Are Orthodox Rabbis Trained in Medicine?

No, Orthodox rabbinical schools do not offer any courses in medicine. We should know. We graduated from one of them and there were no courses in medical subjects at our school.

And so that leads us to ask why rabbis think they are experts in determining what is a valid indicator of human death? Surely they cannot be serious that knowledge of the Talmud gives them any expertise in this area.

But they do think they have that expertise according to a story by Stuart Ain in the New York Jewish Week, "RCA Backs Off Stand On Brain Death For Transplants" with the subtitle, "Critics see move as jeopardizing lives of Orthodox Jews; internal study cites ‘rabbinic confusion’ on issue." And rabbis have the unmitigated ego to express a pseudo-authoritative opinion on this issue.

Now as to the Jewish Week, it's a poorly written story, clearly intending from the first paragraph to make rabbis appear to be confused. Rabbis have opinions about this issue of life and death -- but they are not a clear ones -- says the JW.

Now, it is okay for blogs and bloggers to inject bias and opinion into every line of what they write. I checked my license. It gives me the green light. But we thought that there were canons of journalistic professionalism that newspapers had to adhere to. Perhaps not any more.

No comment about my rabbinical colleagues, who though untrained, do not hesitate to expound. Why pay attention to anything they say then if they spout off opinion in this area, lacking any and all professional medical credentials?

Hat tip to Mimi, who does know quite a bit about this issue.


Gil Student said...

Are you saying that no Orthodox rabbis are trained in medicine? Some are, and of them some side with what the Jewish Week mistakenly calls the RCA's new position.

Tzvee Zahavy said...

Thanks for your comment. It would help if you specified who some and some are and what are the mistakes in the JW.

Gil Student said...

The RCA has not changed its position. This paper was for information purposes only and did not reach a conclusion.

One rabbi MD just posted to my blog: http://torahmusings.com/2010/12/brain-death-in-the-news.html

Tzvee Zahavy said...

The non-position paper that Gil links to is posted here - http://www.rabbis.org/pdfs/Halachi_%20Issues_the_Determination.pdf

Why is it dated June 2010? Has it been out for six months?