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

Rabbi Jeremy Wieder

Rabbi Jeremy Wieder

[2 minutes  19 seconds]

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Rabbi Yosie Levine:

Let me follow up. It’s a big issue… maybe you would say a few words about… you mentioned there are Jews who would have the position of much narrower… When it comes to organ donation they accept the definition of death that requires the cessation of the heartbeat so from a policy perspective what’s our response to people who have strong moral reservation about donating organs but have no compunction about receiving them if ever that situation should arise?

Rabbi Jeremy Wieder:

I am deeply troubled… certainly there is a strain of thought among some of… certain decisors who have written on this issue who see no problem regarding harvesting organs as murder. Nonetheless allowing patients to receive them because they’re taking organs… because they’re taking organs anyway. I have great difficulty with that.

I believe that if one believes that removing the organs is murder then one should not take the organs even if it means dying and the basis… from a legalistic perspective I understand what the opposing opinion is… that you’re not doing anything… the worst thing you’re doing is that you’re violating what we call lifnei ever… putting a stumbling block before the blind, you’re encouraging somebody to violate something and while you’re obligated to give up your life not to murder someone else but if they’re only violating the prohibition of lifne ever, then we don’t say “give up your life.”

But I would say in response that the real reason… if you actually analyze the real reason there are three cardinal sins which one does not violate in order to save one’s life is not because of the sins themselves but because of the profound desecration of God’s name – Chillul HaShem.

The Rambam writes that if a person under duress commits murder to save his life or worships idols he hasn’t violated that aveirah [sin] because he is under duress but he has desecrated God’s name and that’s why you give up your life. And I believe that anybody who is saying that “I won’t give the organs, but I’ll take” is profoundly desecrating God’s name even before they are in that situation and therefore I think that it is unjust morally and halachically an untenable position. If you believe it’s murder you don’t give, you don’t take!

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