Our previous post discussed the pitfalls of zabla proceedings. Because these problems are exacerbated when to’anim serve on the panel, the Beth Din of America will not allow a litigant to initiate a zabla by selecting a to’en as his or her borrer.
As we noted in an earlier post discussing the hazmanah process, when a respondent receives a hazmanah but does not want to arbitrate at the beit din that issued it, the respondent can either propose to arbitrate at a different established beit din, initiate a zabla, or show that the claim lies outside of the beit din’s jurisdiction.1 If the respondent does not offer an adequate response to the beit din’s hazmanah, he will be deemed mesareiv le-din (recalcitrant), and the claimant will be granted a heter arka’ot (permission to pursue the claim in secular court).2
Because the Beth Din of America does not allow a respondent to initiate a zabla by selecting a to’en for a borrer, the Beth Din regards any such response to a hazmanah as inadequate. Under such circumstances, the Beth Din may issue a heter arka’ot.
Epstein v. Katz (an anonymized document uploaded today on the Beth Din’s website) is a modified version of a form document the Beth Din has issued several times in the context of forum disputes. In this case, Epstein brought a claim against Katz and related entities. Katz responded to the Beth Din’s hazmanot by requesting to initiate a zabla and proceeded to select a to’en as his borrer. The published document is the Beth Din’s response.
Epstein v. Katz can be accessed here.