'It is forbidden for doctors to go on strike'

Rabbi Eliyahu on child cancer department crisis at Hadassah: 'Jewish law says that a doctor who refuses to give treatment spills blood.'

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu
Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu
Flash 90

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the Rabbi of Tzfat and a member of Israel’s Chief Rabbinate Council, called on the doctors who resigned from Hadassah Hospital’s child oncology-hematology department over disagreements with hospital management to hold a dialogue with management and the Health Minister rather than strike at the expense of the sick children.

“This Shabbat, we read the passages in the weekly Torah portion about the copper snake, which deals with a type of healing. Today, we are obligated according to halakha (Jewish law, ed.) to be healed by doctors and, if there is a life-threatening need, you violate Shabbat for this purpose,” he said.

He brought up the fact that “There’s a law which says that all the vehicles need to move out of the way of the scene of an accident to make way for the doctor [...] because it’s a matter of life and death.”

“The corollary of this law is that [the matter of the doctor’s strike] at Hadassah is also a matter of life and death. Halakha says that ‘It is a mitzvah for the expert doctor to heal and that this is considered a life-and-death situation. And if he doesn’provide treatment, he is spilling blood.’

“Just as a soldier or policeman cannot strike but must go to arbitration, so doctors must go to arbitration. [Previous late Israeli Chief Rabbis,] Rishon Letzion Mordecai Eliyahu and Rabbi Avraham Shapira ruled on the doctors’ strike of their day, and said, It’s forbidden to strike, go to arbitration.’”

“We call on the striking doctors and their employers - the Health Minister, to sit together and settle the dispute between them, and not to strike at the expense of the sick.”