A more practical ramification of Is a ban on government workers wearing religious symbols a gezeirat hamalchut for which one would be obligated to give up his life?

If the law of the land (dina d'malchuta) contradicts with halacha, which takes precedence - halacha x, or the halacha of dina d'malchuta?

What about if it contradicts with a Jewish custom? Must it be abandoned for dina d'malchuta?

  • Rav Herschel Shachter has a piece in the first volume of Journal of Halacha and Comtemporary Society about this. I'll see if I can track it down.
    – MTL
    Commented Nov 19, 2014 at 16:26
  • I have to find my notes about rent control. It's a big discussion in the poskim there. Commented Nov 19, 2014 at 18:37
  • There is a difference between halacha allowing something and dina demalchusa forbidding it and the reverse. That is why a get is often not issued until the secular divorce is final or why a secular marriage license is filled out at the real wedding. On the other hand, if secular law required eating non-kosher or working on Shabbas, one would be forbidden to do so. Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 0:55

3 Answers 3


(All translations are my own)

Shulchan Aruch C.M. 73:14 (discussing the selling of collateral after the time of collection of a loan has passed - see :12)

יש מי שאומר שאע"פ שעבר זמן ההלואה צריך להמתין מלמכור המשכון שלשי' יום אחר תביע הגה: וא"צ לתובעו בב"ד רק יתבענו בפני עדים שיפרענו ואח"כ יעכבנו ל' יום וימכרנו ואפי' אם תבעו רק בינו לבינו מהני אם הלוה מודה בכך (ד"ע ליישב תשובת הרא"ש דסתרי אהדדי) וי"א דבמקום שהמנהג שהמלוה לעכו"ם לא יוכל למכרו בפחות משנה דנין כן גם בישראל שהלוה לחבירו על המשכון דאזלינן בזה אחר המנהג (מרדכי פ' הגוזל בתרא

There are those who say that even though the time [of collecton] of the loan has passed, you must wait to sell the collateral for 30 days after claiming repayment. Rema: You need not make your claim in beis din, just demand payment in front of two witnesses, and subsequently wait 30 days and then sell it. And even if you only demanded payment in private, if the bailor admits to the claim, it works. And there are some who say that in a place where the custom is that one who loans to a Gentile cannot sell [the collateral] within a year, we apply the same rule to a loan between Jews with collateral, as we follow the custom.

The Rema posits that we follow the secular law even to abrogate rights that the bailee has according to Torah law.

Shach there:

אך לפי ע"ד דברי הרב צל"ע ... שהוא דבר תמוה מאד לפי עניות דעתי דכיון דעל פי דין תורה יכול למכרו לאחר ל' יום היאך נלמוד מדיני עכו"ם לבטל דין תורה ח"ו לא תהא כזאת בישראל ... אפילו לשאר פוסקים שסוברים דאמרינן דינא דמלכותא בכל דבר היינו דוקא מה שאינו נגד דין תורתינו אלא שאינו מפורש אצלינו אבל לדון בדני העכו"ם בכל דבר נגד תורתינו חלילה

In my humble opinion the words of the Rav "require further investigation"... as it is an incredulous matter in my opinion, since according to Torah law one may sell after 30 days, how do we learn from Gentile law to nullify Torah law, Heaven forfend, let there not be such a thing in Israel... Even according to the other opinions who hold Dina D'Malchusa applies to everything, **that is only when it does not contradict our Torah, but rather addresses something which is not explicitly proscribed in our laws. But to judge with the laws of the Gentiles in all cases against the Torah, G-d forbid.

Chazon Ish C.M. Likkutim 16:1:

אבל כשתחלת הנידון בין ישראל לחברו אין כאן דינא דמלכותא ודיינינן להו בדיני ישראל...והיינו טעמא דאנו דנין לעולם בין ישראל לחברו בדיני ישראל ואין משגיחין בדיניהם... ולשון הש"ך קשה לכוין שאין חילוק בין דין מפורש לאינו מפורש ואין כלל דין שאינו מפורש שהכל מפורש בתורה

When a case is between two Jews, there is no place for Dina D'malchusa, and we judge it with Jewish law... The reason is that we always rule with Jewish law between Jews and we pay no attention to their laws ... and the words of the Shach are difficult to understand, as there is no distinction between that which is explicit and that which is not explicit, and there is no such thing as something which is not made explicit in the Torah.

The Chazon Ish agrees to the Shach in principle, but he goes a step further than the Shach and claims that there is no such thing for which a Jewish court would appeal to secular law, as Torah is a complete system.

The Erech Shaן (Y.D. 73:14) brings a number of sources who take up the position of the Rema, and concludes (s.v. לע"ד עיקר) that the halacha is like the Rema.

The Maharam Brisk (Shu"t 1:85) brings support from a number of Rishonim to the position of the Rema that Dina D'Malchusa will override Din Torah.

The Beis Yitzchok (Y.D. 75:5) suggests a middle ground:

יש לומר דדוקא מה שהוא נגד דין תורה להפסיד ממון על ידו הדין תורה בתוקף אבל בדבר שדינא דמלכותא הוא להפסיד מניעת הריוח דלא מיקרי היזק ההכרח מצד דין תורה לקיים דינא דמלכותא

It is possible that specifically where the secular law opposes the Torah in such a way that it causes one to lose money, the Torah law remains in full strength. However, in a case where the secular law only causes the loss of profit [the secular law is applied, as] it is not "damage" from the perspective of Torah law to uphold the secular law in such a case.

It should be noted that this is all in the context of monetary rights. When it comes to "ritual law," such as Shabbos or kashrus, Torah law would without question trump secular law. This is a direct result of the reasoning behind Dina D'Malchusa Dina, which is either due to the Torah acknowledging (and even mandating) the court systems of Gentiles (Rashi Gittin 9b), an implied acceptance of the jurisdiction of the ruler by the residents (Rashbam Bava Basra 54b and Rashba to Yevamos 46a), a product of the Kings's ownership of the land (Ran Nedarim 28a), or a form of "hefker beis din hefker (Rabbeinu Yona Bava Basra 54b). None of these reasons would justify abrogation of our ritual obligations, as they are a result of either power of the courts, an acceptance by those ruled, or the rights of the King over his own land.


R' Shlomo Zalman Aurbach, in Maadanei Aretz ch. 18, writes that Halacha trumps Dina D'Malchusa Dina. For example, if A took B to secular court and won, B would have to pay A as a result of Dina D'Malchusa Dina (even though A was not allowed to take B to court to start), but B could then sue A in Beis Din for his unjustified losses in secular court, because Dina D'Malchusa does not override the Halacha, and the fact that secular court said he owed the money does not translate to him actually owing the money.

R' Shlomo Zalman defended the hetter mechira based on this, that even though the sale of land to non-Jews may not have been valid under the laws of the Ottoman Empire, since Halacha acknowledged the sales as valid, they were valid.

  • Found your notes? ....I was about to leave the same comment that I left above ;-)
    – MTL
    Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 20:43
  • What about minhag?
    – Scimonster
    Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 20:44
  • @Scimonster Dunno. I actually can't find my notes, could be I had something in there about it, although I don't recall Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 20:48
  • @Shokhet now I found my notes Commented May 21, 2015 at 21:24

As stated by R. Shabtai Cohen, Dina D'Malchuta Dina is not followed if it contravenes a Torah law. Schach Hoshen haMishpat, Chapter 73 (39). A Restatement of Rabbinic Civil Law: Volume IX - Emmanuel Quint

As for if it contradicts with a Jewish custom?

I would say that Minhag (Jewish Custom) must be rooted in halacha and if it contravenes Jewish custom; then Minhag prevails!

  • Concerning your last statement, I agree. "Minhag Yisrael Torah Hi", no?
    – ezra
    Commented Jun 17, 2018 at 20:52
  • A source for the last sentence would enhance the quality of this answer (since that's the question, actually). Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 9:24

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