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Rabbis: Paying Taxes a Mitzvah – And an Honor

Rabbinic group declares importance of paying taxes, and rejects link of gender segregation, religiosity.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 3/6/2014, 3:57 PM

Women's section of bus.
Women's section of bus.
Flash 90

The Beit Hillel rabbinic organization has printed its fifth pamphlet on halakhic (Jewish legal) issues, 60,000 copies of which will be in synagogues this week.

In the latest edition, the rabbis of Beit Hillel tackled the issue of taxes, and the controversial subject of gender separation in the religious Jewish community.

Not only are Jews required by halakha to pay their taxes fully, but they also may not purchase services from a person they know is evading taxes, Beit Hillel stated. If they do so, they share responsibility for the other person’s sin, the group ruled.

The halakhic obligation to pay taxes is based on the principle of “dina d’malkuta dina” (the law of the land is the Law), the rabbis explained.

In addition, a business that evades paying taxes gives itself an unfair advantage compared to competitors who pay taxes, which is a serious violation of halakha, the rabbis warned.

In Israel, tax payment should be seen not merely as an obligation, but as a privilege, they said. “After two thousand years of exile from our land… we have merited to build and be built in our independent country, and to pay in shekels, to our own government… We are blessed to have reached this point,” they wrote.

“It is very important to publicize this halakha, to help create a truthful society, one with solidarity and not selfish separatism,” they continued. “And then we will progress a bit toward the exemplary society that the state of Israel is meant to be, according to the Torah and to the vision of the prophets of Israel.”

The rabbis also tackled the controversial topic of gender segregation. They explained Beit Hillel’s position, which is to maintain high standards of modesty while at the same time, ensuring that women are not treated unfairly or pushed out of the public eye in the name of modesty.

Forcing women to the sidelines is unfair, and prevents women from actualizing their ability to contribute to society, the rabbis warned.

Religiosity should not be measured in terms of gender separation, they said. “What determines the level of Torah observance in a society is not the degree of gender separation, but rather, upholding spiritual and moral values, such as Torah study and acts of kindness, careful observance of the mitzvoth between people and those between humans and G-d, taking responsibility for each other, and more," they concluded.

Beit Hillel has no connection to the US campus-based Hillel network of Jewish student organizations.