Tuesday, October 11, 2011

R' Schachter Slams Batei Dinin

In an interview with Ami published on VIN, R' Herschel Schachter slams battei dinin (Jewish courts of law). [Hat tip: Eliezer StrongBad]

There is less of a surprise in the content of the interview (sadly) than in that he so openly discussed it, particularly the issues which he finds to be the most problematic (including to'ainim, people choosing and paying off their own judges, and the like). He offers a number of small suggestions that would help improve things, but overall he seems to feel that it depends on the people and their intent coming into beis din. If they have no interest in yashrus or justice then it is very difficult for a beis din to be formed properly and to mete out justice appropriately.

The most telling quotes:
Q: Would you call then the problem in the bais din system a crisis? A: It’s worse than a crisis. They tell me that there is a prominent talmid chacham in Flatbush who tells his baalei battim to go to a secular court because they stand a better chance of yoshor [justice] in a goyishe [non-Jewish] court than in a din Torah. If you ask him, he’ll deny it, but that’s what he tells people. Unfortunately, I think that the comment about yoshor is true.
Q: How do we bring public awareness to these problems? A: Rabbonim should speak about it. Why is there so much cheating in business? Rabbonim should get up once a year in shuls and speak about Lo sigzol, that you’re not allowed to cheat in business, and that you’re not allowed to cheat on your income tax. If you talk about it long enough it will have an effect on some of the baal habattim. Rabbonim have certain topics that they talk about in hashkafa. Let them give chizuk about gezel.
Q: Could there be a watchdog group, with rabbanim getting together to examine how the batei din are behaving? A: It’s a safek sakana [possible danger] for the watchdog group; they’re going to be killed.