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What Documents Must One Sign When Coming to Bais Din?

Rav Yehoshua Wolfe

 

Question: Someone received a hazmanah to a din Torah. He is willing to go but does not want to sign all the paperwork and documents that he was sent. Can he refuse to sign?

 

Answer: There are two documents that a bais din typically asks the litigants to sign. The first one is known as a shtar borerim. This document empowers and authorizes bais din to issue a decision and commits the parties to abide by the ruling. The second document is a legal arbitration agreement. Until recently, our bais din used to provide two separate documents – a shtar borerim in Hebrew and an arbitration agreement in English. Recently, we began using one English document which incorporates both an arbitration agreement and the shtar borerim.

The Poskim discuss a case where a person is willing to come to bais din but unwilling to sign the documents. In today’s batei din, the dayanim alone do not have the power to enforce their ruling, which is why the arbitration agreement, which makes their ruling legally binding, is so important. Without this document, the bais din cannot ensure their decision has any authority; therefore, a din Torah cannot be held without it and a litigant who refuses to sign it can be held as a mesarev l’din.

 

Question: What if a person signs a shtar borerim but he says that he only agrees to a din Torah if the strict halacha is followed without any compromises?

 

Answer: Forcing bais din to stick to strict halacha would mean that they would personally be responsible if any mistake is made, and we cannot force dayanim to agree to that today.

The shtar borerim of today usually says that the parties agree to let the bais din pasken “either with peshara or with peshara kerova l’din.” Peshara would mean that bais din has the authority to make a compromise that they feel will mostly satisfy both parties, even if it is not fully in line with the strict halacha. This option gives bais din more leeway and allows them to deviate somewhat from halacha for the sake of peace. Peshara kerova l’din means a compromise that is close to the law of halacha, in which bais din tries as best as possible to stick to the accurate halacha.

If a person insists on the dayanim using the method of peshara kerova l’din and not full peshara, he has the right to do so.

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