Does this apply to laws which are clearly corrupt and based on lies? At what point does a law which solely benefits one political group but harms everyone else stop being legitimate through the lens of the mitzvah?

  • do you have anything in mind? Feb 28, 2016 at 23:20
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    Not at the time when I wrote the question but just general civil disobedience for unjust laws. One example is the drug war. Not for the purpose of getting high but for medical usage. The information on marijuana being bad for you is largely exaggerated especially in light of recent scientific study as well as the fact it was banned in the first place b/c of racism and lobbying from the cotton industry to destroy potential competition. There have been people who have cured themselves of cancer and stopped seizures in their children b/c they illegally used marijuana as a medicine.
    – Dude
    Feb 29, 2016 at 4:06
  • R' Berman שליט”א was arrested for marching in Selma with Dr. King, something which was mentioned in his introduction this past Shabbos. Feb 29, 2016 at 13:31
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    Dina demalchusa dina (DMD) isn't necessarily a mitzvah - it's an obligatory halacha for sure... There is an awful lot of subjectivity in declaring when something crosses the threshold into "unjust." Voter ID laws, to some, are unjust. As are restrictions on gun ownership to others. IMHO, the very point of DMD is remove subjective judgement from the picture - you do it because the government says so irrespective of whether you like it. Feb 29, 2016 at 14:53

1 Answer 1


The Chazon Ish writes in חושן משפט ליקוטים סימן ט"ז אות ט:

והנה כתבו ראשונים ז"ל שאין גזלנותא דמלכותא דין, דמלחמה הותרה לו לפעמים אבל גזלנותא במדינתו לא הותרה, והלכך חק שהוא עושה הוא בכלל דינין וגם הותר לו משפט המלך כפי ההסכמה אבל דבר שמדת הישרים להחזיק לאון לא ניתן לו, וכ' כתב רמב"ן שלא הותר לו למלך לחדש דבר שלא הורגלו בו הראשונים ונראה דכונתו ז"ל בדבר שמחזיקין אותו לאון ועקיפין

The Rishonim wrote that theft of the malchus is not din. Inasmuch as occasionally war is permitted to him, but stealing from his country is not permitted, and therefore ... something that honest people consider corrupt is not within the authority given to him, and this seems to be the intent of the Ramban in that which he wrote that a king may not innovate things which were not practiced by predecessors.

R' Henkin writes in תשובות איברא חלק ב

מה שכתבו פוסקים שבחק שאינו שוה לכל אין שייך דינא דמלכותא, הכונה כשמפלה בין עם לעם משום רשעות, כגון שגוזרים גזירות על ישראל ר"ל. או בכלל כשמטילים מס על יחיד שלא בצדק אלא בשרירות הלב, אבל כשיש חוק לתקנות עניים ולא לעשירים כל שכן דאזלינן בתריה ולית דין צריך בשש

That which the poskim wrote that in a law which does not apply equally to everyone there is no relevance of dina d'malchusa dina, the intent is when it distinguishes between one group and another out of wickedness, such as when they make decrees against the Jews, or when they unjustly impose a tax on an individual. But when it is for a constructive purpose, such as to support the poor and not the rich, certainly we follow it, and this is self-evident.

Chavatzeles Hasharon responsa C.M. 2:8 writes that rent control does not have the legitimacy of dina d'malchusa dina as it serves to only help those who are currently tenants, at the expense of both landlords and new tenants (and that it is a communist/socialist agenda to stick it to the rich).

It seems that there is a general consensus of poskim that unjust laws are illegitimate.

  • Is the "communist agenda" part relevant to his claim, or just the perceived injustice to everyone else? It's rather dangerous, I'd think, to have politcal positions paskened like that
    – Double AA
    Mar 4, 2016 at 2:34
  • @DoubleAA I'll quote and you can decide: ובפרט שידוע לנו שעיקר החזקת החוק הזה הוא בא על ידי איזו נבחרים חפשיים שיש בם דיעות ושיטות הקאמוניסטען וסאציאליסטען. ללחץ את העשירם ולקחת ממונם שכל אלו השיטות הם נגד דעת תורה. Mar 4, 2016 at 3:01
  • "does not apply equally to everyone" would this for example mean that if something was illegal in one state but 100% legal in another state that the law would be unequally applied and therefore not binding by dina de malchusa dina?
    – Laser123
    Jul 9, 2017 at 4:17

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