SH 25.03.2014 JEWISH ETHICS A CLOSE LOOK AT BIOETHICS AND SEXUAL ETHICS Presented by Sandy Hollis Studies of Religion 2014
SH 25.03.2014 HALACHA • Based on Torah • Certain choices are left to man’s moral sense. • Raises the consciousness of the people. • Dynamic
SH 25.03.2014 BIOETHICS • Deliberations based on the Torah and the Talmud. Interpretation of these texts attempts to identify the duties of physicians, patients and families who are faced with difficult health decisions. • Decisions on bioethics are generally based on 3 principles – human life has infinite value, ageing, illness and death are a natural part of life and improvement of the patient’s quality of life is a constant commitment.
SH 25.03.2014 A BALANCING ACT
SH 25.03.2014 PIKUACH NEFESH • The overriding commandment is that of ‘PikuachNefesh” – the obligation to save a life in jeopardy even to the extent of violating other commandments.
SH 25.03.2014 ABORTION “And if men strive together and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart and yet no harm follow, he shall surely be fined, according to the woman’s husband shall lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.” (Exodus 21:22)
SH 25.03.2014 • “But if other damage ensues, the penalty shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand,---” (Exodus 21:23)
SH 25.03.2014 DIN RODEF • “If someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first.” (Sanhedrin 72a) • “If one chases after his felllow to kill him, it is permitted to save the chased at the expense of the life of the pursuer.” (Sanhedrin 73a)
SH 25.03.2014 • As a general rule, abortion in Judaism is permitted only if there is a direct threat to the life of the mother by carrying the foetus to term or through the act of childbirth. In such a circumstance, the baby is considered a rodef, a pursuer (as in somebody who is pursuing you in order to attack you and the action that you take is thus self-defence) after the mother with the intent to kill her. • Judaism recognizes psychiatric as well as physical factors in evaluating the potential threat that the foetus poses to the mother. The danger presented by the foetus must be both probable and substantial in order to justify abortion
SH 25.03.2014 STEMCELL RESEARCH • Stem cells are special types of cells that have the potential to grow into any cell or tissue in the body, and so can be used to replace cells that are damaged or diseased.
SH 25.03.2014 • The issues raised by stem cell research may be divided into several questions: 1. Is in vitro fertilisation permitted to begin with? 2. What is the Jewish approach to abortion? 3. Are pre-embryos included in the prohibition of abortion? 4. May a very early embryo be sacrificed for stem cells that could save lives or at least cure disease? 5. May tissue from aborted foetuses be used for research or medical treatment?
SH 25.03.2014 EUTHENASIA • Recognises the pain and suffering of the dying individual and their families. • Only God has the right to end a life. • Life (and death) is involuntary. • Impediments to a natural death can be removed.
SH 25.03.2014 • Rabbi Moshe Feinstein – “when a patient is gripped by unbearable pain and suffering, nature should be allowed to take its course.” • A gosses, a 'dying patient', according to many rabbinic authorities, does not require the use of all available means to prolong life, or for that matter, prolong the process of dying. A gosseshas been defined as a person who will die within seventy two hours. • “If there is something which inhibits the soul’s departure, such as a nearby noise of knocking like wood-chopping, or if there is salt on the patient’s tongue and these hinder the soul’s departure, then it is permitted to remove them from there because this does not entail a (positive) act but only the removal of an impediment to death.”
SH 25.03.2014 SEXUAL ETHICS
SH 25.03.2014 GENERAL ATTITUDE • “God created heaven and earth, the world and all that is in it.” • Part of God’s plan. • Man is created in the image of God and as “no fitter helper was found, male and female, He created them.”
SH 25.03.2014 I - THOU
SH 25.03.2014 • “Go forth and multiply” • “It is not good for man to be alone, I will make a fitting helper for him.” • “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” • “Do not follow your heart and eyes in lustful urge.” • “Sin couches at the door - Its urge is towards you-Yet you can be its master.
SH 25.03.2014 • Judaism sees sexuality and sexual expression as something positive and joyous, not obscene and inherently evil. It regards sex as a legitimate good, as a mitzvah, as an act compatible with holiness – at the same time, Judaism imposes certain restraints and discipline upon this area of life that are intended to safeguard both persons and sex itself from abuse. • Kiddushin / Kadeisha
SH 25.03.2014 CONTRACEPTION • Go forth and multiply – a mitzvah for men. • Jewish Law has traditionally opposed birth control or abortion when practiced for purely selfish reasons. • More concerned with the birth control method used. • "Judith, the wife of Hiyya, having suffered agonizing pains of childbirth, changed her clothes [on recovery] and appeared (in her disguise) before Rabbi Hiyya. She asked 'Is a woman commanded to propagate the race?' He replied 'No.' And relying on this decision, she drank a sterilising potion."
SH 25.03.2014 HOMOSEXUALITY • The Torah considers homosexuality to be an abomination. (Toevah - abhorrence) • It is a sin punishable by death if legal conditions are satisfied. • Lesbianism not viewed with the same strictness although still considered a prohibited act. (P’reetzola – obscenity)
SH 25.03.2014 PREMARITAL SEX • Modesty – Tzniut – Privacy, respectful - turning your body into a ‘vehicle for holiness’ – fulfilling a higher purpose. • Having sex is one of the three stages of marriage – betrothal, contract and consummation. • When performed promiscuously, sex before marriage can destroy and cheapen sexuality and undermine self respect. • To have sex with someone you have to know the person – therefore casual sex is not permitted. • Because the sexual act is so important, barriers have to be formed – thus Orthodox people are not left alone before marriage – neggiah.