I have been a supporter of planned organ donation my whole adult life. I applaud you for movingly showing its value and advocating its widespread adoption. In my opinion, it is the highest possible form of tzedakah.

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You portray a heavy halachic shailah as though it were nothing more than merely an intellectual vs emotional issue, and then blare your own "psak" in an area where even learned poskim, whose entire lives are steeped in halacha, are hesitant to tread. Come on, man. The hubris is just incredible.

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I agree with almost all your opinions, but it is untrue that an animal's head has ever been transplanted onto another animal of the same species. It is inconceivable that in the near future, a human head transplant could ever work. The numerous biological complexities of such an operation have not at all been solved.

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Halacha has already changed to account for current knowledge. Everyone is familiar with the Gemarah in Shabbat that describes what's to be done if a wall collapses on someone on Shabbat. As I recall, the procedure is to excavate just enough to determine if the victim is breathing. If he isn't, no further excavation is allowed. Is there ANY Hatzala organization from Kiryas Yoel to Meah Shearim that would not dig the victim ompletly out and start chest compressions?

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"I have a chapter explaining in much greater detail why brain death should halachically be considered as death"

Is this in the same sense that you "discovered" that the impossibility of extinction is "the universal view of all religious authorities, Jewish and Christian, from the times of the Rishonim into the 19th Century, as discussed in [my book]".

Just asking.


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It’s almost as if this post was written completely from personal feelings and logic. And the Torah, and even the science (“ Full head transplants have been successfully performed in monkeys and dogs, and are certainly possible with humans;”) have been stated as generalizations or completely ignored.

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Regardless of halachic issues surrounding organ donation, the publicising of these images crosses all bounds of taste, dignity, and decency. People will differ over whether the concept of listening to your mother's heart in someone else's body is in itself edifying or creepy, but it is certainly not the sort of thing that should be done in front of a camera and shared on social media under any circumstances ever.

This is far from the only bizarre example of mawkish voyeurism to emerge from this Reality TV Shiva and Shloshim, and some will no doubt respond that the family themselves do not object, perhaps are even encouraging it. I do not know whether this is true or not and who can judge people in such grief? But I do know that when they have had a chance to heal they will regret that their period of mourning looked like this and that so many people looking for a five minute dopamine hit facilitated it.

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For 1, separation of church and state. Do the Rabbis clearly state that their opinion is based on religious dogma alone? For 2, very very often halakha is not ethical at all. E.g., nida is irrelevant to any1 but orthodox Jews.

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Some Questions Relating to the Lack of Pulse and Respiration as the Halachic Criteria of Death.

Scenario 1: A man, R”L, goes into cardiac arrest in shul on shabbos. He is unconscious and has no detectable pulse or respiration.

1. Is he alive or dead?

2. If he is dead, are we allowed to be mechalel shabbos to resuscitate him? If we are permitted to do so, why?

3. If he is considered to be still alive, what then constitutes death?

4. If there is a minimum time requirement for lack of pulse and respiration, what is it? What is the makor in chazal?

5. Is his wife an almonah? Can she collect her kesubah? Can she remarry without a get?

6. Do his children inherit him?

7. If 5 and 6 do not apply, why not?

Scenario 2: A man enters the hospital for scheduled by-pass surgery. In the normal course of the surgery, his heart is stopped and his lungs are deflated. A device (called a heart-lung machine) now oxygenates and circulates his blood. Upon completion of the critical part of the surgery, the machine is removed and his heart and lungs are re started.

1. Was he alive or dead during the surgery?

2. If he was considered to be still alive, why?

3. His heart and lungs were stopped for over an hour. If there is a minimum time requirement for lack of pulse and respiration, is it more than that?

4. Is his wife an almonah? Can she collect her kesubah? Can she remarry without a get?

5. Do his children inherit him?

6. If 4 and 5 do not apply, why not?

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Rabbi Slifkin I enjoy many of your articles but this one is crummy,in the sense that it is only giving crumbs of your book. While you are not obligated to give everything you wrote in your book on a subject, here you only gave feelings. Honestly, I never knew, and I'm not yet certain, that this is a mystical- rational argument. Your explanation here as well,is an emotional explanation of the heart. What we need to know is what power it has regarding the brain.

Maybe the seforim and shiurim I've heard on the subject are mistaken, but you didn't answer their main point that people have come back from brain death. They don't say, as you seem to insinuate here, that a heart beating is Life.

What you can say is

1- stories are lies

2- those were miracles like people coming back after full death ( if those stories are true) and we don't worry in Halacha about isolated miracles

3- doctors mistake about brain death and that is beyond unusual.

There are other rational sounding arguments ( our instruments are not strong enough to judge brain death) which never sounded mystical to me. True you don't have to enter every argument your book says but enough of the subject should be touched that it shouldn't look like pr for the book. By the way, only in your response to a comment did you mention that this is a mystical-rational issue, in the article that's only at most hinted to by the title of book you tell us to see. Your articles in general are well worked through and your point usually very clear.

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It is the brain, not the heart which directs the hand to act, the mouth to pray. A person with an artificial heart is still alive, still the same person and not a robot.

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