Mediation

“Why cannot the task of dissolving the marriage be approached with respect and humanity,  with menchlichkeit?”

Rabbi Avrohom Pam,a 20th century Talmud scholar, in an address calling for a civilized approach to gittin (divorces).

Mediation is a process in which a trained third party neutral helps the parties discuss their disputes, and aids them in reaching a settlement. Even if the parties do not resolve the dispute, mediation often opens up the lines of communication, and allows for a better relationship going forward, and hopefully easier access to a settlement in some other forum.

Mediation requires “outside the box” thinking to come up with multiple possible. solutions. I am trained to help people move into a space where this type of thinking occurs almost naturally. My job is to help you get and stay unstuck, to help you move from positions to interests.

One of the most common types of mediation is divorce mediation. The two partners/spouses come to the mediator with the intent of, or at least the desire to resolve their issues. They also want to reduce their output of money, time and emotions, and do what they can to make the process less damaging for their children. In fact all types of family matters (involving for example estate disputes or family businesses) are appropriate to be brought to mediation.

Before I began my journey to clergy, I was a very active mediator, probably the most active in the region. I worked with thousands of couples, over 90% of whom left the process pleased with what we had accomplished. Often I could say I had witnessed a transformation of their relationship from a marital one that did not work, to a working, functioning parenting one. Imagine the difference that made for their children, who could love and spend time with both of their parents without fear of hurting either of them.

MEDIATION ON THE SHOULDERS OF BIBLE AND TALMUD

Mediation is the preferred method of conflict resolution in a process called psharah (compromised settlement) in the Jewish Courts. The Talmud states that only psharah, not din (law or judgment), constitutes the ideal justice of mishpat shalom and mishpat tzedek — judgment of peace and judgment of righteousness. This is the essence of the mediation process, combining the Jewish values of Shalom Bayit (peace in the home) Tikkun Olam (healing the world) and Tzedek tirdof (pursue justice).

We see mediation vs court in the contrast between Moses and Aaron. Moses is the head of the judges, the lawgiver. Aaron is described in Mishnah as loving peace and pursuing peace. In fact, Aaron was called upon to meet with parties before any legal hearings and try to resolve disputes “out of court.” This would spare parties the pain and suffering of the adversarial proceedings.

Traditional Jewish thought stresses the importance of chesed, kindness, and gemilut Chasadim, acts of loving kindness. To live a full and complete life, we are commanded to perform these acts of loving kindness without expectation of receiving something in return. These acts of loving kindness are not limited to our own family, our own community, or even our own people. Our texts and our scholars insist  that we treat with dignity, respect and support, the widows, orphans, strangers and poor. If this is so, how much more true is it that we must treat our soon to be former spouses, people we once said we loved and cherished, with equal or greater consideration.

MY AVAILABILITY

To sum up, mediation is designed to save time and money, bypass the adversarial process, and to protect the children and the parties’ assets. But it must be so much more. Mediation, as I see it, must provide a forum for tikkun, for healing. It must provide a forum for Shalom Bayit, peace in the home, or homes. Shalom, peace, is one of the major emphasis of the Biblical writings and rabbinical dissertations. Why did God cry at the tearing apart of a marriage? Because it disturbed the peace. That is why I think God invented mediation. So people could be divorced in a peaceful manner. That is why I will now bring a spiritual dimension as I will continue to make myself available to work with divorcing families as their mediator.