The tragedy of involuntary human death often makes us forget about those who in pain who wish they could die. The Knesset today voted overwhelmingly (22-3, with 1 abstention) to legalize passive euthanasia by means of a timed clock with shuts down a patients respirator. Assisted suicide and witholding nourishment, (apparently) in conflict with halacha, remain unavailable. The committee who wrote the bill was headed by Prof. Avraham Steinberg, an Orthodox rabbi, pediatric neurologist, medical ethicist and winner of the Israel Prize for his encyclopedic work on Jewish medical ethics. He claims:

I am very satisfied with the bill. It is very balanced and will offer answers in all situations.

So now all Muffti needs to know is, does Rabbi Yonah approve?

See Jpost for more details.

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  • Not at all sure there is a blanket prohibition of withdrawal of nourishment.

    This has been discussed at length at several more halachically-oriented blogs. I’m no expert but the problem with assisted suicide is that it’s active in a way that, say, withdrawing nutrition from a patient (who can’t feed themselves) is not.

    Hospice care is also a very important piece in any humane solution to these situations. There are a few in Israel, but my impression is that they are inadequate (at least in number if not in treatment/expertise).

    Muffti should know that, for the record, the major stumbling block to resolution of issues like these in Israel is not “the Rabbis” but the surgeons – who refuse any supervision and try to set themselves up as moral arbiters.

    This is what’s stymied a halachically-acceptable organ donation policy from becoming widespread: the surgeons refuse to allow a board of rabbis/laypeople to certify death.

  • right, i remembered on the way home from work. saw him in New Orleans years ago, he really is just a wee little Satanist isn’t he

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