Monday, June 23, 2008

Organ Donation IV

Yediot Acharonot is reporting that R. Zalman Nechemiah Goldberg -- probably the greatest living halakhic scholar who has near-universal acceptance in the Orthodox world -- has stated that one may sign organ donation cards (Hebrew article). The Muqata blog has a long write-up in English on this development (link) and I've received e-mails about this.

I can't say that I see this as being a big deal. According to the article, R. Goldberg makes the point that his father-in-law, R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, was very strict on the definition of the time of death and that each person should write on his card that donations may only be made after consulting with the person's halakhic authority (he suggests writing a specific rabbi's name). In other words, people who are strict about time of death should put down a rabbi's name who will usually reject organ donation (because he considers the person dying but not yet dead at the time that doctors want to harvest organs). This is not a particularly revealing or groundbreaking ruling.

Click here to read moreTo my knowledge, the only opposition to the idea of having organ donation cards is that it makes a life-and-death halakhic decision seem relatively minor. "I can check this box or that box." It is actually a very serious decision that should be made after extensive thought and discussion with your rabbi. I've heard rumors about new cards being designed in the US to represent this and satisfy certain American halakhic decisors but I'm not sure what the status of that is.

On organ donation, see these posts: I, II, III, IV.

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