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Taxation
#11
As you wrote, "it does not seem right to back such a government with one's funds if it is possible."
If it is possible, then you certainly have that option. If it is possible legally, then well and good, although there might be unattractive drawbacks to the conditions involved. If it is only possible illegally (according to the government's laws), then you should be willing to accept the risks and the penalties if you make that choice and you get caught by the governmental authorities.

A valid government has the right to punish tax evaders. But if the government imposes taxes unfairly (namely, with policies of discrimination such as taxing citizens of some ethnic or religious groups more heavily, based only on their ethnicity or religion), then collection of the discriminatory additional taxes constitutes theft by the government, in violation of the Noahide prohibition of theft. Then it is not a valid government according to Torah Law, and it is only imposing its authority by force upon the oppressed group(s) of citizens.

You also wrote, "cunning is needed ... to find the weaknesses in the system and exploit them, using the laws and loopholes of the government to neuter them as much as possible."
Yes, of course. There is an entire gigantic industry and profession built around this goal, called "tax accounting". A person is freely and legally permitted to take advantage of this.

A person can avoid paying property taxes by not owning any property.
Also, one has the option to avoid paying income taxes by being unemployed, or having reported income below the cut-off level for paying any taxes, once the allowable tax deductions are applied. However, someone with such a low income is likely to have to resort to public assistance, so that is benefiting from the same unjust taxes that you are avoiding to pay. Likewise if one uses a nationalized health-care system, or publicly-funded schools.

One should bear in mind that at least some fraction of the governmental taxes are used for worthwhile expenditures that many or all citizens benefit from.
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#12
Could you please provide a source accessible to the most gentiles that shows that taxation, the taking of money by government without the consent of the individual(s) from whom it is taken, is legal and that it is not theft or extortion? Could you show how the source makes the allowance for gentile governments to force money from their subjects without consent applicable to gentiles (noahides) as opposed to just Jews (again, I'm questioning the applicability of dina d'melchuta dina and it's applicability to gentiles as opposed to Jews in gentile lands)? And if this source is not accessible to most gentiles, is it possible to quote it? Does this source allow for the non-consentual taking of other gentile property like houses, cars, and children, as it would be useful to know where this power of the government stops and where the laws of theft kick in?

This is in light of the fact that, as far as I've studied, theft is the taking of something that belongs to someone else without their unforced consent and extortion also is forbidden (extortion defined as "to wrest or wring (money, information, etc.) from a person by violence, intimidation, or abuse of authority; obtain by force, torture, threat, or the like.")

I can understand execution as a form of punishment. But not this governmental act that, for all intents and purposes, resembles theft.

PS. I know that a fraction of the governments funds may go to worthwhile causes. But with the amount of crimes they appear to commit, especially against the noahide laws, it's a bit like a man gently stroking the hair of his murder victim, or a slave owner giving his slave a piece of meat to eat while he beats him senseless for the place he put his meat. It's hard for me to balance the good with the bad.
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#13
The following Torah laws are quoted from the main text of Chapter 14 of "Sheva Mitzvot HaShem", Volume 2, by Rabbi Moshe Weiner. This free translation of the Hebrew is copyright © 20'13 by Ask Noah International, all rights reserved:

Governmental Authority and The Laws of Land Conquered in War

[For one of the sources for these rules, see Rambam, Laws of Robbery (Gezelah), topics 5:11-18]

1. If a king establishes a law for the whole country, this is the legally binding law. What is considered a king? One who was appointed by the people of his country. If he rules despotically, he and all his government are considered robbers, and their laws are merely a matter of theft...

2. Any governing body chosen or appointed by the country has the same laws and authority as a king; and therefore any country run by a government is under the rule of the “king”.* Any place in these laws where the word “king” is written, it refers to the governing body, and “the laws made by the king" are binding laws.

[*This is clear, as the reason that the laws of the king are legally binding is because they are accepted by the people of the country, as explained in the wording of the above-cited topics in Rambam, Laws of Robbery... a decree of the king is not legally binding until the majority of the country’s people accept it. This would be the case with any governing group for whom the people of the country accept their rules.]

3. The laws of the king are only binding regarding a matter which is equally incumbent upon the whole country, such as a tax which falls on everyone equally. If, however, the king rules that a specific person or group are alone obligated, this law is not legally binding, but is only extortion and robbery.
As well, the governmental laws are not binding unless it is for a matter that has benefit for the king or is good for the country as a whole, but not regarding a specific matter between two people.
Therefore, if the king decreed that one who violated a certain rule will have his property seized, and he enforces this, another person may buy this property from the king as it came to him lawfully. However, if the king took a property not on the basis of laws binding on all the citizens, and it is assumed to be stolen, it is forbidden to buy such a property from the king, and one who does so does not lawfully own the property, as property cannot be acquired through theft...

4. ... [It] is the right of the king to take the possessions of one who disobeys or defies him, and this is lawfully binding and not theft.

5. One who evades taxes set up by the king is a thief, as he is stealing from the money of the government... the whole land of the country as is as if it belongs to the king and is subservient to him, and a tax evader is considered as having stolen an existent item which belongs to the king, and he is actually a thief, not just a cheater.

6. One may not conceal any required taxes from a tax collector employed by the government, as they are working lawfully and are not stealing.
If they are illegally taking a cut for themselves, without permission from the king, over that which is set out by the king, this is utter theft ... any possessions they seize unlawfully are considered to be stolen, and it is forbidden for others to benefit from them.

8. A king may demolish houses to build a needed wall, or pave a road through private fields, and this is not considered theft, as this is the law of the government and is done for the benefit of the country...

9. Any country conquered in war is the acquisition of the king ... Therefore (as explained above in topic 1), any decree made by the king in a conquered land is legally binding, and the inhabitants of that land are obligated to accept the decree, as they are essentially subservient to him.
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#14
But the power given to a king or government according to these laws do tell me that even under the Jewish system or the Torah system, we are still all slaves or serfs of one type or another. Those laws make what the governments of the world are doing now acceptable and legal. These laws essentially give the government the right to take anything from someone, except their lives. These laws seem to clearly state that the taking of children and possessions is completely fine as long as the government is consistent in doing it and that we have to forever live with someone else's hand in our pockets, that is unless one becomes a hermit and removes oneself from society. Even the notion of this can fill a person with despondency and dread for very good reason in this present age.
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#15
(04-24-2013, 05:08 PM)amenyahu Wrote: But the power given to a king or government according to these laws do tell me that even under the Jewish system or the Torah system, we are still all slaves or serfs of one type or another.

The Mishna, Tractate Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) 6:2 puts this very succinctly:
"Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said ... There is no free man except one who occupies himself with the study of Torah; and anyone who occupies himself [in a permitted way] with the study of Torah becomes elevated."

Likes in the same Tractate, mishna 3:5, it teaches:
"Rabbi Nechunya ben Hakanah said: Whoever takes upon himself the yoke of Torah - the yoke of government* and the yoke of worldly cares are removed from him.; but whoever casts off from himself the yoke of Torah - the yoke of government and the yoke of wordly cares are imposed upon him."
[*I.e., if the community bears the burden of his obligation for him.]

(04-24-2013, 05:08 PM)amenyahu Wrote: Those laws make what the governments of the world are doing now acceptable and legal.

I don't think that such a blanket statement of approbation is warranted. Rather, there are some governments in the world today that are doing things that are not acceptable or legal (by Torah standards).

(04-24-2013, 05:08 PM)amenyahu Wrote: These laws essentially give the government the right to take anything from someone, except their lives. These laws seem to clearly state that the taking of children and possessions is completely fine as long as the government is consistent in doing it

I don't see where you found that stated or implied. There are a number of limitations mentioned:
- If he rules despotically, he and all his government are considered robbers, and their laws are merely a matter of theft...
- governmental laws are not binding unless it is for a matter that has benefit for the king or is good for the country as a whole

Also, here is an excerpted free translation from "Sheva Mitzvot HaShem", Vol. 3 (Part VIII, Dinim), by Rabbi Moshe Weiner:

1:3. The commandment and obligation for Laws and Courts is not only for Noahide courts to judge and punish, but also to guard the morality of society. This includes making laws that uphold morality and prevent the people from sinning,  and any other laws necessary for the establishment of a just and peaceful society. Gentiles are therefore commanded to make laws that are beneficial for all the country... The people who write the laws, and the judges who rule on the applications of these laws, must establish them according to their knowledge of the true needs of the country’s population, and the establishment of moral society...  The laws must obviously conform to logical and moral standards, and they must not be like the evil and cruel laws of the Biblical city of Sodom, on account of which G-d utterly destroyed that metropolis.

(04-24-2013, 05:08 PM)amenyahu Wrote: and that we have to forever live with someone else's hand in our pockets, that is unless one becomes hermits and removes oneself from society. Even the notion of this can fill a person with despondency and dread for very good reason in this present age.

This notion certainly isn't correct, because everyone will live in abundant prosperity and happiness in the Messianic Era, speedily in our days. As Rambam explains in "Laws of Kings" 12:5, "In that era, there will be neither famine or war, envy or competition for good will flow in abundance and all delights will be freely available as dust. The occupation of the entire world will be solely to know G-d."

This knowledge of G-d will come through occupation in Torah study, and thus for everyone, "the yoke of government and the yoke of worldly cares" will be removed (as cited above).

The foreknowledge of these blessings that are in store should bring us happiness, but at the same time, it should motivate everyone to yearn and pray from the depth of their hearts, at least on a daily basis, for G-d to send the true Messiah immediately!

https://asknoah.org/video/bring-moshiach-now

https://asknoah.org/video/transforming-the-world

https://asknoah.org/video/lesson-of-2nd-passover
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#16
Hi Reb,

With regards to your initial references to Pirkei Avot 6:2 and Mishna 3:5 they are nice words. But I don't know what is meant by "free". Is it still right and just for a king or government to take a person's money and personal information (e.g., the census forms) in extortionate ways? Namely, can any government say to me "give me your personal information or I will fine you" or "did you work for that money? good, then I'm taking some of it whether you want it or not" or "your child doesn't go to our schools? great! we can fine you, put you in prison, or take away your children" etc.? So I have no idea what this concept of "free" is. It is still the case that my earnings don't belong to me, my children don't belong to me, my personal information doesn't belong to me [if the government can take them away, as long as they are consistent about it, then they aren't mine, I'm just the source of revenue for them, just the serf-producer and baby-sitter for them, just a statistic for them]. Does the law codified in the Sheva Mitzvos say that it's all just and right according to the description of the Dinim law as long as they are consistent about it? So again, even according to that book, regardless of whether I was an observant gentile or not, I'm still a slave/serf to the government I'm under. So maybe you could help me understand what this "free" is. Plus, I still am not clear on how a government taking things without consent isn't theft. Is it not theft simply because they are the ruling power?

The point that I'm making is that, according to Torah standards, as long as a government is consistent about the way they take things from their population, is it fine? Taxation without consent, seizing of property and children, seizing of human beings for victimless "crimes", is all of that fine, right, and just as long as the ruling power is consistent about it? That's how I interpret what I read of the quote of the Sheva Mitvos that you gave. I'm sure that even according to the standard given by the Sheva Mitsvos, there may be some, a few, governments that are doing some wrong things, according to that standard. But I question that standard and the leeway it gives to tyranny (tyranny and despotically are not the same thing).

You mentioned limitations to the government, i.e., despotically and benefit to king or country. Who judges either of these? What is the criteria for despoticism according to the Torah Law for Gentiles? What is the criteria for "benefit"? In the "Sheva Mitzvot HaShem", Vol. 3 (Part VIII, Dinim), 1:3 as you quoted, the system should prevent people from sinning. For the most part, this doesn't resemble western governments or policing systems. Sinning? Does this refer to the seven commandments? Of course, it should be obvious that the government doesn't prevent the breaking of many of the commandments apart from some sections of theft, some sections of murder, and some sections of forbidden partners. But you can understand just because a person keeps some of the law, it doesn't hold them back from breaking others laws, especially if the government is advertising the breaking of the other parts.

I can't comment much about the messianic age - although, may it come quickly - as that's not the age I have to deal with right now. I've got to deal with this age which you once gave me some pertinent words on.

I believe you can already see my angst against and disgust at governments worldwide, or at the very least, the government I'm under, when I attempt to view them through the lens of the Torah Laws for Gentiles.
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#17
B"H

a. When a ruling government is accepted by the people, the law "dina de'malchusa dina" applies, regardless how just and fitting to the Seven Laws the government is. (It's clear that if a government law requires a person to directly transgress one of the 7 Noahide Laws, one should not transgress, with the exception that some leniencies are permitted in order to preserve one's life.)

b. If the people don't like the type of government they have, they will either eventually revolt, or vote to change the government or its policies if possible. I am stating this as an historical fact, not a law.

c. Obviously there are extreme situations (such as a tyrannical dictator) in which people evade the government's laws since they (justly) don't accept this type of governing, but they are afraid to express themselves. This eventually leads to a general changing of the government, since when people are not happy and accepting of the situation, they don't follow the laws, and the government becomes ineffective. When the government doesn't have the cooperation of the people, the government will either fall apart or become tyrannical. The former USSR is an example of this (the process of falling apart took over 60 years, and the change happened quickly).

d. The "people" mentioned here are the vast majority. There will always be minorities that don't accept the government or its rules for one reason or another.

e. For all the western societies with governments today, although none are "righteous Gentiles" (in the complete sense) since they don't heed to the Noahide Law (completely), they have been keeping justice between people to a level that has kept peace in the society. Therefore their laws in those areas are dinim, since they are made for the upkeep of the society.

f. The Sages of the Talmud foretold that shortly before the true Messiah comes, the world governments will turn to heresy. This, and the accompanying difficulties, are provided as a test of faith.
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#18
I did a search on the term "dina d'malchuta" and found that it refers to Jews living in foreign lands. When and where is it initially said to be part of the Noahide command of dinim? Is this a conclusion to a logical argument that if it applies to Jews therefore it applies to gentiles? Or is there an explicit statement is the earlier writings of the Sages or the Rishonim that outrightly says "d d'm d" is part and parcel of the Noahide Commandments?

Response to point "a": At least that confirms what I've been saying. Tyrannies are acceptable according to this view of the Torah Laws for Gentiles as long as it is either consistent or a government can dupe its peoples into accepting it.

Response to point "b": the key words are "if possible". "historical facts" are prone to interpretation and at best tell us what can happen, not what will happen.

Response to point "c": this is dependent on the amount of people who try to invade the rule for the proper reason. It is also dependent on the education and knowledge of those people. There are different forms of tyranny: the overt kind and the underhanded kind. It is like perfecting an art form. Today's government show a real skill at manipulation and control.

Response to point "e": this would be considered an overgeneralisation. You said:

"they have been keeping justice between people to a level that has kept peace in the society. Therefore their laws in those areas are dinim, since they are made for the upkeep of the society"

I have no clue which body of law you are referring to. No, I'm not saying that all the laws of the western governments are bad. But to say that the laws of western governments are made for the upkeep of the people betrays a naive understanding of such laws and the law makers. How can on one hand I be told - rightly I might add - that I should put no trust in government, and then, on the other hand, I would be told that the laws are for the upkeep of the people, as if to keep a people in check to a certain extent implies the purpose of a body of law that has been made so vast and confusing. I very much disagree with this point.
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#19
(05-08-2013, 09:27 AM)amenyahu Wrote: I did a search on the term "dina d'malchuta" and found that it refers to Jews living in foreign lands. When and where is it initially said to be part of the Noahide command of dinim? Is this a conclusion to a logical argument that if it applies to Jews therefore it applies to gentiles? Or is there an explicit statement is the earlier writings of the Sages or the Rishonim that outrightly says "d d'm d" is part and parcel of the Noahide Commandments?

RambaM and RambaN are two Rishonim who deal with this directly as part and parcel of the Noahide Commandments. However, they disagree about what is the main function of the Noahide Commandment for Dinim (Laws and Courts). In terms of practical outcome, the majority Rabbinical opinion follows that of RambaN, and this is reflected in Rabbi Moshe Weiner's book "Sheva Mitzvot HaShem", vol. 3 (Dinim).

1. Both RambaM and RambaN agree that the Noahide obligation for laws and courts presupposes an obligation for enforcement officials who work as agents of the courts. Laws and courts without enforcement officials or punishments for law-breakers are not accounted as real laws or real courts. See Deuteronomy 16:18 and Rashi's explanation there.

2. There is overall agreement that a main purpose of the Seven Laws is to provide a Divinely commanded basic framework for establishing Gentile societies that are (a) stable, and (b) moral in G-d's eyes. However, we know of no time in history, to date, when there was a whole Gentile society that was ruled specifically on the basis of all the Noahide Laws, other than the kingdom in the area of Israel that was established by Noah's son Shem after the Flood. That kingdom shrank and then broke down as the Canaanite tribes invaded and took over that region. When Abraham first arrived there, the Canaanites were in the process of conquering the kingdom of Shem. (See Rashi's explanation on Genesis 12:6.)

3. (A digression) Nevertheless, "the hearts of kings are in the hand of G-d", and it is G-d's will that the world has been ruled for 4000 years by Gentile governments that do not follow all of the Noahide Laws. This is analogous to the fact that G-d commanded that people should not murder, yet He allows murders to happen on a daily basis, and in general He allows the world to be ruled by evil. This is a consequence of Adam and Hava's sin of partaking of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and their temporary expulsion from the Garden of Eden. This is all in accordance with G-d's infinite wisdom and His plan for bringing mankind ultimately to a higher spiritual level than the original Garden of Eden.

As a case in point, one detail of the Noahide Commandment of Dinim is that Gentile nations are forbidden to usurp land from other nations by military conquest. Nevertheless, G-d instilled in many kings the evil inclination to do so, and specifically in order to achieve His objectives in the realm of world politics. For example, there was land held by the Moabites and Ammonites that was destined to become part of the inheritance of the Jewish tribes, but G-d did not give the Jews permission to take over any land from those nations, since they were descended from Lot. Therefore G-d put into the hearts of the Amorite kings the desire and ability to conquer that land from the Moabites and Ammonites, so the Jews could take it from the Amorites. Of course, the Amorite kings sinned and were punished for that evil deed which they chose to do.

4. RambaM's opinion about the Noahide Commandment for Dinim is given in Laws of Kings 9:14. He limits the Torah-based obligation for Noahide Dinim to laws, court judgments, punishments and public education regarding the other six Noahide Commandments.

Note: The Noahide Laws do not command or specify that there must be or must not be a particular form of government manifesting the power to make the laws and courts (e.g. democratic, federalist, parliamentary, kingship, dictatorship, communism, socialism, military, etc.). That is up to the will of G-d, as is the displacement of one government by another government by conquest, revolution, political shift, etc. See below where this is discussed further.

Please see also the relevant Torah Laws cited by RambaM in his Mishneh Torah, Laws of Robbery 5:11-14,18 (dealing mainly with the issue of government taxes; see Post #5 in this thread). These laws apply for both Gentile and Jewish citizens. Note that in 5:11, RambaM states, "the law of the king is the law," and in that section, he explains the parameters in which this applies in regard to the *license* for the king to punish law-breakers who have chosen to remain living in his country. You may investigate the footnotes to these laws in the translation by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger, "Sefer Nezikin," p. 282-286. pub. Moznaim, 19'97. Rabbi Touger cites explanations on this from Sefer Me'irat Einayim, Chatam Sofer, Ramah (Choshen Mishpat) and Rav Yosef Karo (e.g. Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat).

5. The opinion of RambaN which differs in emphasis from RambaM's Laws of Kings 9:14 is found in RambaN's explanation of Genesis 34:13. He states there: "In my opinion, the 'Dinim' that the Sages counted among the Seven Commandments does not mean [only!] that they are required to set up judges in every district [to judge only (!) concerning the other 6 commandments]. Rather, [G-d] commanded them [the Gentiles] concerning the laws of theft, overcharging, withholding wages, the laws of bailees and of the rapist, or the seducer [of minors], the various categories of damages, personal injury, the laws of creditors and debtors, the laws of buying and selling, etc. - comparable to (but not necessarily identical to) the civil laws about which Israel was commanded.

(05-08-2013, 09:27 AM)amenyahu Wrote: Response to point "a": At least that confirms what I've been saying. Tyrannies are acceptable according to this view of the Torah Laws for Gentiles as long as it is either consistent or a government can dupe its peoples into accepting it.

That is NOT correct, and I'm sorry that you haven't understood this point. Tyrannies are NEVER acceptable. In fact, the Talmud states that the very harshest Divine punishment of all (Isaiah 66:24) is reserved for tyrants who rule tyrannically over populations of people. Certainly that means that tyrannies are NOT acceptable according to Torah = in the eyes of G-d.

(05-08-2013, 09:27 AM)amenyahu Wrote: Response to point "b": the key words are "if possible". "historical facts" are prone to interpretation and at best tell us what can happen, not what will happen.

Everything is in the hands of G-d. This includes governments, famine, plagues, epidemics, floods, droughts, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, volcanoes, meteors, solar flares, wars, etc.

(05-08-2013, 09:27 AM)amenyahu Wrote: Response to point "c": this is dependent on the amount of people who try to invade the rule for the proper reason. It is also dependent on the education and knowledge of those people. There are different forms of tyranny: the overt kind and the underhanded kind. It is like perfecting an art form. Today's government show a real skill at manipulation and control.

Yes, they have it down to an art, with all of the enabling power provided by modern technology. The tyrants of today learn from all of the "mistakes" of the tyrants who preceded them.

(05-08-2013, 09:27 AM)amenyahu Wrote: Response to point "e": this would be considered an overgeneralization. You said:

"they have been keeping justice between people to a level that has kept peace in the society. Therefore their laws in those areas are dinim, since they are made for the upkeep of the society"
I have no clue which body of law you are referring to.

I am referring to the laws in the areas cited by both RambaM and RambaN, that are mentioned above.

(05-08-2013, 09:27 AM)amenyahu Wrote: No, I'm not saying that all the laws of the western governments are bad. But to say that the laws of western governments are made for the upkeep of the people betrays a naive understanding of such laws and the law makers. How can on one hand I be told - rightly I might add - that I should put no trust in government, and then, on the other hand, I would be told that the laws are for the upkeep of the people, as if to keep a people in check to a certain extent implies the purpose of a body of law that has been made so vast and confusing. I very much disagree with this point.

Apparently you misunderstood the point, and maybe it was not communicated clearly.
Trying again: The point is that the phenomenon of Gentile governance in the human condition was created by G-d for the purpose of the upkeep of people, as I will explain shortly. The fact that all Gentile governments produce laws is a logical (natural) outcome of the phenomenon of their governance, because certainly their motivation to produce laws is NOT on account of obedience to being commanded to do so by G-d. It is also a fact that between the original Garden of Eden and the future Messianic Era, (a) the evil in the hearts of people inevitably (as an historical observation) turns governance into corruption and/or tyranny, and (b) over the course of time there are ups and downs in the relative good or evil of the governance over any region of the globe.

The fact that a government's system of laws, courts, and law enforcement provides for the "upkeep of the people" (to be understood in context) can be seen from what happens when there is a black-out in a major city. Under cover of darkness, with alarms inactive and enforcement officers preoccupied with life-and-death emergencies, the stores are broken into and emptied of their contents by mobs of people, most of whom would not steal so brazenly under the normal societal circumstances, when the rule of the government and threat of arrest is in effect.

The same thing was observed during the US-Iraq war. When the government of the tyrant Saddam Hussein was toppled (thank G-d!), in broad daylight there was a free-for-all of looting of stores by the Muslim population.
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#20
Did RambaN and RambaM say that "dina d'malchusa dina" ("the law of the land is the law") is part and parcel of the Noahide law of Dinim?

And with regards to taxes, if it were truly robbery not to pay taxes, and if that is robbery, then are you saying that it is a capital offense to not pay taxes?

Rabbi Weiner's point was:

"When a ruling government is accepted by the people, the law "dina de'malchusa dina" applies, regardless how just and fitting to the Seven Laws the government is."

So I have no idea how you would exclude all sorts of tyrannies with a statement like this.
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