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QUESTION

Los Angeles, CA

Rabbi Linzer, would you say that states where all indoor gatherings are prohibited, to hold a minyan indoors would violate Dina DeMalkhuta?

My county just issued an order that, “Outdoor gatherings remain the only gatherings permitted, and they must only include 15 people maximum who are members of no more than 3 households.”

My shul only gathers outdoors, distanced, masks, no aliyot etc, but we are about 25 people and 20 different households. Although we are being extremely careful, would this mean that it is now halakhically forbidden for us to gather in this manner under “Dina DeMalkhuta”?

ANSWER

There is a huge debate what falls under דד”ד, and I am putting aside for now the question of potential חילול השם which cannot be taken lightly. According to many, דד”ד only refers to cases of property – like taking taxes, eminent domain, defining financial obligations. Others say it means that public laws – דין מלכות – are binding, not ones that govern the behavior between people. This would fall under the public law category. Anyway, there are far too many definitions – pick your definition, get your answer. I would advise not doing it: potential חילול השם and everything that’s been in the newspapers, and I also take my cue from Rav Moshe (Iggrot Moshe OC 1:72) who said in a teshuva that he doesn’t want to discuss the parameters implicitly because it is really a discussion of when you don’t have to follow government laws.

On the other hand, if in practice people aren’t following it, I think it’s fine.