Audio Roundup 2017:41

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by Joel Rich

Rabbi Jason Weiner’s new book, “Jewish Guide to Practical Medical Decision-Making” provides a valuable service to a wide audience. The main text of the book provides a valuable overview and the chapter endnotes provide both secular and halachic citations for those interested in a deeper dive into the complex issues raised.
The book covers some important general topics such as decision making (the roles of the patient, family, doctors, and Rabbis) treatment options (what’s allowable or recommended? When to say it us enough) and the role of prayer. From there, R’Weiner moves on to End of Life issues, post death issues (including organ donation, autopsy, and cremation) and reproductive issues (including genetic testing, assisted reproductive technology and labor and delivery customs).
While there is no substitute for a Rabbinic advisor, there is also no substitute for a knowledgeable consumer (or, as Donald Rumsfeld might have put it—we each need to reduce our unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know). This book can help make you aware of at least when to ask a question (and it’s best to know this before it becomes an real life or death issue).
One is also struck by the technological advances over the last decades and how Halacha wrestles and evolves (e.g., who is the halachic mother in a surrogate situation? Are organ donations forbidden, allowed, or required?) What will the next technology be and how will Halacha deal with it? The sentiments of R’Asher Weiss in his response on surrogacy ring true; the matter must therefore be determined based only on logic; We need greats the likes of Ramban of the Rashba in order to do this and we unfortunately do not have them, until then, we must remain in doubt. (Me – Oy, may we experience the final redemption speedily, in our days, but in the meantime we still have to act.)

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Rabbi J Weiner – The Talmudic sages performed post-mortem examinations and had considerable knowledge of anatomy and pathology. Indeed, the rabbis of the Talmud were among the first people in history to operate on corpses in order to learn medical information that had halakhic ramifications. See Tosefta Niddah 4:17, Niddah 30b, bekhorot 45A . . .
Wiki s- Initially, the Ancient Greek philosophers did not believe in empiricism, and saw measurements, such as geometry, as the domain of craftsmen and artisans. Philosophers, such as Plato, believed that all knowledge could be obtained through pure reasoning, and that there was no need to actually go out and measure anything.

Please look at the three sources quoted by R’Weiner, are they support or really maaseh lstormaaseh l’stor?

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Please direct any informal comments to [email protected].

About Joel Rich

Joel Rich is a frequent local lecturer on various Torah topics in West Orange, NJ and supports his Torah listening habits by working as a consulting actuary.

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