Monday, December 20, 2010

Torah Values Vs. Halachah

Continuing, and hopefully wrapping up, the topic of organ donation, here is a discussion of my second reason for becoming an organ donor. I would like to reiterate (because people ignored it the first time) that I am NOT issuing a "psak," nor have I even studied the matter thoroughly. But since we all decide whether to sign up as organ donors or not, I am explaining why, until I thoroughly research the topic and reach a final conclusion, in the meanwhile I am signed up.

Although it is not true to say that "where there is a rabbinic will, there is a halachic way," it is true to say that sometimes fundamental Torah values either override halachah or dictate its direction. Now, this is a principle that certainly is and has been open to abuse. For example, although homosexuality is a very difficult topic, one can't simply say that because there are fundamental Torah values of freedom (or whatever) then it should be permissible -- since there is a contrary and explicit Torah value that homosexuality is forbidden. Likewise, to say that because there is a fundamental Torah value of compassion for the downtrodden, therefore it should be halachically permissible to engage in policy X for the Palestinians, may ignore the fact that there are contrary halachic principles regarding Eretz Yisrael and/or Jewish welfare. So if there was a clear and unequivocal position in Judaism that brain death is not death and organ donation is prohibited, one could not use the idea of fundamental Torah values to override it.

But we do see that there is a concept of the spirit of the law that is not always in accord with the letter of the law - a perfect example is naval b'reshus haTorah. And we also see that Poskim will in some cases have a clear direction in which they direct their halachic conclusion - for example, with certain question of niddah or agunah. Furthermore, while I don't think it is even necessary to invoke it for this case, there have been authorities who have explicitly said that there are Torah values that are even more fundamental than halachah and override it. Ironically, this occurred with the first Charedim! R. Yisrael David Margaliyot-Jaffe Schlesinger, a disciple of Chassam Sofer, made this argument in order to justify issuing rulings that were not founded in halachah; see Michael Silber, "The Emergence of Ultra-Orthodoxy: The Invention of a Tradition," p. 54 (although this did meet with opposition!) Dr. Marc Shapiro discussed how R. Moshe Shmuel Glasner considered certain values to be more fundamental than halachah and thus override it, and how even Rav Soloveitchik - the Halachic Man - wrote that "the halakhic inquiry, like any other cognitive theoretical performance, does not start out from the point of absolute zero as to sentimental attitudes and value judgments. There always exists in the mind of the researcher an ethico-axiological background against which the contours of the subject matter in question stand out more clearly."

So, getting back to the topic of organ donation, and incorporating the "common-sense principle" discussed by Rabbi Dr. RMH, here's how I would apply it:

1. It is a fundamental Torah value to save lives. Lo ta'amod al dam reyecha. And several lives can be saved by organ donation from a brain-dead person.

2. It is established beyond reasonable doubt that all thoughts, feelings, etc., occur in the brain, and not anywhere else in the body.

3. It is established beyond reasonable doubt that someone who is brain-dead is not coming back. Ever. Forget about all the medical miracle stories - it's not happening in this case.

4. The halachic status of brain-death cannot be clearly derived from Chazal; there are disputes as to which inferences to make from their words, and in any case they had a fundamentally different medical reality as well as conception of physiology.

So you have someone who is certainly effectively dead, who is dead by virtually every measure, who left instructions with HODS that he himself wants to be considered dead in such circumstances, and who even from a halachic perspective can well be argued to be dead. By doing so, several lives - real lives, of people who can feel and think and speak and act and who do mitzvos and who want to live and who have families who want them to live - will be saved. That is the final, tremendous act of chessed that the departed wanted to do - making his unavoidable death save the lives of others. Surely that is clearly what Hashem wants, what Chazal would have wanted, and the direction that the halachah should take.


You can learn more about being an organ donor, and sign up, at www.hods.org.

57 comments:

  1. Rabbi Slifkin -

    Israel recently passed a law that organ donors and their families will receive preferential treatment if they are in need of organs. This "pikuach nefesh" (though not with a choleh right in front of us) seems to be a shikul as well.

    Does HODS coordinate with the government database for this purpose?

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  2. Thanks for this post as I think you've gotten to the nub of the issue (given you've already debated the "why not wait till you've investigated issue"). R'YBS would point out how much flexibility chachmei hamesora have - but of course once there is flexibility in the system the question is who can use it and where.

    I had an exchange on Cross Currents last week on this (I'm debating on whether to continue it since prior experience is that we talk past each other or something)

    "2.you (R' Adlerstein) said" A host of responses pelted a fire with snowballs. They may have been cathartic exercises, but you can’t answer arguments based on halachic sources with statements that Judaism espouses certain universal values, and upholds the dignity of all people. That may be true – but you still have not addressed the halachic issue. What they may be conveying is their belief in that worn mischaracterization of halacha, “where there is a rabbinic will, there is a halachic way.”

    I responded -Would you accept the following “where there is enough concern among leading rabbinic decisors, there is generally a halachic way to remediate the situation”. WADR I think the halachic world has overreacted to the “worn mischaracterization” by an overstated counter position that implies halacha is totally objective and the Rabbi is just a technician who does the input and out pops the answer . IMHO this is not the case and maintaining this fiction rather than explaining why the Rabbis have not seen it appropriate to change something at this point.

    [R'YA responded – 2. You are getting closer, but I don’t think we are there yet. You still create too much expectation when you offer a general hope of remediation. I don’t think that this is true. It varies entirely with the topic. (The original formulation, BTW, was subsequently dropped by the original author.) It is simply not the case that if you are a woman seeking to have an extramarital fling that you can sell your husband to a non-Jew for a few months. Similarly, Yitz Greenberg’s suggestion decades ago that we remedy the problem of raging teen hormones by sending unmarried girls to mikvah once a month was foolish, as R Aharon Lichtenstein pointed out at the time. There are, in many areas of halacha, opinions that can be relied upon when pushed; there are other areas where there are on such opinions. There are also opinions that have so little support that they simply have no place in halachic reckoning. The only people who pay any attention to them are those on the far left who employ a different halachic strategy that no seasoned ben Torah would regard as having any legitimacy.

    (Me , not posted-I don't really see his response as a general answer-just saying who can use the power and who can't?)

    KT
    Joel Rich

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  3. Doesn't the Rambam believe most mitzvot (at least) are a means to an end, that we can know that end and perhaps the mechanism by which that end is reached? In such a case, wouldn't the spirit of the law require we optimize the letter of the law so the purpose of the mitzvot is most effectively fulfilled?

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  4. Just as a reality check (as of Dec 2007):

    "In Israel the rate of organ-donation agreement is only 45 percent, a rate that is about 50 percent lower than in most Western countries. The percentage of signatories that have a donor card ("ADI" cards) in Israel is only 8 percent; in Western countries the percentage of signatories to similar cards is 30-40 percent. With a rate similar to that in the West, we would be able immediately to double the number of organ transplants each year, and to shorten the waiting list, which now stands at about 1,000 patients, in just a few years."

    http://tinyurl.com/3amswau

    My sister required a transplant in chul, so I have some personal views on the subject irrespective of the entertaining pilpul.

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  5. My sister required a transplant in chul, so I have some personal views on the subject irrespective of the entertaining pilpul.

    People who have personal experiences with organ transplants and whose lives or the lives of someone very close to them were either saved by an organ donor or were greatly enhanced (eg going from blind to seeing with eyes donated) by an organ donor are the ones who have little doubt in regard to what Hashem, Chazal and the Torah would want in this regard (being that neither the Torah nor Chazal spelled it out clearly). Being subjective is not negative in this case. As Rabbi Slifkin pointed out in another post a few weeks ago, we are ALL biased in some way. Being human, Rabbonim are biased as well. Rabbonim would do well to visit and speak with recipients of organ donations before coming up with a definitive psak. And this goes for all areas of halacha. Halacha does not operate in a vacuum and is not a dry set of numerical or mathematical principals, where 1 = 1. If a Rov has NO exposure to people whose lives would be directly affected by the rendering of his psak, it is just as problematic as if he himself would be directly affected by the rendering of his psak, such as if he himself were waiting to be the recipient of an organ donation which would save his life or the life of his child.

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  6. I still have not gotten an answer to my question. If(please tell me if Im wrong) noone says you are killing someone if you do NOT donate your organs, but there are who say you ARE killing someone if you DO donate your organs, it would seem that better not to kill someone.

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  7. 'Doesn't the Rambam believe most mitzvot (at least) are a means to an end, that we can know that end and perhaps the mechanism by which that end is reached? In such a case, wouldn't the spirit of the law require we optimize the letter of the law so the purpose of the mitzvot is most effectively fulfilled?'

    Rambam believes that Torah is the most perfect law that will ever exist and as such cannot require any 'optimization'. Taamei HaMitzvos by and large are deduced by us the people. To put the two together we have to understand and contextualize the Torah. Rambam's taamei haMitzvos are not meant to be exhaustive. He shows us the way. I have my own taamim which I haven't seen anywhere. Rambam writes that he had learned every book on avoda zorah that he could find. What was his motivation? Maybe he felt a conflict between human values and Torah's uncompromising stance on the issue. After he understood the depth of evil of avodah zora he came to fully identify with Torah attitude. I had this problem myself because I have Hindu friends. I followed in Rambam's footsteps and read many books on various forms of idol worship. I discovered things that I never learned in school and came to completely share Rambam's view.

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  8. Brain-dead Washington woman comes back to life, at KGW news:

    http://www.kgw.com/news/local/Brain-dead-Washington-woman-comes-back-to-life-105635108.html

    There's an organ-donor twist to this story that's pretty cool!

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  9. This story, about a man this time, is pretty wild, too:
    http://www.metro.co.uk/news/world/126081-brain-dead-victim-comes-back-to-life

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  10. Phil - Read Dr. Noam Stadman's article on Hirhurim. Nobody ever comes back from true brain death. That doesn't mean that there aren't misdiagnoses of brain death, just as there are misdiagnoses of cardiac death.

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  11. By doing so, several lives - real lives, of people who can feel and think and speak and act and who do mitzvos and who want to live and who have families who want them to live - will be saved.

    I'm assuming that you don't really mean to say that only the lives of Shomer Mitzvot Jews should be saved via organ donation.

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  12. Rambam believes that Torah is the most perfect law that will ever exist and as such cannot require any 'optimization'.

    I assume you're only referring to d'oryta commandments since laws made by people can definitely be mistaken or need "optimization".

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  13. Come on, you must know me by now.

    Sure your regular readers do, but others may not understand.

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  14. Obviously I did not mean to say that only the lives of Shomer Mitzvot Jews should be saved via organ donation.

    Incidentally, atheist Jews do mitzvos too. They might not consider them as such, but they do them.

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  15. I hate to do this to you, but just to make it clear to your non-regular readers, what if your heart goes to an idolater, or other non-Jew? There are plenty of them here in Israel, not to mention the US or Europe.

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  16. What about Nachri'im? Do we go down the rationalist medical halachist route of using the Meiri to sanction the issur de'oraysa of nivul hameis (he uses it for Shabbos, but 'haynu hach'?

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  17. Incidentally, atheist Jews do mitzvos too. They might not consider them as such, but they do them.

    So do or can do the gentiles. I have no problem donating to whomever. What they do afterwards is their free choice and doesn't concern me but I think that an organ recipient is likely to be affected in a positive way by the experience and to become a better person

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  18. 'I assume you're only referring to d'oryta commandments since laws made by people can definitely be mistaken or need "optimization"'

    I think that Rambam means ALL dinei Torah as long as Beis Din HaGodol was functioning. See Hakdoma Lepeirush HaMishna. However, I am not sure of my position. Maybe he means until chasimas hatalmud. I am week in this area. I need to be meayen shom.

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  19. "I still have not gotten an answer to my question. If(please tell me if Im wrong) noone says you are killing someone if you do NOT donate your organs, but there are who say you ARE killing someone if you DO donate your organs, it would seem that better not to kill someone'

    Eddie, we are not trying to be yoitze kol hadeos. Think of Beis Shamai and Beis Hillel's machlokes about mamzerus. They were not trying to be yoizei kol hadeos either, rather each one did what they believed to be right.

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  20. "Nobody ever comes back from true brain death. That doesn't mean that there aren't misdiagnoses of brain death, just as there are misdiagnoses of cardiac death."

    Are you assuming that if you were diagnosed as being brain-dead, chas v'shalom, the doctors were diagnosing you properly? What if...

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  21. Are you assuming that if you were diagnosed as being brain-dead, chas v'shalom, the doctors were diagnosing you properly? What if...

    That's one of my wife's many reasons for refusing to sign a donor card. As a physician she doesn't trust the reliability of the methods used for establishing brain death.

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  22. Are you assuming that if you were diagnosed as being brain-dead, chas v'shalom, the doctors were diagnosing you properly? What if...

    They might misdiagnose me with heart-death, too, and bury me alive. It's been known to happen (but not to me).

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  23. 'What about Nachri'im? Do we go down the rationalist medical halachist route of using the Meiri to sanction the issur de'oraysa of nivul hameis (he uses it for Shabbos, but 'haynu hach'?


    Absolutely! Just like we treat their sick on Shabbos, put out their fires and fight in their armies. IIRC this has been addressed by the poskim from the times of the Rishoinim.

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  24. 'Are you assuming that if you were diagnosed as being brain-dead, chas v'shalom, the doctors were diagnosing you properly? What if...'

    I am assuming that your question is in earnest. In a situation like this I would think that more than one specialist can be consulted. If everyone agrees - it's over otherwise ein ledovar sof. What problem does your wife see here?

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  25. "They might misdiagnose me with heart-death, too"

    Err, doesn't that just strengthen the argument that Robert's wife makes?

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  26. Similarly, Yitz Greenberg’s suggestion decades ago that we remedy the problem of raging teen hormones by sending unmarried girls to mikvah once a month was foolish, as R Aharon Lichtenstein pointed out at the time.

    This is too bizarre! Where can I read up on it? I am scandalized!

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  27. Carol, regarding RamBam, my understanding was that he felt gezirot, etc. made by the Sanhedrin could be mistaken or no longer logically valid due to changing circumstances, but that due to the supreme legal authority of the Sanhedrin it's statutes are binding forever until repealed by a subsequent Sanhedrin. Just my personal understanding though.

    Regarding my wife's reasons, I'm not a physician but what I do understand is like this. She questions the scientific reliability of the protocols used to establish brain death, she feels they are not 100% reliable and in fact may be significantly less than 100% reliable. Second, even with a perfectly reliable protocol, Dr's are human and make mistakes, quite a few of them and quite often. There are many many sloppy Dr's in the system who just don't care what happens to the patients as long as it doesn't affect them. Third, corruption. There are huge amounts of money potentially involved in organ donation and plenty of corrupt doctors with absolutely no ethical standards. There have been plenty of incidents published both in the US and Israel. The first heart transplant in Israel was done without the consent or knowledge of the "donor" or his family. The former head of Abu Kabir, Prof. Yehuda Hiss, harvested organs from Israeli soldiers and even had a collection of skulls taken from soldiers, yet no serious disciplinary action has ever been taken against him. The list goes on and on, including both authorized "under the table" and unauthorized Euthanasia, both of which are illegal.

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  28. Robert, so tell me what to do?
    There is corruption everywhere politics, military, academia, professions, trades, rabbinate. As Ben-Gurion used to say: 'Im anashim kaele lech tivne medina'! How to live? Shev veal taase? If you can't beat them join them? Acharai mabul? Help me out here please.

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  29. No one call tell you what do, but I can say always do your own research, ask lots of questions and for anything that's non-trivial get a second and third opinion. Oh, and stay away from dr's and hospitals as much as possible - they're dangerous to your health.

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  30. ER, does it mean that you agree that if three independent medical authorities agree that a patient is brain dead we can rely on their opinion? Is your wife cool with this?

    You still have not given us your take on organ donation. I want to know.

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  31. On the specific issue of organ donation I personally don't feel comfortable with it and don't know if there is any chance I would ever sign up for it due to the issues I brought up previously. The only organs I would consider donating would be things like corneas which can be taken after the person is dead in the traditional sense, i.e. no pulse, no respiration for an extended period of time.

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  32. "Although it is not true to say that "where there is a rabbinic will, there is a halachic way," it is true to say . . . ."

    I must disagree with this statement categoricaly. It is most certainly a fact that when there's a rabbinic will, there's a halachic way. Indeed, I challenge you to explain, in a separate post or otherwise, how you can say this. All of rabbinic literature and halachic literature shows us that the halacha is whatever we wish to make of it.

    Black and white verses in the Torah - such as the commandment not to have chametz - were easily circumvented when it proved necessary.

    Likewise verses nullifying loans during shemittah. Poof, they vanished when society wanted it to vanish.

    Prohibitions against taking money for learning Torah - easily swept away when some rabbis wanted to establish koillels.

    Likewise, prohibitions against working the land during shemittah. Poof, up comes heter mechirah.

    There are manhy instances in shas when tannaim literally made up new halachos on the spot in order to get a desired effect. When Rabban Gamliel wanted to lower the price of birds brought as korbanos after doubtful pregnancies, for example. (BB).

    Halachas of mourning, like ituf, fell away when it became clear they were no longer wanted.

    Again, no serious talmid chacham or scholar can deny that when there's a rabbinic will, there's a halcachic way. The only reason some attempt to deny this is because the most vocal proponent - indeed, the formulator of the phrase - is a feminist with views that a lot of people [myself included] find abhorrent. But though her goals may be wrong, it doesnt mean the point she makes is wrong.

    Other than certain statements of hubris I didnt like [and your beleif in global warming], this is the first time I feel you have made a serious error on this blog, and I respectfully challenge you to back it up.

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  33. R' Natan, have you read the chapter in Rabbi Dr. JJ Schacter's PHD disertation about the correspondence btwn Rav Yaakov Emden and Moses MEndelssohn regarding immediate burials?

    This is a very interesting study in a little known episode of Chazal vs the science of the day, & how to deal with such conflicts.

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  34. DF:
    So you think the reason for not finding a way out of the agunah ordeal is because they are men dealing with a "feminist" issueand they therefore give it less attention or importance? Please tell me you're joking. If there was a way, it would have been found. Not everything gets loopholed to suit our fancy. The examples you gave are good examples. I'm sure there are others that did not turn out to benefit those who wanted heterim or loopholes. I doubt the gay community isn't happy about there being no loopholes for them to engage in their depravity either. Sometimes it's just how the cookie crumbles.

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  35. DF, I certainly agree that in many cases, a rabbinic will created a halachic way. But I don't think that it's always possible.

    By the way, can you email me?

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  36. DF, are you saying it's always possible?

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  37. Jenny, that law is simply good sense for a couple of reasons.

    1) It reduces the Free Rider Effect. There is always more demand for organs than there is supply. If there are incentives to donate participation will increase. Otherwise donations will continue to fall, especially if there are religious disincentives. This could well lead to the collapse of the donation program.

    2) It's a matter of simple justice. Those who are willing to contribute should benefit from the system. Those who are capable but unwilling should not enjoy a higher priority. Those who are willing but unable - people with active cancers, infectious diseases and the like - would fall in the first group. This is not analogous to charities which collect money. For the most part we all come with the same equipment. The willingness to use "all needed organs or tissues" is the same for all.

    3) The reputation of Jews. Some rabbis have stated that the observant may receive life-saving organs from any source but may not donate. Theology aside this makes Jews appear very bad - happy to take but unwilling to give even that for which they have no use. Whatever the religious rationale it plays into the worst stereotypes of our people.

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  38. I should have brought this up earlier but didn't enter the discussion until late...

    The principle that we should not kill people in order to harvest their organs is a sound one. Almost anything may be done to save a life. Murder is one of the clear exceptions. The principle is that the heart, the organ responsible for cognition and volition (with modification by the kidneys), provides the standard. If the heart beats, the person lives.

    As a guiding principle this makes perfect sense. The only caution is that if the organ responsible for consciousness and will is not the heart we should modify the specifics of the law in light of the new information.

    I cannot speak to the nature of the soul, its physical location if any or its part in the ancient dualist/monist debates about consciousness. Not my subject. Can't measure it. Wouldn't know where to start. But I'm not completely uninformed about biology and scientific methods. Here's a case where Occam's Razor or in my case Occam's Chainsaw may be useful.

    We have know for 43 years that the heart is not the seat of the mind or consciousness. When Dr. Christian Barnaard performed the first heart transplant his patient had the same mind and memories as he had before the operation. He did not take on the character of the donor.

    To take this a step further, if the Chazal were right, people with no heart should perforce be mindless and soulless. I cannot speak to the second, but the heart-lung machine has been in existence for almost sixty years. Implantable artificial hearts like the Jarvik-7 have kept people alive for months. The patients were conscious and coherent until they received new hearts or succumbed to other conditions.

    The objection that heart-consciousness is modified by the action of the kidneys is similarly disproved. The effects of kidney transplants have been well studied. Severely modified cognitive function and personal identity are not among them.

    While patients who have received heart-kidney transplants are rare they do exist. Again, they seem to maintain their identities and mental functions by all measurable criteria.

    On the other hand, we have incontrovertible evidence of the brain's central role consciousness. We certainly do not know everything. We have only begun to develop the tools to start asking many of the more interesting questions. Our knowledge of exactly how it is responsible for all manner of cognitive and emotional functions quite literally fills libraries.

    Given this, the contention that the heart or the heart and kidneys are responsible for mental function and identity fail. The mind is not located in these organs nor are they in any way necessary for its maintenance.

    The ancient pre-scientific beliefs have been replaced with more accurate information.

    The Chazal's guiding principle is valid. Their identification of the governing organ was absolutely wrong.

    Hammer. Nail. Bang.

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  39. Please forgive me if this is a duplicate post. I got an odd error message on submission...

    If I've followed the arguments correctly the guiding principle is that the heart with the help of the kidneys is the seat of the mind, will, consciousness and the physical location of the soul. The principle makes obvious sense. We should not murder in order to save a life. Removing vital organs while the one responsible for volition and cognition still works would be murder.

    I can't speak to the soul and don't want to rehash the old monist/dualist consciousness debate.

    Let's just consider the mind.

    In 1950 Ruth Tucker received the first kidney transplant.

    In 1967 Dr. Christian Barnaard performed the first heart transplant.

    While they are rare, heart-kidney transplants are not unknown.

    In none of these cases does the recipient have his mind replaced by that of the donor. Mental function, identity, memory and the rest remain as they were.

    On the other hand what we know about the brain quite literally fills libraries. We don't have all the answers and in many cases have only the vaguest idea of how to ask the questions. But the evidence that the brain is the seat of consciousness and volition is overwhelmingly established. We know much of it down to the molecular level.

    The guiding principles used by the Chazal were right.

    Their facts were absolutely wrong.

    Hammer. Nail. Bang.

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  40. Todd, you nailed it.

    RS, didn't you pasken that poshuter is bal yeroeh uval imoze?

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  41. Carol: I dont know what you mean really, but RS is hardly in a position to pasken anything, nor are you. And btw, if you are female, "nashim daaten kalos rosh". So shush.

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  42. Hey Poshiter Yid,

    בא נראה, אתם אפילו לא יודעים את ההבדל בין זית לביצה, אז אולי יותר טוב להגיד

    אשקנזים דעתם קלות ראש

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  43. Carol and Poshiter Yid - yes, it is always possible. I already gave two examples where explict pesukim are ignored. Other pesukim, such as "an eye for an eye" or "uparshu ha-simla" are creatively interpreted to reach a more palatable result than the Torah itself says. There are scores of examples. The reason no loophole is found for homosexuals is because there's no popular demand for it. The agunah issue is vastly more complicated, and I shan't be discussing it here.

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  44. DF: There is no popular demand for it? That's funny. Si if enough gays and lesbians raise a stink, there will soon be a heter to engage in sodomy? Good one. Got any more?

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  45. Todd writes: "To take this a step further, if the Chazal were right, people with no heart should perforce be mindless and soulless."

    When Jerusalem was destroyed, the center of Jewish law moved to Yavneh. Who can say for sure that if the heart is removed, the soul doesn't simply pick up and move to another part of the body?

    (My question is rhetorical only; it doesn't necessarily reflect what I believe.)

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  46. RS is the mara deasra on this site so he can pasken.

    'And btw, if you are female, "nashim daaten kalos rosh". So shush.'

    I was waiting for this substantive reply. Very persuasive! I don't have a problem with this maamar Chazal because I contextualize it. Rambam felt this way too. When I learn Rambam with my daughter and we get to something like 'noshim, ktanim veshoitim' we laugh that we are in good company. However, in the 21st century I would like to think of myself and to be thought of not as a female, or a nekeva, or a wibel, or a chasicha deissura but as a human being. Think about and tell me if you can.


    Kind Regads

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  47. DF: There is no popular demand for it? That's funny. Si if enough gays and lesbians raise a stink, there will soon be a heter to engage in sodomy? Good one. Got any more?

    Firstly, I object to your crude language.
    Secondly, why can't we say that Torah only forbids homosexual relations for straight people. If you are not straight it cannot possibly be talking about you.

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  48. @Poshiter Yid: Please clearly define the meaning of "Noshim Daytam Kalot." Does this mean they have lower IQ, poorer reasoning capabilities, or something else?

    So this does not appear like me trying to trap you, I will inform you that in intellectual regards women and men are essentially the same. The claim that there is a difference in mathematical abilities has been debunked (Nicole M. Else-Quest, Janet Shibley Hyde, Marcia C. Linn. Cross-National Patterns of Gender Differences in Mathematics: A Meta-Analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 2010; 136 (1): 103-127 DOI: 10.1037/a0018053; Nicole M. Else-Quest, Janet Shibley Hyde, Marcia C. Linn. Cross-national patterns of gender differences in mathematics: A meta-analysis.. Psychological Bulletin, 2010; 136 (1): 103 DOI: 10.1037/a0018053) and the only significant difference appears to be that men (probably because of the influence of testosterone) tend to be better at spatial perception and manipulation, while women tend to have better interpersonal abilities.

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  49. Carol, no I can not say "human beings", becasue you assume we are all equal when you say that. We are not. If we were, women would be counted for a minyan, qualify as witnesses, and be able to obtain smicha. They can not, nor will will they.

    DF: We can't say it refers to straight people because the Torah does not differentiate between the two. There are no "relationships" or love or good warm fuzzies in Torah. It says a man can not lay with a man as with a woman. You can't infer anything but what it says. So if a man would lay with a woman and not have sex but just put his arm around her, then 2 men can not do that either. It's very simple. Stop complicating things.

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  50. I don't see any crude language. What are you referring to? Sodomy? That's only crude by definition. Do you know a better word? Maybe you wish to call it "making love" between 2 men? Please. There is no such thing as men loving men, it's an illusion created by the yetzer hara. There is no such thing as gay or straight, only permitted and forbidden sexual acts. You need a reality check thru the eyes of Torah, not Freud.

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  51. Poshter, by your logic gentiles are not human beings either? Also, how do you understand bina yesera?

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  52. Maverick: Once again you bring up non-Torah sources to argue against Torah. Can't be done. All the metaphysics and science and whatevers mean nothing in comparison to a single word of Gemara. In any battle, Torah reigns supreme. So if the Chazal said the Earth is flat, and we have scentifically proven that it is not, all that means is either 1 of 2 things.
    1) We misunderstand the words of Chazal, or
    2) We haven't "proven" any such thing.

    Why do you continue to place more faith and belief in goyishe thinking and "proofs" than in divrei Chazal and the Torah itself. If Chazal said it, is our obligation to buy it, lock stock & barrel, without question.

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  53. Physicians have admitted that they have a bias concerning organ donors. For instance, the yetzer hara says to them, "Ploni is a goses. Take advantage of a fresh kidney or whathaveyou - while you have the chance! - and you'll be richer than you are now!" This is akin to murde. It often happens, and is likely to continue to happen.

    See here for an interesting story: http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/new_york/rca_backs_stand_brain_death_transplants

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  54. What non-Jews are or aren't is not my concern at all. What they are, how they live, and what they say has no bearing on Torah. Clearly without Torah they are less than a Jew is in God's eyes.
    And I have no idea what a binah yeseira is, other than the plain meaning.
    Is there anything you guys don't overanalyze?

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  55. Carol, no I can not say "human beings", because you assume we are all equal when you say that. We are not.

    I am thinking of the Mishnah: 'Omar Rabbi Akiva haoviv odom shenivrah bezelem and Moreh(I:1) where the word zelem is explained.

    Poshuter, who is the 'odom'?

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  56. Rationalist man, what is your conclusion? Nobody should be a donor? Tell me.

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