Volume 19 Number 19
                       Produced: Wed Apr  5 23:06:47 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Comment on Body Parts
         [Bernard Corenblum]
Fetal Sex Determination
         [Warren Burstein]
Leprosy & PC
         [Shalom Carmy]
Life (literally) After Death
         [Louis Rayman]
Organ Donation
         [Ira Rosen]
organ donors
         [Eliyahu Teitz]
Organ Transplants
         [David Charlap]
Organ Transplants - v19#9
         [Yehudah Edelstein]
Organ Transplants 19 #9
         [Neil Parks]


From: Bernard Corenblum <corenblu@...>
Date: Mon, 3 Apr 1995 11:53:13 -0600 (MDT)
Subject: Comment on Body Parts

It is not uncommon during discussions on the number of mitzvot for
someone to turn to me (as the token physician with a University
position) to agree that the number of bones in the body correspond to
the number of mitzvot (613) or number of positive mitzvot (248).I always
shake this off as not being true, but do not try to be so literate. For
fun, I grabbed an old copy of Gray's Anatomy (24th Ed) and counted up
the named bones -- 206. For more fun (a waste of time? or true torah
study?) I added up all the named muscles, arteries, veins, nerves, and
organs and their parts.  The totals are: bones 206, skeletal muscles
191, arteries 307, veins 278, nerves 188, organs & glands 56. Without
any alterations to these numbers whatsoever, I totalled them up to 1226,
that is,exactly 2 times 613.  One urge may be to refer to Adam & Chava
as Chava came out of Adam, but does anyone else want to comment on this?

A happy and kosher Pesach to all. Bernie Corenblum


From: <warren@...> (Warren Burstein)
Date: Thu, 30 Mar 1995 09:04:23 GMT
Subject: Re: Fetal Sex Determination

Would an XY female, as described, be fertile?  The Midrash identifies
two different women as the daughter of Dinah, Asenat (wife of Yosef)
and Shaul the daughter of the Cannanite, listed as a member of the
tribe of Shimeon.

By the way, are these Midrashim contradictory?  If Dinah had two
children, who fathered the second?

 |warren@         bein hashmashot, in which state are the survivors
/ nysernet.org    buried?


From: Shalom Carmy <carmy@...>
Date: Thu, 30 Mar 1995 11:45:39 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Leprosy & PC

There is no reason to identify the tsaraat of Tanakh with the modern
leprosy. There is nothing to indicate that Biblical "leprosy" is
ccontagious. The identification is based on the LXX who translated
tsaraat as "lepra."

See commentaries of R. SR Hirsch and RDZ Hoffmann for detailed evidence
on this point.

Contemporary lepers refer to their affliction as Hansen's Disease.
Hansen's is infectious, but can be transmitted only after prolonged
contact with sufferers, not by casual contact. It is one of the least
contagious of maladies.

Some years ago I received several complementary copies of the Journal of
Hansen's Disease (courtesy of a medical talmid). They are very makpid on
correct nomenclature and dedicated to eradicating any confusion between
their affliction and the loathsome Biblical disease. There are times
when political correctnesss is condescending and foolish. This is not
one of them, it seems to me.


From: <lou@...> (Louis Rayman)
Date: Mon, 3 Apr 95 13:53:22 EDT
Subject: Life (literally) After Death

I saw an interesting piece on "60 Minutes" last night.  It was about how
doctors sometimes "kill" a patient in order to perform tricky open-heart
surgery.  By kill, I mean that in every possible way of looking at it,
the person is dead.  The patient's blood and body temperature is lowered
until his heart stops beating, he stops breathing and his brain stops
brain-waving (I'm sure there's a better term), i.e. his EEG is
completely flat.

No matter what your definition of halachik death is, this patient is

After the operation, the patient is (hopefully) revived.  In the piece
last night, the patient was "dead" for about an hour.

But, according to the halacha, is he really dead?  I'm not asking about
the esoteric things, but plain old stuff like:

If the patient is a married man, he is wife now free?  If he has
children, do they now inherit his belongings?

Are the other people in the room now tameh-mes (impure because of the
presence of a dead body)?

Even if you say (or in gemara loshon: Ve'im timtzey lomar) that as far
as these issues, seeing that the patient eventually got up, he obviously
was never really dead, I've got a real stumper for you: Let's say the
doctors could not revive him, and someone was in the room while he was
"dead," but left before the doctors gave up on reviving him.  Is that
person tameh?  The relevent question being, when did he die?

Lou Rayman                                               _ |_
Client Site: <lou@...>    212/898-7131         .|   |
Main Office: <louis.rayman@...>                  |  /


From: Ira Rosen <irosen@...>
Date: Fri, 31 Mar 95 8:53:56 EST
Subject: Organ Donation

In response to Ben Rothke:

Who says Orthodox Jews refuse to be organ donors?

There are more halachic implications of giving than receiving organs,
however, within halachic confines, it is perfectly acceptable to donate

In general, it seems, that far more human beings will accept organs than
will offer to give them - this is not exclusive to the Jewish community.
This may be due to the fact that when someone needs an organ, there
existence revolves around that need.  Death (in the case of heart or
liver, for example) or severe disabilty (in the case of kidney or cornea)
may be the ultimate result of not receiving an organ.  For a donor (or
in the case of an individual who has passed away) the priority is their
own life (or the family's priority is the burial of their loved one).
Before the fact, we tend not to concern ourselves with what might happen
if we should die (how many people write a will as soon as they should
and keep it properly updated?  how many people concern themselves with
the potential good of organ donation upon their deaths?).  Disscussion
of or planning for death scares us.

It seems to make sense to learn the halchot and set up a document
describing, in specific detail, how one's organs should be dealt with
upon one's death.  Included in this should be a current
name/address/phone number of an individual who is to be consulted
concerning these matters (this could be a Rabbi or an individual with
knowledge of the specific laws involved who can make the quickest
decision - or can call a Rabbi for info).  Simply checking the organ
donation box on the back of a drover's license may cause halachic
problems, but preparation for the possibilty of organ donation allows
for one last mitzvah (or more) to be done on one's behalf after one has

As per usual, consult your LOR for info abour the laws concerning organ
donation, as there are different opinions concerning this subject
(offhand I know of one major disagreement concerning the
donation/receiving of the heart).

Ira Rosen


From: <EDTeitz@...> (Eliyahu Teitz)
Date: Mon, 3 Apr 1995 15:10:45 -0400
Subject: Re: organ donors

Ben Rothke asked why many Jews are willing to accept organs but not
donate them for transplant.

There are a few issues which arise concerning organ transplants:

1.  Harvesting organs - Is it permissible to take organs from a

Most organs are taken from the donor before the donor is dead.  There
has been recent news of success in use of certain organs taken post
death, but for the most part they are taken from patients who are
considered legally dead, but possibly not yet halachically dead.  I do
not want to start a debate on brain death, but that is the central issue
here.  If a person is still halachically living, his organs can not be
removed, even to save another person's life ( why is the other person's
blood more red than the donor's [to quote an argument used in the
g'mara] ).

The resolution of this issue will probably not occur in the forseeable

2. Harvesting Organs - Kavod HaMayt

As many know, autopsies are frowned upon in halacha.  There are many
rules concerning the handling of a deceased person.  Is it permitted to
take organs from a corpse?

On this question there, as usual, are differing opinions.  There are
those who permit the taking of organs, *provided that they are being
used for transplant* and not for medical research.  Likewise, they can
only be used for life-saving procedures ( in this way, pikuach nefesh,
saving the recipient overrides the prohibition of disturbing the corpse).

Since there is no guarantee to what end the harvested organs will be
used, many are reluctant to donate.  However, to receive under these
circumstances would be seen as ok ( possibly even for non-life-
threatening procedures, since the organs were not taken for the donor in
particular and they are already removed from the body ).

This should not be seen as an exhaustive discussion of the issues.
Rather I am bringing up two problems that come up right away.  There are
many other points worthy of discussion.

Eliyahu Teitz


From: <david@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Thu, 30 Mar 95 11:28:09 EST
Subject: Organ Transplants

Ben Rothke <ber@...> writes:
>Someone asked me the folloing question,to which I had no answer:
>Why are Orthodox Jews more than willing to be recipients of organ
>donations (heart, lung,liver, kidney, etc.), but refuse to be organ

There are two issues here.  The first is pikuach nefesh - saving a life.
The second it kavod ha-met - respect for the dead.

One may not normally remove organs from a dead body because it is a
violation of kavod ha-met.

However, if there is an immediate need for the organ, they may be
removed.  That is, if they will be immediately implanted into another
person.  The reason for this is that with an immediate need, the act of
removing the organ is performing the mitzva of pikuach nefesh, which
takes precedence over nearly all other mitzvot.

On the other hand, if there is no immediate need, then the organs may
not be removed.  If they are to be removed simply to be stored in some
hospital's freezer in the expectation that somebody someday will use
them, then there is no pikuach nefesh at the time of the removal -
meaning that there is no mitzva taking precedence over kavod ha-met.

So, in answer to your question, it's not that an Orthodox Jew will never
donate an organ.  It's that he will not consent to his organs being
stored in "organ banks" for possible future use.  Organ donor cards do
not have a provision that says "only if there's an immediate need".  If
you sign one, you give permission for the doctors to use your organs in
any way they see fit, regardless of your family's wishes.

This is why an Orthodox Jew will not sign an organ donor card.

-- David


From: <yehudah@...> (Yehudah Edelstein)
Date: Fri, 31 Mar 1995 15:38:14 +0200
Subject: Organ Transplants - v19#9

In general due to proper respect for the dead body (Kavod Hamet), after
death any mutilation of the body is restricted. In general, autopsies
and donating parts of the body present problems. For Pikuach Nefesh
(saving other lives), autopsies or donating parts of the body may be
permitted, but hastening the death of someone is forbidden. The
arguments are when is the time of death. Non religous doctors perhaps
won't adhere to Halacha, to determine death, whereby an autopsy or
donating some part of the body may be done before one is Halachikly
determined dead. Being afraid of these problems and also lack of
knowledge bring most people to avoid being donors. On the other hand I
do know of religous people (few), who do carry a card declaring there
willingness to donate organs upon death, inorder to save someone else
(not for science).
 Yehudah Edelstein "<yehudah@...>" Raanana, Israel


From: Neil Parks <nparks@...>
Date: Tue, 4 Apr 95 17:21:09 EDT
Subject: Organ Transplants 19 #9

 Ben Rothke asked:
>Why are Orthodox Jews more than willing to be recipients of organ
>donations (heart, lung,liver, kidney, etc.), but refuse to be organ

We don't always refuse.  If the organ is to be used immediately to save
a life, it is permitted.  But if it is going into an organ bank to be
stored for future use, then we have to consider the prohibition against
mutilating the body (which is also the reason we don't normally permit

     NEIL PARKS  Beachwood, Ohio    <nparks@...>


End of Volume 19 Issue 19