What is a Zabla?

Daniel Retter, Esq.

ZABLA. This is an acronym for “Zeh Borer Lo Aachas, Vezeh Boerer Lo Achas” He chooses one and he chooses one” (and the two choose the third); The chosen one is called a Borer;

In accordance with the Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat (Code of Jewish Law), Chapter 3, unless both parties are members of a community which has a Bes Din Kavua (permanent Bes Din), either of the parties may demand as of right, a ZABLA forum, instead of a Bes Din Kavua, and other party MUST agree to the ZABLA forum. In that case, the Bes Din Kavua which sent out the Hasmanah (summons) can no longer hear or decide the case.

The continuing administrative role of the Bes Din which sent the initial Hazmanah to the defendant (Nitva), who now wishes to opt for a ZABLA forum, depends on the substantive reply of the Nitva to the Hazmanah, when he elects to utilize a ZABLA forum.

If the Nitva’s response to the Bes Din demanding a ZABLA forum assures the Bess Din that his request for a ZABLA forum is not just a stalling tactic, but is in fact sincere, the Bes Din has no further administrative role to play. The parties choose amongst themselves (through counsel or directly) each of their Borerim (arbiters), and the two Borerim choose a third Borer, with or without the consent of the other two parties.

Therefore, ideally from the Bes Din’s perspective, the defendant should already name his “qualified” Borer in his response letter to the Bes Din, or advise the Bes Din that he will choose a “qualified” Borer within a reasonable time. This will of course be monitored by the Bes Din until the “qualified” Borer is chosen.

However, if the Bes Din has reason to believe that the designated Borer is not reputable, and hence not “qualified” they can insist on the dependant choosing an honorable  (“qualified”) Borer or failing to do so, the Bes Din may issue a Seruv (contempt citation), if they are not satisfied with the defendant’s choice of a Borer, and the ZAVLA forum is then not an opinion.

However, if the Bes Din has reason to believe that the designated Borer is not reputable, and hence not “qualified” they can insist on the dependant choosing an honorable  (“qualified”) Borer or failing to do so, the Bes Din may issue a Seruv (contempt citation), if they are not satisfied with the defendant’s choice of a Borer, and the ZABLA forum is then not an opinion.

“Qualified” Borer. Ideally the Bes Din would expect an Orthodox Rabbi to be chosen as a Borer. Nevertheless, the choice of a “qualified” lay man as a Borer instead of a rabbi is acceptable, provided the lay man Borer is reputable. The Bes Din will not initially be happy with a lay man Borer, and they may argue that a lay man Borer is not desirable unless the issue is of a “complex” nature (stock, real estate, patents, etc.) but even so, by right, any reputable layman is qualified as a Borer for all cases.

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