Abstracts

MEDICO-LEGAL PROBLEMS

J. David Bleich, "Survey of Recent Halakhic Periodical Literature", Tradition 2l (l984), 80-90. - The author reviews material on physicians strikes, nuclear warfare, and Hanukkah lights for travellers. (S.M.P.)

J. David Bleich, "Survey of Recent Halakhic Periodical Literature", Tradition 20/3 (l982), 254-264. - The author discusses material on prostate surgery. (S.M.P.)

J. David Bleich, "Of Cerebral, Respiratory and Cardiac Death", Tradition 24/3 (1983), 44-66. - The author contends that there is no scientific or factual basis for the sharp conflict between societal acceptance of "Brain Death" criteria for establishing death and Jewish teaching which rejects the notion of "Brain Death". The severe difference of opinion flows from views of the sanctity of human life, regardless of its quality, which are at variance, and from "conflicting perceptions of duties owed to the moribund patient". (S.M.P.)

J. David Bleich, "Survey of Recent Halakhic Periodical Literature", Tradition 24/4 (1989) 69-90. - The author explores the complex issue of fetal tissue research, from the perspective of halakhah. The matter is particularly vital in view of the pressure to gain federal funding for fetal research in the United States. Such research clearly requires fetal cadavers. Opponents of such funding hold that governmental support implies acceptance of the full research protocol and therefore perhaps collusion in abortion per se. The halakhic perspective raises questions of the obligation of fetal burial, of benefit from a fetal cadaver, and the impact of these concerns on preservation of human life. The author also considers this question with reference to the Noahide Code because the public policy issue has arisen in a non-Jewish society. (S.M.P.)

J. David Bleich, "Survey of Relent Halakhic Periodical Literature", Tradition 22/4 (1987), 102-116. - The author discusses the problem encountered by emergency medical personnel of returning from missions of mercy on the sabbath. He reviews the relevant authorities and concludes that a significant body of opinion would allow such personnel to return to their homes on a sabbath after completing an emergency medical call requiring travel to reach the patient. (S.M.P.)

Richard A. Block, "A Matter of Life and Death: Reform Judaism and the Defective Child", JRJ 31/4 (l984), l4-30. - The author argues that no single, standard, criterion or principle will be adequate for every situation. The best approach is seen as a combination of principles and tests presented by the author, which are to be applied as carefully and as narrowly as possible. Should the decision of whether or not to provide life-prolonging treatment to a defective child remain in doubt after the conscientious application of principles and tests, which are derived from tradition, the tradition demands a decision in favour of life. (S.M.P.)

Reuven P. Bulka, "Psychology, Halakhah, and Organ Transplantation", Tradition 24/2 (1989), 3-15. - The author contends that modern medicine, and its splendid scientific advance, must not embrace life without realizing that society may become defiled by trampling upon one segment of society for the benefit of another segment. Halakhic guidelines regarding for whom and how to transplant organs must take cognizance of psychological dimensions of the matter as well. (S.M.P.)

B. Freedman, "Leviticus and DNA: A Very Old Look at a Very New Problem", Journal of Religious Ethics 8 (1980), 105-113. - Recombinant DNA research, which has the potential to produce new hybrid organisms, is discussed in the light of halakhic interpretations of Lev. 19:19, which forbids mixed breeding. This is often seen as a prohibition based on natural law, and on some views this would rule out manipulation of DNA. However Halevy's (Book of Instruction Commandment 62) interpretation of the commands could permit DNA research aimed at healing, e.g. manufacture of insulin, but would still rule out research aimed at improving the species, or research for reasons of pure curiosity. (G.J.W.)

Walter Jacob, "Selling Human Blood for Medical Purposes", Journal of Reform Judaism 33/4 (1987), 73f. - The author, from a liberal Jewish point of view, argues that Jews need not oppose the sale of human blood by blood donors at plasma centers on the ground of Jewish tradition. He does, however, state that persons who sell their blood are generally the poor and homeless who are without any resource except their own blood. This unfortunate state of affairs should prompt efforts to help people in such plight so that they are not constrained to sell blood. (S.M.P.)

Yoel Jakobovitz, trans., "Brain Death and Heart Transplants: The Israeli Chief Rabbinate's Directives", Tradition 24/4 (1989), 1-14. - This is an English translation, with notes, of the 5747 confirmation by the chief rabbinical council of the recommendations of its heart transplant committee. (S.M.P.)

Paul Kahn, "Psychotherapy and the Commandment to Reprove", PAOJS 7 (l983), 37-49. - The purpose of the paper is to amplify the law of reproof and its application to psychotherapy, although the author's conclusions are explicitly not to be taken as a pesak din. The author suggests that good psychotherapy might well provide an occasion for reproof if the therapist knows how to reprove. (S.M.P.)

Fred Rosner, "Test Tube Babies, Host Mothers, and Genetic Engineering", Tradition l9/2 (l981), 141-148. - The author briefly reviews the matters of artificial insemination, test tube babies, host mothers, and genetic engineering, providing a brief statement of the halakhic view of each where such a view has been propounded. He concludes with a call to rabbis to examine these issues in a halakhic context so that they may offer Jewish legal guidance to both medical and lay communities. (S.M.P.)

Fred Rosner, "Jewish Ethical Issues in Hazardous Medical Therapy", Tradition 19/1 (l981), 55-58. - The author argues that the basic tenet of Judaism is the supreme value of human life. Therefore when life is threatened, even when there is no hope for survival for a prolonged period but only for a very short time all commandments of the Bible are set aside. Any act which can prolong life supersedes all commandments except the three cardinal ones. (S.M.P.)

S. Shilo, "Operations for the Terminally Ill" (Heb), Mishpatim 12 (1982), 565-574. - S argues that a recent High Court decision upholding a hospital's refusal to permit an experimental operation to a terminally ill patient, is at variance with Jewish Law. According to Jewish Law, in such cases the slight chance of long term survival is to be preferred against immediate short term survival. The variables are medical opinion regarding the risk factor and the patient's agreement. S argues that modern Responsa indicate that given the patient's agreement, even where the prevalence of medical opinion determines a high immediate risk factor, with minute chance of success, nonetheless the operation would be permitted assuming that the alternative is imminent death. (M.J.P.)

Daniel B. Sinclair, Tradition and the Biological Revolution, The Applicatioon of Jewish Law to the Treatment of the Critically Ill, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 1989, Pp.117, ISBN 0-85224-636-6, Price: £19.95. - The author provides a succinct and readable summary of his Hebrew University Doctoral Thesis. The four principal chapters deal with the distinction between precipitating the death of the goses and removing an impediment to his death; the exemption of the killer of a terefah from capital punishment (including consideration of the use of divine sanctions); sacrificing the life of a terefah for the sake of preserving viable life (including a comparison with the defence of necessity in English common law; and the relationship between morality, policy and law in the context of treatment of the critically ill). Appendices deal with the Tay-Sachs foetus debate, and with termination of the life of a critically ill patient in Anglo-American law. Sinclair stresses methodological questions, and distinguishes the standard mode of Halakhic reasoning from what he terms the Maimonidean mode, "based upon the rational principle of the fundamental importance of human life" - a principle which he argues is treated as a "meta-principle" and is used to fill gaps in the existing Halakhah. (B.S.J.)

Moshe Halevi Spero, "Halakhic Definitions of Confidentiality in the Psychotherapeutic Encounter: Theory and Practice," Tradition 20 (1982), 298-326. - The author compares general ethical perspectives with halakhic perspectives in respect to a patient's right to privacy and the professional's obligation to maintain (or to divulge) professional secrets. The matter of secrecy and confidence-bearing as a necessary good and right is explicated. There is also an examination of the value of confidentiality in regard to practical applications, including diagnostic conferences, situations involving danger to the patient or others, and professional testimony. (S.M.P.)

Moshe Halevi Spero, "Further Examination of the Halakhic Status of Homosexuality: Female Homosexual Behavior as Ones", PAOJS 7 (l983), 99-122. - While the halakhically-observant mental health professional can not treat homosexuals who wish to be accepted as homosexuals or to have their sexual life style "improved" or even condoned, or even refer such persons to other mental health professionals, the halakhah does accept in principle the value of psychotherapeutically modifying the homosexual toward heterosexuality or lessened homosexual behavior, notwithstanding some ethical objections to some current techniques used for this. The use of the concept of one, compulsion, is of limited value in these matters and does not render acceptable or less sinful homosexual acts committed in a non-psychotic state and in full awareness of halakhic opinion on the matter. The fact that the halakhically competent professional maintains specific moral beliefs about homosexual behavior does not preclude professional attitudes of empathy and sensitivity. (S.M.P.)

Moshe Halevi Spero, "Toward a Halakhic Perspective on Radical forms of Psychological Manipulation and Behavior Control", PAOJS 7 (l983), 71-97. - The author demonstrates that current radical forms of psychotherapy may represent a potentially serious ethical challenge to our notion of freedom and to the idea of willful participation in the psycho-therapeutic process. A halakhic model for "radical intervention" is presented on the admittedly incomplete and problematic analog of kofin oto ad sheyomar rotseh ani. The halakhah is not able to accept the view that a person is not born free but rather subservient to genes and education. (S.M.P.)

Mark Washofsky, "AIDS and Ethical Responsibility: Some Halachic Considerations", Journal of Reform Judaism 36/1 (1989), 53-65. - The author argues on the basis of rabbinic legal materials that the potential danger of contracting the fatal disease of AIDS is insufficient ground in Jewish law to excuse an individual from the responsibilities of saving life and caring for the sick. Fear of AIDS, therefore, does not override obligations to care for neighbours who are in pain. He then states that it does not necessarily follow that Reform Judaism must make such an ethical demand from Reform Jews. Other factors, such as realism, may be seen to supervene. (S.M.P.)

 

 

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