BH There's a couple of slightly related questions

How do you handle possible Shabbat issues when receiving a jury summons?

Is trying to get out of jury duty permitted halachically?

Regarding secular court in halacha, but none touch on this special question

There's a halacha, recorded in the Gemara and Rambam, that a "Zakayn Mamray", rebellious elder, is only liable if he makes a ruling that contradicts the beis din hahadol in a way that could lead to a punishment of kares


"A "rebellious elder" is not liable for execution unless he is a sage, erudite enough to issue halachic judgments who has received semichah from the Sanhedrin and who differs with that court with regard to a matter whose willful violation is punishable by kerait and whose inadvertent violation requires a sin offering"

When it later explains the details of the case, it says an example where the Zakayn Mamray makes a false ruling in a monetary case, which results as the money being taken from One litigant to the other, by the court, as being "stolen" money, and if one later uses that money to engage/marry a woman, she is not halachically married, and thus it could lead to a prohibition of kares:


"if they differed with regard to a matter of financial law or with regard to the number of judges able to adjudicate matters of financial law, he is liable. For according to the opinion which maintains that the defendant is liable to the plaintiff, everything which he expropriated from him was expropriated according to law and according to the decisions of the court. But according to the opposing view, whatever he expropriated is stolen property. If he uses it to consecrate a woman, she is not consecrated. And yet according to the opinion that the person expropriated his own property, the consecration is valid. If another person engages in relations with her willfully, he is liable for kerait and if he engages in relations with her inadvertently, he is liable to bring a sin offering. Thus their difference of opinion led to a matter whose willful violation is punishable by kerait and whose inadvertent violation requires a sin offering"

The question now, which I have not seen addressed anywhere I could find, is regarding secular courts

If one were to say that really all secular courts should be trying laws in accordance with the 7 laws of Noach only, and if it could be proven that they currently are not doing so, does that mean that all money they take away from one litigant and give to the other is stolen, and all jurors would thus be partially liable for stealing? If so would there then be other reprocussions about anyone, Jewish or not, attending secular jury duty (again IF it would be shown that the current system is not in accordance with the 7 laws of Noach)?

  • If the litigants are gentiles, then it’s only a question of gezel akum. In a case of a court ruling in favor of a Jew vs non Jew the Gemara Bavaria Kama 113A indicates it’s a question of chillul Hashem which is not an issue in this case. Therefore there should be no problem. If the litigants are Jewish then there’s probably a much bigger issue to deal with
    – Chatzkel
    Commented Jun 3, 2022 at 3:13
  • @Chatzkel gezel akum is absolutely forbidden, and if a non Jew does it he would be executed according to the 7 laws of Noach, and even though a Jew isn't, but it's still forbidden completely to steal from idolators Commented Jun 3, 2022 at 3:25
  • That’s absolutely true. But relevant to the question you asked, where the gezel is being done through a court decision, the Gemara says it’s only an issue of chillul Hashem which in your particular case is not a concern.
    – Chatzkel
    Commented Jun 3, 2022 at 12:06

1 Answer 1


One of the 7 laws is dayanim -- having a system of laws and courts. There's not a lot specified about that because there's a lot of leeway in how that can look.

R' Wosner, for instance, rules that because non-Jews are required to have some sort of system of laws and justice, Jews have to abide by (and enable) that, using dina demalchusa dina. And we see a very wide range of things that are still included in dina demalchusa dina. (A tax that is consistently, officially 10% higher on Jews than non-Jews, for instance, is still considered legitimate, and monies raised by that tax are not considered stolen property.)

Sforno connects Parshas Mishpatim to the last of the ten commandments -- we were just told not to covet "anything belonging to your fellow" ... now we need civil halacha to tell us "what belongs to them?" I'd extrapolate that to non-Jews as well: whatever halfway-reasonable system of civil laws that they enact determines who rightly owns what (and thus an obligation not to steal it).

  • The law is to have "having a system of laws and courts. " That are in accordance with the other 7 laws of Noach, are based upon the knowledge of One G-d, do not have any female judges etc, is there any limit to how bad it can get, or is literally anything considered valid? Even if both litigants are Jews? "whatever halfway-reasonable system" how is that determined? What about zero reasonable system? Commented Jun 3, 2022 at 20:14
  • 1
    @YitzchakL show me where it says Noachides can't have female judges. As for "reasonableness", R' Wozner's approach is elegant: Jews' obligation to abide by the local laws (dina demalchusa dina) flows from their obligation to have laws. At which point you open a Rambam Hilchos Gezeila and find that a very wide swath is considered "reasonable." A self-imposed Roman tax collector who took what he wanted is a "thief", but a defined tax code enforced consistently is the "law", and property ownership determined accordingly. That's straight out of Bava Kamma.
    – Shalom
    Commented Jun 7, 2022 at 2:19
  • The fact that a Noachide is not considered "righteous" unless he abides by these laws because the God of the Torah said so does not mean that civil laws set up by non-Jews for the sake of their own sense of fairness are non-binding. Otherwise why would Shmuel be saying in the Gemara that if fair, consistent, professional Roman tax collectors take your cow as taxes and then hand you a sheep as a refund, that sheep is 100% legitimately yours to keep? Clearly their system of laws/taxes was not on the lofty level of Noachide theology that we'd like in an ideal world.
    – Shalom
    Commented Jun 7, 2022 at 2:22
  • The best proof is that a system that taxes Jews more than non-Jews is considered fair enough that we'd abide by their decisions and not consider refunded property to be theft. That's black-on-white in the Yad. Clearly the people making such a system aren't ideal Noachides ... And yes, WE shouldn't take a civil case to a secular court system -- but we don't expect them to discriminate against us and therefore refuse to hear a case brought to them.
    – Shalom
    Commented Jun 7, 2022 at 2:40
  • 1
    When Rav Moshe Feinstein lived under the early years of the Soviet Union, he maintained that the state was making grave mistakes ... but it retained legitimacy and dina demalchusa dina. Hard to find a greater proof than that.
    – Shalom
    Commented Jun 7, 2022 at 3:05

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