When discussing what permission Yaakov had for rolling the rock off the well, Orangesandlemons quoted a Shadal (R' Samuel David Luzzatto זצ"ל) that said that Yaakov was under no obligation to adhere to the deal the locals had made about guarding access to the well.

הנה הוא לא היה מחוייב לשמור התנאי שהתנו ביניהם

(...even if he didn't ask for their permission), Yaakov was under no obligation to adhere to the conditions the shepherds had made between themselves.

(Full quote below)

We have rules such as Dina D'Malchusa - the law of the land is binding, and the concept of Minhag Hamakom - deferring to local custom. This explanation of Shadal seems to contradict these common-sense rules; they prevent strangers from causing strife and upsetting the locals.

My question is: Can a stranger enter a town and decide some local bylaws aren't applicable to him?

E.g.: Could a person claim that the laws of alternate parking don't apply to him as a visitor; in his hometown there's no such a thing (or it's on a different day)?

לא נוכל: נ"ל לא מחסרון כח כי היו שם שלשה עדרי צאן, והוא רחוק שיעשה יעקב לבדו מה שלא יכלו שלשה אנשים, אבל אמרו לא נוכל מפני התנאי שהתנו ביניהם, שלא יהיה רשות לאחד מן העדרים להשתמש ממימי הבאר בהיותו לבדו. והנה יעקב אולי שאל אם נשארו עדרים אחרים לבא ואמרו לו שלא נשאר אלא עדר רחל, וכשראה אותה מהר וגלל את האבן והשקה את צאנה. ואף אם לא שאל אם נשארו עדרים אחרים שלא באו, הנה הוא לא היה מחוייב לשמור התנאי שהתנו ביניהם, ומצד אחר דבר הגון עשה (אף אם לא היתה קרובתו) למהר לפטור את רחל, שהיתה נערה אחת בין כמה אנשים.‏

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    Perhaps he is not suggesting that it was the actual local law (as agreed to by all who had rights to the well) but rather just an agreement between the shepherds - "התנאי שהתנו ביניהם". – Loewian Nov 28 '17 at 14:34
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    Why would you assume a priori that a peahat understanding of yaakovs behaviour before mattan Torah would relate to practical halakha millennia later? Is dina dmalkhuta biblical or rabbinic? Particularly if the latter, why would it be relevant to yaakov? Please clarify the question. – mevaqesh Nov 28 '17 at 15:05
  • What do you think "Minhag hamakom" is that you think it would apply in this case to yaakov? Please clarify. – mevaqesh Nov 28 '17 at 15:08
  • @mevaqesh - I'm perplexed that Shadal would say that a stranger need not adhere to the local regulations - be it from a Torah/Halacha perspective or from a common decency POV. – Danny Schoemann Nov 28 '17 at 15:35
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    "Can a stranger enter a town and decide some local bylaws aren't applicable to him, as Shadal seems to suggest?" that's not how I'm reading the line you bolded at the end. I'm reading it (and I believe this is what @Loewian said as well) as the shepherds made a pact amongst themselves that none of them would water their sheep until all arrived. This doesn't apply to people outside their group. An analogy would be a group of friends who decided that every time they went to a restaurant, they would only order fries. It might be binding on people in that group, but you can get whatever you want! – Salmononius2 Nov 29 '17 at 14:52

I think you may be reading too much into Shadal's words. The key point here, I think, is התנאי שהתנו ביניהם – it was an agreement made between the shepherds. They made a mutually beneficial agreement to not take water without all the shepherds present so that water would not be wasted (as Shadal writes earlier: כדי שלא יאבד אחד מהם את המים שלא לצורך).

This does not appear to have been a law, or even a custom. It was an agreement made between various individuals. Each shepherd essentially said "I won't take water alone if you don't take water alone". Yaakov was never party to the agreement so he had no obligation to follow it. The well was apparently not anyone's property, so there was no reason for Yaakov not to use it in whatever way he wanted.

If this is the case, I don't think Shadal's explanation has much bearing on the rules of adhering to local laws and customs.

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