Din Torah and conflict resolution

A somewhat recent webinar on Faith based commercial mediations and arbitrations hosted by the Resolution Institute can be watched here for a limited time.

Common terms

Din Torah: A Din Torah is a hearing of a dispute in front of a Beis Din (a Jewish court) in accordance with Jewish law. If a person is invited to attend a Din Torah, he must comply and defend himself. A Beis Din can issue a binding ruling that is both halachic and legal.

Zablo: A Zablo is an arrangement where each party chooses one arbitrator, and the two arbitrators choose a third. This is done when the parties cannot agree on a particular Beis Din. The Zablo panel must be impartial and knowledgeable in halacha.

Heter Arko’os: A Heter Arko’os is a document that gives halachic permission to take the matter to secular court. This is done when the other party refuses or ignores a formal invitation to a Din Torah. However, one does not need a Heter Arko’os to defend himself in court if he is sued by a Jew. A Heter Arko'os is also issued if the losing party refuses to comply with the Psak Din.

Psak Din: A Psak Din is a halachic ruling issued by an accepted authority. When used in the context of a Din Torah, a Psak Din is an arbitration award (or arbitral award), which is a determination on the merits by an arbitration tribunal, similar to a court judgment.

Pshoro: A Pshoro is a compromise or a settlement that the Beis Din may encourage the parties to accept. However, the parties have the right to insist on Din, which is the strict letter of the law. A Beis Din cannot force a Pshoro on the parties.

If you're unfamiliar with the process, resolving conflicts with your employer, employee, neighbour, or spouse through the Beis Din may seem intimidating. However, this approach not only has the potential to bring Divine blessings to all parties involved, but it's also a straightforward and efficient way to resolve conflicts.

What are the advantages of resorting to a Din Torah when faced with an unresolved dispute?

Achieving a peaceful resolution to a conflict can frequently prove to be a daunting task, and in certain instances, it may be exceedingly difficult to accomplish without the intervention of an impartial intermediary. When individuals find themselves embroiled in a contentious disagreement and seek to circumvent the expenses and pressures associated with litigation, they frequently contemplate the employment of mediation and arbitration, which are the two most commonly utilised alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.

The primary goal of a mediator is to assist the involved parties in arriving at a mutually acceptable resolution to their dispute, which is based on their own preferences, rather than imposing a resolution from an outside entity. Arbitration, on the other hand, is a legal process that entails the selection of an impartial arbitrator who serves as a judicial figure and is responsible for issuing a decision on the relevant issue. After being presented with testimony and factual evidence, the arbitrator renders a verdict that carries legal weight and must be followed. Arbitration proceedings are commonly distinguished by their confidential nature, and the resulting verdict is considered final, enforceable by law, and not subject to further scrutiny.

The process of Din Torah arbitration commonly involves the utilisation of a hybrid approach. The impartial Dayan or panel of Dayonim, as pre-agreed, listens to the testimony and evidence presented by the parties. The Dayonim will undertake initial efforts to facilitate conflict resolution.

It is imperative for the Dayonim to exercise prudence in order to safeguard their capacity to render a decision in case the mediation phase proves to be unsuccessful. As a result, their function during this stage is restricted to promoting the parties' reciprocal understanding of each other's stances, with the expectation that they will arrive at a self-determined and enforceable accord. The Dayonim adhere to a protocol of refraining from engaging in unilateral discussions and abstaining from providing counsel or recommendations.

The Dayonim may try to persuade the parties to come to an agreement through negotiation. However, aside from offering a basic review of the issue(s) and analysing the merits of the Halachic arguments offered by each party, they will not participate personally in the process of reaching a solution.

In the event that disputes remain unresolved, and the concerned parties are unable to reach a consensus, the Dayonim will render a formal and binding award that holds legal validity.

If you are interested in having your dispute resolved by Beis Din, please see here