Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Clarification on Jewish-to-Gentile Organ Donation

A couple of times over the last couple of days, I've alluded to the notion that there is a halakhic question about whether an Orthodox Jew can donate (post-mortem*) an organ to a non-Jew. I've now become convinced that there is no question, at least in practice. The Halachic Organ Donor Society boasts a number of prominent rabbis as members and maintains that the religion (or lack thereof) of the organ recipient is irrelevant.

They offer 5 reasons why donating organs to the general population is okay according to halakha. The only one which is explicitly anti-racist is presented as a "could be:"
(1) [That the Torah considers the life of a non-Jew to be less valuable than that of a Jew] could be challenged on the Torah basis that "all of mankind was created in the image of God."

The other 4 are (I paraphrase): (2) that today's non-Jews, especially monotheistic ones, are not in the same category as the non-Jews referred to in the Talmud; (3) that we fear donating only to Jews would cause enmity between non-Jews and Jews; (4) that your organ could end up in a Jew; and (5) that by donating to a non-Jew, the Jews on the waiting list get bumped up.

(2) could be read as not being racist and, if you stretch, as not being anti-non-child-sacrificing-pagans, but 3-5 are really justifications for why one can donate even if the fact that the recipient(s) potential non-Jewishness is a problem. It seems clear to me from the Talmud cited that Orthodox Judaism does fundamentally find a non-Jewish life somehow less valuable, but that in practice, it does not rule that way. This speaks well of Orthodox Judaism as practiced, but should raise serious questions about the underlying dogma of OJ.

Kudos to HODS and the rabbis affiliated with it for taking such proactive action to save lives.


* What constitutes death for the purposes of organ donation is a matter of debate, with many rabbis holding a stricter view than does the medical establishment.

26 comments:

CyberKitten said...

How strange... I didn't realise that such things as Jewish - or Gentile - kidneys etc.. actually existed?

I mean - how could you tell the difference post mortem?

What about blood transfusions?

Keebo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jewish Atheist said...

What about blood transfusions?

The issue is the desecration of the corpse, which is normally sinful but ok (as most sins are) if you're doing it to save a life. The question answered above is whether that's true only if you're saving a Jew, or if it goes for gentiles as well.

Jewish Atheist said...

(So to answer your question, there's no problem with blood transfusions.)

Ezzie said...

All around us, we see the danger of people feeling "superior" to other people.

LOL. From a guy who thinks he's superior to anyone who practices religion, this is hilarious.

ANYWAY... regarding the post: I care FAR more about how people practice than what their motives are, so long as those motives will not be affecting me at any point.

Keebo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
"Rich Perkins" said...

Along the same lines, I never understood the OJ line of thinking that "your body is God's and you have no right to give it away". However, these same people will allow one to donate a kidney.

So do they mean it is ok to give away parts of your body that are not 100% necessary?

seems to me a heart, liver etc. would be pretty unecessary once you're dead and they should be given away to save lives.

littlefoxling said...

And don’t forget. The life of a man is worth more than the life of a women, the priest more than the levi, the levi more than the Israelite, Israelite than a mamzer, a mamzer than an Nissin, Nissin to a convert, and convert to a freed slave. But, the life of the Rabbi is the more valuable than all. See Horios 3:7

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/b/h/h4a.htm

,ז האיש קודם לאישה להחיות, ולהשיב אבידה. והאישה קודמת לאיש לכסות, ולהוציא מבית השבי; ובזמן ששניהן עומדין בקלקלה, האיש קודם לאישה.
ג,ח כוהן קודם ללוי, לוי לישראל, ישראל לממזר, וממזר לנתין, ונתין לגר, וגר לעבד משוחרר. אימתיי, בזמן שכולן שווין; אבל אם היה ממזר תלמיד חכמים, וכוהן גדול עם הארץ--ממזר תלמיד חכמים קודם לכוהן גדול עם הארץ.


And, your life and mine are the cheapest of all – they’d actually kill us if they could.

CyberKitten said...

JA said: The issue is the desecration of the corpse, which is normally sinful but ok (as most sins are) if you're doing it to save a life. The question answered above is whether that's true only if you're saving a Jew, or if it goes for gentiles as well.

Thanks for the clarification.

Jewish Atheist said...

Ezzie:

ANYWAY... regarding the post: I care FAR more about how people practice than what their motives are, so long as those motives will not be affecting me at any point.

Of course. I feel the same way. However, I do feel that the fact that the question even had to be raised in the Talmud provides some evidence that the underlying dogma is false. One of many reasons I think Orthodox Judaism is factually incorrect.

This is just one example of how Orthodox Jews have to overcome the underlying dogma in order to be the best people they can be. Orthodox Jews are among the best people I know, but when halakha conflicts (or appears to conflict) with morality, they're in a bind and usually side with halakha. That's my chief complaint.

Ezzie said...

One of many reasons I think Orthodox Judaism is factually incorrect.

But that doesn't make sense. Whether or not it conflicts with what you deem to be moral has nothing to do with the facts of whether it is or is not correct.

Jewish Atheist said...

Only if you think the idea that a Jew is no more worthy of an organ donation than a non-Jew is completely arbitrary. If Orthodox Judaism is factually correct, then God is (by my standards and by the standards of most modern people, including most MO Jews) immoral. And if God is immoral, OJ can't really be factually correct. It's reductio ad absurdum.

Holy Hyrax said...

This has nothing to do with factually incorrect but how they derived and extracted certain principles which seem foreign to us in our age. They asked the questions hypothetically: Is donation allowed? If it is, then to whom? A Jew or non-jew or both? Issues were obviously very much influenced by their times and dealings with gentiles. Legal experts if I am correct also extract things from text and it probably seem just as foreign to some guy that has been living in a communist regime all his life. Your problem JA, is that you confuse everything for being Gods will instead of it being mans attempt at a legal system.

>And, your life and mine are the cheapest of all – they’d actually kill us if they could.

No, they would not kill you. This from what I understood deals with who do you prioritize when saving a life. Its similar to our: woman and children first. We have our calculations and they had theirs. Obviously nothing is every concrete. And every situation is handling according to its own circumstances.

Jewish Atheist said...

HH:

Your problem JA, is that you confuse everything for being Gods will instead of it being mans attempt at a legal system.

Don't you have it backwards? I see it as man's attempt at a legal system, in which what we now see as immorality made perfect sense to the framers, if you will. OJs, however, see it as part of, and based on, the Torah, which is from God Himself. In which case, that it's immoral from a modern perspective makes no sense, unless the modern idea that Jews are no more valuable than non-Jews is incorrect.

Holy Hyrax said...

Is something like a gzerah and takanah also from God?

Jewish Atheist said...

I've leave that for the rabbis to decide. :-) There's enough in the Torah proper for me to believe that a moral God couldn't have written it.

Holy Hyrax said...

Fine, but that is a seperate issue. I am saying that clearly Jews beleive Chazal interepted things and added things that are not part of Torah, but are now called Torah in generel. Here is 3 opposing views that I just got via email from a rabbi:

1. Raavad - everything chazal said is transmitted form God

2. Rambam- argue that the sages introduced novel intepretations of the Torah of their own invention alongside the received tradition from Moshe. The halakic process is thus cumulative, each generation adding substantive norms derived by their own reasoning to the given body of knowledge. Interpretation isn’t an attempt to recover what had been revealed, but a derivation from given material, deducing new norms which in turn become part of the accumulative material of halakhic knowledge.

3.Ramban- there is no a priori right or left, rather, the rabbis in each generation define what is right and left, so the court can not be mistaken about halakhah, its members have the priviledge-granted by God-to constitute the very meaning of the text. Legal reasoning does not retrieve a given lost bod of tradition, they constitute the norms.

Holy Hyrax said...

If anything, Jews have move a bit more to the right and took Raavads opinion on the matter. But it is not the ONLY opinion out there.

BEAJ said...

I refuse to get a brain transplant from a creationist!!!

Holy Hyrax said...

wow, did you think about that comment all by yourself beaj? Way to go buddy.

littlefoxling said...

No, they would not kill you. This from what I understood deals with who do you prioritize when saving a life.

They would kill JA for voilating shabbos and me for saying kefirah
אלו הן הנסקלין
...
המגדף
.......
והמחלל את השבת
..............
המסית, והמדיח

littlefoxling said...

(from sanhedrin 7:4)

Holy Hyrax said...

AI doubt it LF

You think there were no shabbat violateers back then?

littlefoxling said...

what, you mean like this guy?

And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks upon the sabbath day. 33 And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation. 34 And they put him in ward, because it had not been declared what should be done to him. {S} 35 And the LORD said unto Moses: 'The man shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp.' 36 And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died, as the LORD commanded Moses.

Holy Hyrax said...

LF, you are being so dishonost. You know very well by Chazals time executions were basically gone. You talked about CHAZALS time then you bring up even before they enter the land.

I dont know what the hell happend with this guy. Maybe its just a model lesson the torah is trying to teach how important shabbat is. Details arent given as to him being asked not to do it and him doing it inspite of it all.

You know very well that by Chazals time, this practice was gone.

littlefoxling said...

You know very well by Chazals time executions were basically gone.

No. I don't know that. It's debated in the talmud. Even the opinion that said it was rare still admits it happened sometimes. And, they had other ways of killing people the legalistic ones such as feeding them barely till their stomach exploded. they also flogged and did stuff like that.

And, even to the extent it wasn't done in practice, that they in theory paid homage to the idea is troublesome, to me, anyway.

I'm not saying this has to bother anyone but me. Personaly, I don't even think there's such a thing as morality and don't even think it's fair to say that the murder is unethical. i don't think ethics exist.

But, as a personal choice, I've decided I want to be ethical. Not cause I think it's right, but because i want to do it. And, therefore, a relegion that advocates, even in theory, mudrder, genocide, and slavery, is not one I like.