Few are the Israelis, even within the religious community, who consider the rabbinical courts to be the proper forum for the resolution of civil-business disputes. Sadly, rabbinical courts are utilized almost exclusively for matters of divorce and personal status. In addition, the civil court system is collapsing under the burden, and is not succeeding in providing efficient service to the populace entering its gates.
The shunning of the rabbinical courts is not only a severe halachic problem; rather it is also a cultural-social problem. One of the ingredients of the Zionist vision – the renewal of a sovereign Jewish nationalism – expressed a desire that the judicial system reflect the Jewish judiciary tradition and Jewish values of justice.
Accessible, fair and affordable judicature is a vital ingredient of a cultural and civilized society. Indeed, even the seven Noachide laws include the requirement that there be fair courts of law.
With this in mind, the “Eretz Hemdah” institutes have decided to establish a new rabbinical court, which will provide a venue for the resolution of disputes and will serve the broad Israeli public, according to Torah law and within the constraints of civil law.
The Beit Din will manage its affairs at all times in a manner expressing the ideals of efficient, professional and fair service.
The steering committee, which includes both dayanim and attorneys, has prepared the basic principles and protocol of the Beit Din, in a manner which aligns itself with both the halacha and Israeli civil law.
The Beit Din has a broad public administration, including the respectable leadership of community leaders, lawyers and businesspeople, which is meant to assure the high standards and quality of service. The Beit Din has an assembly of topnotch judicial advisors at its disposal.
Course of Conduct
The atmosphere in the Beit Din is professional and decorous in terms of both the external and practical aspects.
Judicial proceedings – The Beit Din has judicial proceedings that will be strictly adhered to. The judicial proceedings have been compiled by the steering committee, and have been approved by both the rabbinic board and the international board of directors. The steering committee has also set ethical guidelines for the Beit Din’s dayanim, and they too express the high standards that the Beit Din will abide by.
Transparency – The Beit Din’s rulings are coherent and elucidated. A selection of the Beit Din’s rulings will be published and distributed, while maintaining the litigants’ full privacy, in order to present the public with the foundations of law and halacha that the Beit Din’s work is grounded upon. These rulings will be a sample of the solutions that the Beit Din will offer to contemporary problems in each field.
Court of appeals – As part of its policy of excellence and transparency, the Beit Din has established a court of appeals, which will reexamine the ruling in some instances.
Location – The courtroom is situated in Jerusalem, on the 2 Brurya St. The Beit Din’s services are also available along the coastal plain.
The Beit Din’s policy
The halachic policy utilized by the Beit Din is determined by its rabbinic board, which includes rabbinical court judges, rabbis and roshei yeshivot, representing the Torah world in Isreal and the Diaspora.
An in-depth understanding of the fundaments of Torah law is the foremost guarantee of a just and efficient resolution to every conflict.
Civil law has halachic import in many areas, which is apparent in numerous rulings of the rabbinical fiscal court. The Beit Din will conduct itself with total awareness of state custom, while examining its halachic ramifications. Legal advisors and other topnotch experts will assist the Beit Din in carrying out its task in the best possible manner. Under no circumstances, however, will these committees be allowed to interfere with or to hinder the Beit Din’s decisions.
In addition to these two components there is another, central, component, that increases the Beit Din’s authority and enables a suitable resolution of every case. By signing the arbitration agreement, both sides invest the Beit Din with the power to impose indemnity as well as court expenses, according to its considerations. In addition, a Ltd. Company’s status has been settled unequivocally. Within its authority to judge “by law or towards a settlement based on its best judgment and evaluation” the Beit Din has the right to employ additional considerations.
This booklet compiles the basic documents which are used by the Beit Din, and describe its course of conduct. Leafing through the judicial proceedings and ethical guidelines may offer an initial glimpse of the Beit Din’s attributes (Chapters 2-3). Later on, for the sake of clarification, there is a straightforward description of the prosecution (Chapter 4). Subsequent to that (in Chapter 5) we have included the aforementioned arbitration agreement.
The final document in this booklet (Chapter 6) is an “appendix to the contract” – Halachic Validity and Determining an Agreed-Upon Arbiter. This appendix can serve as a postscript to many contracts that were not drawn-up in a manner befitting the halachic specifications. The appendix grants halachic validity to the assorted obligations, and integrates a Heter Iska stipulation so as to avoid the prohibition against collecting interest. At the end of the booklet (Chapter 7) we have added a listing of those presiding over the Court: the Court judges, the rabbinic board and the international board of directors.
We hope that we will merit the Beit Din becoming another step in the realization of the Prophets’ vision of the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the redemption of Israel:
“Zion shall be redeemed with judgment
and those that return to her with righteousness…” (Isaiah 1, 27)
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