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Health & Medicine

Health & Medicine

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Health & Medicine

Copyright Rabbi Eli Hecht
No part of these arcticles may be used or reproduced in any form without written permission from the copyright holder, except for brief quotations in reviews.

 

(Printed in Shalom L.A. 11.15.02)
Nahman of Bratzlav, a great Chasidic rabbi once proclaimed, "It was difficult for the Angel of Death to kill everybody in the whole world, so he appointed doctors to assist him."
It seems that the latest anxiety for many of us is not the conflict in the Persian Gulf nor the unification and economic stability for the Soviet republic, but it is here at home. The new and real dilemma is how to deal with the terminally ill patient.
(Press Telegram 3.28.93)
Nahman of Bratzlav, a great Chasidic rabbi once proclaimed, "It was difficult for the Angel of Death to kill everybody in the whole world, so he appointed doctors to assist him."
(Press Telegram 2.19.95)
In my last year of post-graduate rabbinical studies, I became a close personal student of the old venerable rabbi, Rabbi Zalman Shimon of Lubavitch. He was a Russian rabbi who lived through the Stalin persecutions of Jews and spent his last years teaching many student rabbis in Brooklyn, New York. I considered myself a fortunate student to have had him as my mentor.
Recently there was a book, Final Exit, printed by the right-to-die Hemlock Society. It is a suicide manual for those terminally ill. The newly released book claims to be written for those whose suffering has become unbearable and wish suicide. A highlight of the book speaks about ways physicians and health care professionals can terminate or assist patients in suicide. In the 190 pages of this book are revealed different methods in reaching death or, as they call it, final exit.
The 90s ushers in an enlightened attitude of new understanding and, finally, tolerance for the "religious ones". We, the religiously inspired, are no longer considered crazy, mentally impaired or possessed.
Upon hearing the latest status of “SARS” I wonder how such a small but deadly bug can cause great havoc. From China, Asia to Toronto, Canada, to wherever, the quarantine has begun. Rumors of more deaths are being circulated.
We must be very tactful when we speak of death. All of us know a why and how in finding and answering meanings concerning death. Perhaps our main problem is in the way we speak of death, and in the way we present death. By the way of an anecdote, I'll attempt to make a point.
As we recover from the news coverage of the J.F.K. Jr. saga we are greeted with more bad news. Mark Orrin Barton killed his wife, children, and other and injured many innocent people. Visions of the recent Columbine High School killings come to mind.
In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the third Sunday in June as Fathers' Day. Roses are the Fathers' Day flowers; red is to be worn for a living father and white if the father is dead. I ask what does a son do if he doesn't have a living or dead father? How can that be, you wonder.
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