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HALACHA-----honesty/ taxes and dina dmalchusa

jj Posted - 02 May 2001 16:22

Could you please explain dinah dimalchusa dina because I’m like very confused by the whole thing if it applies in America or bichlal.

The Ra"n in nedarim says that since the gov is letting you live there, you have to listen to them (I guess like a baylusdigi din) but, if the gov has no choice in the matter, limoshil, America where if someone’s a citizen and they cant be thrown out, only sent to jail, lichoyra it shouldn’t apply, no?

Also, I heard, im not sure which Rishonim say like this, but R' Isser Zalman wants to learn like this in rash"i in Gitten (9b) that it’s to help the goyim be mikayim their din of having battai dinim, and if we wouldn’t listen, the goyim wouldn’t either.

So limaysa,

1) is it noygaya here in America?

2) If it is, to what extent. meaning, I know that everyone hocks certain chasidim that are in the newspaper about the ginayvishi shtik and stuff (which is dif anyways altz chilul hashem), yet I know very choshivi yidden that on stuff like zoning or kiyoytzeh bo aren’t so makpid, or limoshil having multi family homes which are illegal (at least where I live or maybe its only under certain circumstances) but ppl have it because they need it for everyone to fit and then you have either ppl masir on them or you don’t whatever.... but is that maybe diff?

3) would it be different in a diff country?

4) would it be diff in eretz yisrael since the whole gov there anyways is asur so ee ovid loy mihani so maybe over there we would say diff?

5) Are there any differences in different laws limoshil taxes reporting gifts etc. ? yasher koychacha

MODERATOR Posted - 02 May 2001 17:09

There are about 8 reasons in the Poskim for Dina D'Malchusa, many of which do apply in America, so the rule stands.

However, according to the majority of Poskim, the entire Dina D'Malchusa only applies regarding your relationship with the government, such as taxes etc., but for the government to tell you what is considered stealing (like bankruptcy and copyright laws) dina dmalchusa would not apply.

Regarding those issues, we follow the default Halachah.

bld Posted - 03 May 2001 21:20

That reminds of a situation that I see all the time where frum people have tenants living in their illegal basements. When the inspectors come, they disguise the rooms to make it look like nobody is living there. It always made me uneasy, but there are towns where almost everyone is doing it. Chillul Hashem aside, is that mutar?

There is one family I know who refused to do it illegally. The only way they were able to have tenants in the basement legally was by permanently keeping a ladder near the window in one of the rooms in order that it shouldn't be a fire hazard. That's what they did.

Was that family going beyond the letter of the law, or is that actually required? If it is, than everyone is either ignorant of the halacha or conveniently ignoring it.

Also, what about being paid 'off the books'?

That is also very widespread among very frum people. I know a few people who actually declare minor services they do for pay on their income taxes, but those people are the exception.

jj Posted - 03 May 2001 21:21

So what do you mean, that going against the zoning laws are ok? Or what about laundering money? Are you saying that that’s ok?

MODERATOR Posted - 03 May 2001 21:42

Just because Dina D'Malchusa doesn’t apply doesn’t mean Gezeilah doesn’t apply.

Where something would be permitted according to the laws of Choshen Mishpat, but prohibited according to law of the land, Dina D'Malchusa takes effect.

But if s/t is prohibited according to the Torah, you don’t need Dina D'Malchusa to prohibit it.

So: Violating zoning laws would not be prohibited since there is no Torah prohibition that covers zoning (there are, actually, but not nearly to the same extent as the secular laws).

Being paid off the books and not reporting income on taxes is subject to a machlokes.

There are those who point out that rashi in Bava Kama says "hafkoas halvah", which is permitted includes not paying taxes.

Others see taxes as a debt that must be paid.

Many Rabbonim just won’t answer the question, because if you don’t pay your taxes and you get caught a big chilul hashem can come out, and that for sure is assur.

So the only time it would be permitted is if you know you won’t be caught, and...who knows?

bld Posted - 04 May 2001 14:52

Ok, so according to halacha, it's permissible to have illegal tenants.
But what about the act of hiding it?

Wouldn't that be sheker or geneivas da'as?

MODERATOR Posted - 04 May 2001 15:10

Depends on many details. Here's the general idea:

If lets say someone approaches me in the street and asks "Buddy, you got any money on you?" I am allowed to lie and say no I don't, if I believe that his intent is to mug me if I say yes.

Lying to protect yourself from someone who wants to harm you is similar to defending yourself physically from someone who attacks you.

Its justified if it’s directed against an aggressor.

So if let's say the Torah says there’s nothing wrong with making money by doing XYZ and the government says I am not allowed to do it, because they hold it is not moral, then, depending on the circumstances, we may look at this situation as if the government is going beyond their rights and simply unreasonably damaging your ability to make money.

Kind of like a guy that comes to you in the street to beat you up. If you tell him "leave me alone I have a gun", nobody would have any problem with that, even if you technically lied, and didn’t really have a gun.

So too when the government says We think that you should not do so-and-so, if the Torah allows it, and Dina D'Malchusa doesn’t apply, we look at it as if someone was simply trying to take your money, or prevent you from legitimately making it.

There are more details to the issue, and each case needs to be judged individually, but in general, this would be the reason that such practices are not automatically, across the board, Geneivas Daas.

bld Posted - 04 May 2001 18:36

Thanks. I never thought of it that way.

cvmn Posted - 07 May 2001 14:53

What if as a result of you not reporting income you are eligible for benefits of some kind which is many times the case.

How can this not be considered geneiva, sheker, chazav and geneivas daas??

- 07 May 2001 14:55

If you lie to receive money or anything of value under false pretenses that is indeed prohibited.

alex123 Posted - 20 May 2001 23:29

How could you say that not following zoning laws is ok, just because we don't have laws like that in the Torah.

The fact is that we are in Galus and we are not living under a govt. with Torah laws. So, shouldn't we have to abide by US law?

MODERATOR Posted - 20 May 2001 23:51

Because US Law is, in such instances, the opinion of the US Government of what is right and wrong Bain Odom L'Chaveiro, who has what rights and who has to suffer for the good of another etc.

Since we have this information given by Hashem, we don't need the opinions of people to tell us what to do.

If the Torah says for instance, that a tenant may live in an apartment, then throwing him out is a sin against that person who has a right to live there, even if some Congressman says he thinks it’s wrong.

If we were to listen to the Goyim regarding issues of right and wrong, the entire Torah concepts of Bain Adam L'CHaveiro would be nullified.

The only heter to hurt people who the Torah says may be left alone (such as in the above case) or to take money from someone who the Torah says is entitled to the money is if the Torah explicitly told us to follow Dina D'Malchusa, which, as explained, is not the opinion of the majority of Poskim in cases not involving our relationship with the government directly (such as taxes etc.).

chair Posted - 22 April 2002 17:09

I'm not clear on this. Is it mutter to cross at a red light when there are no cars around, or to speed.

MODERATOR Posted - 22 April 2002 18:53

I once heard from Rabbi Moshe Heineman of Baltimore who heard from Rav Aharon Kotler ZTL, that since the poskim rule that a law that is only "on the books" but not enforced is not binding as Dina D'Malchusa, therefore it would be permitted to speed up until the point where you might get a ticket.

In most places, going 5 or in some places even up to 9 MPH over the speed limit will not get you a ticket even if they catch you.

Up to that speed, therefore, you are allowed to travel.

The same thing, then, applies to jaywalking. Who gets a ticket for that?

I also heard once from Rav Shmuel Birnbaum shlita, the Rosh Yeshiva of Mir in Brooklyn, that really, getting into a car and driving 55 or 60 MPH - even within the speed limit - is a Sakanah and should be prohibited.

But Shomer Pesayim Hashem - if it is common practice to do a dangerous thing, it is not assur.

Therefore, to speed to the point that is "normal" for people to travel is not prohibited, since it is not a Sankanah; but traveling beyond that point, where there would be no Shomer Pesayim Hashem, would be prohibited due to Sakanah, even if road conditions permit the excessive speed.

HappyWithLife Posted - 08 May 2002 17:08

Moderator -- I'd like to take issue with what you wrote about illegal tenants and working "off the books."

We all know exactly where that takes place, and I want to preface my comments with the fact that I am will probably end up in that place Bezras Hashem sometime soon, and I am looking for a long-term learner.

So nothing I'm going to say comes from any resentment or biases or prejudices against the yeshivish community.

My father is very yeshivish, but every penny we earn is reported. My sister who lives in that city and whose husband is sitting and learning does everything legally -- she even runs a business from her house that is completely legal and registered with the state. It's coming from a deep sensitivity to integrity.

I understand what you wrote, and even if it is technically, Halachicly okay, what about the spirit of the law?

What kind of attitude are we imparting to the kids? Why are we surprised when kids lie in school? Why are we surprised when kids pocket little candies in the supermarket?

Kids see everything that is going on -- much more than we give them credit for.

You also wrote that as long as nobody in the government finds out about it, and it's not a Chillul Hashem, it's O.K. Never mind the government, what about other Jews?

You know how many kids (and adults) get turned off by the yeshivish community because of things like that? How many kids from the yeshivish community write to you about their disgust with that community?

How many times have you heard from kids that they don't want a Kollel lifestyle because of the lack of Middos (including Honesty)?

I've heard it (and in my H.S. years, felt it!) plenty.

So the Chillul Hashem is inward, not only outward.

It's just as grave of a sin, if not graver. If somebody wants to live a certain way, they have to do it right. Kol Yisrael Areivim Zeh L'Zeh.

We have to think of the image we are portraying, because we are all responsible for every other Jew.

MODERATOR Posted - 13 May 2002 16:35

You are perfectly correct when you say there are good reasons not to use the Halachic permits for using money that we did not earn. Nobody is questioning that.

And so, recommended procedure, obviously, is to do exactly that.

But we have no right to prohibit something that is not prohibited. And when someone asks what the Halachah is, we have to tell them the truth.

And when following the permit or not means the difference between affording a home, or being able to learn, or making a big difference in your life, We can tell people that it would be wonderfully praiseworthy to live squeaky clean, but Hashem allows them the option of living by the letter of the law as well.

And when ones ability to do Mitzvos are effected by being machmir then it becomes a question giving away the ability to do one Mitzvah in favor of a chumrah in another Mitzvah.

There are plenty of ways for parents to show honesty and integrity within the Halachic requirements - and sometimes it takes much mesiras nefesh to fulfill the halachic requirements of business and finances.

If children see that parents are equally concerned with fulfilling the halachah when it goes l'chumrah as much as they are when it goes l'kulah, they will follow suit.

MODERATOR Posted - 13 May 2002 16:43

Re: Chilul hashem. If someone does not like what a Jew does, even though that Jew is acting in accordance with the Halachah, then the observer needs to change their standards and expectations, rather than the "observee" having to change his behavior. If someone thinks that I am robbing people, in a way that the Torah forbids it, I must clear my name, even if I am not guilty.

But if someone makes up their own standards of what is right and wrong and then expects me to fulfill them, I have no obligation to do so.

So if I am not doing anything wrong, and people dislike me because they don’t like what I am doing, I am not guilty of chilul hashem; they are guilt of sinas chinam.

There is an exception to this: A Talmid Chacham is obligated to go lifnim mishuras hadin, as per his high standing. But this does not refer to the average Yeshiva guy in the street. Or in Yeshiva.

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