High Court Reverses Rabbinical Court Rulings

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The High Court of Justice last week reversed rulings of the Tel Aviv Rabbinical Court and the Supreme Rabbinical Court because of a “procedural issue” as the court put it, with the three-justice panel ruling the rabbinical courts ruled with only two dayanim, and therefore, they must begin proceedings against with three dayanim.

Justice Ayala Procaccia ruled in the case in which the court compelled a recalcitrant husband to give his wife a get (divorce).

The couple was married in 1988, and in 2001, the mother of two daughters filed for divorce in the Tel Aviv Rabbinate. The request was rejected by the court, a beis din of two dayanim. Two years later, she tried again, once again given the same two dayanim, Rabbis Shimon Malka and Nachum Sheinin, and the court transcript states both sides were willing to accept the two dayanim [instead of the standard three].

Justice Procaccia in her ruling explained that divorce is too delicate a matter to be heard by two judges and that is why the law demands three, rejecting the agreement of both sides, adding the Supreme Rabbinical Court compounded the matter by rubber stamping the Tel Aviv Rabbinical Court’s ruling of two dayanim.

Tel Aviv District Court President Justice Devorah Berlinger, a shomer shabbos justice, expressed pain over the situation, which she said delivered a heavy blow to the woman seeking a get. She quickly added the law leaves no way out, and the decision cannot be binding since three justices are required. She expressed her hope that the rabbinical court system will take a step forward and address the matter of the divorce request in an expeditious fashion.

The only dissenting view was from Justice Miriam Na’or, who criticized her colleagues for ruling by the strict letter of the law at the expense of the woman who finally received a ruling in her favor. Justice Na’or stated she is aware of other such cases, in which two dayanim render a ruling instead of three, indicating this is not an exceptional situation, leveling sharp criticism against the rabbinical courts.

In response, the spokesman for the Rabbinical Courts explained a bill has been put forward permitting two dayanim to rule, a bill that passed its first reading and is expected to pass into law. He added that the Supreme Court ruling will be studied.

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)


2 COMMENTS

  1. A “Shomer Shabbos justice” would be no justice at all; at least if she followed the parts of the Torah other than just Shabbos.