Waiting near an operating room
Waiting near an operating roomIsrael news photo: Flash 90 / archive

A local chief rabbi has proposed the Rabbinical Court (Beit Din) be given the authority to approve or forbid organ donations, rather than families or individuals.

Rabbi Razton Arusi, the Chief Rabbi of Kiryat Ono, offered the proposal as a way to avoid the issue of families being faced with the difficult decision of whether to allow an organ donation of their loved one. Under his proposal, doctors would have to turn to a special Rabbinical Court for approval instead.

"According to Torah Law, man does not own his body,” Rabbi Arusi explained. “Hence the prohibition against suicide and euthanasia.

"Organ donor cards are therefore not a prerequisite according to Torah Law. A Rabbinical Court should be authorized to decide to approve organ donations when necessary,” the rabbi declared.

Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, the rabbi of Har Bracha and head of its local yeshiva, urged last year that followers sign Israel's new 'Bilvavi' organ donor card. The card declares the approval of organ donation only after the moment of death has been ascertained by physicians trained by the 'Areivim' organization. Such physicians are well-versed in the Jewish legal (halachic) definition of demise, where the brain stem has completely stopped functioning.

The issue is extremely complex, however, and there are many different opinions on the matter. Reader are strongly urged to consult with one's own personal rabbi on the issue.