Daily Israel Report

Former Justice Minister Backs Ne'eman on Jewish Courts

Moshe Nissim, Justice Minister under Yitzchak Shamir: more people should turn to religious courts to solve financial disputes.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 12/10/2009, 6:22 PM / Last Update: 12/10/2009, 6:19 PM

Flash 90

Former Justice Minister Moshe Nissim lent his support Thursday to Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman's recent statements in favor of the rabbinical courts and a return to traditional Jewish law. Nissim told Arutz Sheva that by turning to the Rabbinical Courts for Financial Matters (Batei Din LeInyenei Memonot), the public would ease the burden on the non-religious courts.

"Unfortunately, the [non-rabbinical] court system is unable to deliver justice,” Nissim said. “Litigants wait a long time for the verdict. This is true in civil matters as well. A person sues another and he does not know if he will receive the verdict in a year, five years or ten years. This is not a simple problem. One of the ways I see of easing the load on the courts is to turn to mediation and to the Rabbinical Courts for Financial Matters.

There need to be clear conditions as to who may serve as judges in the  Rabbinical Courts for Financial Matters and who may not, Nissim elaborated. “The people who sit on the Rabbinical Courts for Financial Matters must be people with a knowledge of Jewish legal tradition, Halacha and the Shulchan Aruch [an authoritative written manual of Jewish law composed by Rabbi Yosef Karo in the 16th century– ed.]. The people there need to have personal abilities. They need be people of integrity, and not people who are appointed through connections. They need to know the Choshen Mishpat [a term referring to Jewish Law on financial matters – ed.] and who are familiar with all of the parts dealing with rules on disputes between citizens.”

The Ten Commandments
"Jewish legal tradition is unparallelled in the entire world, and I am not talking about matters between a person and G-d... but all of the laws concerning disputes between a person and his fellow man,” he explained. “The Torah is chock full of commandments between a person and his fellow man. The Torah endowed all of humanity with the values of justice and law, starting with the Ten Commandments and all the way down to 'respect the elderly person,' the commandment to leave grain for the poor when gathering the harvest, and many other laws that influence all of humanity.”

Nissim noted that the idea is not to force people to make use of the rabbinical court option, but to make possible a process in which both sides opt for the rabbinical courts of their own free will. “They may want to go to the Beit Din because they are specifically interested in the Torah Law, or because they want to speed matters up,” he explained. “It does not matter, as long as it is done of their own free will.”