Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks: Organ donor cards are not incompatible with Jewish law


British Guardian

You reported that I have issued an edict that "organ donation and the carrying of donor cards are incompatible with Jewish law" (Doctors criticise chief rabbi's edict against donor cards, 12 January). That is not so.

Wherever we can save life, we should. That is a longstanding and fundamental proposition of Judaism, and it means that we favour organ donations. Our clarification of the Jewish law on this subject should not "reduce the number of donations" or "put lives at risk".

At the heart of Judaism is the principle of the sanctity of life, which flows directly from the proposition in the first chapter of the Bible that we are all in the image and likeness of God. The secular counterpart is Kant's principle that we should treat others as ends in themselves, not as means to an end. This generates moral consequences, including the duty to honour life and the duty to save life. Usually these two principles coincide, but sometimes they conflict.[...]

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