Aug 31, 2011

Fighting In Civil Court Instead Of Beis Din

Last week the residents of RBS were happy to hear that the Bostoner Rebbe of New York was coming back to RBS. He had not been here in a number of years, due to health issues and other personal issues, and was sorely missed by many. When he used to live here many years ago, I had some personal contact with the Rebbe and found him to be a warm and compassionate, and honorable, man.

After the Bostoner Rebbe arrived, many were surprised to find out that shortly after that the police were called in to arrest him.

It turns out that the dispute that has been running the past few years over the shul and social hall was more than just unclarity due to the rebbe's absence. It is part of a major argument in the family over who owns the property. The fight is between the son-in-law and the rebbe. The rebbe, and his other kids, claim it is his and was built with his money, while the son-in-law claims that it is his, he lent the rebbe the money, and the rebbe owes him a lot of money. They have been to court, which is why the rebbe was not able to come back for so long. Bechadrei has some of that information.

I don't want to get involved in their personal financials and arguments, and it is not for me to offer a half-baked opinion of who is right.

The only thing I would comment on is that they should be going to beis din to solve this dispute. The son-in-law is calling the police on his father in law, a respectable rebbe? They are fighting this out in civil court?

Thi sis another example of many that we have seen where the "big boys" go to court to solve their disputes rather than to beis din. Ponevezshe yeshiva, Satmar, Chabad and Gur and many others. Yet when a little guy, some anonymous person, wants justice and goes to the police or to court (even sometimes with permission form a rav) rather than to beis din they get slandered by the community for not going to beis din which is what frum people do.

A couple of cases that comes to mind are:

  1. a few years ago a bais yaakov rejected a sefardi girl. After much pleading, her parents went to the Ministry of Education and filed a complaint. After that the school and parents slandered her for that, calling them a moser, sayign they are clearly not appropriate for the school if they would go to the civil authorities.
  2. In Emannuel, Yoav Lalum brought a discrimination fight caused by the school separating the sefardi and ashkenazi kids with a physical barrier. he took it to court, resulting in the arrest of a group of parents. he has been slandered throughout the haredi press as a moser.
When the leaders of the nation go to civil court to settle their disputes, they should not complain then about the lack of respect shown to the batei din. They try to fight the government to give the batei din more authority, but then they themselves don't put their trust in the batei din. When the leaders of the nation go to civil court to settle their disputes, they should not complain when the regular people do as well.


  1. It happens around the world. When ba'alei batim fight, the rabbis yell, go to beis din. but when a gvir or rabbi is involved, then they can do what they want and who's going to stop them or say Boo. No institution is going to tell a gvir, sorry, you went to court, we can't take your check.

  2. Well, one sign of being a "cult" is having different rules for the leaders and for the "people".

  3. It's hardly fair to blame the Bonstoner Rebbe for going to court if he was dragged there by his crazy son-in-law.
    All these examples - who turned to the courts, and was the one dragged there?

  4. Hamasig - good point, and about the Bostoner Rebbe I dont know. and in this case you are right, it might make a difference.

    Regarding the others it doesnt matter. Does it matter which of the two satmar rebbes brought the other to court? either way it was one of the rebbes.. does it matter whether it was the community leader of Gur or Chabad who brought the other to court? not really. does it matter which family of which rosh yeshiva of ponevezshe brought the other to court? not really.

  5. There are halachos of how and when you are allowed to go to secular court. Sometimes Beis din allows it, and sometimes people just go without an Ishur from BD.

    I am surprised that you dont know this.

    For example, in Ponovezh, in the chareidi world in EY, everyone is on one side or the other, thereby slowing the BD process to a crawl since you cant get 3 people not previously involved.

    A random family or lalum running to court is not the same thing

  6. you havent added anything. just saying that the leaders work on different rules. You are just justifying that.

  7. I have not come across anywhere in Shulchan Aruch that beis din is only for the regular people and not the big people. there are solutions to the problem of batei din being impartial. One such solution is the "zabla" beis din, where each side chooses a representative, and the 2 chosen dayanim select the third impartial dayan.

    There are solutions, and the idea is to trust the beis din to be fair and honest and seeking truth and justice. If the leaders dont, or cant, trust the batei din for that, why should the little people?

  8. Sorry. I am not sure why you fail to see that its not about big people and little people.

    If you go to BD and they cant work it out for you - for whatever reason BEIS DIN sees fit - then you can get an ishur FROM BD and go to secular court.

    An Individual person - rebbe rav rosh yeshiva or common folk like us - can NOT decide on his own to go to court.

    On an aside, zabla doesnt always work, as each side can get rid of the dayan if he feels hes no impartial/


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