Invitation to attend Beis Din / Din Torah
How should I respond to a Hazmono L’Din (invitation to attend a Din Torah)?
It's not uncommon to feel anxious when receiving a Hazmono l'Din.
People often ask:
"What are my rights and obligations?"
"Do I have to come to the Beis Din that contacted me?"
"What information can I request before attending the hearing?"
Can a Din Torah be conducted over video conferencing?
"What are the costs?"
Halacha mandates that adjudication be before a Beis Din, but it does not necessarily mandate that one accept the Beis Din that sent the invitation.
If the parties reside in different cities, the defendant can insist that the matter be heard in his locale. Where both parties live in the same locale, neither side can force the other to accept a specific Beis Din. Even where only one Beis Din exists, unless this Beis Din has been democratically elected (such a Beis Din is “Kavuah”), the system of Zablo (in which each party picks a dayan and the two dayanim select a third) is employed if the parties cannot agree on a particular Beis Din. Such is the situation in almost all major, contemporary Jewish communities.
If one receives a request to attend a Din Torah, even if it is received from a Beis Din that is not Kavuah, one should respond respectfully and promptly and follow the Beis Din’s procedural instructions. That Beis Din is obliged and empowered by Halacha to ensure that the request for a Din Torah is fulfilled. It is also their responsibility to assure that a Beis Din is constituted efficiently and according to Halachic principles. If the Beis Din is of the opinion that a party’s dayan of choice is unfit to serve that role, they can disallow him. If a reasonable panel cannot be efficiently set up according to Halachic principles, the Beis Din could then halachicly insist that the matter be heard before them. If a party refuses, a Ksav Siruv (a bill of refusal) or a Heter Arko’os (Halachic permission to attend secular court also known as Nesinas Reshus) may be issued.
Ideally the hearing should take place face-to-face. Where this is difficult, the parties can agree to have their dispute heard before a Rov or tribunal by video conference, over the telephone or even by email.
For details regarding costs, see here.
It is sufficient that a “hazmana” contains the identity of the plaintiff and the nature and amount of the claim. The plaintiff does not have to divulge proof of his claim.
If you’ve received a Hazmono and require halachic guidance, please send us an email.
Initiating a Din Torah
To invite someone to a Din Torah, you can invite the other party yourself (you should copy the Beis Din into all correspondence) or you can have the Beis Din email the other party on your behalf. For details, please see here.