From the Rav’s Desk: 1) What is a Zabla? 2) Jail time for debtors. Is it Mutar?

  1. Question: [Wednesday 13th Elul, 5780]

What is a Zabla? I hear this term used all the time



A Zabla stands for the words “Zeh Borer Lo Echad/Each one chooses one.” A Zabla is an alternative to a set Beis Din, if for whatever reason the sides are unable or unwilling to take their issue to the local Beis Din. It works as follows: Each side picks one judge of his choice and the two chosen judges then pick a third judge, for the three person Beis Din. All three judges have equal power and together judge the case and bring out a justified verdict.


Sources: See Michaber C.M. 13:1; Mishneh Sanhedrin 23a following opinion of Chachamim

  1. Question: [Wednesday 13th Elul, 5780]

Dear Rabbi,

We are dealing with a complicated case in court in which the defendant, who is a Frum Jew, refused to comply with the ruling of the Beis Din to pay a certain large monetary sum for owed wages. In short, the Beis Din gave us permission to go to a secular court, which we did and won, and are now bringing the claim to the government office of execution for him to force the defendant to pay. We were informed that if all fails, we can ask for an injunction to prevent the defendant from leaving the country. Is this Halachically permitted to be done?



First off, in any questions such as these you should always simply turn to the Beis Din who issued you your Pesak and Heter to go to the secular courts. There may already be a clause written there regarding if they gave you permission to do so, and if doubt you can always send them the question. In theory, however, there is no Halachic issue in using the above method of preventing a debtor to leave the country as a form of pressure to force him to pay, assuming he has the means to do so according to Halacha, and is simply evading payment due to incompliancy. In fact, this tactic is commonly done here in Israel and is one of the primary pressures that the government has to force incompliant debtors to pay their dues. There is no Halachic opposition to this method, as can be seen from the Poskim and Halachic responses from which it is evident that a debtor can even be put in jail for not complying with the Beis Din to pay his debts, and hence certainly to prevent exit from the country is allowed.


Sources: See Rama C.M. 97:15 “They tie him and beat him”; Pischeiy Teshuvah 97:6 “From here we can learn that the Batei Dinim should create laws that go beyond the letter of the law punishments for incompliant debtors, such as to incarcerate him and the like”; Tumim 97:13 “Today, it is the widespread custom to incarcerate a debtor when he does not want to pay, and no one protests this.”

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