[Avodah] Definition of death

Noam Stadlan noamstadlan at gmail.com
Thu Mar 7 20:26:01 PST 2013

Rav Micha wrote: 

'Only if you think that "life" is an empirical term.

If one deduces from "vayipach be'apav nishmas chayim" that life is
defined by some metaphysical relationship between body and soul that
occurs with breathing, how can we know what makes sense?

A body can be dead by any empirical measure, but still chayim in the
sense halakhah uses the term, and one still commits retzichah by stopping
its breath.'

When I stated that defining life as the presence of circulation did not make sense- what I meant is that when you apply the criteria to all situations, the results do not cohere with our usual common sense and halachic ideas of life and death. 

You can define life and death however you want, and base it on all sorts of concepts including the mystical. However, you have to be willing to accept the results of its application to all situations. Defining life as circulation, no matter how you got there, results in an embalmed body hooked up to a pump being am alive human being.  Unless you have some sort of definition of what makes up a human body, you have to accept that an isolated beating heart or isolated kidney that has blood flowing in it is a human being.  I assume that most if not all would agree that these results do not make sense and do not cohere with established halachic determinations in these cases.  

The underlying point is that there needs to be a definition and an accompanying acceptance of the results of its application to all situations. 

Noam Stadlan 

Sent from my phone. 

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