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A Proposal for P'sharah: A
Jewish Mediation/Arbitration
Ira Yitzchak Kasdan

Ira Yitzchak Kasdan - The author is a partner in the law firm of Ginsburg, Feldman and Bress, Chartered, located in Washington, D.C. He is also a cofounder of P'SHARA Jewish Dispute Resolution, Inc., which offers disputants the opportunity to resolve differences through mediation or arbitration conducted in an halachically-acceptable manner.


  1. Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 26.
  2. Sh'mot 21:1 based upon Gitin 88b. See also Responsa Minchat Yitzchak Vol.4 No.51 and the sources cited therein.
  3. See Rashi Sh'mot 21:1 "Litnaihem."
  4. These include the following:
    Mishneh Halachot Vol.7 No.255: Noam Vol.9 "B'inyan Arkaot"; Tzitz Eliezer Vol.11 No.93: Tzitz Eliezer Vol.12 No.82; Y'chaveh Daat Vol.4 No.65; Sh'alot Ut'shuvot T'shuvot V'hanhagot Nos. 793-796.
  5. See, e.g. Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society. Vol. H, Rabbi Simcha Krauss. "Litigation in Secular Courts" (hereinafter "Litigation"); id., Vol. IX, Rabbi Dr. Dov Bressler. "Arbitration and the Courts in Jewish Law" hereinafter "Arbitration"), CROSSROADS. Halacha and the Modern World. Vol.11, Rav Yaacov Arid, "Secular Courts in the State of Israel." id., Prof. Yaacov Bazak. "The Statua of the Israeli Court System."
  6. See, e.g., Litigation at 37 note 6.
  7. Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 26:1. One, unfortunately, of many examples of Chilul Hashem resulting from civil litigation in secular court is found in a recent Washington Post editorial which publicized how two factions within a synagogue sued each other under the Racketeer Influenced and Conupt Organizations Act (RICO). Cases of this nature are regularly published in State and federal law reporters. See, e.g., Grunwald v. Bornfreund, 696 F. Supp. 838 (E.D.N.Y. 1988).
  8. Chidushei R. Akivah Eiger, Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 26:1 "Uv'arkaot shelahem."
  9. See generally Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society, Vol.1, Rabbi Hershel Schachier, "'Dina De'Malchusa Dina:' Secular Law As a Religious Oblitation."
  10. See. e.g.. Kozlowski V. Seville, Inc., 64 Misc.2d 109 (Sup. Ct. 1970); Katz V. Uvegi, 187 N.Y.S.2d 511 (Sup. Ct. 1959). See also New York Law Journal. July 19.1989 p.1 "Court Vacates Rabbis' Award In Arbitration," discussing Meisels V. Uhr (Supreme Court. Kings County July 13, 1989).
  11. See Ramah Choshen Mishpat 26:1:

    "Likewise we ban one who strengthens the hand of the one who goes before a heathen court." See also Y'chaveh Daat Vol.4 No.65 note **; Sh'alot Ut'shuvot T'shuvot V'hanhagot No.795. An exception from the need to obtain advance permission of Beit Din may apply in a case involving non-religious Jews who undoubtedly will not obey a subpoena ("harmana") issued by a Beit Din. See Sh'alot Ut'shuvot T'shuvot V'hanhagot No.795.

  12. See. e.g.. the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. §§ 1-15, and the Uniform Arbitration Act ("UAA"), which has been adopted in whole or in part by 32 states and the District of Columbia.
  13. See. e.g.. 9. U.S.C. § 10; UAA § 12.
  14. Sanhedrin 6a.
  15. Id.
  16. Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 12:7.
  17. Id. 3:1.
  18. Id. 12:7.
  19. Sanhedrin 6a.
  20. Rashi Sanhedrin 6a "V'hilch'tah p'sharah tz'richah kinyan."
  21. Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 12:7.
  22. Tosafot Sanhedrin 6a "V'hilch'tah p'sharan tz'richah kinyan."
  23. Shiltei Giborim, Rif on Sanhedrin 1b note 1.
  24. Sanhedrin 6b.
  25. Shiltei Giborim. note 23 supra.
  26. Even the opinion of R. Eliezer, who prohibits bitzuah. see Sanhedrin 6b. is limited to the time after the litigants arrive at the doors of Beit Din. See Rashi Sanhedrin 6b "Asur livtzoah." See also Peirush HaRif on Ein Yaacov. Sanhedrin 6b "R. Eliezer omer asur livtzoah."
  27. Shulchan Aruch. Choshen Mishpat 12:2
  28. Aruch Hashulchan 12:2, See also N'tivot Hamishpat, Choshen Mishpat 12 note 3: Igrot Moshe, Choshen Mishpat Vol.1 No.17.
  29. See, e.g., Igrot Moshe Choshen Mishpat Vol.2 No.8: Sh'alot Ut'shuvot T'shuvot V 'hanbagot No. 793.
  30. The concept of p'sharah karov l' din is intended not only to encourage a spirit of compromise, but also is designed to help protect the judges themselves from the consequences of (even inadvertently) not rendering an indisputably correct and foolproof decision. See Arbitration at 107.
  31. See generally Arbitration, supra. See Aruch HaShuichan 22:8 citing Shach, Choshen Mishpat 26 nOte 15.
  32. See Rashi, D'varim 6:18 Hayashar v hatov: "Zu p'sharan, lifnim mishurat hadin."
  33. Whereas the agreement of disputants to litigate in secular courts (including the State of Israel's court system) is prohibited even in instances where the secular court would apply Torah law (see Shulchan Atuch, Choshen Mishpat 26:2; Litigation at 49-53), agreement to arbitrate before a Jewish arbitration panel which would not necessarily apply strict Torah law should nonetheless be permissible. See notes 34,35 and 36, infra. The distinction may lie in the permanence of the secular court system, its usually compulsory nature and its rigid adherence to precedent, versus the temporal status of the arbitral panel, its non-compulsory nature and its ability to exert flexibility and discretion in the decision-making process. These latter characteristics would not render atbitration an affront to, or rejection of, Belt Din or halachic authority, or create the spectre of Chilul Hashem on those occasions when it (arbitration) is used. Cf Litigation at 51-52.
  34. Tzitz Eliezer Vol.11 No.93.
  35. Chidushei R. Akivah Elger, Shulchan Aruch. Choshen Mishpat 3:1 "V'ham danim."
  36. Tzitz Eliezer Vol.11 No.93.
  37. Sanhedrin 6b.
  38. Tosafot. Sanhedrin 6b "Aval Aharon."
  39. Bach, Tur, Choshen Mishpat 12 note 7 "Af al pi."
  40. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 181:8.
  41. Aruch HaShulchan, Choshen Mishpat. 9:6.
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