Halachic Organ donor Society, 3926 W. Touhy Ave, Suite #365, Lincolnwood, IL, 60712-1028. Phone: 646-599-3895, Email: office@hods.org

Re: Rabbinical Council of America (RCA)

Rabbi Binyamin Walfish

Re: Rabbinical Council of America (RCA)

[1 minute  51 seconds]

In 1991, the Executive Committee passed a resolution accepting the health care proxy in which was included the clause for organ donation. And of course they accepted it, because they accepted the concept of brainstem death because they couldn’t have accepted the health care proxy without accepting brainstem death. And that became the official policy of the RCA. And the whole question of brainstem death was discussed at the Executive Committee meeting, because of course the rabbis asked the question, “How can you donate organs?”  And that’s the answer we gave them. And it became official policy of the RCA. And as I say here, there was a very strong campaign against it. They got Rav Aharon Soleveitchik, ztz’l,  to write a tshuva that his brother never accepted brainstem death which unfortunately I had to contest because, not that I didn’t trust Rav Aharon Soleveitchik, but Rav Aharon Soleveitchik probably spoke to the Rav before the Harvard Criteria were established. I’m sure he didn’t discuss it with him afterwards, but there was one Godol in Eretz Yisroel that was against it and that was Reb Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, ztz’l, who when we performed… I don’t want to take the time to go into this in detail… but when we performed a certain experiment, he sent one of his people to observe it, he changed his mind about brainstem death. And he wrote a tshuva which is in existence; it was printed in Atzia, in a medical magazine in Atzia.  He changed his mind about brainstem death and he said yes, brainstem death is the definition of death. Reb Moshe wrote a subsequent tshuva.

Did you have any personal interaction with Reb Moshe Feinstein on this issue?

Rabbi Walfish:

No, Rabbi Tendler did.


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