Does being judged by non judaic religious law in a non judaic , pagan country considered to fall into the category of Shituff (Associating partners with God) . As jews belive that only God has the power to frame Laws and accepting or participating in the law system of pagan religious laws is like associating partners to God in lawmaking?


My question is faithfully answered but still i am not convinced that it does not fall in Shituff. Since i guess idol worship is just concrete version of Shituff as it can be manifested in many ways and not just Idol worship

e.g following laws setup by a Hindu pseudo god sounds more Shituff blasphemous then actually worshiping the Hindu pseudo god.

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    There was a long-standing prohibition against having one's case heard (voluntarily) in a non-Jewish court, but it has nothing whatsoever to do with shituf, which is the prohibition of ascribing partnership to God.
    – Shimon bM
    Feb 9, 2013 at 6:55
  • thannks @ShimonbM , Shituff means associating partners to God , there are many ways of associating partners with God like : 1) worshiping other gods except the Lord of Moses 2) assigning the unique attributes of God to other creatures and many more , so by this categorization lawmaking is also an attribute of God and ascribing or following laws of a different creature\system also falls in Shituff. And you have answered my question , but do make a formal answer with relevant evidences from jewish texts
    – knowit
    Feb 9, 2013 at 14:14
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    Just to make sure, you're not asking about being judged by a secular court in a purely-secular manner (traffic ticket, bank robbery, etc), only a religious court? Feb 10, 2013 at 0:53
  • Ali, did you mean to ask whether a Jew may sue someone in a non-Jewish court? Or whether Jews consider any non-Jewish court to be Shittuf, regardless of whether Jews are involved?
    – HodofHod
    Feb 10, 2013 at 4:37
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    Ali, are you Jewish? What are you basing your ideas about Shittuf on?
    – Double AA
    Feb 10, 2013 at 6:21

1 Answer 1


Non-Jewish courts are referred to as arka'ot (ערכאות), although the precise etymology of this word is debated, and as agoriyot (אגוריות). There is a longstanding prohibition against having one's case heard in one, although nowhere does this prohibition have anything to do with shituf. The oldest source is the Talmud Bavli:

ר"ט אומר כל מקום שאתה מוצא אגוריאות של עובדי כוכבים אע"פ שדיניהם כדיני ישראל אי אתה רשאי להיזקק להם שנאמר ואלה המשפטים אשר תשים לפניהם לפניהם ולא לפני עובדי כוכבים דבר אחר לפניהם ולא לפני הדיוטות

Rabbi Tarfon says, "Any place that you find non-Jewish courts (agoriyot), even though their laws be the same as the laws of Israel, you are not allowed to resort to them, since it says "these are the laws that you shall set before them" (Exodus 21:1). Before them and not before non-Jews. Alternatively, before them and not before lay tribunals.

• Babylonian Talmud, Gittin 88b

This passage is quoted in the Sheiltot of R' Ahai Gaon (שאילתא ב', בראשית), although it adds the stipulation that this is even if the non-Jewish courts are operating in accordance with biblical law (אע"ג דקא דיינין דינא דאורייתא), and it gives the ruling in the name of Rabbi Meir instead of Rabbi Tarfon.

The same prohibition is to be found twice in Midrash Tanchuma: Mishpatim §3 (where it is presented anonymously) and §6 (where it is given in the name of Rabbi Shim'on, but in which it is otherwise identical to the passage in bGittin 88b). The first of those two instances is especially interesting, since it continues as follows:

שכל מי שמניח דייני ישראל והולך לפני אמות העולם כפר בהקדוש ברוך הוא תחלה ואחרי כן כפר בתורה

All who abandon Jewish judges and who present their case before non-Jews are guilty at first of denying God, then later of denying the Torah.

• Tanchuma, Mishpatim §3

The passage then continues with an allegory: a doctor visits one sick man, and tells him that he may eat and drink what he pleases. He visits another, and gives him a specific diet. When questioned by the second man's family, he tells them that the first man is going to die, so what he eats and drinks is of no consequence. Likewise, the laws of the nations are of nothingness, while the stipulations of Israel lead one to the paths of life. The passage concludes:

אמר הקדוש ברוך הוא לישראל אם עשיתם אתם את הדין ואין אתם מזדקקין לפני אמות העולם אבנה לכם בית המקדש וישבו בה סנהדרין

God tells Israel, "If you render judgments for yourselves and do not resort to non-Jewish courts, I will build a temple for you and the Sanhedrin will sit within it"

• Tanchuma, ibid.

If you consult the mediaeval mefarshim on Exodus 21:1, you will find the same ruling (quoted from the Tanchuma and from Gittin 88b) in the commentaries of both Rashi and Ramban. Rashi's wording is of particular interest:

לפניהם ולא לפני עובדי כוכבים ומזלות ואפילו ידעת בדין אחד שהם דנין אותו כדיני ישראל אל תביאהו בערכאות שלהם שהמביא דיני ישראל לפני עובדי כוכבים ומזלות מחלל את השם ומיקר את שם האלילים להשביחם

Before them, but not before non-Jews. And even if you know that they are operating with the same law that the Jews employ, do not bring him to their courts (arka'ot), for whoever brings Jewish cases before non-Jews desecrates the name of God, and elevates foreign gods with praise.

• Rashi, Exodus 21:1

As halakha, this ruling is to be found in the Rambam as follows:

כל הדן בדיני גוים ובערכאות שלהם אע"פ שהיו דיניהם כדיני ישראל הרי זה רשע וכאלו חרף והרים יד בתורת משה רבינו שנ' ואלה המשפטים אשר תשים לפניהם לפניהם ולא לפני גוים לפניהם ולא לפני הדיוטות

All those who try their cases in accordance with non-Jewish law or in non-Jewish courts (arka'ot), even if their laws are as the laws of Israel, is a wicked person and it is as though he insulted and struck the Torah of Moses, since it says "These are the laws that you should place before them". Before them, and not before non-Jews. Before them, and not before lay tribunals.

  • Rambam, Hilkhot Sanhedrin 26:7

Likewise, we find this ruling in the Tur and the Shulchan Arukh:

אסור לדון בפני דייני עכו"ם ובערכאות שלהם אפילו בדין שדנים כדיני ישראל ואפילו נתרצו ב' בעלי דינים לדון בפניהם אסור וכל הבא לידון בפניהם הרי זה רשע וכאלו חירף וגידף והרים יד בתורת מרע"ה

It is forbidden to reach judgment before non-Jewish judges, or in non-Jewish courts (arka'ot) - even in a matter that they judge like Jewish judges do. Even if both plaintiffs want to be judged by them, it is forbidden, and all who come to be judged before them are accounted wicked, and it is as though they insulted and cursed and struck the Torah of Moses.

  • Shulchan Arukh, Choshen Mishpat 26:1.

See the Rema (ibid.) for a situation in which you are allowed to use non-Jewish courts in order to place pressure upon one of the plaintiffs to desist, and see also the Rambam (ibid.) and the Tur/Shulchan Arukh (op.cit. 26:2) for situations in which non-Jewish courts can be used to place pressure upon Jewish plaintiffs who refuse to appear in a Jewish court.

See also Menachem Elon, Jewish Law: History, Sources, Principles (Vol. I; trans. B. Auerbach and M.J. Sykes; Jerusalem: JPS, 1994), 13-18. He brings various examples of edicts and responsa, permitting (under certain circumstances) the uses of non-Jewish courts to "decide on matters in which the general government had a special interest, such as real estate, the payment of promissory notes, government taxes, currency matters, and assault and battery" (op.cit. 17).

Not all Jewish authorities have accepted the use of such edicts, but amongst those who did are the Maharach (Rabbi Hayyim Eliezer ben Yitzhak, son of the Or Zarua), Nachalat Shiva (Rabbi Shmuel haLevi, 17th c. Poland), the Baal haNetivot (Rabbi Yaakov Lorberbaum, 18th-19th c. Poland), and the Rema. Those who disagree with such edicts include the Ramban, Rabbeinu Tam, the Rashbam, the Rashba, and (apparantly) the Maharam of Rothenburg. One example of a scholar who permits the use of non-Jewish judges, but only under certain circumstances (specifically, if both litigants name a particular non-Jewish judge whom they trust) is the Shakh (Choshen Mishpat 22:15).

  • You seem to address only civil cases, while Ali seems to include any kind of litigation.
    – HodofHod
    Feb 10, 2013 at 4:12
  • How so? I would read every one of the sources that I listed as referring to all forms of litigation. You don't agree?
    – Shimon bM
    Feb 10, 2013 at 4:15
  • All of the halachos you brought speak about the Jew initiating litigation. The Shulchan Aruch you bring is even more explicit that this must refer to civil cases. None of them address "being judged" by gentile courts, where the Jew does not bring the case.
    – HodofHod
    Feb 10, 2013 at 4:24
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    Oh, but isn't that obvious? How can halakhic sources possibly prohibit non-Jews bringing a case against Jews? Or Jews from appearing in non-Jewish courts when the courts are forcing them to do so?
    – Shimon bM
    Feb 10, 2013 at 4:25
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    I'm not sure I can help you there, @Ali. To be honest, I don't really understand how you are defining shituf. I have never heard it used that way before, and the only proof that I can offer for it not being relevant here is that nobody (to the extent of my knowledge) has ever suggested that it is. I can't give you a source for that, since there's no source for something's absence. But I do recommend that you read up a little about shituf and what it does (and doesn't) mean. There's a good lecture by R' David Berger at YUTorah Online, which touches on the definition and usage of this word.
    – Shimon bM
    Feb 10, 2013 at 12:14

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