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GOOD MORNING! No one wants to see their loved ones in pain and suffering. What are the Torah's teachings regarding assisted dying and euthanasia?
Rabbi Daniel Levy recently published a new book, The Fox, the Foetus and the Fatal Injection - a Torah approach to the issues of abortion, assisted dying and euthanasia (available via www.TorahEthics.net). Writes Rabbi Levy:
"The argument that is often put forward in support of assisted dying and euthanasia is that the person is acting out of compassion to relieve pain and suffering, and therefore they do not consider their act as one of murder. Such a viewpoint, however well meaning, remains contrary to the Torah view. Pain and quality of life versus life itself are not for us to weigh up and decide upon. Judaism considers the sanctity of life God-given and life may not be actively terminated by any human being, however noble their intentions.
"The Torah forbids self-inflicted harm and teaches the belief that we do not own our bodies and the following sources support these beliefs. The prohibition "you shall not murder" (Exodus 20:13) includes the prohibition against killing oneself (Psikta Rabati Parsha 25). Additionally, the Torah states that "I will seek out your blood for your souls, I will seek it out from every living creature and from the hand of man" (Genesis 9:5). This is understood as prohibiting not only killing another, but also taking one's own life.
"The Torah states, 'You shall not accept a ransom for the life of a murderer who is guilty of a capital crime, he must be put to death' (Deut. 25:31). Maimonides crystallises the principle behind this law: 'The court is warned against accepting ransom (i.e., pay for the murderer to go free) from a murderer, even if he offers all the money in the world and even if the (avenging relative) agrees to let him go free. For the life of the murdered person is not the property of the (avenging relative), but the property of God' (Mishne Torah, Laws of Murder 1:4).
"Concerning suicide, Rabbi Y. M. Tucazinsky (20th cent.) makes some very pertinent points: 'It may be even a greater sin to commit suicide than to murder someone else for several reasons. First by killing himself, a person removes all possibility of repentance. Secondly, death in most circumstances is the greatest atonement for one's sins. However, in a suicide's death a cardinal transgression has been committed rather than expiation. A third reason why Judaism abhors suicide is that the person who takes his own life asserts by this act that he denies the Divine Mastery and ownership of his life, his body and soul. The wilful suicide further denies his Divine Creation. Our sages compare the departure of a soul from a human body to a Sefer Torah (Torah Scroll) which has been consumed by fire. Thus, a person who commits suicide can be likened to one who burns a Sefer Torah.'
"Of course it is painful to see others suffering and it is for this reason that amongst the core Torah principles are that of compassion and helping our fellow man. The proponents of assisted dying and euthanasia deem their acts as 'mercy-killing' rather than murder. However, the term 'mercy-killing' cannot detract from the fact that such an act undermines the very principle that we do not own our own bodies and that purity of motive in terminating a life to relieve suffering does not make it acceptable."
For more on "Euthanasia, Abortion, and Jewish Values" go to ShabbatShalomAudio.com!
Torah Portion of the Week
Pekudei includes an accounting of all the materials that went into the making of the mishkan (the portable Tabernacle) and details of the construction of the clothing of the Cohanim. The Tabernacle is completed, Moses examines all of the components and gives his approval to the quality and exactness of construction, the Almighty commands to erect the Tabernacle, it's erected and the various vessels are placed in their proper place.
* * *
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
After the completion of the construction of the Tabernacle, the Torah states:
"And Moshe saw all the work and behold, they did it as the Almighty commanded ... and Moshe blessed them." (Exodus 39:43)
Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin was once at a dedication ceremony for which one rabbi selflessly devoted an extremely large amount of time and energy. When the rabbi spoke he heaped praise and blessings upon the donors whose contributions made the institution possible.
Rabbi Sorotzkin spoke next and said, "Really the donors should be the ones to praise and bless the rabbi. It was his efforts that enabled them to have the merit of contributing to such a worthwhile cause. However, the rabbi followed in the steps of Moshe. After the complete report of everything that was donated to the mishkan, (the portable Tabernacle), Moshe blessed all those who participated in the donations and contributions. They should have blessed Moshed for the opportunity he gave them."
Rabbi Sorotzkin continued, "The same is true when a wealthy person helps a poor person. The wealthy person gains more from the poor person, since he gains spiritual merit. However, what usually happens? The receiver expresses more thanks to the giver than the giver does to the receiver."
When someone approaches us for a contribution for a worthy cause, we should appreciate that he is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to contribute. This is an important concept for people who work for the community to raise funds. They should be aware that they are doing an act of kindness for the donors. At the same time, they need to show their gratitude to the donors. And if the donors - or prospective donors - do not have respect or appreciation for the one making the request (assuming it was made pleasantly and properly), it is the prospective donor who needs to examine his own character and values.
CANDLE LIGHTING - March 7
(or go to http://www.aish.com/shabbat/candlelighting.asp)
Guatemala 5:53 - Hong Kong 6:11 - Honolulu 6:19
J'Burg 6:14 - London 5:33 - Los Angeles 5:37
Melbourne 7:34 - Mexico City 6:26 - Miami 6:09
New York 5:36 - Singapore 7:01 - Toronto 5:56
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
When a defining moment comes along,
you define the moment...
or the moment defines you.
-- Roy McAvoy
|With Deep Appreciation to|
Hanoj & Myrna Perez