skip to Main Content

Undue Influence in the Estate Context amongst Orthodox Jews – is Arbitration before a Beis Din a viable option?

Is there a moral dilemma for the Orthodox Jewish litigator?  On June 4, 2013, the B’nai Brith Canada Trust and Estates Group will be presenting a seminar on dealing with fraud as it impacts on the elderly, their assets and estate disputes.  In choosing topics for this year’s seminar and having in mind our constituency, the committee felt it would be remiss if it did not address this topic and how members of our community who face this issue deal with alternative dispute resolution avenues.

Many Jews believe that when there is a dispute between Jews, those altercations must be decided in accordance with Jewish law and before a Jewish court.   Such Jews may believe that, to do otherwise, would be tantamount to declaring publicly that the secular court system of justice is preferable to that of the Beis Din.  The Shulchan Aruch condemns those who go before a secular court for challenging the value of the Torah’s legal system.  Nonetheless, both in commercial and estate contexts, we sometimes see Orthodox Jews bringing their disputes before the secular courts.

For an Orthodox Jewish lawyer who is representing Jewish parties who are suing one another in a secular court, an ethical question arises.  It gets further complicated where the client’s rights under secular law far exceed the rights they may have under Orthodox Jewish law.  And this may very well be the case in the laws of inheritance.  For the upcoming seminar on June 4, 2013, we have invited Archie Rabinowitz of Dentons Canada LLP and Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner of Yeshiva University to address this topic.  What happens when an Orthodox Jewish client believes that his Orthodox Jewish sibling has committed a fraud to secure assets he might otherwise be entitled to under secular law but not under Jewish law? How would a secular court deal with these issues and how would the Beis Din?  Both Archie Rabinowitz and Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner are uniquely suited to address these questions.

Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner is Rosh Beit Midrash of the Yeshiva University Torah miTzion Beit Midrash Zichron Dov, Toronto, Ontario.  Previously he served as a pulpit rabbi in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.  Since his arrival in Toronto, he has impressed many in the community with his intellectual honesty, breath of knowledge in both secular and religious studies and commitment to raising the level of Jewish study amongst the modern Orthodox Jewish community.

Archie is certified by the Law Society of Ontario as a specialist in Estates & Trusts Law.  He has chaired the prestigious Law Society of Ontario Annual Estates and Trusts Summit since 2008 and is preferred counsel for LawPRO advising on professional negligence cases arising out of contentious estate and trust matters.  He has extensive trial and appellate experience, including cases which in part deal with Halachic issues.

The event will take place on June 4, 2013at Shaarei Shomayim Synagogue, 470 Glencairn Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M5N 1V8.  Registration is at 7:30 a.m. and the presentations will begin at 8:00 a.m. sharp.  The event is open to lawyers and accountants.  Those lawyers and/or accountants who are interested in attending should contact Anita Brombergof B’nai Brith Canada at 416 633 6224 x130 or email

Toronto Estate Litigator - Charles Wagner

The author of this blog is Charles B. Wagner. Charles is a Certified Specialist in Estates and Trusts and partner at Wagner Sidlofsky LLP.

This Toronto office is a boutique litigation law firm whose practice is focused on estate and commercial litigation.

Related Posts and Articles
This blog is not intended to serve as a comprehensive treatment of the topic. It is not meant to be legal advice. Every case turns on its specific facts and it would be a mistake for the reader of this blog to conclude how it might impact on the reader’s case. Nothing replaces retaining a qualified, competent lawyer, well versed in this niche area of practice and getting some good legal advice.
Back To Top