News & Links

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

ORA’s clarification re the NY Times (PDF)
Designing a 22nd-century classic
The Kosher Bookworm: You do have a prayer
Charedim applaud visa rule change
Why scholars’ motives should be irrelevant to our evaluation of their scholarship
The Hassidim of the Consumer Electronics Show
Obnoxious review of the as-yet-unpublished new RCA siddur
The truth about the VosIzNeias ban
R. Berel Wein: Righteous Women
Tzena Tzena (American version)
SALT Friday
▪ Pre-nup law won’t affect the get
▪ Employers in Professional Fields Reluctant to Hire Charedim
▪ Jewish community stresses feelings at its peril
▪ Israeli court gives green light to “modesty buses”
▪ Synagogue: First Black Woman Rabbi Not “Right Fit”
▪ Rabbis take a stand on road safety
▪ Who Needs Hebrew?
SALT Thursday
R. Weinreb: What’s Needed In Orthodox Leadership
Beyond Excess: Finding better rewards for our leaders
A tour of Iraq’s ancient sites (video)
Study probes religious teens’ sexual guilt
YU ethics expert censures rabbis over brain-stem death
▪ Jewish runners decry post-Yom Kippur marathon
▪ New Yorker heads for Jewish school
▪ Slum-Touring Millionaires Put Off the Ritz in Israel
SALT Wednesday
A mitzvah project with the help of online crowd-sourcing
Religious divorce dispute leads to secular protest
Shas seeks law against ethnic bias in haredi schools
On Facebook, parents are new immigrants, children are natives
SALT Tuesday
Eating disorders a problem among haredim
R. Druckman: It’s a rabbi’s duty to voice opinions
Safed rabbi interrogated on incitement charges
Company battles Hebrew U over Einstein image
Rabbi leads Torah trafficking ring
SALT Monday
Last week’s news & links
Rules: link

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. He also serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

176 comments

  1. At first I thought the “Torah trafficking ring” was some kind of joke. Now I see it’s a tragedy (and there are other “frum trafficking rings” throughout the country…)

  2. I agree with R. Druckman that it’s a rabbi’s duty to voice opinions in may cases although it’s also their duty, in some cases, NOT to voice opinions (chachamim, hizharu bedivreichem). I also agree that calling them in for an investigation or possibly charging them with a crime is wrong. But I disagree with the asserion that because it’s a rabbi’s duty or because it’s their statement of halacha it can’t be racism. ISTM that the two are not mutually exclusive. I’m not saying this was racism; I don’t know enough of the factual background and details. I’m only saying that it’s possible it was.

  3. MiMedinat HaYam

    trafficking ring — nothing new. the particulars of this particular ring might be new.

    2. a friend of mine who reps an israeli firm that leaves secret ID marks in sifrei torah tells me few are interested in such a service. so this elad rabbi’s business must be pretty brisk.

  4. >>a friend of mine who reps an israeli firm that leaves secret ID marks in sifrei torah tells me few are interested in such a service. so this elad rabbi’s business must be pretty brisk.<<

    Why? Sifrei Torah are quite expensive, and other methods are already used to protect them (locking the Aron Kodesh with bars, for instance). Why not use this methos as well?

  5. MiMedinat HaYam

    locking the aron with bars — everybody knows the combination is under the velvet cover of the bima (or the amud). sometimes even the key.

    truth is, my friend’s point is the service is a very hard sell. shuls arent really interested.

  6. >>truth is, my friend’s point is the service is a very hard sell. shuls arent really interested.<<

    But why?

  7. I deleted the comment because I am not yet ready to allow this on Hirhurim. I am willing to let the nirdaf respond politely but, absent that, will not host this type of nastiness.

  8. My nastiness or the rodef’s nastiness?

  9. The rodef’s

  10. The article titles itself “Eating Disorders a Problem Among Haredim,” but the text of the article supports the headline “Eating Disorders a Problem”. Anorexia affects all girls (and boys too?) from the most atheist to Charedi.

  11. the divorce article was a bit unclear to me – I thought ORA (which I support) would only do this in an open and shut case – here the visitation issue seems something easily resolveable?
    KT

  12. Temporarily removing comments while I ask a she’eilah whether they constitute lashon hara.

  13. I support that approach.

  14. I spoke at length with someone involved in the process and, as in most ugly divorces, there are lies flying. This isn’t the place to sort through them. I am now certain that ORA acted with proper oversight.

  15. I don’t know anything about the Friedman case other than what’s briefly described in the NYT article, but the article does illustrate why Aguna issues are not as black and white as some would make you think. There are 2 sides to every story, and when both sides are acting badly, who’s to say that the husband is always the one acting more badly for not giving a get?

  16. I know who your rav is and I know his position on this case (though I disagree with him). I am fine with my comments not being posted and respect you for the position so long as you don’t allow this forum to become a bash-fest the other way .

    If there is a way I can come to find out how their oversight was appropriate I’d appreciate it.

  17. I’m not allowing discussion of the people in this case. This is definitely not the place to discuss complex divorces.

  18. MiMedinat HaYam

    putting the article into play puts the issues into play.

    and i avoided the ppl, concentrating on the org, and its (questionable) policies.

  19. I put the article in play because it is in the NY Times and puts the Orthodox community “out there”.

    You *did* discuss the specific case, incorrectly accusing the wife of an aveirah. Even if it is correct, which it is only partially according to the information that I’ve been getting throughout the day, we should not be discussing it in anonymous comments on a blog.

    ORA is a public organization and its policies can certainly be questioned. I’d be happy to host a guest post that respectfully probes the organization’s policies and is signed with a real name.

  20. I hope that people realize that the ORA protest and R. Shmuel Herzfeld were to my understanding acting separately – and I doubt that R. Herzfeld’s actions were productive in resolving the case. The purpose of protesting in front of an empty apartment, like the protest in Brooklyn were to pressure the local rabbinate to act. R. Herzfeld’s intention was to exert public political pressure directly on the husband, which could obviously backfire. I would not be surprised if R. Herzfeld brought his letter to the attention of Times. I would suggest to R. Herzfeld that his mentor’s playbook is not the appropriate tool to apply in every circumstance – especially if your primary concern is the long term well being of all the parties involved – child included.

  21. Whether ORA was acting with R’ Shmuel Herzfeld or not does not answer the question of whether their actions were sanctioned from a common source. My understanding is that R’ Herzfeld’s letter was sanctioned by the same person who approves those of ORA. Herzfeld has explicitly written this publicly in fact. If its not true, that rabbi had best correct that perception because people very involved in this think it is true. And if that’s true for the letter, why should the assumption be any different for the article.

  22. MiMedinat HaYam: That is not all that was in your original comment. I have it saved and you discussed the wife.

    Regardless, even that comment is absolutely unacceptable. Are you joking or do you seriously believe that that kind of insult is OK?

  23. Without going into the specific details of the case (Full disclosure – I knew one of the families), the question is whether, once the marriage is over in a practical sense (and I don’t think there is here any question it is over), is it ever morally appropriate (different question than halachically muttar) to withhold a get – even if one believes that the other side is acting inappropriately, and even if what one wants to obtain before giving the get is not financial blackmail, but a resolution that objectively speaking may be viewed as fair?

    Many of us believe that the answer is no – it is NEVER appropriate – (and there is reason to believe that rav Moshe agreed…) – and view with opprobrium any supporter of withholding the get – even if one believes in a given case that the husband got a raw deal (not that I think that this is the case here, but even if…).

    The question of what can be done about it is complex because of get meuseh – and here ORA and Rav hertzfeld felt that actions were permissible. However, even if public actions may be problematic, refusal to give the get has to color one’s view of the situation (eg, someone who refuses to give a get FOR ANY REASON is just for that reason someone who I would view as unfit to be a parent, informing views on proper custodial arrangements ). Not everything that is halachically permitted is hatov vehayashar – and while we may be limited in our response, we need not be limited in our opinions

    Lastly, in another post on hirhurim, Rav Student talked about zero tolerance for rabbanim with moral lapses – and any rav who supports a mesarev get is one for whom we should have zero tolerance

    Meir Shinnar

  24. Meir Shinnar ,

    Once upon a time I’d have told you that I was against withholding a get for most any reason. However, I am morally unable to get around this most basic question: If he concludes they are in conflict, why does the man’s duty to a woman who-is-not-really-his wife outweigh his duty to his child?

    I am purposefully removing this from the current fact pattern though the question comes from the fact pattern.

  25. >“I hope that people realize that the ORA protest and R. Shmuel Herzfeld were to my understanding acting separately…”

    R. Herzfeld attended the protest.

    >“Lastly, in another post on hirhurim, Rav Student talked about zero tolerance for rabbanim with moral lapses – and any rav who supports a mesarev get is one for whom we should have zero tolerance”

    In this situation the husband has not been declared in seruv of beis din.

  26. no one should be discussing this who hasn’t seen, at least, the public letters on the matter from R. Belsky, R. Ben-Dahan, R. Breitowitz, R. Kamentsky (w R. Schacter’s endorsement), and the DC Vaad, all of which have been distributed widely.

  27. >“Lastly, in another post on hirhurim, Rav Student talked about zero tolerance for rabbanim with moral lapses – and any rav who supports a mesarev get is one for whom we should have zero tolerance”

    STBO
    >>In this situation the husband has not been declared in seruv of beis din.

    Yes, but I was using a short hand – any rav who encourages someone to withhold a get to achieve a goal is someone we should have zero tolerance for – even if it is not a situation where we would order kefiyat get..
    (I would add that comments on moral issues coming from anonymous posters lack weight…)

  28. “why does the man’s duty to a woman who-is-not-really-his wife outweigh his duty to his child? ”
    it’s not duty to wife vs. duty to child, it’s duty to society vs. duty to child. either we live in a society where witholding a get is ok if you think you really have to or we don’t – most people think they really have to so allowing any exceptions sort of defeats the rule.
    it is still a question as to why one’s abstract duty to society should trump perceived duties to children, but it’s a different question than the one you posed.

  29. “not as black and white as some would make you think. There are 2 sides to every story, and when both sides are acting badly, who’s to say that the husband is always the one acting more badly”

    I first heard of this case when someone sent me a link of the Times on the issue. But one thing I am sick of is family members of either side of a divorce spreading lashon hara about the other party. Remember a relative is a nogeah badavar and thus no matter how trustworthy on other issues they are-they still may be trying to defend a child, sibling or in-law etc. There are usually two sides to every story.

  30. HAGTBG
    >Once upon a time I’d have told you that I was against withholding a get for most any reason. >However, I am morally unable to get around this most basic question: If he concludes they are in >conflict, why does the man’s duty to a woman who-is-not-really-his wife outweigh his duty to his >child?

    While he has no special obligations to her, his duty to his child does not allow him to do certain actions towards her that are morally problematic, even if they may end up that he has more rights with his child – he may not kidnap her, he may not kill her, he may not whip her, and he may not withhold a get – and the problem is that people do not understand that all these actions are morally repellent.

    Meir Shinnar

  31. Meir Shinnar on January 4, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    and the problem is that people do not understand that all these actions are morally repellent.

    I don’t know anyone who says it is morally ideal. The question I asked is what to do when the perceived alternative is even more morally repellent.

    emma on January 4, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    either we live in a society where witholding a get is ok if you think you really have to or we don’t

    I agree, that where a beit din has issued instructions and been ignored or the man does not seek a beit din, it is society versus the man. I agree that is the more general question perhaps for agunah matters but, as I took the question from the current fact pattern, it is not the question here.

  32. Joseph Kaplan

    “There are usually two sides to every story.”

    With respect to the details of the divorce (who did what to who etc.), absolutely correct. But not so with respect to the refusal to give a get and leaving, most often, the wife a chained woman. With respect to that there mostly is only one side: one party is refusing to participate in a get in connection with a marriage that is completely dead, thus putting a barrier to the other side getting married (and when it is the woman being barred, quite possibly preventing her from having any more children). There is, with very few exceptions, only one side to THAT story: morally repulsive.

  33. There is, with very few exceptions, only one side to THAT story: morally repulsive.

    I totally agree.

  34. What is it about withholding a get that makes it different from any other dirty tricks used in a messy divorce. If a husband believes he is the victim of dirty tricks from his wife and/or her lawyers, why is it inherently wrong to use the get to level the playing field? Particularly if the alternative would be an unfair financial and/or custody settlement.

  35. I don’t pretend to know the details of this or any other particular case. I am just speaking theoretically.

  36. Joseph Kaplan, Meir Shinnar, etc.

    Agreed. And while I am sympathetic (at least in certain cases) to fathers who get a raw deal without a good reason, the bottom line is that gittin are not to be used in this fashion. Even a worthy cause does not render anything and everything an acceptable weapon.

    As for the argument that using a get this way constitutes the fulfillment of one’s responsibility to one’s children – this may sound rhetorically appealing, but in practice is not very helpful. After all, we regularly reach this result in the course of our social calculus. For instance, is non-get related blackmail appropriate under these conditions? Kidnapping? Hostage-taking? Murder? I think we can all agree that certain options can be safely foreclosed without unfairly forcing a parent to abandon responsibilities to a child. Weaponizing a get, with very few exceptions, is one of those options.

  37. So morally reprehensible dirty tricks should be used in messy divorces? Is withholding a get worse than falsely accusing an ex of molesting the children? Who cares, both are disgusting. But when the halakhic system automatically gives the husband a power advantage and he abuses it, it is considered not merely a bad reflection on him but on orthodox Judaism.

    [Please do not discuss the details of this case – moderator]

  38. Jerry: Your answer speaks to the heart of my question. What makes withholding a get comparable to crimes like murder and kidnapping? Why is it not comparable to dirty legal tricks that are unfortunately used in messy divorces?
    MJ: I am not, G-d forbid, advocating the use of dirty tricks in messy divorces. I am asking why it is wrong for a husband to respond to dirty tricks by using the dirty trick of withholding the get? Should he just accept his victimization and inadequate time he gets with his children.
    Please let me emphasize that these questions are theoretical. Baruch Hashem, neither myself or anyone I am close with has been involved in this type of situation.

  39. HAGTBG
    I don’t know anyone who says it is morally ideal. The question I asked is what to do when the perceived alternative is even more morally repellent.

    Everyone agrees divorces are messy, and problematic tactics are used by many on both sides. Most people agree that some tactics are beyond the pale – although, in general, we don’t really know what tactics are actually used. However, to go back to my original list of problematic tactics – kidnapping, whipping, murder, and refusal to give a get (even if not coerced by a bet din) – there are many people out there who, in practice, would view these tactics as morally repellent, but “the perceived alternative is even more morally repellant” – and that is something that has to be made unacceptable – REGARDLESS of other facts on the ground. Get refusal has an additional dimension – that it harnesses the power of halacha for an immoral purpose – and constitutes therefore a hillul hashem befarhesya – by the husband and all who support him.

  40. Avraham: So is your question why hilchos gittin SHOULDN’T be reduced to the status of any other dirty trick that has given divorce proceedings such a seedy reputation?

    My own opinion is that the same principle might underlie the (admittedly express) prohibition on using trumah as leverage – either by the kohen (in exchange for loaning money), or by the yisrael (in exchange for labor). On the face of things, why shouldn’t either party be able to use a perfectly legitimate legal advantage in order to level the playing field in a given case (either to secure preference from a credit-strapped yisrael, or conversely to secure assistance from a hungry kohen)?

    I think the answer is that halacha should not be brought down to the level of “dirty tricks.”

  41. Meir Shinnar:”Get refusal has an additional dimension – that it harnesses the power of halacha for an immoral purpose – and constitutes therefore a hillul hashem befarhesya – by the husband and all who support him.”
    Is it immoral if the alternative is an unfair custody settlement that is the result of a wife’s dirty legal tactics? If so, what exactly makes it immoral under such circumstances? I am sorry if I am slow at grasping this concept, but isn’t it possible that a wife may not be the victim?

  42. my reply to Meir Shinnar was before I saw Jerry’s reply.
    Thank you Jerry, I think you have answered my question.

  43. Avraham: no sweat! 😉

  44. Get refusal has an additional dimension – that it harnesses the power of halacha for an immoral purpose,

    The power of halacha? Halacha tells me what is mine and what is yours. Secular law does that to as does morality and usually they align but sometimes they do not. Are we going to say that a dispute over property where someone is citing to halacha “harnesses the power of halacha for an immoral purpose.” No, you are using halachic benchmarks to define, for lack of a better term, secular concepts. It is a fundamentally “secular” dispute and, while the system is a religious one you could have a counterpart dispute just as easily using civil laws.

    Here the get is a document dissolving the marriage contract. Marriage may not be physical but it is a type of relationship our general society understands. The documents and procedures are set forth by halacha but it is not some purely spiritual endeavor.. You can have the a counterpart dispute when a marriage dissolves where no-fault divorce is not an option.

    By the definition used here, any definition of a right/interest using the halachic application of it in a dispute, and most specifically where halacha differs from civil law, “harnesses the power of halacha for an immoral purpose.”

    There is some distinction being made by people here between ritual Jewish law versus other aspects of Jewish law but (a) I am not sure a get qualifies as ritual law,(b) even if it does, I am not sure Judaism actually distinguishes ritual law from other aspects of law, and (c) I am still not sure how you have set out that, even were there such a distinction and even were it to apply here, that it mandates only one outcome. Indeed, you have all consistently qualified your words.

    I think the answer is that halacha should not be brought down to the level of “dirty tricks.”

    Halacha touches on everything and dirty tricks are never ideal. Nevertheless there are times they are justifiable or called for (which we celebrate on Purim tricking Haman, say, or Yaakov and Rivka tricking Yitzchak for the birthright at Esav’s expense.

    I am not saying this applies here. I just don’t understand how just because you use the words “halacha” now suddenly a dirty trick is more taboo.

  45. Important letter from R. Yuval Sherlo about those who take organs without giving: http://www.thejewishweek.com/editorial_opinion/letters/untenable_position

  46. It isn’t as important as the letter from R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach disagreeing.

  47. Otherwise it is not halachic, not moral and not acceptable.
    ============================
    R’Gil,
    Does R’SZA address the moral issue or does he assume that if it halachically acceptable it is by definition moral?
    KT

  48. HAGTBG
    The power of halacha? Halacha tells me what is mine and what is yours. Secular law does that to as does morality and usually they align but sometimes they do not. Are we going to say that a dispute over property where someone is citing to halacha “harnesses the power of halacha for an immoral purpose.” No, you are using halachic benchmarks to define, for lack of a better term, secular concepts. It is a fundamentally “secular” dispute and, while the system is a religious one you could have a counterpart dispute just as easily using civil laws.

    We have a concept of naval birshut hatorah – not all what halacha permits does it view as mandatory or even desirable. If the issue was that halacha forbade something that from another perspective, should be done – your distinction would be valid. Here, there is no halachic requirement to deny a get – even if there isn’t always a halachic requirement to give one – but not giving one, even if not assur – and defending such actions – puts one in the category of naval birshut hatorah.

  49. Do you mean to tell me R. Shlomo Zalmen thought you could not allow yourself to be killed for organs, but can kill others when you want them? Ha’omer sheli sheli veshelach sheli…

  50. Yes. It’s in the RCA paper, which people seem to feel free to criticize without actually reading.

  51. Here, there is no halachic requirement to deny a get – even if there isn’t always a halachic requirement to give one – but not giving one, even if not assur – and defending such actions – puts one in the category of naval birshut hatorah.

    Meir, you are consistent. You have said there is never a reason to withhold a get and view each withholding as per se unethical and wrong and somehow on par with kidnapping and murder. So your logic stands.

    I on the other hand believe there are times it can be appropriate to withhold the get, however they are quite limited. Therefore the mere act of withholding the get to me does not make it naval birshut hatorah. Things I would need to see are (i) For some reason beit din (or other neutral oversight?) of the get is not happening and the husband is not somehow successfully actively thwarting is from happening, (ii) that giving the get would advance a very large inequity against the husband, and (iii) the reasonableness of the husband’s position.

    BTW, all the dirty tricks in divorce, if we presume they are permitted by halacha, make one naval birshut hatorah.

    If you’d ask me the only real difference between the get and the other dirty tricks is the prospect that it is open ended. That’s precisely the threat hanging over the woman. And it is because that threat is removed/controlled if there is credible beit din oversight (with no evidence the husband has defied it) that I think may also be a difference between me and you.

  52. Does R’SZA address the moral issue or does he assume that if it halachically acceptable it is by definition moral?

    I don’t know. I haven’t seen the original.

    The halakhic aspect makes perfect sense to me. It’s a matter of what question is posed to a rabbi. If the family of a nearly dead patient ask a rabbi whether they can harvest his organs, the rabbi is going to say “no” if he believes the patient is still alive. Who can permit what he considers to be murder?

    If the family of a patient asks a rabbi whether they can approve receipt of an organ transplant, which they will tell to their doctor who will then tell another doctor who might then tell another doctor to perform, I’m not sure what issur is involved. Lifnei de-lifnei is allowed. And with someone’s life at stake, who can be strict beyond what halakhah calls for?

  53. Gil: Yes it is. The alternate position is unforgivable, no matter who espouses it.

    If you have a link to RSZA’s letter (or just a cite) please post it, because I haven’t seen it. If, rachmana litzlan, he really says what you claim, all I can say is hashiva shofteinu k’varishona. I truly hope it is not the case.

    Gil, do you actually disagree with R. Sherlo on this? If so, that is reprehensible. This is a good example of an issue where we need to call a spade a spade and not making excuses for leaders who adopt a morally untenable position.

    I weep for a community to whom R. Sherlo’s position is not blindingly obvious.

  54. Well I suppose that absolves you of any moral qualms then.

  55. Does the fact that RSZA advocated the position quoted in the RCA paper, which I have admittedly not seen, mean that it is by definition moral?

  56. Nice article by Rabbi Weinreb. Seems that he agrees with Boteach’s recent column calling for Rabbis to stop wanting to be friends with their congregants and to start leading, even if it is unpopular.

  57. Jerry: Yes, I find R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach’s position compelling. It is in the RCA paper. Did *anyone* read the paper?

  58. Michael: It means that people should be careful about whom they call immoral. If you are comfortable calling R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach immoral, that is your prerogative. But please do not attribute this position to the RCA. The RCA does not have a position on this. Attribute it to R. Shlomo Zalman.

  59. I never attributed it to the RCA. I said that it was quoted in the RCA paper.

    And sadly enough, if his position is as you quoted, then it is indeed immoral. I hope that it was not presented accurately.

  60. Gil – I would delete your own last comment before someone looking for trouble finds it, and comes across an extremely valid reason to detest Orthodox Jews, who, leshitascha, should be the ultimate parasites. I find it remarkable that you express such repugnant opinions with such equanimity. Would you ask an assassin to murder someone too using the same sevoro?

  61. http://www.rabbis.org/pdfs/Halachi_%20Issues_the_Determination.pdf

    From page 168:

    In a December 1991 letter to Rav Feivel Cohen,[185] Rav Auerbach wrote that despite the fact that he cannot support “brain death” to permit organ donations, nevertheless, it is permitted to receive organs that have been taken from such patients.

    [185] This letter is printed in ( נשמת אברהם (ח”ד דפים קמ”ה-קמ”ז ; in the text of that letter specific parameters are laid out.

  62. And what’s with the scare tactics? – ‘this action cannot be wrong, for X did it’, is pure demagoguery; ‘if you are comfortable saying that X could be wrong about something (then the fault lies with you)’ is a sly and hurtful way of asking others to abandon their own consciences. Whether or not something is wrong should be decided on its own merits, if it is wrong, then the fact that X did it, or advised others to do so, says something about him, not the action.

  63. Anonymous: I find it repugnant that someone a frum Jew would call a pesak by R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach a repugnant opinion. I suggest you read R. Aharon Lichtenstein’s eulogy for him. He was a supremely moral and sensitive person. I’m pretty sure he would never say to the media that a publication of a rabbinic organization was an act of anti-semitism. That kind of morality I don’t need.

  64. Anonymous: No, it is a reality check that perhaps you are not fully thinking through the positions of those with whom you disagree.

  65. You have proved my point exactly.
    Me: Action Y is immoral.
    You: But X deemed it good.
    Me: So X was wrong.
    You: It is distressing that you would consider X to have made a moral mistake.
    Me: It is more distressing that you would advise abandoning all moral intuition merely because you have found that X advocated it.
    You: X is so great, that if you think he is wrong, you have probably not thought through your view enough.
    Me: Same again, but worse – this time you are trying to impugn my own moral judgement, not even believe me to be wrong per se, but because X has said otherwise. For you morality is totally circular and consists of whatever X has said. Why are his pronouncements moral? Because he made them.

  66. Happily, I believe we can rest in good conscious that the all commentators in the brain death discussion are tzaddikim gemurim. The full explanation of RSZA’s reasoning why he permitted accepting a heart transplant (in the Diaspora) was posted in the “Brain Death in the News” forum, in my comment on Dec. 7, at 5:30 p.m. As explained there, RSZA’s argument has a certain degree of moral cogency; RSZA was certainly a righteous scholar who was sensitive to the ethics of the problem. But in practical terms – as further explained there – it seems to me, based on RMF’s countervailing remarks, that RSZA’s reasoning is insufficently persuasive to be accepted. Translation: if tomorrow I will (chas vichalilah) experience a medical emergency such that I need a heart transplant, I will choose to forego the heart transplant, as a matter of Kiddush Hashem.

  67. Last sentence should be:
    Same again, but worse – this time you are trying to impugn my moral judgement, not even because you believe me to be wrong per se, but because X has said otherwise. For you morality is totally circular and consists of whatever X has said. Why are his pronouncements moral? Because he made them.

  68. “It is in the RCA paper. Did *anyone* read the paper?”

    Apparently not you. The paper refers to the letter but doesn’t mention the contents. It just states his position (ditto for R. Aharon Soloveichik and R. Elyashiv). I assume the reference is in footnote 185, but that reference has, for some reason, been cut off from the bottom of my PDF. If anyone has that note in their document, please let me know the cite.

    Gil there is literally nothing you can say to legitimize the position you are ascribing to RSZA. If he indeed held what you are claiming, then that is repugnant, and it is exceedingly creepy that you support it. In fact, I think frum Jews, more than ever, have a responsibility to hold their leaders responsible for immoral opinions.

    I’m sure we’ll hear plenty of bluster (maybe you can even induce Dr. Berger to come back into the comments section!) to the effect of how dare anyone presume to question such a towering figure, etc. Personally, I don’t have time for that. I’d prefer to call a spade a spade, and in this case, to support taking but not giving is immoral.

  69. Jerry: See my comment above, 1:18pm.

    Your inability to understand the positions of those with whom you disagree, and your persistence in calling them names, seems to me to be an unfortunate failing.

  70. “In a December 1991 letter to Rav Feivel Cohen,[185] Rav Auerbach wrote that despite the fact that he cannot support “brain death” to permit organ donations, nevertheless, it is permitted to receive organs that have been taken from such patients.”

    There’s clearly something wrong here. As Dr. Stadlan pointed out in his post, such a situation cannot exist. Donors must be matched with recipients before the organs are harvested. Either the RCA paper wasn’t precise, or RSZA didn’t get the details explained to him properly.

    R. Gil: do you think your articulation of RSZA’s position is coherent? What you’re saying is that it’s ok to tell someone to tell someone to commit murder, even when you know that without your telling them, the murder will not take place.

  71. Michael Rogovin

    REading the above exchange, whether or not one understands RSZA’s psak on this matter, it is a logical fallacy to conclude that since RSZA is a moral person and a halachic expert that ipso facto every psak he gave is therefore moral. People err (they are not infallible) and even if one assumes he did not err, different people often emphasize different competing values to reach moral and halachic decisions. Also, the fact that something is mutar does not make it moral. So for many reasons, it is possible for people to conclude that RSZA’s opinion in this matter is immoral: either he erred, his balancing of different factors/values used a different matrix than other, equally moral people or he was ruling on its permissibility, not is desirability.

    As to whether the RCA paper represents an opinion on brain death: based on the many critical readings of the RCA paper, I think it is fair to say that such a statement (either RCA’s or yours) is disingenuous. One need not take an explicit position (indeed one can disavow taking a position) but the selection and presentation of data often betrays a bias and smarter people than me have concluded that this is very much the case here (see the guest post on this blog, for example, as well as letters by other experts in the field).

  72. Doron Beckerman

    שו”ת דעת כהן )ענייני יורה דעה( סימן קצט

    זה מכבר באה אלי שאלתו בענין המתים הדרושים בשביל הנתוח של למוד הרפואה. לדעתי מאחר שניוול המת הוא אחד מהאיסורים המיוחדים לישראל… והגויים כשם שאינם מקפידים על המאכלות רק באופן טבעי, ככה אין להם שום טעם להקפיד כ”כ על הגוף שלא יתנוול, בשביל איזה מטרה טבעית כמו הרפואה, ע”כ אנחנו צריכים לקנות בכסף מלא גויות מתים מאוה”ע בשביל המטרה המדעית. ואין לחוש בזה משום שנאת הגויים, כי הישרים שבהם יבינו, שסו”ס אומה זו, שנבחרה להביא את אור הקודש של ידיעת ד’ אמת בעולם, וסובלת ע”ז צרות מרובות לאין שיעור, היא ראויה ג”כ לאיזה פריבילגיה של קדושה, והמקולקלים שבהם לא יחדלו להעליל עלילות גם אם נקח מתים מישראל לנתחם.

    So the receiving-but-cannot-donate moral argument, per se, didn’t bother Rav Kook either.

  73. OK,

    Does anyone know for certain that RSZA KNEW that a patient agreeing to organ donation was directly related to removing organs from a corrseponding brain-dead patient? Or did he merely assume, as many of us do (as did I until Dr. Stadlan’s comments), that the organs were already out?

    I think it behooves us to be mekayem “Vehakarta vesha’alta vedarashta heitev” before we pass judgement on this issue.

  74. Having read RSZA’s letter, and having had some professional involvement in transplant, two issues.

    1) It seems clear to me from the letter that RSZA was not clear (and he is quite aware that he is not fully informed – and phrases some issues as depending on what the metziut is) of how organ transplants actually occur – what is the process of declaring brain death, what tests are run on potential donors (not just to determine brain death, but also suitability for transplant), what is the relationship of a potential recipient to what is actually done. It is not clear, for example, that he would have approved the quite close relationship that typically occurs between the needs of the recipient and what is done to the donor.

    2) There is a profound difference between an individual who has a theoretical objection to brain death, but, facing imminent death, signs up to receive a transplant (and receives a psak permitting him to accept it) – and a community that states publicly that as communal policy – that they will not donate but will accept.
    The first is a type of choice that we hope we never have to make – and therefore do not feel able to judge. The second, to be frank, smells and is a hillul hashem (and the transplant community is aware of it). RSZA is dealing with the first issue. For all his gadlut, he was living in Israel, and not necessarily the best informed to deal with the communal issue in galut. This issue of the difference between individual and communal needs is one that is assuming far greater importance in many areas, but not all poskim, even of the first rank, are always aware of the communal implications.

    Meir Shinnar

  75. Just to be clear, Gil. You believe that it is permitted, nay desierable, to instruct somebody to ask a doctor to murder somebody else for their body parts. On this basis, would you see any reason to forbid asking a friend to instruct a witch doctor to murder a child they had kidnapped so that you can use the body parts for medicinal purposes. Your logic of lifnei de’lifnei bemakom pikuach nefesh applies equally to both. I hope this illustrates the abhorrency of your position. It matters not a whit if (and I refuse to believe that R. Shlomo Zalmen would endorse this) great rabbinic figures held thus, it is still absolutely disgusting and outrageous.

  76. Dr. Shinnar: I agree with you. The issue people should be discussing is what we, as a community, should set as policy. Given the lack of uniformity in the Orthodox community, I’m not sure we should have a policy at this time.

    Additionally, the insulting has to stop. It not only incites anti-Orthodox sentiment, it detracts from holding a serious discussion of the subject. The assumption that those who oppose the brain death criteria are immoral cavemen is incorrect, insulting and unproductive.

  77. The issue is a hillul hashem here in Israel as well.

  78. Anonymous: I refuse to respond to questions that call me or my positions abhorrent. Maybe we can continue discussing this after you learn to how to interact with others respectfully.

  79. Michael: If I understand correctly, you are saying that the proper pesak for someone lying on his death bed is that halakhah allows for you to accept an organ donation but because of a Chillul Hashem you should die instead. I can understand and respect that position but I am not so sure it is the right answer.

  80. aiwac: I doubt that Dr. Steinberg would fail to make RSZA fully aware of these issues but I guess someone can ask him.

  81. Joseph Kaplan

    Refusing to give a get is not merely a “dirty trick” that a smart lawyer or judge or appellate court can eventually rectify. It is destroying an important part of someone’s life: the ability to find someone to love, to be intimate with physically and spiritually, to have children with. “Dirt tricks” are just that — dirty, and should be shunned by those for whom Torah is a set of values as well as a litany of laws. But denying a get is more than just dirty (which it is); it is also evil. It would take a lot, really a lot, to justify such an evil act. I won’t say it’s impossible to find a situation where such a justification may be applicable, but complaining about details of visitation rights approved by an impartial tribunal doesn’t make the cut.

  82. I am suggesting that as a policy decision, it has led to a Chillul Hashem among the majority of the population. I tend to believe that this is an immoral position, although I understand the halakhic argument being put forth in the case of a specific individual (although it seems to be severely weakened by the fact that the donor and recipient are matched before harvesting the organs). I do think that halakhic policy decisions need to take into account ethical and moral considerations as well.

  83. wrt rDB posting of Rav Kook on autopsies for learning medicine.
    There is no similarity. remember, autopsies for the sake of learning medicine used to done only on criminals or bodies dug up illegally – this only changed late (~ 19th century). Many people still do not feel comfortable donating their bodies to medical schools – and the fact that a community maintains an older approach is something that can be accepted.

    In the transplant community, the organ donors (and their families) are of great importance – and a community that views the families as sanctioning the murder of their loved ones for the benefit of others is one that undermines the respect due to the donor families. The community has a right to its values – but it then can’t ask donors to donate…

    Meir Shinnar

  84. Again – this halachic argument would have equal force in the case of real murder, not just the murder of a brain dead person. Would anyone permit a chole who needs an organ to request someone to intruct a doctor to muder another person for his body parts? This is lifnei de’lifnei bemakom pikuach nefesh.

  85. Hirhurim
    Additionally, the insulting has to stop. It not only incites anti-Orthodox sentiment, it detracts from holding a serious discussion of the subject. The assumption that those who oppose the brain death criteria are immoral cavemen is incorrect, insulting and unproductive.

    While they are not immoral cavemen, Dr. Stadlan has done an excellent job of pointing out that old criteria do not work in today’s medical environment – or lead to conclusions that, practically, are not followed (without any discussion about transplant) – because the ability to maintain circulation (in some sense) and respiration (in some sense) has become so great, and the question is how to respond – and one needs not merely halachic knowledge, but knowledge of the metziut.

    Furthermore, the fact that the RCA position paper, by many readings (including mine), did not honestly report all the infomration and all the positions (and again, the failure to interview Rabbi Walfish speaks volumes) – that is immoral. One can be moral and not believe in brain death – but one can’t be moral and dishonest.

  86. Not in the mood for a lecture from you Gil. I can understand my opponents’ arguments just as well as you can. And there are areas where your intellectual intolerance is distressing to say the least.

    But there is a time to take a stand and call something reprehensible when that is exactly what it is.

    And if, as seems likely based on above comments, RSZA was not talking about a communal, Diaspora (especially!) policy of receiving and not giving, I feel completely vindicated.

    Doron: Unless I misread the R. Kook bit above, he is talking about using Gentile body parts for a scientific purpose: ע”כ אנחנו צריכים לקנות בכסף מלא גויות מתים מאוה”ע בשביל המטרה המדעית. I assume this is why he talks in terms of nivvul ha’mes. In that case, if Jews can’t donate then at least they can contribute in a different way by using body parts for important research. It’s another proposition entirely to ask others to save you, but not offer to save others.

    Applying R. Kook’s reasoning to our case, it wouldn’t work anyway, since no Gentile I know believes in the ‘am ha’nivhar idea as R. Kook sees it.

    As for Gil’s lovely little strawman to the effect that what has everyone up in arms is that people reject the brain death criteria – Gil, that’s not what bothers people so much. I can accept that someone might have a legitimate disagreement with me about using brain death criteria.

    The problem is that if you do not accept brain death, then you can’t go around asking for organs harvested from brain dead patients. And if there are frum people, chas v’shalom, who urge our community to adopt such a policy, then they deserve all the anti-Orthodox sentiment they get.

  87. Anonymous: This case seems different to me from the case of hiring a hit man, which is assur and chayav misah biydei shamayim. I’m not a posek so I can’t definitively rule on this. But it seems different to me. There is a machlokes ha-poskim on the matter and you are giving permission to one person to tell another person to do something which some hold is permissible.

    Michael: I’m saying that the bigger Chillul Hashem — which reaches the entire newspaper-reading public and not just a few hundred doctors — is when Orthodox advocates of organ donation accuse other Jews, particularly prominent rabbis, of cruelty and immorality.

    Dr. Shinnar: Dr. Stadlan is a passionate and convincing advocate for brain death criteria. I do not believe that he is the final word on the matter or that a compelling counter-argument is impossible. I don’t think the RCA paper was meant to cover the same ground that had been previously covered. It was meant to add to the information already available. R. Walfish’s testimony is clear and available online. The RCA paper added to it. It is not clear to me why regarding R. Moshe Feinstein’s position, his family’s (self-contradicting) testimony overrides the testimony of R. Feinstein’s prominent talmidim but regarding Rav Soloveitchik’s position, his family’s testimony is considered irrelevant and overriden by that of a single talmid. I’d think that all of the testimony is valuable. The RCA paper added many important testimonies to the discussion.

  88. Jerry: On what issues does our community have a single, united policy? Why do we need one on organ donations? Pasken each question as it arises.

  89. Gil,
    If the insults are to stop (and I think they should), please retract your assertion, essential, (phrased as a rhetorical question) that those who condemn the RCA paper, or parts of it, have not read it. It is not true and is insulting.

  90. Yi’yasher kochakhem, R. Beckerman and Dr. Shinnar. You are both correct (in the spirit of Moshe Rabbeinu and Aharon Hakohen conversing and the truth emerging from both – Rashi to Exodus 12:3). The responsum of R. Kook beautifully explains how – if RSZA’s supposition that the laws of homicide for Noahides and Jews are different were definitely true – how we would present the information to the nations of the world in a manner which would bring respect to Orthodox Judaism. Essentially, we tell the nations of the world that the Creator has assigned different roles for Noahides and Jews. [It’s the same philosophy we preach regarding the partition in synagogue: different roles divinely assigned to ladies and gentlemen.] It already works for the medical anatomy classes and it would work for heart transplants if RSZA were definitely correct. However, because RMF effectively raises a question of doubt whether the laws of homicide for Noahides are different from the laws of homicide for Jews, and because it is therefore uncertain whether RSZA is correct, Dr. Shinnar’s observation becomes entirely normative halakhah lima’aseh. We are unable to justify beyond cavil that a Jew receive a heart transplant (even in the Diaspora), and out of doubt, we should do without (in my opinion).

  91. Doron Beckerman

    Dr. Meir Shinnar’s argument in distinguishing between transplants and donating one’s body to science seems to basically boil down to PR. The donate-your-body-to-science advocates haven’t yet done a good enough job in making it known what vast benefit to humanity there is in doing so, and those who do so don’t get the respect they deserve. Once the mainstream media gets on that bandwagon…

    Jerry: Donating one’s body to science has the potential to save many lives, e.g. Alzheimer fatalities.

  92. Doron Beckerman –
    Is there a shortage of bodies for science?

    Further: Those who don’t want to donate their bodies (= most people, regardless of religion) don’t think that people who do donate are murders, or even necessarily immoral.

    Is there slight hypocrisy in being happy that someone else donated so you can get the benefis of the research, but not being willing to donate yourself? Sure, but it’s about as hypocritical as relying on scientific research after you refuse to participate in a randomized control trial when you have the chance. Which is to say, it’s a form of freeriding on the goodwill of others. That’s very different from refusing to commit what you consider murder for the benefit of others, but allowing others to commit murder on your behalf.

  93. Gil: On what issues does our community have a single, united policy

    Depends what you mean by community. Even a smaller unit of “community” would be bad as far as I’m concerned.

    But even if you want to play this game, our larger “community” (American MO, let’s say?) has plenty of single, united policies. We support the State of Israel (maybe even some sort of religious Zionism?). We eat things that are certified OU. We have mechitzos in our shuls. We don’t ordain women as rabbis (I don’t want to get into this issue, obviously, so suffice it to say that at least as of this writing we do not do this). We consider employment in the medical fields even though it will almost always require some form of chilul Shabbos.

    I could go on, but I think the larger “community” is more than capable, at least sometimes and with enough consensus, of coming up with broad policies

    Doron: That’s exactly my point. That’s why accepting donated bodies for scientific study may be different, and why I don’t think R. Kook’s reasoning applies to accepting but not offering organ transplantation from brain dead patients.

  94. RDB
    Dr. Meir Shinnar’s argument in distinguishing between transplants and donating one’s body to science seems to basically boil down to PR. The donate-your-body-to-science advocates haven’t yet done a good enough job in making it known what vast benefit to humanity there is in doing so, and those who do so don’t get the respect they deserve. Once the mainstream media gets on that bandwagon…

    Rav Beckerman does not seem that this is not a PR. For the general community, there is a profound difference between nivul hamet – and murder. It is relatively easy to understand that some wish for full burial, others allow an autopsy, others want cremation. How one respects one’s dead is a matter of different traditions. One tells the donating family – you think this is respectful, we do not disagree that this is respectful for you…

    Here, one is telling the donating family – I think that this is murder, but if you are willing to murder your family member, I will gladly benefit….

    Meir Shinnar

  95. So if the assassin is mevater on his payment it is muttar? I see you start bringing in other shittos when it comes to taking organs. Let’s say we don’t hold of those shittos at all. Can we still justify murder based on lifnei delifnei? We can only say that it is murder when it suits us – its murder for you to take organs from me, but I can rely on other shittos when I get others to take organs from you.

  96. R Gil-how about this link? http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/dec/30/jewish-group-pays-pr-firm-co-owned-by-president/
    Would you buy a used car from this group, let alone the Brooklyn Bridge?

  97. Doron Beckerman

    Dr. Shinnar: My narrow point was, as I stated, that the receive-but-cannot-donate, per se was not a moral issue to Rav Kook. It seems to me that many commentors were advocating the position that it is inherently wrong.

    As for your distinction, if we were to accept that Bnei Noach have a right to define death as brain death, either because they can rely on science in this area or because they can rely on such views present in Halacha, and we would not consider it murder for them, but for Jews it is considered murder, thereby avoiding labelling the donors as murderers, why would there be a problem?

  98. lawrence kaplan

    Gil: Why do you insinuate that those who are critical of the RCA’s position paper have not read it?

  99. R Gil wrote in part:

    ” I find it repugnant that someone a frum Jew would call a pesak by R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach a repugnant opinion. I suggest you read R. Aharon Lichtenstein’s eulogy for him. He was a supremely moral and sensitive person. I’m pretty sure he would never say to the media that a publication of a rabbinic organization was an act of anti-semitism. That kind of morality I don’t need”

    I agree wholeheartedly with R Gil. Anyone who raises such an issue is simply unfamiliar with RSZA’s personae, which one is well documented in HaTorah HaMisamachas, Oro Shel Olam and a three volume set Vlehu Hu Yavol,

  100. Gil
    >Dr. Shinnar: Dr. Stadlan is a passionate and convincing advocate for brain death criteria. I do not >believe that he is the final word on the matter or that a compelling counter-argument is >impossible.
    I don’t know that a counter argument is impossible (there are very few things that can’t be argued). What is striking is that Dr. Stadlan’s arguments, while well formulated, are not novel to anyone with any real knowledge of current medicine – and one wonders how the RCA can come out with a new statement, present “new medical data” – and ignore the metziut.

    Gil
    >I don’t think the RCA paper was meant to cover the same ground that had been previously covered. >It was meant to add to the information already available. R. Walfish’s testimony is clear and >available online. The RCA paper added to it. It is not clear to me why regarding R. Moshe Feinstein’s >position, his family’s (self-contradicting) testimony overrides the testimony of R. Feinstein’s >prominent talmidim but regarding Rav Soloveitchik’s position, his family’s testimony is considered >irrelevant and overriden by that of a single talmid. I’d think that all of the testimony is valuable. >The RCA paper added many important testimonies to the discussion.
    RCA rehashed much of the same ground in discussing rav moshe and the rav – but notably omitted the opposing positions. The issue is not that Rav Walfish’s testimony overrides everyone else- but an honest appraisal requires asessing it fully – which could easily be done and was not. There is dan lechaf zechut, but it is clear that the RCA paper was not intellectually honest – while it could have been and arrived at the same conclusion.

  101. FWIW, when Dr Stadlan posted his critique of the RCA position paper, I posted a simple query, which he admitted was the crux of the issue-namely, whether the Harvard criteria re brain death could be rationalized, squared and equated in any fashion with the criteria of death set forth in the Talmud, Rishonim and Acharonim who relied on those criteria prior to the publication of the Harvard criteria. In the absence of any unanimity on this critical issue, I think that we should all remember that this is an issue that is complex, not of KSA simplicity and that many halachic issues are involved. Thus, when there is evidence that accepting an organ from a patient who has been pronounced brain dead is permissible, but that organ donation is a subject of controversy, our reaction should be consideration of all of the Halachic issues involved, including a profound consideration of whether Chillul HaShem is involved, which all too often is invoked when we are uncomfortable with a particular halachic response.

  102. Dr. Kaplan: I apologize if my facetious criticism was taken too seriously. I thought it was obvious that I did not mean that literally none of the paper’s critics had read the paper. Just too many, as evidenced by many who were criticizing it without being aware of what is in it.

    Dr. Shinnar: RCA rehashed much of the same ground in discussing rav moshe and the rav – but notably omitted the opposing positions.

    Only, to my recollection, in adding new substance to it. Thus, for example, they presented all of R. David Feinstein’s and R. Moshe Tendler’s statements about R. Moshe Feinstein rather than just single statements. And with the Rav, they collected a lot of new testimonies that had previously been ignored.

  103. FWIW, I agree with Mycroft’s stance on this matter that issues of Nogea BaDavar are not inconsequential with respect to the medical world’s seemingly unblinking adoption of the Harvard criteria.

  104. Joseph Kaplan

    “Additionally, the insulting has to stop. . . . The assumption that those who oppose the brain death criteria are immoral cavemen is incorrect, insulting and unproductive.”

    I agree that the iinsulting should stop, but while there have been insults which should stop I don’t recall ANYONE making the assumption you mention. The discussion on this post has been directed not to suporting or opposing brain death criteria but to the morality of refusing to donate because it’s murder but participating in that murder by accepting donations. And if we’re talking about morality then one can legitimately say that a policy is immoral. I agree with Gil that we shouldn’t call people who comment here or those who lead (or led) our community immoral — but if moraluty is the issue we may call the policy immoral.

    “I don’t think the RCA paper was meant to cover the same ground that had been previously covered. It was meant to add to the information already available. R. Walfish’s testimony is clear and available online. It is not clear to me why regarding R. Moshe Feinstein’s position, his family’s (self-contradicting) testimony overrides the testimony of R. Feinstein’s prominent talmidim but regarding Rav Soloveitchik’s position, his family’s testimony is considered irrelevant and overriden by that of a single talmid.”

    Similarly, no one said that anyone should ACCEPT R. Walfish’s view of what the Rav held or said to him. But Research 101 shoudl teach us that if you’re writing about what someone said about a discussion with someone else and you have the opportunity to speak to them directly to make sure you know exactly what they said and everything they said and you don’t do it, then if your report calls into question the accuracy of the report of the discussion, your report and motivations become very very suspect and raise serious questions of unfair bias. Interestingly, while R. Folger participated, to his credit, in our discussion on Dr. Standlan’s post, he never expalined why in the years the RCA spent in preparing its paper, it never found the time, or had the decency, to speak directly to R. Wlafish, its former head professional. One would think that simple professional, if not personal, courtesy would demand that. But if you have an agenda which you are trying to cover up, then courtesy and proper research apparently goes out the window.

    Reading the RCA paper.

    Apparently Gil, plenty of those who disagree with the RCA paper actually did read it. I know I did. And having read it is what makes so many so mad.

  105. Gil: “I thought it was obvious that I did not mean that literally none of the paper’s critics had read the paper.”

    Well, to be fair, your criticism was directed specifically at me. And I think I demonstrated that your accusation was incorrect. You have yet to retract/apologize.

    P.S. Note 185? Anyone?

  106. For those interested in a fascinating and respectful live discussion of the issues, RHS, RMT and an audience of physicians and Talmidei Chachamim discussed brain death, and the associated halachic and medical issues at a conference at AECOM in the early 1990s. The tapes of the same are available from R M Nordlicht, one of the major pioneers of taped shiurim Marbitzei Torah in the metropolitan area and should be in the tape library of any shul that has a substantial tape library of RHS’s shiurim.There may also be many additional shiurim on these issues at YuTorah as well. I highly recommend that anyone interested in the issue at least listen to the tapes in question before voicing a POV on the same.

  107. Jerry: Note 185 is quoted in full above in the comment of 1:18pm.

  108. IMPORTANT CLARIFICATION: It was brought to my attention that nowhere in the RCA paper does it say that a patient may agree to accept organs that *will be taken* from a donor. Nor did R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ever say that. It/they refer to organs that *have been taken* from a donor.

    The precise wording of the paper is that it refers to organs already taken from a donor. This obviously will not work for a heart transplant but will work for other organs.

    Here is the exact wording from page 168:

    In a December 1991 letter to Rav Feivel Cohen,[185] Rav Auerbach wrote that despite the fact that he cannot support “brain death” to permit organ donations, nevertheless, it is permitted to receive organs that have been taken from such patients.

    [185] This letter is printed in ( נשמת אברהם (ח”ד דפים קמ”ה-קמ”ז ; in the text of that letter specific parameters are laid out.

  109. Jerry: I apologize to you for assuming and implying that you did not read the paper.

  110. Joseph Kaplan: we shouldn’t call people who comment here or those who lead (or led) our community immoral — but if moraluty is the issue we may call the policy immoral.

    Fair enough. I have to admit this one just pushes my buttons, but you’re right.

  111. I am the anonymous who got so worked up before – I apologise – I had of course not intended to slight R. Shlomo Zalmen, but I was upset at his bring brought in to defend something which is clearly immoral, and as it turns out, he is talking about something else entirely (where there is an organ that happens to be available, which is not how it works in general). My point still stands that if we hold something is retzicha (and I have nowhere advocated accepting brain death) then we have to follow it through and not start coming up with self-serving justifications allowing us to sanction the murder of others, a position that the posek I have spoken to is in full agreement with. This might be a bit hard to accept if you have a kid who needs a transplant, but halacha is not a game, and if we say it is murder for you to do it to me but not for me to ask others to do to you, then we are turning halacha into a joke.

  112. Thank you Gil. Also, thanks for 1:18pm reference.

    Gil: IMPORTANT CLARIFICATION

    You may have been only talking about RSZA, but is the same true for the description of R. Ahron Soloveichik’s position on p. 70? Especially in note 193, it seemed to me like his argument should apply to either circumstance.

  113. Jerry: It seems to me to be same for R. Ahron Soloveichik but I guess we’d have to see the original in side to be certain.

  114. HIRHURiM
    IMPORTANT CLARIFICATION: It was brought to my attention that nowhere in the RCA paper does it say that a patient may agree to accept organs that *will be taken* from a donor. Nor did R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ever say that. It/they refer to organs that *have been taken* from a donor.

    the problem is that in the US, for all organ doations that I know about where the issue of brain death comes in (not talking about skin or corneas – but heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, pancreas, intestine), the patient has to be on a list as willing to accept organs far before the organs become available. Eg, when the organs “have been taken”, they are always taken with a specific recipient in mind, who is on a UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing – a nonprofit group charged by the government with managing organ donations) list awaiting transplant – and the organs get allocated by an algorithm based on matches with the donor, locality, severity of illness, and length on list. Rarely, after harvesting, the designated recipient is unable to get it, and will go down the list – but it will never go to someone who is not already on a list awaiting an organ. Therefore, if one is only allowed to accept an organ that has already been taken – one will then never get an organ . If this is truly the RCA’s position, then it is then declaring to the community at large that we will take but not give, but actually not allowing anyone to take…..(a hillul hashem without actually saving any lives…)

    Now, I haven’t gone through the RCA paper with this issue in mind, but, unlike Gil’s statement, RSZA is explicit that the patient is allowed to register for transplant (lirshom atzmo lehashtala) – with the expectation that all the issurim will be done by the doctor – who will anyway do it for others ( BTW, this is factually not necessarily correct – some tests on the prospective donor are done specifically because of a particular potential recipient and his medical team).

  115. GIL:

    “This obviously will not work for a heart transplant but will work for other organs.”

    such as?

  116. Rav Aaron S.’s approach to receiving organs is available here: http://www.hods.org/pdf/ASSIA-%20The%20Journal-Death%20AÉ.pdf
    he is under the impression that the organs are not removed with the recipient specifically in mind.

  117. Gil,
    The language you cite in your IMPORTANT UPDATE does not support the diyyuk you make.Or rather, it can be read just as easily as saying that donation is assur, receiving a transplant, muttar, period. The proof (aside for an unbiased reading of the language — every organ that is transplanted “has been removed” by that point, so there really is no diyyuk to be made), is that if you read the letter by RSZA inside in the nishmas avrohom, you will see that RSZA does not use any language at all that could even give rise to the diyyuk (never mind whether it would really support it). He simply says that in chu”l one can join the transplant list. Since I am willing to assume that the authors of the RCA document read and understood the letter, they cannot have meant what you seem to be taking them to mean — that l’chatchila (in the literal sense) transplants are assur, but b’d’avad (again, literally) they are muttar.

  118. jerry and meir shinnar – what do you mean when you say immoral…what makes something immoral (instead just wrong) and by what standards – is it jewish standards or some other standards (that may be also jewish in its roots?

  119. in response to Steve’s comment at the top of the page: At least two shitot exist that have been “rationalized, squared and equated in any fashion with the criteria of death set forth in the Talmud, Rishonim and Acharonim “, namely 1. relying on the gemara’s determination that the irreversible cessation of breathing, under the proper circumstances is the criterion for death(brainstem death, which is the position of the Chief Rabbinate) and 2. extending the gemara’s discussion of decapitation, which is the physiological decapitation position. (There are actually others, such as the Rambam’s approach to human treifot where he relies on the medical determinations of the doctors of the time, and the position of Rav Azriel Rosenfeld(found in Tradition in the late 60-s early 70’s) where he states simply that the brain is the seat of the soul and absent a brain there is no life).

    A different approach which I alluded to is to realize that the non-neurological circulation based definitions of death do not produce coherent results in this day and age, and in fact with modern techniques circulation is actually rarely irreversibly absent(as long as arteries are present circulation is a possibility). With this realization, it is necessary to go back and try to understand not the details of the positions of the rishonim and acharonim, because the details no longer make sense, but the underlying rationale and concept of what it means to be alive or dead, and come to some conclusions with that in mind. For example, you would have to look at what Rashi wrote, and say to yourself, Rashi’s medical knowledge told him that when the heart stopped, everything else in the body ceased to function as well. doctors told him that a stopped heart never restarted. Since these are no longer a true assumptions, what would Rashi say under these different conditions? would he still have the same position? One hint is that it seems that most if not all of the poskim in the past used the science of their day(see Rabbi/Dr. Eddie Reichman’s excellent article on the definition of death in the light of medical history).

  120. ruvie
    jerry and meir shinnar – what do you mean when you say immoral…what makes something immoral (instead just wrong) and by what standards – is it jewish standards or some other standards (that may be also jewish in its roots?

    It is ve’asita hatov vehayashar…
    two comments on ruvie’s (whoever he is) post, because, unfortunately, it reflects a fairly widespread pathology, that does not recognize moral norms – and, unless a seif in the shulchan aruch is posted out, is thought to be non Jewish. They are phrased somewhat polemically, but meant seriously

    A) This is a serious flaw in current Jewish education – and if we knew the school, we would recommend that they do a root cause analysis of how their education contributed to this failure

    B) Someone who face a young woman who needs a get – even if one thinks that her behavior has been problematic and the husband has gotten a raw deal – and does not feel a sense of moral outrage is a moral eunuch – whose moral sense has been castrated, and whose judgement on any serious issue can and should be ignored.

  121. meir – i was referring to the immorality in the case of donor organ transplants. i would like to know what makes something immoral instead of just wrong or improper. are their morals that exist outside judaism that can effect halacha or not?
    for example, if genocide is immoral then when hashem commands us in regards to amalek is moral? or can halacha ever be looked at as immoral?

    this does not reflect on my position on donor organ issue or the get issue but a wider issue on how religious jews approach certain issues in our day of a moral/ethical nature. no doubt that external values (from judaism) effects our thinking of issues – my question is should it or does it influence (or determine) halacha if it has no jewish roots.

  122. a wider issue on how religious jews approach certain issues in our day of a moral/ethical nature. no doubt that external values (from judaism) effects our thinking of issues – my question is should it or does it influence (or determine) halacha if it has no jewish roots.
    ======================================
    So when the Rambam describes naval brshut hatorah, what ethical/moral yardstick is he looking at if the halacha allows these actions?
    KT

  123. Ruvie
    meir – i was referring to the immorality in the case of donor organ transplants. i would like to know what makes something immoral instead of just wrong or improper. are their morals that exist outside judaism that can effect halacha or not?
    for example, if genocide is immoral then when hashem commands us in regards to amalek is moral? or can halacha ever be looked at as immoral?

    The notion of rak am chacham venavon hagoy hagadol hazeh is part of yahadut…

    I think Rav Sherlow’s comments stand. While, as I said earlier, I personally find it difficult to judge an individual (or his rav) who opposes donating, but, facing death, opts for transplant – but as a communal policy, to state that we will receive but not give – it is a hillul hashem befarhesya. (lule demistafina, I would say it is part of a parasitic trend in some communities – that views the entire nondati world as one whose sole role is to serve the dati commmunity – and that needs to be fought..)

    For general issues, you should look at rav Lichtenstein’s classic article about does judaism recognize an ethic outside of halacha, as well as rav amital’s book vehaaretz natan livne adam. however, as a general issue, if one thinks that there is a conflict – it should generate close analysis of both the halacha and the moral issues..

    Meir Shinnar

  124. Shalom Rosenfeld

    R’ Joel,

    You mean Nachmanides, right? http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=40235&pgnum=29

    ‫והענין כי התורה הזהירה בעריות‬ ובמאכלים האסורים והתירה הביאה איש באשתי ואכילת הבשר ‫והיין א״כ ימצא בעל התאוה מקום להיית שטוף בזמת אשתו‬ ‫או נשיו הרבות ולהיות כסובאי יין וכזוללי בשר …

    A minimalist answer would be that we could derive a value system extrapolating from strict halacha itself. Though how you extrapolate may depend on your perspective; Ramban seems to extrapolates from the prohibitions on relations that too much physical intimacy with a spouse is also not recommended; Iggeret HaKodesh would presumably disagree (as does R’ Aharon Lichtenstein, with trepidation, in a Tradition essay a few years ago on relations and relationships). (Or is there a line between what’s healthy and what’s “shatuf b’zima”? Ask your favorite mental-health professional, I guess.) There’s probably the “I know it when I see it” aspect; if rabbis a thousand years ago knew about marijuana, would they have said it’s naval birshut haTorah, as RMF did? Certainly anything that makes it more difficult to keep black-on-white halacha (e.g. any addiction) is included.

  125. R’SR,
    Did you notice how close the m is to the n on the keyboard 🙂

    Yes, but the minimalist answer (which I was taught about R’YBS which I no longer think is true) is that you start with halacha and with no other inputs extrapolate the connective tissue.

    Question – why is it that monogamy (takkanat rabbeinu gershom) and sitting on pews in shul correlated with ashkenaz but polygamy and sitting on carpets correlated with sfarad.

    Question-when did black hats and mens suits become a sign of formal dress? When did single malt scotch become the choice for lchaim?…

    KT

  126. BTW the R’MF marijuana tshuva is one of my all time favorites- it even includes “the munchies” – not sure though why it didn’t apply to drinking (and smoking-given the numbers in those days I would’ve thought shomer ptaim 🙂
    שו”ת אגרות משה יורה דעה ח”ג סימן לה
    איסור עישון סמים בע”ה. ב’ דר”ח אייר תשל”ג. מע”כ מוה”ר ירוחם פראם שליט”א.
    הנה בדבר אשר התחילו איזה בחורים מהישיבה לעשן חשיש (מעראוואנא), פשוט שהוא דבר אסור מכמה עיקרי דינים שבתורה חדא שהוא מקלקל ומכלה את הגוף, ואף אם נמצאו אנשים בריאים שלא מזיק להם כל כך אבל מקלקל הוא את הדעת ואינם יכולים להבין דבר לאשורו שזה עוד יותר חמור שלבד שמונע עצמו מלמוד התורה כראוי הוא מניעה גם מתפלה וממצות התורה שעשיה בלא דעת הראוי הוא כלא קיימם. ועוד שהוא גורם תאוה גדולה אשר הוא יותר מתאות אכילה וכדומה הצריכים להאדם לחיותו ויש שלא יוכלו לצמצם ולהעביר תאותם, והוא איסור החמור שנאמר בבן סורר ומורה על תאוה היותר גדולה שיש לו לאכילה אף שהוא לאכילת כשרות, וכ”ש שאסור להביא עצמו לתאוה גדולה עוד יותר ולדבר שליכא שום צורך להאדם בזה שהוא אסור, ואף שלמלקות נימא שאין עונשין מן הדין מ”מ לאיסורא ודאי עובר על לאו זה ואיכא גם הטעם דאיכא בבן סורר ומורה שסופו שילסטם את הבריות כדאיתא בסנהדרין בפ’ בן סורר (ס”ח ע”ב). ועוד שהאב והאם של אלו שמעשנין זה מצטערים מאד אשר עוברין על מצות כבוד אב ואם. ועוד איכא איסור העשה דקדושים תהיו כפירוש הרמב”ן בחומש. וגם הם גורמים לאיסורים הרבה אחרים לבד זה, סוף דבר הוא פשוט וברור שהוא מאיסורים חמורים וצריך להשתדל בכל היכולת להעביר טומאה זו מכל בני ישראל ובפרט מאלו שלומדין בישיבות. והנני ידידו מוקירו, משה פיינשטיין.

    KT

  127. m and n
    minimalist
    monogomy
    mens

    funny how a coMmeNt on M and N includes a sample in each paragraph

  128. “Steve Brizel on January 5, 2011 at 4:46 pm
    FWIW, I agree with Mycroft’s stance on this matter that issues of Nogea BaDavar are not inconsequential with respect to the medical world’s seemingly unblinking adoption of the Harvard criteria.”

    Thanks Steve-see the following comment from the comments on YU etics expert censures Rabbis on brain stem death:

    8. A Neurologist disagrees
    Author: Leon Zacharowicz MDCountry: USA01/05/2011 22:56

    …. The determination of death is a somewhat arbitary. The concept of “brain death” first evolved to prevent legal action against transplant surgeons. ..

    Certainly if true a big nogeah badavar

    8. A Neurologist disagrees
    Author: Leon Zacharowicz MDCountry: USA01/05/2011 22:56

    … The determination of death is a somewhat arbitary. The concept of “brain death” first evolved to prevent legal action against transplant surgeons….

  129. Joseph Kaplan

    What does “unblinking adoption” mean? Mycroft still wants to exclude doctors from participating in what is certainly on many levels a medical decision and Steve wants to pretend that the lengthy and detailed analysis and discussion by the medical community on this issue was “unblinking.” Disagree with brain death all you want, but your denigrating of the medical community about this doesn’t speak well for either of you. And, btw, I’m not a noge’ah bedavar on this; not a doctor, only one close relative who is, never had a family member in a transplant situation etc. etc. ‘Noge’ah bedavar” and “unblinking.” [Sigh]

  130. Joseph Kaplan

    “Obnoxious review of the as-yet-unpublished new RCA siddur”

    It’s funny; when I first saw this headline, I was sure it was a review from the left. Proves you gotta go beyond the headlines.

  131. Joseph Kaplan

    ” Why scholars’ motives should be irrelevant to our evaluation of their scholarship”

    Does/should this apply to halachic “scholarship” as well?

  132. Does/should this apply to halachic “scholarship” as well?

    That’s a good question. I suspect not, because halachic scholarship is a religious process, an act of religious devotion.

  133. Mycroft,
    Brain death was not adopted to prevent legal action against transplant surgeons. that is entirely false. Without brain death, there would be almost no transplants, and hence no opportunity to take legal action against transplant surgeons.

  134. Shalom Rosenfeld

    Would the Jerusalem Post please buy some more stock photos?

    We’ve seen the same photo on all the following:

    Viva Hammer describing the complexities of educating her daughter

    Twenty-seven rebbetzins sign a letter urging Jewish women not to date Arab men.

    Rabbi Wein’s note on righteous women.

    (Fabulous party game: make your own hilarious free associations between the three!)

    It’s just a matter of time before jpost uses this photo in regards to the VIN ban or something …

  135. Gil,
    The Kosher bookworm link is broken. Apparently it begins httphttp.

  136. Shalom Rosenfeld

    That new Hebrew font (also known as Hebrew Vesper) from the Ha’aretz “22nd century classic” article is very pretty. I have a hard time transitioning my reading from traditional fonts in printed Seforim to the modern stuff on my computer screen; this looks like a happy medium.

  137. “Mycroft,
    Brain death was not adopted to prevent legal action against transplant surgeons. that is entirely false. Without brain death, there would be almost no transplants, and hence no opportunity to take legal action against transplant surgeons”
    I was merely quoting Leon Zacharowicz MDCountry:

    Of course you state that ” Without brain death, there would be almost no transplants” which of course means that whole field of medicine coulod not exist assuming arguendo that taking a heart from someone who is brain dead is rezicha. It is an issue for Halachik poskim.

    “Mycroft still wants to exclude doctors from participating in what is certainly on many levels a medical decision”
    False-doctors can certainly help explain to a posek the individual patients medical condition but the criteria of what should constitute death is a halachik decision. It would depend on understanding what our mesorah means-physicians have no special expertise in understanding Torah.

  138. The voz and siddur stories are must reads if you want to be entertained by the theatre of the absurd and the chassidim/electronics contains a pricelss quote that I hope would be supported by a survey : -“And how does being Hassidic impact the business? “People looka at us as honest people” he offered”
    KT

  139. >“B) Someone who face a young woman who needs a get – even if one thinks that her behavior has been problematic and the husband has gotten a raw deal – and does not feel a sense of moral outrage is a moral eunuch – whose moral sense has been castrated, and whose judgement on any serious issue can and should be ignored.”

    In other words anyone who disagrees with Meir Shinnar on a question of a get is “a moral eunuch”? If only the world were so black and white. But even a moment’s thought reveals some scenarios where things could become uncomfortably murky.

    FWIW I hold in contempt almost all men who withhold gittin and wish that more batei din were willing (officially or unofficially) to pursue ‘the Rambam solution’.

  140. The followingis the comment from theJewish Star blog on the article that Gil linked to about the VIN Ban

    “On 1/7/11 at 03:38 AM, JayAFriedman wrote:
    I had never heard of “Vos Iz Neias “(living as I do in Israel) but the instant I read that it had been banned by the self appointed “g’doilim”, I added it to my EMail list.

    I have no idea whether I will enjoy it. I have no idea whether it will anger me. I have no idea whether I will applaud or disregard any or every item they publish.

    But I do have a simple idea and a simple concept. No self styled “godol” is going to dictate to me what I can read or what I can think. I am responsible for myself and if I err – it is because I have erred.

    My children and grandchildren (boys AND girls) served —are serving – and will serve in the Israel Army – defending our nation (including the “g’doilim” that live in my country). Those kids are the g’dolim (no quotation marks).”

  141. Noam Stadlan-thanks for your response-the question remains-was physical decapitation used as a definition of death outside of the context of a slaughtered chicken at any time prior to the adoption of the Harvard criteria?

  142. Joseph Kaplan-I think that the real issue is that it is manifestly clear that the medical community utilizes brain death as the criteria defining the cessation of life and the objections raised to the same by anyone who differs, especially Poskim, who question whether the same can be squared with the criteria used by Chazal, Rishonim and Acharonim prior to the adoption of the Harvard criteria are viewed by far too many as merely bothersome, or wors, as lacking any real basis in Halacha.

  143. MiMedinat HaYam

    stbo 11;53

    “FWIW I hold in contempt almost all men who withhold gittin and wish that more batei din were willing (officially or unofficially) to pursue ‘the Rambam solution’.”

    the rambam solution was in use till about 15 yrs ago, when a rav (talmid of RMF, not a fanatical, but not MO) was caught pursuing it, and had his pic plastered all over the ny post / daily news front page.

    the upshot was that the DA was running for governor at the time. he made a deal with the brooklyn rabbinical community “you dont bring up crown heights (which prosecution he messed up) in the campaign (irrespective of my campaign / position on issues, etc), i wont prosecute.” he subsequently lost, and the rabbio was never prodsecuted, even though the evidence was overwhelming.

    but the rambam solution was abandoned then and there. (except for a current case in lakewood / london).

  144. but the rambam solution was abandoned then and there. (except for a current case in lakewood / london).

    What ever happened with that case?

  145. Mycroft- as I noted at the Jpost, Dr. Z is wrong. See “the concept of brain death did not evolve to benefit organ transplants” in the journal of medical ethics April 1 2007 33:197-200. Also “the neurologist and harvard criteria for brain death” by Wijdicks in neurology 2003

    Steve. I don’t have time to answer in detail. Briefly, the halachic definition of death has changed over time in response to medical advances. Therefore what you call a classical definition of death is not what is in the gemara. I pointed this out in a previous discussion

  146. MiMedinat HaYam

    hagtbg:

    if you mean the brooklyn case, a settlement was reached, but everyone agrees the wife (actually it was her father who was pulling the strings) had to pay dearly as there were many (everyone agrees strictly his) (pre marital) assets that the wife tried to claim.

    if you mean the lakewood london case, the criminal prosecution is pending, and the wife remarried in london, but its a questionable “eishet ish” case. he seems to have retracted the forced shlichut in time, but …

    2. gil — is the silver springs case “in play” now that ora calls him an extortionist? [no – edited by mod]

  147. >“the rambam solution was in use till about 15 yrs ago, when a rav (talmid of RMF, not a fanatical, but not MO) was caught pursuing it, and had his pic plastered all over the ny post / daily news front page.”

    Well, that’s why I added “officially or unofficially”… :-/

    That’s unfortunate…. Resolving these cases sometimes requires men with integrity, guts and intelligence, and the willingness to use them. I’ve gotten wind every now and then of certain locales where ‘the Rambam solution’ has been employed in certain egregious situations to encourage the husband to agree…. but it appears to be never even considered in most places.

    IMO it needs to always be a last-ditch option if appropriate. It is the best deterrent against egregious and malicious violators who would destroy lives.

  148. mycroft, Thanks Steve-see the following comment from the comments on YU etics expert censures Rabbis on brain stem death:, 8. A Neurologist disagrees, Author: Leon Zacharowicz MDCountry: USA01/05/2011 22:56, …. The determination of death is a somewhat arbitary. The concept of “brain death” first evolved to prevent legal action against transplant surgeons. ..,

    the issue of nogea bedavar is a real one, but applies in both directions. A frum doctor who has rabbanim opposed to brain death may well have negiot in his understanding of the relevant medical literature because of his religious position. I don’t know the particular doctor cited, but his position is not, ttbomk, widely held, and I think Dr. Noam Stadlan has shown far less negiot in the issue.

    Again, one of the primary issue is not whether the Harvard criteria are the right criteria – but the criteria chosen have both to have halachic integrity, but also reflect the current metziut and real issues that arise in the age where our ability to maintain artificially circulation and respiration far exceeds traditional means – and also has to have a moral consistency. That might end up with the rejection of the Harvard criteria – but the current criteria are not viable.

    Meir Shinnar

  149. STBO
    In other words anyone who disagrees with Meir Shinnar on a question of a get is “a moral eunuch”? If only the world were so black and white. But even a moment’s thought reveals some scenarios where things could become uncomfortably murky.

    Arguing moral issues (and issues of moral passion) for someone who hides behind a pseudonym is problematic, as his lack of passion is proven by his hiding. However, while one can work up many possible scenarios – but at the end of the day, the use of the get as a weapon is not morally acceptable (not to Meir Shinnar – but to anyone with a moral sense) – even if, in some scenarios, the wife’s action also would call for strong condemnation – and hiding behind moral murkiness is ultimately an act of obfuscation and lack of moral clarity – and yes, one is a moral eunuch velo rauy lavo bakahal)

  150. “Noam stadlan on January 7, 2011 at 3:12 pm
    Mycroft- as I noted at the Jpost, Dr. Z is wrong. See “the concept of brain death did not evolve to benefit organ transplants” in the journal of medical ethics April 1 2007 33:197-200. Also “the neurologist and harvard criteria for brain death” by Wijdicks in neurology 2003 ”

    I have no expertise to get into a debate between Dr Z and DR S-but what I did do the following google search-it will show info relevant to this discussion.

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=BRAIN+DEATH+AND+ORGAN+TRANSPLANTS&btnG=Google+Search&aq=o&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=

  151. See
    http://www.jlaw.com/Articles/brain.html

    for a discussion by Rav Breitowitz on brain death and halacha-IMHO he fairly presents the various sides of the discussion

  152. R. Student says he thinks that it is a double standard to rely on the family of R. Moshe as opposed to the talmidim but to rely on a talmid of R. Soloveitchik as opposed to the family.
    I want to ask R. Student to please identify a close talmid of Rav Moshe Feinstein who opposes the testimony of his children. Watching Rav Dovid Feinstein’s testimony made me smile because to me there was something very beautiful and pure about it. He is clearly a very conservative person in general, and when the interviewer kept on hocking his chinik about – “so your father said that there is such a thing as brain death?” he refused to affirm. He kept on saying “my father never said that, all he said was….” I cannot believe that RDF has any kind of agenda or that he was influenced by Rav Tendler in any way. Watching the interview made me feel that he didn’t want to be controversial but that he felt that if he had to tell the truth and had no choice.
    Also, in what ways are the testimonies of RDF and RMDT contradictory? They seem to me to be complementary.

  153. It seems that R. Elyashiv supports the “die rather than accept an organ donation” approach (HODS website).
    RSZA was an extremely holy person and it cause me a lot of pain to hear insults directed towards him. Most if not all people who donate organs donate to multiple people at a time. It makes a lot of sense to me that if this brain-dead individual is going to have organ harvesting done to him in any case, a person who is ill should not refrain from benefiting even though this ill person thinks that the process should not happen lichatchila. I am not familiar with this process so I will put the question to people who are: is there ever a situation in which an organ donor only donates to one recipient? If so, perhaps Rav Shlomo Zalman would not allow the oragn to be accepted in such a case?

  154. Yi’yasher kochakha, R’ Mor, for pointing out the sophisticated nuance within the position of Moreinu ViRabbeinu R. Eliashiv, which I had not previously noticed. Namely, although R. Eliashiv permits receiving a heart, he forbids receiving an organ from executed patients in China. I will now elucidate why R. Eliashiv’s position is internally consistent.

    An explanation of why R. Eliashiv normally permits receiving a heart transplant (or other organ dependent upon brain death), and an appropriate refutation thereof, is now posted in the “Brain Death in the News” forum, Jan. 9, at 2:06 a.m. R. Eliashiv claims that there is no prohibition of geram retizchah when it results in the death of a treifah or gossess bidei adam. As I demonstrate in that comment, R. Eliashiv’s claim is cogently challenged by RSZA, and so R. Eliashiv’s claim is not sufficiently authoritative to be implemented Halakhah Lima’aseh. Therefore, I do not think it is ever permitted for a Jew to receive a heart or other organ dependent on brain death diagnosis.

    In the case of prisoners in China, they are not in the category of treifah or gossess bidei adam. Rather, the prisoners are perfectly healthy; by registering for an organ, the recipient is orchestrating geram retzichah on a healthy human being. The Chinese authorities will choose to execute the prisoner simply because a recipient is willing to receive the organ. Therefore, even R. Eliashiv agrees this is forbidden. But according to RSZA, geram retzichah is always forbidden, whether the victim is healthy or whether he is a treifah or gosses bidei adam, and so must be eschewed because of the mitzvah of Kiddush Hashem. I think that RSZA’s position is sufficiently persuasive to eclipse (out of safek) R. Eliashiv on this particular matter (with all due reverence manifest before R. Eliashiv).

  155. The attack on the RCA siddur, while disgusting, is also a bit sad. It was pretty clear from the get-go that this was an attempt to copy the Sacks siddur. Now it’s been, what, almost two years, and still nothing. Meanwhile, Artscroll’s gone and issued a siddur on its own that tries (very weakly) to imitate Sacks as well. I have no idea of the inner workings, but it seems like the RCA decided to stick with Artscroll and has been left with nothing as a result. Maybe they’ll just join the OU now.

  156. Yes, Mor, it can happen that only one organ will be donated, though I can’t say how common this is. Also, in general, the recipient would not know that this is the case.

  157. ” RCA decided to stick with Artscroll and has been left with nothing as a result. Maybe they’ll just join the OU now.”

    An objective history of the relationship between the RCA and OU would be interesting-one should include why and by whose authority were the profits from Kahrut given to the OU instead of the RCA, include the differences of hashkafa especially the RCA following the Rav in favor of staying within the SCA-at least many serious parts of the OU wanting to destry the SCA, incidents such as OU and RCA about issue of yotzeh vnichnas in mid 70s.
    Like most Jewish problems I doubt that wish will have to wait for other histories, such as objective histories of YU, of Torah Vaddas and its leaders, etc etc

  158. To my mind, the Sacks siddur has not been a complete success. While I like the translation and switching the English and Hebrew was a good choice, those tassles fray way to easily or that all the hebrew is presented in a seemingly unchanging typeface. It is visually boring. I prefer the Artscroll or, where I can get my hands on it, the old RCA De Sola Pool (most of all). Even the Birnbaum.

  159. I remember reading the R. Breitowitz article that Mycroft linked to when it came out and remember how fair and balanced it was. (I haven’t reread it recently.) In fact, I remember commenting to someone that I was extremely impressed that I could not figure out which position R. Breitowitz took until the very end. If the RCA paper had that same intellectual honesty, Hirhurim would have had many fewer comments over the last few weeks. However, while I thought Mycroft’s linking to Breitowitz to be most worthwhile, I did not find the same to be true with respect to his google search.

  160. “To my mind, the Sacks siddur has not been a complete success. ”

    No siddur will ever be a “complete” success; there are too may competing issues so compromises have to be made. It’s really a question of overall which siddur best fits the need of the person using it. I used the De Sola Pool siddur when I davened at LSS (do they still use it?) and find the Sacks siddur better overall. Although I love using the Pool siddur on Shavu’ot because its translation of Akdamut was done by my Uncle Joseph and is, I think, the most poetic one in English. BTW, I have a De Sola Pool siddur at home, so, HAGTBG, if you’re ever in the neighborhood and need a fix, you can drop by.

  161. HAGTBG, the tassels? Really? Most siddurim don’t have ’em- if you don’t like them, cut them out.

    As to bland typefaces, you can’t get more so than Birnbaum. Indeed, that’s one of Birnbaum’s main points, to his credit.

  162. MDJ – are you a doctor? How come you can authoritatively say that it happens but you can’t say how common it is? I am not a doctor. I realize that it could hypothetically happen, but what I am wondering is whether it does b’mitzius. Somebody who is able to answer this question should also know how often it happens.

  163. Yi’yasher kochakhem R’ Mor and R’ MDJ: The issue you both raise of receiving an organ besides the heart [when the heart is anyway being donated to someone else] is significant indeed and deserves exploration.

    In all his rulings on the subject catalogued in Shulchan Shelomoh, Erkei Refu’ah II, RSZA renders no distinction between receiving a heart or receiving another organ that is being removed concomitantly with the heart. Both are forbidden (-in Eretz Yisrael; vis-a-vis the Diaspora, RSZA has a unique position to permit receiving an organ, but it has been tentatively rejected in the “Brain Death in the News” forum, comment at Dec. 7 at 5:30 p.m. based on contradictory remarks by RMF. And so I think that what RSZA prescribes for Eretz Yisra’el is – out of doubt – really the Halakhah universally everywhere.)

    Why, in fact, does RSZA forbid receiving a different organ, if the heart is being removed from the donor anyway? I believe the answer emerges from R. Bleich’s analysis of artificial heart implantation in Benetivot Hahalakhah III, pp. 111-125 (also found in English translation on the excellent HODS website). Even without a heart, the brain dead patient is still safek alive, since he is on heart-lung bypass. It is circulation, and not the heart per se, which is [out of doubt] a source of life. Each organ that is removed from the brain dead patient further contributes to the patient’s ultimate death. Thus, all the patients who ask the hospital to receive one of the several organs that can be donated from the brain dead patient are all guilty of joint geram safek retzichah.

    I remember that when the late R. Avraham David Niznik taught Bava Kamma at the Hebrew Academy high school of Montreal during 5754, he remarked (apropos the sugya in 10b and 26b) that if ten people hold a big stick and together strike dead a victim, they are all culpable. [Cf. the methodologically comments of R. Bleich in Bioethical Dilemmas II, pp. 187-188.] That is seemingly what happens (in terms of safek geram retzichah) when many people register for different organs that are being removed from the same brain dead patient.

    And so I think we can now appreciate why RSZA did not permit receiving any organ from a brain dead patient, and why I think this should become the standard in the practice of healthcare everywhere, whose praiseworthy motto is “primum non nocere”.

  164. Sorry for missing a word… that bracketed phrase should have read [Cf. the methodologically similar comments of R. Bleich in Bioethical Dilemmas II, pp. 187-188.] Thank you.

  165. misunderstood

    The article about the siddur is only obnoxious because you don’t like it. This is how most charedim view you, Gil, and so many others who comment on this blog-i.e. Steve Brizel. Avi Weiss=RCA=kofrim. No matter how black your hat or how much you protest, this will not change. So keep kicking people out of your precious Orthodoxy-soon you’ll be the only one left.

  166. Mor,
    I am a doctor who is involved enough with transplants on a procedural level to know what does and does not, and could and could not, happen, but not involved at the level of individual cases (in general) to know exactly how often things happen. But to put it briefly, it is entirely possible that a match would be found for one organ and not for others

  167. Funniest comment on that RCA siddur article:

    “Many of the comments here are not from Matzav readers as they were linked here from Torahmusings.com a center/center-left website.”

  168. interesting clear and cogent comments on organ transplants by r’ slifkin on his website this am:

    http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2011/01/critical-ramifications-of-correctly.html

  169. I notice that Gil is staying very well clear of Harry Maryles and his feud with Matzav; and of course Rav Broyde has been a frequent content provider to this site. Any defense for him?

    I would have thought that some piece of support would be in the offing but no…nothing. The MO lose every argument because they are afraid of standing up before the charedi ban machine.

  170. I cover issues, not name-calling. But if it makes you feel better, I’ve been in touch with R. Broyde multiple times to express my support.

  171. One general remark on Shalom Spira’s posts. While he shows erudition, the underlying thesis of his posts (as I read them), is the concern that if one psak is challenged by another major posek of suitable stature, on an issue of this importance, we have to be choshesh. the issue is not deciding between competing opinions – but being hoshesh lechol hashitot (or, at least, the shitot of poskim that he recognizes).

    Far be it from me to pasken on a major issue – but there are clearly other opinions on how to resolve a machloket haposkim than just being hoshesh for all of them…

    Furthermore, while the issue of what the halachic criteria of death and what would allow organ donation is a major halachic issue (it is interesting that rav Spira cites Rav Elyashiv in a way that would at least partially disassociate halachic criteria of death from organ donation, because he holds that gram retzicha to a gosses is not assur (a similar (although not identical) position was articulated about 40 years ago by hagaon rav regensburg – that views what may be done to a gossess differently than to a regular person), what does not quite resonate in this discussion that we are dealing with dine nefashot – in two different ways. While the discussion has focused on the donor, we should realize that given the current shortage of donors, anytime someone dies who could donate and doesn’t, other people will therefore die (more than one, because the vast majority of the time, more than one organ is donated, and goes to more than one person).

    This is the current medical reality – very different when rav moshe’s initial tshuva on heart transplantation was written – that one is doing a double murder – both of the donor and the recipient – and while one can argue about the donor, today, one is giving a chance for life to the recipient.

    That does not necessarily change the halachic conclusion – and the issue of whether it is permitted is a difficult one – requiring both halachic knowledge and integrity (and, as discussed previously, the RCA statement demonstrated a lack of integrity) – but it needs to be done in full awareness of the implications on the lives of many. That does not lead to a particular decision – eg, rav ahron soloveichik’s psak, while against donation, shows a full awareness of the moral issues to the individual donor and implications on the lives of others – but there has to be awareness of the moral implications of BOTH possible decisions – and merely being hoshesh lechol hashitot is problematic.

    Meir Shinnar

  172. Meir, do you have any response to my comments aside from “tell me your real name”?

    You evidently don’t find it problematic for people “who hide behind a pseudonym” to take up moral positions that agree with your own — so your pique on this point seems a bit selective. There are all sorts of reasons why commenters may decide to use a moniker or nom de plume online; and a review of those reasons would be quite a waste of time.

    As to substance, if you believe that the use of a get as leverage even in specific extreme situations is utterly beyond the pale, and that the get exists in a sui generis moral category that forbids its use as leverage, ever, in any scenario or circumstance no matter how exceptional or extreme then you and I simply live in different moral worlds.

    Even for me, someone who supports forcible coercion of a get in cases of abusive or malicious withholding by a husband and who laments the general absence of such options for most batei din, the world isn’t that black and white.

  173. STBO
    As to substance, if you believe that the use of a get as leverage even in specific extreme situations is utterly beyond the pale, and that the get exists in a sui generis moral category that forbids its use as leverage, ever

    It is not sui generis. Rape is forbidden, murder is forbidden, and using a get is forbidden.
    Look, one might be able to construct a theoretical case where the woman’s sin is of such magnitude that one might be able to argue that it is forbidden. the reality is that once one starts listing exceptions, you will end up that anything that one doesn’t like now becomes an exception – one doesn’t like the secular judge’s determination of visitation rights, or of property division, or that one wants to be able to be in kollel on her family’s heshbon, or whatever. Yes, one can construct cases where we might argue murder is permitted – but we still say that murder outside the pale – and we still say that refusing a get s outside the pale – and we need to ostracise those who hold otherwise.

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter


The latest weekly digest is also available by clicking here.

Subscribe to our Daily Newsletter

Archives

Categories

%d bloggers like this: