Parshat Mishpatim: Courts and justice

09.02.2013                      29.Schwat. 5773                      Mischpatim; Paraschat Schkalim

Judentum:

Parshat Mishpatim: Courts and justice

Is it permitted to go to a secular court to arbitrate a dispute or must one go to a religious court?

If two religiously observant Jews are engaged in a disagreement that has financial ramifications, are they permitted to go to a secular court to arbitrate their dispute or must they go to a religious court (beit din)? Is the law different in Israel, which has both religious and secular court systems, but where even the secular court judges are Jewish? And if, indeed, Jews are religiously ordained to go exclusively to religious courts, why is this so? After all, the nonreligious judicial system in Israel and the secular courts in America are certainly fair and equitable….