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Suppose Reuven shows up in Beth Din and says that he is owed $100,000 by Shimon. He does not provide any documentation or any witnesses beyond his own words. The Beth Din sends a summons to Shimon to either settle with Reuven or show up and have a hearing.

Shimon responds that not only does he not owe Reuven any money, he has never had any dealings with him ever, and he suspects Reuven is only making up this claim to harass him for whatever reason.

Can Shimon refuse to show up in Beth Din? Can Shimon demand that the Beth Din provide at least preliminary evidence that would indicate Reuven at least has some semblance of a case? Or, can anyone summon anyone else to Beth Din simply by asking nicely?

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  • Isn't Reuven's claim itself at least some kind of evidence against Shimon? The gemara presents lots of cases where Reuven claims Shimon owes him money.
    – Avraham
    Apr 20, 2023 at 7:25
  • As far as I know there are only 3 responses to a hazmana, either ask for another beit din, or ask for a zabla, or try to show a jurisdictional issue (halachic, rather than locational). The question would be why is there a beit din sending an unsubstantiated hazmana?
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Apr 20, 2023 at 7:37

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Although the previous answer has some merit, Siman 87 comes after siman 75 which states the following;

התובע את חבירו בב"ד מנה לי בידך בית דין אומרים לו ברר דבריך ממה חייב לך הלוית אותו או הפקדת בידו או הזיק ממונך שאפשר שהוא חושב שחייב לו ואינו חייב לו וכן הנתבע אם משיב אין לך בידי כלום או איני חייב לך כלום צריך לברר דבריו דשמא טועה וסובר שאינו חייב לו והוא חייב לו ואפי' היה חכם גדול אומרים לו אין לך הפסד שתשיב על טענתו ותודיענו כיצד אין אתה חייב ל

Loosely transalated as Somebody who sues in Beth Din, the judges say to him "quantify your claim, how is he liable to you, did you loan him, did he damage you", because it may be that he thnks he is oweed but is not and vica versa.

And the Rema adds

ואם אינו רוצה לברר דבריו אם נראה לדיין שיש רמאות בדבר יפסיד ואם לאו אלא שנראה לדיין שאינו יכול לברר וכיוצא בזה אין מחייבים אותו משום שאינו מברר דבריו דאין אומרים לו ברר דבריך אלא משום כדי להוציא הדין לאמיתו משום דנפישי רמאים

Loosely transalted as '...and he is evasive about the reason of his claim and the judge smells a rat, the case is closed.'

Essentially where a claimant claims "X owes me $100k", failing to clarify the reason of the dues then that case is dismissed and no hazmono will be issued.

Furthermore it would seem from the this Remo that any other reason that makes it clear to the BD that the case is purely spiteful and w/o merit, they will dismiss the case. And experienced dayonim are quite competant at sniffing out the rats.

If the reason for claiming that $100k is quantified by the claimant even without any evidence being submitted and seems at least partly genuine, then the case will start.

That deals with whether the case can be initiated.

How an uproven debt ends off is not the OPs query, nevertheless in broad terms, the previous answer is a good start. An unfounded claim will demand a 'heses'. Nowadays these are not made (see igros moshe) and are settled as max a third (loosely based on Pischei Choshen in hilchos peshoro).

Importantly if the claim is completely unfounded as the OP suggests the dayan will be unlikely to award a third. This is based on the shulchon oruch towards end of siman 87

אם נרא' לדיינים שהטענה מרומה אין להשביעו

The one piece of ammunition the defendant has is a 'cherem stam' which he can ask the BD to issue on one who makes an unfounded claim. See shulchon oruch siman 75 - 13 and brought in shach in a few places.

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