Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Brain Death: Jewish Observer article 1991 - Rav Tendler and the Aguda Response

Jewish Observer


  1. Trying to resolve a machloqes haposeqim through letters to a popularist magazine, or through short single paragraph public pronouncements, is counterproductive.

    Each person needs to go to their own poseiq, who has at hand if he needs it the guidance of his own poseqim, and the formal teshuvos on the subject.

    Bringing things to this forum is just going to add heat rather than light and actually get in the way of real halachic discourse. True back in 1991, when R' Zweibel took on the halachic decisors of the RCA. (WADR to the man in his areas of competency, thinking he's a bar pelugta of R' Herschel Schachter or R' Mordechai Willig, or some of the other names that approved the 1991 version of the proxy is yuhara.) And true today when the RCA published a backgrounder for the general population (including shul rabbanim) without being clear that's what they were doing -- until after the fight ensues.


  2. To clarify: I spoke negatively of R' Zweibel taking on Rabbis Schachter and Willig (as the two most famous examples) when he takes on the RCA Healthcare Proxy. I didn't say anything about the brain death issue, where Rabbi Zweibel and RHS agree.

    Although I still think taking on someone else's pesaq for their community in one own community's organ is pointless. These are halachic issues; not a matter for campaigning for popular support.


  3. This is something that needs expertise in Medicine. Rav Tendler is the only Professor in the field. There is a letter from an MD, but that is just a regular doctor who has a general practice.

    I do not wish to show any disrespect to any of the Poskim who have written on this matter, and I do not hold any particular side.

    I do have a question, and it would be easier understood on a less emotive issue:

    The Halacha is based on views of Rishonim an Acharonim, and their understandings of science. However, science has developed since several hundred years ago. Is it conceivable that an objective halachist would be able to render a decision based not upon previous generations, but upon current understanding of science?

  4. >Is it conceivable that an objective halachist would be able to render a decision based not upon previous generations, but upon current understanding of science?<


  5. Anon:

    I don't know if the cry of "kefira" was parody or for real. A question is not kefira. A denial of an Ikkar is a kefira.

    If it is a parody, then yes, obviously that is a typical response, ha ha.

    The reason I asked this question, is that the Hatam Sofer actually used science of his day to question the understanding of the Talmudic sages - which again, if anyone did today would be called "apikorsus" etc, or in the Slifkinian sense, , "they could say it, but we can't".

  6. Yes,youv'e been reading the blog lately,of course without any questions,just blind acceptance.The chasam sofer doesn't go against the gemara's psak,if you look carefully.


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