This article consists of three parts. The first is a discussion of the clinical criteria for diagnosing brain-death. The second part of the article deals with the position of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate with regard to brain-death. In 1985, after consultation with physicians, the Chief Rabbinate ruled that the current medical procedure for diagnosing brain-death was sufficient for determining a patient to be considered dead halachically, and therefore permit donating their vital organs. They did, however, require that a representative of the Chief Rabbinate be present for each individual case to ensure that proper halachic procedure was actually being followed. The third part of the article addresses the position of Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach.
The second of this two-part article provides legal arguments for the recognition of brain death as legally legitimate in accordance with medical understanding at the time. There is also a helpful overview of relevant case and state law at the time. The article concludes with a call for nationwide legal recognition of a brain death standard and its importance in protecting those called upon to make these decisions.