Volume 6 Number 55

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Brain Death
         [Seth Ness]
Old fragments of Torah
         [Mike Gerver]
R. Gottlieb's Tapes
         [Henry Abramson]
Motzi Lechem min HaShamayim
         [Shoshanah Bechhofer]
Torah found by Hezekiah (2)
         [David Sherman, David Sherman]


From: Seth Ness <ness@...>
Date: Thu, 4 Mar 93 17:40:06 -0500
Subject: Brain Death

This is in response to a post by Michael Shimshoni quite a while ago. It
is a tshuva by Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach which I have a copy of the
actual handwritten tshuva and the official typewritten version. The
english translation is mine and not official, but I think its accurate.
I'm posting this to show that halachic opinion on the subject is not
monolithic and also to stir up some discussion on the subject. The teshuva
is dated 25 adar bet, 5752. Comments in parentheses are my own. More
comments will follow the text.

One who is very sick, on whom the doctors have already done all the tests,
including the test of the blood flow (cerebral angiogram,
PET scan, doppler studies?) and they are sure that the entire brain
including the brain stem has already died, even so, if he is still
breathing on a respirator in an artificial way, according to the
law of the holy torah, his status is still that of a safek goses (someone
who may or may not be a goses-about to die, but there's a lot of
disagreement on what a goses really is. The doubt here is whether he's a
goses or he's really dead) and one who moves a goses is known to be a
spiller of blood, and of course you can't remove anything from him(an
organ). And all the time his heart is beating, even if it may be that the
beating is only due to the respirator, he is still in the category of safek
goses and it is forbidden to harm him. And the only way for a follower of
torah to know clearly that he's really dead, is in my opinion, only after
all the tests of the brain and the brain stem have been done and its
certain that they are dead, to switch off the respirator, and then, if the
heart does not beat at all, and he seems as still as stone, only then is he
dead. And all this is according to what was told to me by expert doctors,
followers of torah, that in a case like this they would give a death
certificate after a wait of thirty seconds without the heart beating.

And therefore, in the diaspora, where most doctors and patients are
gentiles, and think only in terms of the science of medicine and aren't
concerned about moving a goses, and after doing all the tests of the brain
they think he is dead even before turning off the respirator while the
heart is still beating, only there is it permissible to accept a
transplant, but not in israel where the patients and doctors are mostly
jews and obligated in the laws of the torah.

Now the second paragraph is slightly unclear, but i've been told
personally that the problem is the movement involved in doing the brain scans.
therefore in the diaspora where the scans will likely be done by non-jews
in any event, once they are done a jew can turn off the respirator. In
Israel though, there are no grounds for moving a goses to do a brain scan,
so you can't get to the point where you could turn off the respirator. 

to summarize. Someone who is brain dead according to modern medical criteria;
but who is being maintained on a respirator is a safek goses. On such a
person the respirator may be turned off. If once the respirator is
turned off, the heart stops (it will) once there has been no heart
activity for 30 seconds the person is dead.

Also, though not explicitly stated, the following has also been conveyed
personally to me as being the opinion of rav auerbach. That once the brain
dead person is really dead his heart can be restarted and he is still dead
and any organs can be removed and he can be maintained in this state
indefinately until his organs can be removed.

I'd like to point out that once portable, non-invasive scanners are
developed that don't neccessitate moving the patient, this procedure should
be possible in Israel too.

Seth L. Ness                         Ness Gadol Hayah Sham


From: <GERVER@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Sun, 28 Feb 93 04:18 EST
Subject: Old fragments of Torah

Robert Light, in v6n39, asks about very old fragments of a sefer Torah,
from the time of Joshua. I don't remember hearing about anything that
old, but do remember a few years ago an article (in the NY Times?) about
an amulet from the first Temple era (8th century BCE, I think), which
had the birkat kohanim inscribed on it, in precisely the present form.
I remember that the principle investigator, a secular Israeli, could not
figure out the significance of the inscription, which was in ktav Ivri
[the old Hebrew script], but one of his students looked at it and
immediately said "That's the bracha my father always gave me Friday
night!" The Times article made a big deal about the fact that the verses
were unchanged from such an early date, but I think that it would be a
rather extreme minority opinion these days even in secular academic
circles to say that sefer Bamidbar was written later than the 8th
century BCE. This was the opinion of the 19th century Wellhausen school,
however, who held that all of the Torah was written in the 2nd Temple
era. Some of those attitudes are still promulgated in undergraduate
humanities courses, I have heard, even though they are virtually
universally rejected by competent scholars.

By the way, I don't see why "the Jewish community would be indeed shaken
to the core" if they were to find a sefer Torah, or fragment of a sefer
Torah, from that era that was not the same as the one we have now. If it
was a fragment, particularly, it could be another book that was
paraphrasing something in the Torah, something that has long been common
in Western literature. Or it could be a posul sefer Torah.

Mike Gerver, <gerver@...>


From: Henry Abramson <abramson@...>
Date: Mon, 8 Mar 93 20:49:20 -0500
Subject: R. Gottlieb's Tapes

Rechell Schwartz recently provided the address of Ohr Somayach here in
Thornhill (a suburb of Toronto).  There was unfortunately a small 
error in the address:

   Rabbi A. Rothman
   Ohr Somayach
   613 Clark Avenue West
   Thornhill, ON  L4J 5V3

Even easier, just send me a note and I can pass it along to Rabbi Rothman.
I'm in almost daily contact with him.

Henry Abramson             <abramson@...>
University of Toronto


From: <sbechhof@...> (Shoshanah Bechhofer)
Date: Tue, 2 Mar 93 00:32:40 -0500
Subject: Re Motzi Lechem min HaShamayim

	In fact, the Rama MiPano in his Ma'amar Shabosos, quoted in Reb
Yosef Engel's Gilyonei HaShas to Berachos 48b, states explicitly that
the bracha on the Man was HaMotzi Lechem min HaShamayim!
	Reb Yosef Engel has there also a long discourse on the subject
of if and when they bentched on the Man in the Midbar.


From: <dave@...> (David Sherman)
Date: Mon, 1 Mar 93 02:51:49 -0500
Subject: Re: Torah found by Hezekiah

> From: <hsiegel@...> (Howard Siegel)
Hi, Howard.  It's been a while...
> Something we ought to be aware of is that Josiah was the son of Amon,
> who was the son of Manasseh, who was the son of Hezekiah.  Hezekiah was
> a tzaddik, but Manasseh was the most evil king of Judah, and Amon was
> also described as doing "that which was evil in the sight of the Lord,
> as did Manasseh his father."  They were both idolaters, and Manasseh
> especially was described as being a particularly bloody king.  It's
> hardly surprising that during the 55 years of Manasseh's reign and the
> truncated 2 years of Amon's reign much of the Torah had been
> deliberately blotted out.  Even Josiah (who was 8 when he came to the
> throne) was likely to have been unaware of much of the Torah.  Imagine
> the impact of suddenly being faced with that which one has accepted in a
> vague, general way as being true -- but now seeing it in all its
> particulars.

I don't have any problem with this.  But if "much of the Torah had been
deliberately blotted out", how widespread was the knowledge of Torah
over the 55 years?  And, to focus again on my question, what does this
do to the argument that runs, "the tradition of us having received Torah
at Har Sinai must be true, because if it weren't, the generation on
which it was first foisted would have objected, `but we didn't hear that
from our fathers!'"?

Perhaps the correct answer is the one suggested, that the lack of
knowledge of Torah was only within the king's family, and that Bnai
Yisroel as a whole hadn't lost the knowledge.  But does that jibe with
the way the incident is reported in Melachim?

David Sherman

From: <dave@...> (David Sherman)
Date: Sun, 21 Feb 93 19:16:06 EST
Subject: Torah found by Hezekiah

> From: <turkel@...> (Eli Turkel)
>       David Sherman asks about the finding of the scroll in Tanach.  The
> usual explanation is that in the days of hezekiah the book of Devarim
> (Deuteronomy) was found in the Temple. The scholars (ie Sanhedrin) had
> always studied it but it was not familiar to the common people and the
> King. As a consequence when the King found the original he was very
> happy.

My question remains: if the knowledge of Torah remained only with
the scholars, does that not affect the thesis relating to continuous
transmission from parents to children throughout the nation?

David Sherman


End of Volume 6 Issue 55