21.05.2011 17.Ijar, 5771 Bechukotai; Tag 32 des Omer
Any attempt within a just society to manipulate Halacha to avoid one’s civic obligations constitutes a massive desecration of Judaism’s reputation.
The definitive obligation of Jews to observe local laws and regulations has engaged the Jewish community over the past several years because of a number of high-profile white-collar crimes by Jews. Beyond its public ramifications, this issue remains fundamental to understanding our responsibilities to wider society, whether in Israel or in the Diaspora.
On several occasions, the Babylonian Talmud authoritatively quotes Shmuel, the prominent third-century Babylonian sage, as declaring, “Dina demalchuta dina” – the law of the kingdom is the law. Perhaps not surprisingly, this principle gets cited most prominently in a discussion about tax collection (BK 113a). The Talmud prohibits evading tax collectors, unless they collect unlawfully without proper governmental mandate, or in an arbitrary, inequitable manner. Interestingly the Jerusalem Talmud never mentions this principle, leading some historians to speculate that the Sages did not apply it in an era of suppression and tyranny. In a just system, however, most authorities believe that this principle carries the force of biblical law (Avnei Miluim 28:2), and that tax evaders violate the biblical prohibition of theft (Shulhan Aruch Harav, Gezela15)….