A blog post published today by Shoshanna Keats Jaskoll in the Times of Israel discusses a case in which a local rabbinical court (beit din) in Tzfat, Israel granted a divorce to a woman on behalf of her comatose husband. An unrelated party appealed the decision, and the same local court rejected his appeal on the grounds that he had no standing. He then appealed again to the High Rabbinical Court, which agreed to take up the case and reversed the lower court's award of a divorce.

Ms. Jaskoll argues that the high court should never have heard the appeal from the unrelated party:

Asking the rabbinical court to reverse a decision is really only the province of the interested parties — for example, if the man were to come out of his coma, he might have a legitimate basis for filing an appeal. Or if the Tzfat court itself were to have stumbled upon new information — it might have the basis for reopening its own decision.

However, this appeal was filed by a disinterested party — someone with no connection to the comatose man, the divorced woman, or even the Tzfat Beit Din. Moreover, his petition was rejected immediately by the Tzfat Beit Din for exactly this reason — his lack of standing in the case.

(Indeed, there are areas in Halacha where a disinterested person can get involved. Most notably, the case of “rodef,” where Halacha goes so far as to permit one to kill another party for the sake of saving the life of a third party. Also — on the other end of the life-or-death spectrum — when one accepts a Shabbat gift on behalf of a third party. Both of these examples entail a clear benefit to the third party. There is no reason, however, to think that a disinterested person’s dislike of a court-mandated divorce should have any impact whatsoever.)

All logic and jurisprudence suggests the appeal should have been thrown out by the High Rabbinical Court.

Is there, indeed, a notion of "standing to appeal" in Halacha? Are courts restricted from reviewing other courts' past decisions (or, indeed, their own) unless someone appeals, and must such appeals come from someone who can demonstrate a material interest in the case?

Important notes:

  • It's quite possible that there are rules of procedure specific to the Israeli national rabbinical court system that apply here. I am not asking about those but about halacha that is independent of any particular institution.

  • Relatedly, I am not asking for analysis of this case in particular, or even about this area of law (divorce), but for evaluation of the general claim about halacha of court procedure made in this blog post.

  • I am only interested in answers that cite halachic sources.

  • 1
    I request that this comment thread not be used to re-litigate or analyze the particular case that inspired the blog post and thence this question. Plenty of room in Chat for that.
    – Isaac Moses
    Jan 10, 2017 at 15:16
  • 2
    to allow eshet ish in the market is a great beaya with mamzerut etc. as zariz said everybody is implicated
    – kouty
    Jan 10, 2017 at 16:11
  • 3
    very related judaism.stackexchange.com/q/8616/759 if not partial dupe
    – Double AA
    Jan 10, 2017 at 18:17
  • for not mumche there is borerut to avoid appeal
    – kouty
    Jan 10, 2017 at 19:48
  • here the appeal is halachically to rectify an error based on proofs. a din which is false is automatically canceled
    – kouty
    Jan 10, 2017 at 20:24

1 Answer 1


I would guess that any Jew is a party since כל ישראל ערבים (all Jews are responsible for each other).
Especially in a case of something that FORBIDDEN a wife of a man to permit her to others is a matter that concerns all Jews (all Jews are responsible to do all they reasonably can do stop a married woman from having relations with another man) (Shulchan Aruch 608.2 says that if someone is doing something that is explicitly FORBIDDEN in the Torah there is an obligation on every Jew (including the bais din) to protest even publicly even if you know you would not be heard (Shulchan aruch harav on same issue)) I guess the court that is reversing the position is doing exactly this they are protesting improper behavior (we know that it is theoretically possible even for the Sanhedrin to make a mistake) they do not need for one of the parties to be present to protest improper behavior

See this article regarding Judaism's approach to appeals, and seems to answer the question completely.
I understand the article that Judaism did not have the idea of an official court of appeals and then Isreal started to use one its use was and is controversial

But in Judaism there was an idea to go to a second Rov after the first one already made a decision (for example, he brings the opinion of the Ramo on Shulchan Aruch that the second Rabbi can reverse the first ones decision only if it was a mistake in law (what the law is),
but if it was a mistake it logic (judgment) he can not reverse it he can only try to explain to the first one his mistake.)

  • @IsaacMoses is it better now?
    – hazoriz
    Jan 10, 2017 at 16:44
  • @IsaacMoses I added another idea about protesting improper behavior
    – hazoriz
    Jan 10, 2017 at 17:46

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