In the first Mishna of Bava Basra, it says Makom she Nahagu Livnot Gvil Gazit Cafisin Levinin ... Bonin Ha Kol Ke Minhag Hamedina. A place where it's customary to build Gvil Gazit Cafisin Levinin we force them to build it all according to the custom of the land.

Does that mean if the custom of Brooklyn New York for example is to build walls out of wood we would force the two people to build the wall out of wood?

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    The point is to follow the local practice, so why not?
    – Shalom
    Commented May 12 at 20:27
  • How do you know that the custom to build the wall is according to any material of the custom of the city and doesn’t just only apply to a case where the custom is to build only with the material of Gvil or Gazit or Kafissin or Lavinin?
    – David
    Commented May 12 at 21:14
  • 1
    @David - הכל כמנהג המדינה - עיין הרע'ב שם.
    – Vector
    Commented May 12 at 23:02
  • @Shalom - Why not? Because the OP asks about forcing two people, which is problematic in numerous ways.
    – Vector
    Commented May 13 at 20:16

1 Answer 1


we would force the two people to build the wall out of wood

If you mean does הכל כמנהג המדינה apply only to the four materials listed in the mishnah, the answer is decidely no. "HARAV" on the משנה (probably based on a Gemara or Tosefta - didn't have a chance to research now) there explains that הכל comes to include also places where they build with palm branches or grape vines. So if the material of choice in Brooklyn is wood, the ruling would also apply to wood. הכל כמנהג המדינה is a general statement.

If you mean do we force people to comply with הכל כמנהג המדינה, I believe there is a misunderstanding in the question. The משנה does not mean that בית דין intervenes on its own to force people to build according to מנהג המדינה. Such משניות generally deal with a dispute between the two parties - דיני ממונות. If both agree and no one else is impacted, the relevant parties can do as they please. הכל מנהג המדינה means that if there is disagreement among two parties, one wanting מנהג המדינה, the other not, the one wanting מנהג המדינה prevails.

In the event of a dispute, in the USA, you cannot force (Jew or non-Jew) through a דין תורה based on מנהג המדינה, unless both agree to go to בית דין to judge that dispute according to that בית דין. Then, since you have both at that point signed a binding agreement that said בית דין can arbitrate the dispute, you can 'force' your adversary, according to the remedies that בית דין recommends, should they find in your favor.

Otherwise, דנא דמלכותא דנא, and you must settle your dispute in civil court:

Ha-Kol Ke-Minhag Ha-Medinah

Crucially, the Talmud defers to minhag ha-medinah even when it diverges from the halakhah’s normal set of rules. For instance, according to Jewish law, the workday begins at sunrise and concludes at nightfall: If you hired a worker and specified that the work hours are defined by din Torah (lit. “Torah law”), the workday would commence at sunrise and conclude at nightfall.[10] Similarly, if you were to hire a worker in a city with no prevailing custom, and you didn’t specify the work hours, the agreement is filled in by din Torah, and the worker is obligated to work from sunrise to nightfall.

Yet the presence of workplace norms overrides the default din Torah. According to the Mishnah, if you hire a worker in a town with established workplace norms (e.g., a nine to five workday), the unspecified content of the employment agreement is filled out by workplace norms, not by the workday defined by din Torah. In other words, the commercial minhag overrides the internal provisions of choshen mishpat.

Nowhere, at any time, could you simply wave a משניות at someone and demand that they comply with what a משנה says.

See Alternative Dispute Resolution in the Courts, What Sorts of Issues Can Be Resolved in Religious Arbitration? and numerous other places for more details.

  • 1
    I think the question is this (which you seem to have been answering in your comment on the question): do we force (i.e. allow one side to compel another, when we have jurisdiction) to build with any material, or only the four materials listed in the mishnah?
    – b a
    Commented May 13 at 20:55
  • @ba - It never occurred to me that could possibly be the question הכל כמנהג המדינה -עיין הרע'ב שם . But I see now that the OP had made the comment to which I responded above. LOL I edited my answer now to accommodate your likely possibility.
    – Vector
    Commented May 13 at 22:22

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