Thursday, January 31, 2008

Dvar Torah: Mishpatim

The State of Israel is a miracle. There is absolutely no doubt about it. The return of the Jewish people to their ancestral homeland after being dispersed all over the world is more than the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. It is a major league, big time miracle. The rebirth of the Hebrew language as a spoken language is no small feat either. The Torah renascence that we are experiencing here in Israel with the proliferation of institutions for Torah learning is also a phenomenon that fills the heart with happiness.

However, Israel does have its problems. The judicial system here is a great cause of shame. This is not because that it is more or less corrupt than they judicial systems of other countries. So why I am so embarrassed by the present judicial system in Israel? What exactly is wrong with the Justice Ministry, the Israeli High Court of Justice, and all of the other parts of the Israeli judicial system?

The problem is that Israeli law is not based on Torah. It is a mixed multitude of laws derived from the laws of the Turks, the British, and the Knesset. (To our great shame some of the most anti-Torah laws come from the Knesset. Remember the "hitnatkut"?). This is an intolerable disgrace that should not and cannot be ignored by anyone that believes in Torah. With all of the joy that accompanies all of the good things in our Third Jewish Commonwealth, the fact that the return to Zion did not include a return to Torah law is an insult to our holy Torah.

Jewish law clearly forbids using these courts. Take a look at this Rambam (Laws of Sanhedrin 26:7):

כל הדן בדייני עכו"ם ובערכאות שלהן אף על פי שהיו דיניהם כדיני ישראל הרי זה רשע וכאילו חרף וגדף והרים יד בתורת משה רבינו שנאמר ואלה המשפטים אשר תשים לפניהם לפניהם ולא לפני עכו"ם לפניהם ולא לפני הדיוטות היתה יד העכו"ם תקיפה ובעל דינו אלם ואינו יכול להוציא ממנו בדייני ישראל יתבענו לדייני ישראל תחלה אם לא רצה לבא נוטל רשות מבית דין ומציל בדיני עכו"ם מיד בעל דינו

Yes, this Rambam also applies to the Israeli Judicial System. It doesn't matter how many menorahs and magen-davids are inscribed on the courtroom walls. It doesn't matter if the judge wears a yarmulke or not. It doesn't matter if he or she knows how to sprinkle his or her legal opinions with verses from the Torah or quotes from Chazal. These courts are not what the Torah intended. They are a desecration of God's name.

So what can we do? First of all one include a clause in any contract that he signs that any disagreement with regards to the contract will be decided by a rabbinic court. One should always try to solve any legal problem that he might have in a rabbinic court. One should never seek justice in the Israeli Judicial System without receiving permission from a rabbinic court.

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