There are societies that use Sharia laws.

Are there any societies that use Torah laws?

I know that the Torah influences some societies to enact some "far fetch" laws.

Christians, for example, use, "Don't commit adultery" in Torah, to prohibit porn, fornication, prostitution, concubinage, and polygamy.

However, I know of no country where adultery is actually punished by stoning because of the Torah.

Moreover, most Jews and Christians, live in secular countries. I do not see them using Torah laws.

Are any countries still using laws based on the Torah?

For example: The penalty for stealing in Torah is returning 7 times the amount stolen. Any country does that? The penalty for deflowering a virgin is paying the bride price. Any country does that?

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    Not to get into major theological discussions, but are you aware that most "Torah" laws only pertain to Jews (as in, non-Jews aren't required to obey them), and the only laws that are required for everyone are 7 so-called "noahide" laws? (most of which are rather generic and don't prescribe speicifc punishment)?
    – user4012
    Feb 17, 2018 at 21:41
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    As such, your question makes very little sense. The only country possible that would use "Torah" laws is Israel, and that's pretty well covered on Wikipedia
    – user4012
    Feb 17, 2018 at 21:42

1 Answer 1


TL;DR: In the modern world, NO. Not the way Shariah is used in many Islamic countries.

  1. First of all, you need to understand that most (like, 99+%) of "Torah laws" by definition only apply to Jews. As in, non-Jews are not in any way, shape or form are required or expected to follow them.

    The ONLY laws that non-Jews are meant to follow that are in the Torah are "7 laws of Noah".

    • Importantly, these are not "secular" laws, in that the only Biblical punishment for not following them is "You don't get to be included in the Righteous so don't get an automatic path to Heaven". Which would seem like a big deal to a believing Jew but probably not really something to worry about for someone who doesn't share the same belief set. And, obviously, this doesn't get judged by Jews, or any humans, but G-d.

    • Later on, there were Talmudic changes, that seem rather complicated and stuff (Wikipedia has summary, Judaism.SE is the place to ask details). The most relevant part is that no gentile was on record as having been punished for violating the 7 laws; and there's a strain of thought that any Talmudic discussion of practicalities of that are only meaningful after Messiah (the Jewish one) arrives, which hasn't happened yet.

      Rabbinic Judaism has never adjudicated any cases under Noahide law

    Now, if you're talking about Jews adhering to Torah laws (called Halakha):

  2. Obviously, Ancient Israel obeyed them to a great extent (when not being subject to conquering nation's laws, which was a lot of periods), until Roman destruction of Israel as a state.

    • More specific to your question, the actual judicial system was far less strict than a minimal reading of Torah itself would lead one to believe. E.g. death penalty was exceedingly rare and required more legal nuancing than United States laws.

    • It is important to note that Jewish religious law was both a theological AND civil law, by design (like Islam, but unlike early Christian ones, where "Lord's" and "Ceasar's" are officially separated, and only advent of politicized state Church post-Constantine changed that).

  3. Jewish communities in post-Roman-destruction disapora often adhered to Torah laws (and in middle ages, often only them), with the major caveat that some of them were no longer legally applicable absent the state of Israel, or Sanhedrin (official state court) etc...

    • Modern Jewish communities are often voluntarily subject to Jewish Law, but only whereas it does not conflict with civil laws of surrounding state (e.g., you don't consider yourself married unless under Rabbinical ceremony... BUT, legally according to the rest of society, you aren't married unless you follow state rules for marriage. Obviously, if stoning for adultery contradicts the state law, that is also not permitted).

  4. Modern state of Israel is... complicated.

    Officially, Israel is governed by secular law, a common law system that is somewhat derived from English law. This is in contrast to many Islamic countries where Constitution states that it's based on Shariah.

    • There are some exceptions, specifically for Jews, where small sections of law is under jurisdiction of a religious tribunal.

      For example, (just like in any Western country), non-Jews are subject to "normal" marriage laws that aren't any different than ones elsewhere; whereas Jewish marriage must pass religious law - for example, a Jew cannot civil-marry a non-Jew in Israel and have it be legally recognized, even though two non-Jews can marry freely (and a non-Israel marriage will also be recognized as well no matter who is married). To the best of my knowledge, Muslims must marry under Islamic laws, not secular ones, but I'm not certain of that.

    • However, since passing the civil laws is a political exercise, and Israel has a very strong orthodox religious lobby, there are many laws passed (and many more being proposed/lobbied for) that are influenced by Torah laws.

      Most notably, the marriage laws (see above).

      Also, similar to Christian countries' having "Blue laws" forbidding desecration of Sabbath, there are many local laws in Israel prohibiting desecration of Shabbat, except they are far more strict (no public transportation is permitted, for example). There are even regular attempts to pass such laws country-wide. There was a major political spat last couple of years over repairing major railroad, as it was best to repair it on Saturday when there's no work commute.

    • To the best of my knowledge, actual criminal law is entirely Common Law, not really derived from Torah laws anymore than they would be in other Western countries (as in, there's obviously Judeo-Christian influence in ALL Western law :)

  • 1
    Can you clarify "Israel is governed by civil law, a common law system" Civil law is (in some ways) the opposite of common law. The uk and the USA have a common law system. France, Germany and most of Europe has a civil law system. Wikipedia suggests that Israel has a common law system, with some civil law characteristics. I think you should say "Israel has a common law system that is somewhat derived from English Law" .
    – James K
    Feb 17, 2018 at 23:49
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    @JamesK - I mean "civil" as in "opposite of religious". Not sure if there's a better term for that. No idea that "civil law" has some technical meaning
    – user4012
    Feb 18, 2018 at 0:59
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    maybe "secular" law.
    – James K
    Feb 18, 2018 at 6:31
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    @ugoren does that mean marriage by the irreligious is also impossible?
    – Erik
    Feb 18, 2018 at 9:40
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    @user4012: There are two types of "Civil Law". Big "C" Civil Law is a legal system most common in mainland Europe and nations that were colonies of them. Little "c" civil law are laws in both Common Law and Civil Law that regard matters of law that are not criminal in nature (mostly lawsuits though Wills and contract law and the like). Israel is a Common Law system in which it's civil laws related to family court and inheritance is governed by the religious laws related to marriage OR the laws of the nation the marriage originated in.
    – hszmv
    Feb 20, 2018 at 21:07

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