Halachic Organ donor Society, P.O. box 693, New York, NY 10108-0693, Phone: 212-213-5087, Email: admin@hods.org

Sanctity of a Corpse




Rabbi Dr. Avraham Steinberg

Sanctity of a Corpse
[1 minute  51 seconds]

There is sanctity to the body of a human being, and all parts of it have to be buried. And routinely, no desecration of the body should be done at any event if there is no real need for it, there should be no benefit derived from parts of the dead body. But all of these are overridden by the fact that we are saving life. Pikuach nefesh – saving of life – is overriding all the mitzvot of the Torah including desecrating the Shabbat, eating on Yom Kippur, eating chometz on Pesach- all this is allowed in order to save lives. Certainly, notions of the whole body, of the sanctity of the body, which are of lesser degree from halachic point of view as compared with Shabbat, Yom Kippur, or chometz on Pesach, can be overridden and should be overridden in order to save life.

The only issue from a halachic point of view is whether the person is still alive or whether he is indeed dead, because killing someone is not allowed even for the purpose of saving life. Therefore, if the person is still alive, he cannot become an organ donor because this means to kill him in order to save someone else. However, if he is dead by whatever definition halachically is acceptable he should become an organ donor because he should save lives by his donation of organs.

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