I'm asking if there is a specific Jewish protocol for civil disobedience for civil laws/civil wrongs such as racist policies (ex. Heschel, Martin Luther King Jr. and the making of Civil Right Act of 1964) for countries in which existing Jewish communities exist.


In general, while Jews are obligated to follow the law of the land (dina d'malchuta dina - "the law of the land is the law"; see Nedarim 28a, Gittin 10b, Bava Kama 113b, and Bava Batra 54b), this is not the case if the law would force them to violate divine laws (including those regarding human rights). Similarly, if the law is unjust/discriminatory in nature, it is nonbinding (see Maimonides, Laws of Robbery and Loss 5:14 and Shulchan Arukh Choshen Mishpat 369:8). Furthermore, if the unjust laws are ideologically aimed at obliterating Jewish customs (shmad), civil disobedience is mandated even when it would result in martyrdom (see e.g. Maimonides Laws of the Fundamentals of the Torah 5:3).

  • Maimonides: "In general: any law enacted by the king for everyone, which does not single someone out, is not theft. Seizing from one individual alone, not in following with broadly-known laws, is strong-arming and considered theft." MLK: "An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal."
    – Shalom
    Dec 24 '15 at 12:38

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