Wie ist es mit der Schweigepflicht nach der Halacha?

June 18, 2015

Fdr_sidefrontDeutschNach dem absichtlichen Abstürz des Germanwing-Fluges 4U9525 fragt die Öffentlichkeit, ob die Schweigepflicht von Ärzten gelockert werden soll. Die Halacha (das jüdische Religionsgesetz) basiert auf alten zeitlosen Prinzipien, die nicht wesentlich von der westlichen Kultur der Moderne beeinflußt wurde. Daher bietet sie eine erfrischende Perspektive, mit einer Teils ganz andere Konzeption der Schweigepflicht. Lesen Sie meinen Beitrag dazu in der Jüdischen Allgemeine.

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Familienplanung wörtlich auf Eis

November 16, 2014

DeutschFreezing EggsTechnologiefirmen im Silicon Valley und anderswo denken sich inzwischen merkwürdige Extraleistungen für ihre Angestellten aus. Facebook-Mitarbeiter können ihr Fahrrad reparieren lassen oder den Friseur an den Schreibtisch bestellen, bei Dropcam können Angestellte ihre Freunde zu einem Hubschrauberflug einladen, und bei Google gibt es Nap Pods, eine Mischung aus Raumschiff und Kokon, in dem die Beschäftigten zwischendurch ein Nickerchen machen können.

Die jüngsten Offerten von Apple und Facebook sind nun ebenso umstritten wie schlagzeilenträchtig: Diese Firmen bezahlen ihren Mitarbeiterinnen »Social Freezing«, das heißt, sie können ohne medizinische Indikation Eizellen einfrieren lassen.

Lesen Sie meine Gedanken dazu in der Jüdischen Allgemeine.


Brain Death and Organ Transplantation in Halacha – Redux

December 21, 2010

Recently I posted an entry entitled “When Does Death Begin, According to Halacha?” about a long awaited paper which the Rabbinical Council of America’s Vaad Halacha recently published. It turns out that it’s not just the RCA that has recently revisited “brain death” and organ transplantation in halakha, nor was their opinion piece long in the making. Turns out that British Jewry has been grappling with the same issue. The Chief Rabbi’s and London Beth Din’s rulings had yet to be published, as of last summer.

However, while the RCA’s paper is billed as a research paper and an educational tool, the London Beth Din’s decision is supposed to be an actual halakhic ruling from a national organization in a country with a significant Jewish population, making it particularly interesting.

From the Jewish Chronicle (July 15, 2010):

The founder of a campaign to encourage Orthodox Jews to carry organ donor cards has voiced frustration at the time taken by the Chief Rabbi to issue new guidelines on the subject.

Mr Berman, who lives in Jerusalem, said that after meeting the Chief Rabbi in March 2009, he had agreed not to lecture on organ donation in the UK until the Chief Rabbi and the London Beth Din decided their position in the summer.

Arguing there had been no major new developments on organ donation in medicine or Jewish law over the past decade, he declared: “I hope this review will not drag on for years, as I fear it will. This issue is of an urgent life-saving nature and should be given priority.”

A spokesman for the Office of the Chief Rabbi said for the past 12 months, the London Beth Din had been engaged “in careful consideration” of organ donations and living wills.

Can anyone report whether the Beth Din has meanwhile issued this ruling?

One wonders whether one of the things the Beth Din was waiting for was the RCA’s paper, as it significantly contributes to the field by documenting the medical conditions the landmark published halakhic responsa responded to.


When Does Death Begin, According to Halacha?

December 18, 2010

One of the most vexing questions in contemporary medical ethics is when a dying patient can be considered dead. Until several decades ago, the answer was simple: when a patient stopped breathing and his heart stopped beating. However, since the invention of artificial respiration, the answer is no longer straightforward.

During the last fifty years, a number of landmark halakhic responsa have been written, evaluating whether neurological definitions of death (a.k.a. “brain death“), such as the Harvard Criteria of 1968, are valid in the eyes of halakha. However, up until now, there has been no systematic attempt to research which medical information had been used as a basis for those halakhic responsa.

Recently, the Vaad Halacha of the RCA has done just that and published a extensive paper on the determination of death in halakha. The paper has been picked up by the news media [Jewish Week] and been extensively discussed in some blogs [Hirhurim I and II].

While the paper does is presented as an educational exploration, not forcing any conclusions, the paper nonetheless demonstrates that to date, there has been very little support from the halakhic responsa literature, to support accepting “brain death.” See below for my take on this. Anyway, understandably, those who advocate accepting the neurological standard were not pleased, and not everybody welcomed the paper.

The lead author of the study is R’ Asher Bush, the chairman of the Vaad Halacha, and yours truly had the privilege to contribute as an editor of the paper.

Despite having contributed to the paper’s final form, the comments below are mine only and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the article’s authors. Read the rest of this entry »