[Avodah] Lecture by Rav Moshe Tendler about Brain Stem Death

Micha Berger micha at aishdas.org
Thu Mar 7 14:04:11 PST 2013

On Thu, Feb 28, 2013 at 02:57:22PM -0600, noam stadlan wrote:
: Rav Micha has listed the position of many gedolim on brainstem death.
: However, it is important to know and think about exactly what they held.
: Many held that life is present as long as circulation is present.  In the
: era of modern technology this means that a body without any functioning
: cells is still considered alive as long as some machine is pumping blood in
: the vessels.  So when you think about it a bit, this position makes little
: sense...

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.

Much the way mequbalim speak of chibut haqever, which is enabled by some
weaker connection between body and soul after death. It too is a purely
spiritual claim and thus has no empirical measure or definition.

Now I'm not saying I /do/ define chayim and misah that way; I find the
topic too complex for me to take a position. But it /could/ be. There
is no way for me to assess what makes sense, and what doesn't.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Education is not the filling of a bucket,
micha at aishdas.org        but the lighting of a fire.
http://www.aishdas.org                - W.B. Yeats
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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