Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Rabbis on HODS II

I just received my copy of the Winter 2004 issue of Tradition (they're still behind but at least they're moving). It looks like a blockbuster, although I've barely had time to read it. R. J. David Bleich on copepods in NYC water; his son, R. Moshe Bleich (whom I recently had the pleasure of meeting), on the halakhos of class size; R. Hayyim Angel on Parshanut and more.

Dr. Joshua Kunin has an article on brain death in which he argues that statistics from the past 30 years indicate that brain death does not imply actual death. Studies show that even after brain death, there still remains physiologic function in the brain and patients have lived for extended periods of time. This, Dr. Kunin argues, undermines the medical facts assumed by those posekim who accepted the brain death criteria. Therefore, their decisions should be reversed.

A counterpoint was written by none other than R. Edward Reichman. He points out that the only issue under question by those posekim who accept the brain death criteria is that of breathing, and even these new studies show that ALL brain dead patients are incapable of independent breathing. The dispute among posekim is whether this is sufficient to render a person halakhically dead. However, the new studies do not undermine the medical assumptions underlying the rulings of those who accepted the brain death criteria.

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