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Secular Law Enforcement of the Heter 'Iska
Kenneth H. Ryesky, Esq.

Kenneth H. Ryesky, Esq. - Attorney-at-Law, East Northport, NY. Member of the Bar, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

  1. Shemot xxii, 24; Vayikra xxv, 36-38; Devarim xxiii, 20.
  2. See, e.g., J. Stern, "Ribis: A Halachic Anthology", IV J. Halacha Contemp. Soc'y 46 (Fall 1982), at 66 - 69.
  3. Baba Metzia 104b.
  4. See Gittin 88b; see also S. Krauss, "Litigation in Secular Courts", III J. Halacha Contermp. Soc'y 35 (Spring 1982).
  5. See, e.g. B. Lifshitz, "Israeli Law and Jewish Law -- Interaction and Independence", 24 Israel L. Rev. 507 (1990).
  6. The often severe inflation that has historically plagued Israel's economy has further complicated legal matters with respect to cases having possible ribit issues. See, e.g., Rosenbaum v. Zeger, 9 Piskei Din 533 (1955); see generally A. Levine, "Inflation Issues in Jewish Law", V J. Halacha Contemp. Soc'y 25 (Spring 1983).
  7. See, e.g. 91 American Jewish Yearbook, table at 207, which shows New York in 1990 ranking second among the States in total population (17.9 million), first in Jewish population (1.8 million) and first in percentage of Jews in the total population (10.3 %). See also Tillem, ed., The 1987 -88 Jewish Alrnanac, "yellow pages" section, passim (New York entries for various Jewish institutions, including mikvaot and Orthodox synagogues, decidedly outnumber those from other states).
  8. See, e.g. Jones v. Approved Bancredit Corp., 256 A.2d 739, 742, (Del. 1969), 6 U.C.C. Rep. Serv. (Callaghan) 1001, 100.5; Ford v. Ford 592 So.2d b98, 701 (FIa.App. 3 Dist. 7991); Lambeth v. Lewis, 114 Ga.App. 191, 150 5.E.2d 462, 463; First Bank of T'rust Co., Palatine v. Post, 10 Ill.App.3d 127, 293 N.E2d 907, 9I0 (1973); Graves v. John Wunder Co., 205 Minn. 163, 286 N.W. 235, 236 (I939); State v. Dreher, 251 N.J.Super 300, 598 A.2d 216, 22l (App. Div. 1991); PICPA Foundation v. Cornmonwealth, 598 A.2d I078, I083 (Pa. Comwlth 1991). New York court decisions are also cited by tribunals in other nations, including Israel, see, e.g. Kossoy v. Bank Y. L. Feucjitwanger, Ltd., 38(3) Piskei Din 253 (1984).
  9. See, e.g. Iggerot Moshe, Choshen Mishpat 29.
  10. See, e.g. N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law 13 (malicious service of process on Saturday upon a person who observes Saturday as a Sabbath is a misdemeanor); N.Y. Relig. Corp. Law 207 - 209 (1990)(relating to Jewish congregations); N.Y. Agric. & Mkts. Law sections 201-a - 201-j (1991)(New York Kosher Enforcement laws); N.J.S.A. 2C:21-7.2 et seq. (1988)(New Jersey Kosher Food Law);18 Pa.C.S.A. section 4107.1 (1978)(Pennsylvania criminal prohibition against kosher food deception).
  11. E.g., Estate of Berkman v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo 1979-46, 38 TCM (CCH) 183 (United States Tax Court held that stone erection and setting was an integral part of funeral. service for the Jewish decedent); Matter of Feifer, 151 Misc. 54, 270 N.Y.S. 905 (Sur. Ct. N.Y. Co., l934) (Expense of paying someone to say Kaddish for decedent not allowed as an expenditure from Estate funds inasmuch as Kaddish was an obligation personal to the Estate's administrator, the decedent's surviving son).
  12. See, e.g. N.Y. Gen. Oblig. Law sections 5-501 et seq.
  13. Shemot xxii, 24; Vayikra xxv, 36-38; Devarim xxiii, 20.
  14. See, e.g. I.R.C. sections 6601 et seq. (interest on taxes imposed by Internal Revenue Code); I.R.C. section 7872 (interest imputed to certain below-market loan transactions); N.Y. Civ. Prac. Laws & Rules 5002 - 5004 (interest on judgements); N.Y. Tax Law section 991 (interest on New York taxes); 41 Pa.C.S.A. sections 101 et seq. (Pennsylvania interest statutes); see also Milbrandt v. A.P. Green Refractories Co., 79 N.Y.2d 26, 580 N.Y.S.2d 147 (1992) (Clarifies rules for imposition of pre-verdict interest in wrongful death awards); Banks Estate, 8 Pa. Fiduc. 2d 338 (Orph. Ct. Phila. Co. 1988), aff'd 127 Pa.Comwlth 394, 561 A.2d 1298 (189), appeal denied 525 Pa. 586, 575 A.2d 116 (1990) (Deductibility of interest expenses for Federal and Pennsylvania Estate Tax purposes).
  15. See, e.g. Woodling v. Garrett Corp., 813 F.2d 543, 551 (2d Cir. 1987); see also N.Y. Gen. Oblig. Law 5-1401.
  16. See, e.g. N.Y. Civ. Prac. Laws & Rules 4511(a) (Courts required to take judicial notice of the law in sister states).
  17. See, e.g. N.Y. Civ. Prac. Laws & Rules 3016(e) and 4511 (b).
  18. Schedlmayer v. Trans Intern. Air Lines, 99 Misc.2d 478, 483, 416 N.Y.S.2d 461, 465 (N.Y. Civ. Ct., N.Y. Co. 1979).
  19. Cf. Dresdner Bank AG v. Edelmann, 129 Misc.2d 686, 493 N.Y.S.2d 703 (Sup. Ct. N.Y. Co. 1985) (Plaintiff sufficiently set forth the law of Germany in its pleadings) with Elghanayan v. F. Elghanayan, 148 Misc.2d 552, 560 N.Y.S. 2d 955 (Sup. Ct. N.Y. Co. 1990) (Substance of Iranian law not specified in the pleadings nor otherwise reasonably ascertainable by the Court).
  20. See Hurwitz v. Hurwitz, 216 A.D. 362, 215 N.Y.S. 184 (2d Dept. 2926). (In an action where decedent's children sought to evict their stepmother, the decedent's widow, from the decedent's residence, the court declined to apply the "Laws of Moses and Israel" per se to enforce the widow's ketubah. Nevertheless, the ketubah itself was found to be a valid contract under New York law to the extent that it related to the widow's rights in New York real property by virtue of the fact that it was properly executed in New York by or on behalf of two New York residents.).
  21. Avitzur v. Avitzur, 58 N.Y.2d I08, 459 N.Y.S.2d 572, 446 N.E.2d 136 (1983), cert. denied 464 U.S. 817,104 S.Ct. 76, 78 L.Ed.2d 88 (1983); Hurwitz v. Hurwitz, Id.
  22. See generally Abramson, "A Primer on Resolving Disputes Lessons from Alternate Dispute Resolution", N.Y. St. Bar J., March/April 1992, at 48 (Brief overview of alternate dispute resolution techniques); see also D. Siegel, New York Practice 607-09 (2d Ed.1991).
  23. See, e.g. N.Y. Unif. District Court Act section 1804-A, which prvvides for arbitration of small commercial claims in District Court. (The author has served as a Court Arbitrator for such claims in the District Court of Suffolk County, New York). See also N.Y.C. Civil Court Act 1844-A (applies same provisions to the New York City Civil Court).
  24. Thos. Crimmins Contracting Co., Inc.v. City of New York, 74 N.Y.2d 166, 171, 544 N.Y.S.2d 580, 582, 542 N.E.2d 1097, 1099 (1989); Schubtex, Inc. v. Allen Snyder, Inc., 49 N.Y.2d 1, 424 N.Y.S.2d 133, 399 N.E.2d 1154 (1979). There are certain "compulsory arbitration" exceptions to the law, for which the arbitrations are enforceable regardless of whether the parties specifically agree to arbitration. See, e.g. N.Y. Insurance Law 5l05(b); N.Y. Labor Law 716.
  25. See, e.g. Gary Spencer, "$963 Million Sought for Courts in 1992-93", N.Y.L.J., December 2, 1991 at 1. On each of the next three days, the New York Law Journal similarly featured a front page article by the same writer on different aspects of the fiscal crisis affecting the New York courts. See also Letta Tayler, "Civil Courts Bogged Down," Newsday (Long Island, NY), January 3, 1992, page 4 (describes overloaded condition of the Nassau and Suffolk County (NY) court systems). Similar conditions proliferate throughout New York and other states.).
  26. See, e.g. Meisels v. Uhr,145 Misc.2d 571, 573-74, 547 N.Y.S2d 502, 505-06 (Sup. Ct. Kings Co. 1989) (dictum), aff'd 173 A.D.2d .542, 570 N.Y.S.2d I007 (2d Dept.1992), rev'd on other grounds 79 N.Y2d 526, 583 N.Y.S2d 951, 953 N.E.2d 1359 (1992).
  27. Gittin 88b; Cf. Kilstein v. Agudath Council of Greater N.Y., Inc., 133 A.D.2d 809, 520 N.Y.S.2d 189 {2d Dept. 1987), lv. to appeal denied 71 N.Y.2d 805 (1988). (Observant Jew declined to bring matter before secular courts while the matter was pending before a Beth Din).
  28. See, e.g. E. Goodenough, The Jurisprudence of the Jewish Courts in Egypt, (Yale Univ. Press, 1929); N. J. Laski, The Laws and Charities of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews of London 68 (1952); D. M. Shohet, The Jewish Courts in the Middle Ages (l931), reprinted in III Studies in Jewish Jurisprudence (1974).
  29. Mikel v. Scharf,105 Misc.2d 548, 551, 432 N.Y.S.2d 602, 605 (Sup. Ct. Kings Co. 1980), aff'd 85 A.D.2d 604, 444 N.Y.S.2d 690 (2d Dept.1981). Certain procedural irregularities in this particular matter led the Court to vacate the Din Torah award; however, the Court indicated its respect for and approval of the Din Torah institution in general. The case is also noteworthy because the parties, both observant Jews, who apparently faced the prospect of arbitration before a secular Court Arbitrator, opted for a rabbinical court instead.
  30. See Tugendrajch v. Heifetz, 560 F.Supp. 906 (S.D.N.Y. 1983); Elmora Hebrew Center, Inc. v. Fishman;125 N.J. 404, 593 A.2d 725 (1991); Meisels v. Uhr, 79 N.Y.2d 526, 583 N.Y.S2d 951, 953 N.E.2d 1359 (1992). Kilstein v. Agudath Council of Greater N.Y., Inc.,133 A.D.2d 809, 520 N.Y.S.2d 189 (2d Dept. 1987), leave to appeal denied 71 N.Y2d 805 (1988); Kingsbridge Center of Israel v. Turk, 98 A.D.2d 664, 469 N.Y.S.2d 732 (lst Dept. 1983); Berman v. Shatnes Laboratory, 43 A.D.2d 736, 350 N.Y.S2d 703 (2d Dept. l973); Rosenbaum v. Drucker, 346 Pa. 434, 31 A.2d 117 (1943); see also Zyskind v. Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns of Rockaway, Misc.2d N.Y.S.2d , N.Y.L.J., March 20, 1992 at 27 (Sup. Ct., Nassau Co.). (Court effectively preserved the status quo pending Din Torah resolution of a dispute between the parties.)
  31. See D. Bressler, "Arbitration and the Courts in Jewish Law", IX J. Halacha & Contemp. Soc'y 105 (Spring l985).
  32. Hellman v. Wolbrom, 31 A.D.2d 477, 298 N.Y.S.2d 540 (lst Dept. 1969).
  33. See, e.g. Mikel v. Scharf, 105 Misc.2d 548, 551, 432 N.Y.S.2d 602, 605 (Sup. Ct. Kings Co.1980), aff'd 85 A.D.2d 604, 44 N.Y.S2d 690 (2d Dept. 1981). Cf. Devarim i:l6-17, xxui: 6-9.
  34. See, e.g. Mikel v. Scharf, Id.
  35. Ibid.
  36. Kozlowski v. Seville Syndicate, Inc., 64 Misc.2d 109, 314 N.Y.S.2d 439 (Sup. Ct. N.Y. Co. 1970).
  37. See, e.g. Levovitz v. Yeshiva Beth Henoch Inc., 120 A.D.2d 289, 508 N.Y.S.2d l96 (2d Dept.1980).
  38. Barclay's Discount Bank Ltd. v. Levy 743 F.2d 722, note 2 at 724 (9th Cir. 1984).
  39. Barclay's Commerce Corp. v. Finkelstein, 11 A.D.2d 327, 205 N.Y.S.2d 551 (lst Dept. 1960). Lv. to appeal denied, 11 A.D.2d 1019, 207 N.Y.S2d 995 (1960). The plaintiff in this case is not to be confused with the plaintiff in the case cited above in the prior footnote.
  40. Id. at 328.
  41. Arnav Industries, Inc. Employee Retirernent Trust v. Westside Realty Associates, 180 A.D.2d 463, 579 N.Y.S.2d 382, (1st Dept 1992).
  42. Id.
  43. Id.
  44. See Helmsley v. Pannnick, 13l A.D.2d 940, 516 N.Y.S.2d 804 (3d Dept. 1987).
  45. Leibovici v. Rawicki, 57 Misc2d 141, 290 N.Y.S2d 997 (N.Y.Civ. Ct., N.Y. Co. 1968), aff'd per curiam 64 Misc.2d 858, 316 N.Y.S.2d l81 (N.Y. App. Term, Ist Dept.1969).
  46. Id. at 145, 290 N.Y.S.2d at l00l.
  47. Bollag v. Dresdner, 130 Misc.2d 221, 495 N.Y.S.2d 560 (N.Y. Civ. Ct. Kings Co.1985).
  48. See N.Y. Civ. Prac. Laws & Rules section 5002, which provides for interest from date of judgment until actual payment.
  49. Bollag v. Dresdner, supra at 226.
  50. Berger v. Moskowitz, _ Misc.2d , N.Y.S.2d , N.Y.L.J., October 30, l991 at 25, Index No. 15601-91 (Sup. Ct. Kings Co.1991 ).
  51. Exhibits 1 and 2 to Affidavit of Plaintiff, Berger v. Moskowtz, Id.
  52. Id.
  53. Affirmation of John J. Hayes, Esq. at 3, Affidavit of B. Moskowitz at 5, Berger v. Moskowitz, Id.
  54. See notes 17 through 21, supra; and accompanying text.
  55. Affidavit of Israel Joseph Stern at 2, Berger v. Moskowitz, suprn, note 50.
  56. See notes 24 and 32, supra, and accompanying text.
  57. Ibid.
  58. See notes 45 and 46, supra, and accompanying text.
  59. Erie R.R. Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64, 58 S.Ct. 817, 82 L.Ed. 1188 (1938).
  60. Commmissioner v. Estate of Bosch, 387 U.S. 456, 87 S.Ct. 1776, I8 L.Ed.2d 886 (1967).
  61. Birnbaum v. Birnbaurn, 73 N.Y.2d 461, 541 N.Y.S2d 746, 539 N.E.2d 574 (1989); Meinhard v. Salmon, 249 N.Y. 458, 164 N.E. 545 (1928); Cialeo v. Meinhard, Misc.2d _ N.Y.S.2d , N.Y.L.J., June 18, 1992 at 24, 25 (Sup. Ct. N.Y. Co.); Plotch v. Plotch, _ Misc.2d , N.Y.S.2d , N.Y.L.J., June 11, 1992 at 25 (Sup. Ct. Bronx Co.).
  62. Plotch v.Plotch, _ Misc.2d __ N.Y.S.2d , N.Y.L.J., June 11,1992 at 25 (Sup. Ct. Bronx Co.).
  63. Birnbaum v. Birnbaum, 73 N.Y.2d 461, 465, 541 N.Y.S.2d 746, 747, 539 N.E.2d 574 (1928); Meinhard v. Salmon, 249 N.Y. 458, 164 N.E. 545 (1928).
  64. Treas. Reg. section 20.2053-4.
  65. Bava Kama 113b.
  66. The document need not be in the English language, but if it is presented to a secular court there will be a need for an English translation and an affidavit of the translator. See, e.g. N.Y. Civ. Prac. Laws & Rules 2101 (b).
  67. See Appendix to this article for a specimen document. The document set forth in the Appendix is essentially in the nature of the witnesses memorializing the fact that the borrower and lender made an agreement. Signature upon the document by the parties themselves will render the document into a valid and enforceable arbitration agreement for purposes of the secular law. See N.Y. Civ. Prac. Laws & Rules 7501.
  68. Discussed supra, see notes 50 through 57 and accompanying text.
  69. Baraitha d'Rabbi Yishmael - Sifra, P'tichah.
  70. M. J. Broyde, "The Practice of Law Accurding to Halacha", XX J. Halacha & Contemp. Soc'y 5, 6-16 (Fall 1990); S. Krauss, "Litigation in Secular Courts", III J. Halacha Contemp. Soc'y 35 (Spring 1982).
  71. Peah I:1; Shabbat 127a.
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