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    Power of the Beth Din – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Does the Beth Din have any real power?

    The London Beth Din in session in the 1920s

    A. In Israel the rabbinical courts are part of the national judicial system and their rulings, e.g. on matters of divorce, are binding. Outside Israel a Beth Din is as strong as the loyalty which the community shows it.

    Traditionally, every significant community had a Beth Din, and civil as well as religious matters were dealt with by it. Hence disputes between Jews should automatically be brought to a Beth Din for settlement, and in most countries the Beth Din is recognised as a private court of arbitration.

    Beth Din rulings in matters of conflict can be appealed to the general justice system only on the basis of misconduct (fraud, bias, etc.) or denial of natural justice on the part of the Beth Din.

    If summoned to a Beth Din, a Jew is religiously and morally bound to come. It goes without saying that a synagogue must attend when summoned by the Beth Din.

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