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Divorce Mediation: Gentle Alternative to a Bitter Process
Rabbi Adam Berner

Rabbi Adam J. Berner is an attorney practicing family law in New York and mediation in the tri-state area. He is an adjunct professor in the Jewish Studies Department at Yeshiva University, Stern College for Women, has taught Family law at Cardozo Law School and trains attorneys, law students and corporate personnel in the process of mediation.

Rabbi Berner may be reached via email at or through his web site at

  1. Deuteronomy 24:1-2.
  2. Yevamot 65b; Bava Metziah 87a.
  3. Sanhedrin 6b.
  4. Makot 11a
  5. Rosh Hayeshivah of Mesivta Torah Vodaath. Publication of his address can be found in the Jewish Observer, May 1996, p.6.
  6. Exodus 21:1; Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 26. See Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society, Vol. II, Krauss, Simcha, "Litigation in Secular Courts"; id., Vol. IX, Bressler, Dov, "Arbitration and the Courts in Jewish Law"; and Jewish Action, Vol. 50, No. 2, Kasdan, Ira, "A Proposal for P'sharah: A Jewish Mediation/Arbitration Service."
  7. Compromised settlement should not be understood as a decision that both parties view as a compromise in the negative sense. Rather, psharah should be understood not as a substantive decision, but as a process of considering and integrating both sides of the dispute. The result might indeed be better than the two might have ever hoped for. See Bush, Baruch, The Journal of Contemporary Legal Issues, Vol. 3, No. 1, "Mediation and Adjudication, Dispute Resolution and Ideology: An Imaginary Conversation." Interested parties also may contact the author through Jewish Action magazine (333 7th Ave., NYC, NY, 10001) to receive a copy of his unpublished essay "Pshara: The law of Compromise & Justice in Jewish Jurisprudence" [Ed.].
  8. Deuteronomy 6:18.
  9. Rambam, Hilchot Sanhedrin 22:4; Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 12:2.
  10. Sanedrin 6b. See Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik's thoughts on this topic found in Epstein, Joseph, Shiurei Harav: A Conspectus of the Public Lectures of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik (Ktav, 1994) in the essay entitled "The role of the Judge" and a similar version of the Rav's lecture found in Besdin, Reflections of the Rav, (WZO, 1979), entitled "The Torah Way of Justice".
  11. Rambam, Hilchot Sanhedrin 22:4; Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 12:2.
  12. Mishlei 30:32.
  13. Avot 1:12.
  14. For an excellent resource on the Jewish approach to divorce, see Bulka, Reuven Jewish Divorce Ethics: The Right Way to Say Goodbye Ivy League Press, 1992).
1 | Notes

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