Thursday, August 23, 2007

Don't Turn Your Back On Your Community VIII

More letters in The Jewish Week on this subject, including one from frequent commenter Mitch Morrison (link). Worth noting is R. Shlomo Riskin's letter:

Treating A Non-Jew

I wish to address a point regarding Noah Feldman’s issue of a Jewish physician tending to a non-Jewish patient on the Sabbath: About five decades ago the chief rabbi of Israel (I believe it was Rav Unterman) presented a lecture on this subject before the entire student body of Yeshiva College (a scandal had erupted in B’nei Brak when a religious physician refused to treat a gentile who had collapsed on the street on the Sabbath day), in which he proved that it is mandatory for the physician to treat the gentile “in order that the gentile world not come to hate us.”

The late Rav J.B. Soloveitchik, leading Talmudic scholar at Yeshiva University and widely acclaimed dean of Modern Orthodoxy, was present at the learned discourse, after which he gave his regularly scheduled lecture. Having participated in both of these events, I asked the “rav” what he had thought of the chief rabbi’s discourse. He suggested it was to some extent “nonsense.” Then he cited Ramban [Nachmanides], and a clearly stated verse in the Bible. I never asked my mentor for the sources he mentioned, but I am reasonably certain that I succeeded in discovering the references on my own. Nachmanides, in his “Strictures to Maimonides’ Book of Commandments” (Positive Commands No. 16), rules that one must even desecrate the Sabbath to save the life of a gentile who keeps the fundamental Noahide laws of human morality. The clearly stated Bible verse is obviously, “The Lord created the human being in His image, in the image of the Lord created He him, male and female created He them” (Gen 1:27).

Shlomo Riskin
Founding Rabbi of Lincoln Square Synagogue,
Chief Rabbi of Efrat, Israel
As a commenter pointed out in a previous post, this is also the position of R. Nachum L. Rabinovitch in his Melumedei Milchamah, no. 148. See also Rashbatz, Zohar Ha-Raki'a 81 n. 39; R. Meir Dan Plotzki, Chemdas Yisrael, Ner Mitzvah 52.

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