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

Time of Death

Rabbi Bleich argues forcefully against the acceptance of brain-death as a halachic criterion for death.  First, he argues, the definition of death is not, in itself, a medical question.  Doctors can describe with great precision the physiological phenomena they observe, but it is the job of the ethicist or theologian to determine whether the situation being described constitutes human life, whether the “soul has departed the body” yet or not.  Rabbi Bleich argues that not only halacha, but all traditional societies, have defined death as the cessation of all vital functions including heartbeat.  He address and (to his mind) refutes the Talmudic arguments that have been made in favor of accepting the brain-death criteria.