Organ Donation

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Dear Rabbi Simon

I would like to sign up for an organ donation card with HODS [Halachic Organ Donor Society], which I understand has the support of some prominent rabbis. As I value your opinion, I would like to know if you have an objection to this?

All the best, Stan


Dear Stan

Organ donation is an important subject, as it pertains literally to matters of life and death. Perhaps inevitably it is also a subject that is disputed by leading halakhic authorities and, through the vigorous advocacy of its proponents, has become a divisive issue within the Orthodox Jewish world (including in the UK). 

HODS has a fine website featuring, inter alia, the Organ Donor Cards of some well-known rabbis. However, a careful review of those HODS subscribers reveals only a handful of personalities of substantial halakhic standing, and none of the highest echelons, whether in the USA, Israel or elsewhere. The HODS people invoke the unimpeachable authority of the late Rabbi Moshe Feinstein z”l, as understood by his son in law (and professor of biology) Rabbi Dr. Moshe D Tendler. The problem, however, is that Rabbi Tendler’s interpretation of Rav Moshe’s view is disputed by other scholars (and possibly family members), and in any case medical science has advanced dramatically since Rav Moshe’s responsa were written in the 1970’s. The “cost” of an error in judging the time of death is little less than culpability for murder. A serious “downside” indeed.

Although organ donation is in principle—and sometimes in fact—a laudable, life-saving humanitarian act, the conditions under which it is appropriate to authorise such a donation must be assessed with the utmost care. For this reason, I would advise against carrying a HODS card.

Wishing you many years of good health


Questions & Answers
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Questions and Answers

Ask the Rabbi: Easy as א-ב-ג?
Dear Rabbi Simon,
I hope you fasted well yesterday.
Thank you for the insights into the Kinnot, making them easier to understand.
In the afternoon, I was listening to a shiur on Eichah on Torahanytime.  As an aside, the speaker mentioned that the 1st perek of Eichah is the source for the order of the alef bet as we know it.  Other chapters also follow the alef bet chronology but with ayin en peh interchanged.
He quoted Rabbi Shimon Schwab as his source.
Although he did not elaborate on this, surely Sefer Tehillim predates Megillat Eichah by centuries.  Several psalms are written in the alef bet order (e.g.
psalm 119).
Can you please clarify?
Thank you & best wishes.
PhilippeHi Philippe
TY for your sophisticated Q.
I have also heard that the question of the sequence of samekh and 'ayin is subject to dispute. It seems that there are indications that in Paleo-Hebrew the order is reversed from what we know. It is alleged that chapters 2, 3 and 4 of Eichah (chapter 5 is not alphabetical) reflect the original order. Of course, as you say, ch 1 conforms to the order with which we are family.
You are right that Tehillim predates Eichah, however a critic can claim that the order was redacted to bring it in line with the accepted/preferred sequence. This is particularly true for ch. 119, where each of the 8 vv per letter are their own group, and each set of 8 vv. can easily be repositioned. The question is in Ps. 34 or 145, if the internal logic of the passage sheds light on the correct sequence. In Ps. 34, some claim that the v. starting with the letter peh makes more sense to follow the verse starting with samekh (due to the common appearance of the word ra'). I am not convinced that this argument is compelling.
I will stick with the mesorah, that 'ayin belongs before peh. Best to look before speaking.
Rabbi Rashi Simon
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