RAA/Igud Ha Rabbonim Welcomes Rabbi Chaim Komendant as New Dayan on the Bais Din
At various times during the course of our lives as Torah observant Jews, we occasionally find ourselves mired in unpleasant disagreements with our fellow Jews. From our very inception as a Nation, the Torah gave us a way to settle these disagreements. Through the appointment of Judges and the establishment of Rabbinical Courts (Bais Din), our differences would be settled according to Torah law rather than seeking redress in the civil court system of the countries that we live in. In contemporary times, however, the tragic fact is that many Jews have decided to utilize the secular courts, mostly out of fear that the Bais Din may not render a fair and honest resolution to the issues that we seek to have settled. For over 50 years, the Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim has taken the lead in assembling Gedolei Yisroel and other prominent rabbinic scholars of their respective generations as Dayanim (Judges) for their Bais Din. This meticulous selection process was established in order to offer Klal Yisroel a reliable and trustworthy option to the secular courts. Throughout the years, the Igud Bais Din has gained the confidence of the Torah world and thusly has earned a stellar reputation for strict adherence to Halacha (Jewish Law) and for fairness and honesty. Recently, the RAA/Igud had the pleasure of welcoming new Dayanim to their Bais Din. Rabbi Chaim Komendant of Passaic, New Jersey was installed as the Menahel /Director of the Bais Din along with Rabbi Yisochur Berish Welz and Rabbi Sholom Dov Ber Shuchat. In addition, Mr. Joseph Aron, Esq. was appointed as Legal Counsel to assist the Bais Din in the web of civil law. Rabbi Komendant comes to his new position with remarkable credentials. He received his Smicha Yoreh Yoreh from Beis Medrash L'Torah where to this day he gives the Yoreh Deah shiur for those striving to receive their Yoreh Yoreh. He received Smicha Yadin Yadin from HaRav Chaim Yisroel Belsky, zt'l of Torah V'Daas and from HaRav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg Shlita of Yerushalayim. He is also a practicing CPA whose practice also includes litigation support in civil court. "Many years ago, I had the honor of meeting Rabbi Yaakov Klass a member of the Presidium of Igud HaRabbonim which also includes Rabbi Yehoshua Hecht, Rabbi Yaakov Spivak and Rabbi Chananiah Elbaz. We became friends and he suggested that I join the Igud HaRabbonim. I have been an honored member since then" said Rabbi Komendant. When queried as to how he became associated with the Igud Bais Din Rabbi Komendant replied that with the untimely passing of Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum, the Igud was updating its records and reviewed my qualifications. Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik who succeeded Rabbi Tannenbaum was very excited and stated that I should join the Bais Din given my many years of experience and qualifications. As we say, the rest was history. Rabbi Komendant added that it is a lot less expensive to bring matters before a Bais Din than to litigate in secular court. Generally, it will take anywhere at least a year to get the case on the Court calendar and we are not even considering the significant legal fees that would be involved. Generally a matter in secular court takes at least two years. A contentious divorce would go even longer. In Bais Din, if both parties are serious about resolving a matter and they have properly prepared their case then the matter could possibly be resolved much sooner thereby allowing the litigants to get on with their lives. Rabbi Komendant says that the prevailing notion among a large swath of Jews is a "crisis in confidence" with Batei Dinim. "People have told me that they feel that they harbor great doubts about the ultimate decisions that a Bais Din will render. They feel as though they will be getting a "raw deal." Rabbi Komendant attributes this to a number of factors which include ignorance of the process, length of a case, and Dayanim who are not totally educated in the matter before them. Rabbi Komendant says that in cases that he has dealt with the most economical venue for the parties engaged in a troublesome case would be presenting before a Bais Din. In his experience he has been able to resolve a matter in one sitting since he understood the matter before him. This includes business as well as marital issues. He added, "It is conceivable that the Bais Din would issue a ruling within 30 days of hearing the case and therefore the matter is closed." Rabbi Komendant adds that what he brings to the Igud Bais Din is an extensive knowledge of business matters and marital issues. "I have been in practice as CPA for over 35 years, have a Masters’ degree and have taught at the College level. In addition, my CPA practice also deals with litigation support and this kind of knowledge is indispensible in helping to seek resolution." For those who are still maintain a sense of skepticism of the adjudication process, Rabbi Komendant adds, secular courts stress arbitration to assist an overcrowded judiciary. Arbitration is final and there is limited redress to the Civil Courts. "In Chutz La'Aretz, Bais Din is considered an arbitration panel. The Igud Bais Din has an appeal function so if the losing side feels that they did not receive a fair hearing, the Bais Din will allow an appeal in Igud Bais Din. This is after giving both sides an explanation of how the decision was arrived at. This additional venue is viewed as a venue for people to have confidence in the Bais Din.” The bottom line, according to Rabbi Komendant is that there exists a stubborn problem in the United States amongst Torah observant Jews as it pertains to bringing matters before Bais Din. "Many people run to civil court with an erroneous notion that such courts will render a fair and honest decision. This line of reasoning has consistently been proven false. If you are a Torah observant Jew; if you keep Shabbos and kashrus, then resolving a matter before Bais Din is no different. Anyone who says that Bais Din is not fair thus denies the existence of Hashem." Lastly, Rabbi Komendant says: "Litigation of any sort is a difficult and time consuming matter. The Torah has given us a way to solve our differences. We can either choose to be judged by Torah Law or not. If I can help in restoring the confidence of potential litigants and deter them from bringing cases before a secular court that would be the optimal solution." He adds, "At the end of our 120 years on his earth, when HaShem will ask us if we were completely honest in our business dealings, we want to be able to say that we exhausted every option at our disposal to do so. I want to use my business skills and my halachic knowledge to help people; to persuade them to settle cases before they even reach Bais Din in order to tamp down on legal disputes. I can say most assuredly that my role on the Igud Bais Din is to "preserve the integrity, fairness and honesty of the court." The Bais Din can be contacted at 1-800-265-9820 or BDIGUD@gmail.com
Names in picture left to right: Standing, Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president, Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabonim; Rabbi Yehoshua S. Hecht, presidium chairman, Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabonim; Rabbi Yaakov Klass, presidium member, Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabonim, and Torah Editor, the Jewish Press; Rabbi Moish Schmerler, coordinator, Rabbinical Alliance of America; Rabbi Yossochor Berish Welz, Igud Dayan; Rabbi Herschel Kurzrock, Av Bais Din, Igud Bais Din; Rabbi Chaim Komendant, Menahel, Igud Bais Din; Rabbi Shimaryohu Shulman, Z’kan Dayan Igud Bais Din; Rabbi Sholom Ber Shuchat, Igud Dayan.