Volume 47 Number 41
                    Produced: Sun Mar 27  8:16:08 EST 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Euthanasia -- (was the Schiavo Case)
         [Carl A. Singer]
Halacha and Ballgames
         [Ira Bauman]
Indeed, there are two classes of Jews
         [Frank Silbermann]
Living Wills
         [Ed Greenberg]
Reb Moshe
The Schiavo case (3)
         [Orrin Tilevitz, Akiva Miller, Martin Dauber]
Yiddish in Court
         [Nathan Lamm]


From: <casinger@...> (Carl A. Singer)
Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2005 11:59:20 -0500
Subject: Euthanasia -- (was the Schiavo Case)

These past few days in regard to the Schiavo case we've seen what
amounts to a religious jihad with Congress and the President
(legislative and executive branches of government) at odds with the
judicial -- whether the motivation is political or moral doesn't really
matter.  We see that (even) the President and Congress cannot assert

This case has (to me) an interesting situation re: implementation and

Given an halachic situation where all agree with the findings: that the
person is alive and that some action (or inaction) will hasten their
death --

What, if anything, can / should the community do when the decision maker
(guardian?) proposes to do something that countervenes halacha.

For example: Plony says s/he's going to pull the feeding tube.
Halachikly, who can do what about this.

Carl A. Singer, Ph.D.
See my web site:  www.ProcessMakesPerfect.net


From: <Yisyis@...> (Ira Bauman)
Date: Fri, 25 Mar 2005 11:16:08 EST
Subject: Re: Halacha and Ballgames

In the discussion about ballgames, Bernie writes:

      These days we tend to have a more thoughtful approach to our
      religion, but I hope we resist the forces which want to equate
      religiosity with asceticism. It is important to realize that in
      such matters, responsible public behavior by the observant
      community leads the way, and the halacha follows

Many postings over the years discuss how much interaction with the world
around us is halachically acceptable.  Perhaps, there doesn't exist one
halachically answer.

People with commitments to a halachic lifestyle have differing opinions.
Perhaps that is because it is precisely a lifestyle choice and depends
upon one's definition of normality.  A chareidi brought up and limited
in his experience in the backstreets of Meah Shearim may find fault with
other chareidim whose lifestyle exposes them to even a slight amount of
the surrounding world.  Wherever we place ourselves in that spectrum
there will be people more isolated and people less isolated, as long as
we all see halacha as our guide. I believe that this is an area in our
lives where we have to find our own comfort level.  Non-isolation can
have legitimate motivations just as increased isolation can.

I don't know how many of us see ourselves frummer than Mordechai Ha
Tzaddik, but the last line of the megilla says that Mordechai received
the approval of only a majority of the Jewish people.  According to
Rashi, his involvement with influences outside the frum sphere made him
suspect, even if he managed to save Klal Yisrael. See what I mean?

Ira Bauman


From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2005 13:57:12 -0600 (CST)
Subject:  Indeed, there are two classes of Jews

In V47 N04 Jeanette Friedman (<FriedmanJ@...>) expressed her dismay
for those, such as R. Joseph Elias (in Curriculum Churban Europa), who
blame the Reform Jews and the Bundists for the Holocaust:

> "The Holocaust was the fault of the Reform Jews and the Bundists who
> ate chazer treyf in the Rebbe's hoyf on Yom Kippur. That is why Hashem
> killed 6 million Jews, including 1.5 million innocent children. THEY
> did that to us."  ...I was taught this by my parents, by my rabbis and
> morot...

I think there are several issues.  One, is whether we should try to see
a connection between our sins and bad things that happen to us.  I think
it's pretty clear that the Torah teaches this.  For example, we are told
of a hatred between two Jews that led to the destruction of the Second

On the other hand, convicting other Jews in our minds for causing the
Holocaust seems to contradict the principle of trying to assume the best
of our fellow Jews.

Thus, Rv. Shach and the Lubavitcher Rebbe disagree on this very

I would add a third issue to the discussion.  _If_ we are going to blame
other Jews' sins for the Holocaust, I would question whether the sins of
the Reform Jews and the Bundists are the most likely suspects.  This, I
think is ludicrous, given that there were sins being committed by Jews
during the decades years preceding the Holocaust which were far worse
than the mere abandonment of Jewish religious observance.  Violating
halacha is far less wicked than convincing others to sin; how much worse
were those who _forced_ others to sin!

[Several paragraphs of examples deleted. Mod]

So when I hear Jews blame other Jews' lack of frumkeit for the
Holocaust, my first reaction is to despise what I perceive as
self-aggrandising slander of confused, but generally well-meaning
now-deceased Jews.

Then, coming to my senses and realizing my _own_ duty to think the best
of those who say such things, I conclude that these accusers are merely
trying to weaken the force of the Satan by _minimizing_ the sins of Jews
during the early decades of the last century.  They do this by
mentioning only those sins which were relatively trivial and
insignificant (compared with some of the other things that many Jews
were doing at the time).

Frank Silbermann	New Orleans, Louisiana		<fs@...>


From: Ed Greenberg <edg@...>
Date: Fri, 25 Mar 2005 07:53:43 -0800
Subject: Living Wills

> From: Robert Schoenfeld <frank_james@...>
> Both the OU and Agudah have halachic living wills which can be
> downloaded fron the internet. In both continued supplying of food and
> water is specified

Which begs the question of whether a shomer mitzvot person can, in a
living will, decline food and water (as well as other measures) if s/he
is in a condition worse than a particular state of being.



From: <aliw@...> (Arie)
Date: Sun, 27 Mar 2005 14:02:07 +0200
Subject: Re: Reb Moshe

in Vol. 47 #34, Chaim Tabasky wrote:

"My father in law recalls that Reb Moshe ztza"l visited Hartford, Ct.
for a short vacation in summers during the 60s. On one occasion my
father in law drove Reb Moshe and the Rebbetzen back to Brooklyn"

not disputing the point being made (or the event itself), only
correcting a factual error - Reb Moshe lived on the lower east side (in
an apartment in the co-ops on fdr drive).  



From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2005 08:17:19 -0800 (PST)
Subject: The Schiavo case

I think it is correct that if Mr. Schiavo were Jewish and he were to ask
a posek for a heter to pull his wife's feeding tube, the posek would
almost certainly refuse.  But I do not think Mr. Schiavo is Jewish.  (Is
his wife?  I am not sure it matters for purposes of the following
discussion.) Here are what I think are more interesting questions, which
for the most part I pose without attempting to answer them:

Is pulling a feeding tube under the Schiavo circumstances, under the
facts found by the Florida court that Mrs. Schiavo is in a persistent
vegetative state with no hope of recovery and that she would have wished
that her life be terminated (assuming for purposes of argument that
these facts are correct), murder for a non-Jew?  The practical
ramification for "yes" is that religious Jewish organizations might--and
I mean might--be obligated to attempt to influence the result, as
certain--not all--such organizations have in the abortion debate on the
ground that abortion is, or may be, murder if done by a non-Jew and
therefore within the seven Noahide commandments.  (Aguda seems to have
this view here; see

That gives rise to a host of subsidiary questions, including:

1.  Is depriving someone of food "murder" at all?  (I don't think so; my
proof is that it is similar to the mode of execution used by the
Sanhedrin when they were not permitted to execute a criminal), or mere
"gramma" (indirect causation)?

2.  If it is only gramma for a Jew, would it nonetheless be murder for a

Assuming withholding food is "murder":

3.  Suicide is forbidden to a Jew, but is it murder, in which case
presumably it would also be forbidden to a non-Jew?

4.  Is klling someone at the victim's instructions, basically assisted
suicide, murder?

5.  Is it murder for non-Jew?

6.  Is Mrs. Schiavo a "gosesset"?

Incidentally, perhaps one of the doctors could explain or refute the
claim that pulling the tube results in Mrs. Schiavo's dying of
starvation and dehydration.  I thought that a person cannot live without
liquid for more than a week, and the doctors are saying that Mrs.
Schiavo will die within 2 weeks.

Orrin Tilevitz

From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2005 15:03:15 GMT
Subject: The Schiavo case

Bernard Raab wrote <<< In general, there may not be an obligation to put
someone on a respirator when that person is hopelessly terminal and no
longer able to breathe on their own. But if one is already on a
respirator, it is generally ruled to be forbidden to disconnect or "pull
the plug". However, since this can result in an indefinitely extended
commitment to a clearly hopeless case, it has been ruled (sorry, I
forget by whom, but I would guess R. Feinstein) that if the respirator
stops working and requires repair, there is no obligation to do the
repair or to attach another respirator. This would seem to at least open
the possibility (lo aleynu) that a similar reasoning could be applied to
refilling the food container indefinitely. >>>

It seems that in my previous post, I adequately explained the
similarities between eating and breathing, but I did not explain the
differences well enough.

My understanding of the *laws* of the respirator are the same as
Bernie's, but we disagree about the *reasoning*, and this is a critical
factor which will show why the reasoning *cannot* be applied to the food

He wrote <<< since this can result in an indefinitely extended
commitment to a clearly hopeless case, it has been ruled... >>> No, as I
understand it, that's not the logic at all. Being "hopeless" has nothing
to do with it. The important point is that breathing and blood
circulation are part of the definition of death in halacha. If a
person's health is such that he is unable to breathe on his own (or
unable to circulate blood on his own) then he has actually started to
begin to die.

This is not merely "hopeless". It is *beyond* hopeless. And there is a
specific halachic category for people in this situation, who have begun
to die, called "goses".

Determining which patients are merely hopeless, and which are in the
goses category is a very delicate matter, to be determined carefully by
a rabbi in consultation with the doctors. But if that determination has
been made, then there are a number of halachos which apply. These
include the points Bernie made, such as the lack of obligation to
artificially prolong the life of this person who has already begun to
depart. On the other hand, once such means have been started, it is
difficult to say whether "pulling the plug" is an act of killing the
person, or merely passively allows him to continue dying. It was indeed
Rav Moshe Feinstein who suggested looking at any required servicing of
the machine as a window of opportunity, during which it is allowed to
passively avoid turning it back on.

With this explanation, I hope it is now clear that someone such as
Mrs. Schaivo, who is *not* dependent on any sort of heart-lung machine,
is *not* a goses, but is a fully alive person. A person who avoids
feeding her is *not* passively allowing her to die, but he is *causing*
her to starve to death, no different than a person who avoids feeding
anyone else who is unable to care for himself.

Akiva Miller

From: Martin Dauber <mhdauber@...>
Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2005 07:30:52 -0800 (PST)
Subject: The Schiavo case

Bernie Raab said, "There may be room here for a more nuanced halacha.
 ...."Withholding food is like withholding air....", R. Feinstein) that
if the respirator stops working and requires repair, there is no
obligation to attach another respirator. This would seem to at least
open the possibility (lo aleynu) that a similar reasoning could be
applied to refilling the food container indefinitely..."

I have spent many years as a physician involved in these types of
difficult ethical and quite personal issues, as well in learning these
issues at length with roshei kollel and other talmidei chachamim who
have been open to listenning, if not to agreeing, to hear many sides.

Whereas I accept brain death as a criteria for death (if, and only if,
properly diagnosed and applied), one who withholds fluids, even by
faining to fix a "broken pump" is akin to a murderer.

FWIW, despite the comfort society as a whole , exclusive of Bnei Torah,
has with separation from life support---->passive euthanasia----->active
euthanasia----> even worse !!! (yes, it happens here in the US all the
time), the withholding of food and liquids will never be sanctioned by
any halachic authority.  Near brain-death, chronic vegetative state,
fetal anomalies "incompatible with life" are no exceptions.

All that said, have a happy Purim.

moshe tzvi dauber, md


From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
Date: Fri, 25 Mar 2005 06:53:45 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Yiddish in Court

This seems to be an adaptation of a brief written for the case of Monica
Santiago v. Sherwin-Williams et al., a case out of Boston, some years
back. I have the newspaper clipping, but no date.


End of Volume 47 Issue 41