I’m currently interning at a law firm in Israel and I’m encountering a possible erkaos issue. The firm barely handles litigation cases but now has agreed to try to enforce a foreign judgement here. There are 2 judgments against the defendant, who is frum and now lives here, the judgments are against him personally and against his company. The plaintiff is an American corporation.

I’m being asked to translate and prepare the neccesary documents. Can I do that? I should add that I’m just an intern – not yet a lawyer, and it would be very difficult to say no to them…
Are there any major heteirim to pursue civil matters in the courts here? If so, is this one of them?

Thank you!

Answer:

The pursuit of civil matters in Israeli courts does involve halachic problems.

However, where the plaintiff is not Jewish, or generally where a corporation is involved, it stands to reason that the defendant was fully aware of the fact that any litigation will take place between the parties in a secular court.

This, indeed, is what happened, and the ruling was given by a non-Jewish secular court. On account of the awareness that this is what would happen, the ruling is possibly binding on the parties, and its enforcement will not involve a halachic problem.

Even if we assume that there is a problem of enforcing the judgment, the principle problem lies with the court (or with the plaintiff if he is Jewish). The lawyers on the case are mesaye’a, aiding the court in the prohibition, and you, as an intern, will be “aiding the aiding” of the court.

This is far removed, and on account of the circumstances there is room to be lenient for this case.

Sources:

Concerning the prohibition of aiding and abetting, see Tosafos, Shabbos 3a, and Rosh and Ran. Although some authorities dispute the existence of this prohibition (see Ran, end of first perek of Avodah Zarah), most poskim accept it as a rabbinic prohibition (see Erech Ha-Shulchan, Yoreh De’ah 151:5 and Choshen Mishpat 34; Birchei Yosef, Choshen Mishpat 9). However, some write that the prohibition does not apply to a mumar (see Shach Yoreh De’ah 151), and because in our case the prohibition is not clear-cut (enforcement might be permitted), and the circumstances are extenuating, there is certainly room for leniency.

Concerning the matter of the verdict given by the secular courts, see Tashbatz, Vol. 2, no. 290 (and Chut Ha-Meshulash, Tur 3, no. 6); Maharsham 1:89.

 

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