Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Ginsburg-Ingerman Overseas Student Program
BIOMEDICAL AND JEWISH MEDICAL ETHICS
Course Instructor: Prof. Stephen D. Benin
MEDICAL ETHICS PLAYS A MAJOR ROLE WITHIN THE JEWISH TRADITION FROM TALMUDIC TO MODERN TIMES. FROM TALMUDIC DISCUSSIONS OF ILLNESS, PATIENTS, AND
TREATMENTS THROUGH THE WRITINGS OF MAIMONIDES, THE EARLY MODERN PERIOD
AND UNTIL TODAY THE ETHICAL ISSUES INVOLVED IN HEALING ARE A DETERMINATIVE FACTOR IN MEDICAL DISCUSSIONS.
There are a variety of sources and discussions including those of Rabbi I. Jacobovits, who coined the term . It is important to distinguish between two types of ethics: ethical rules that draw their force from moral systems and ethical codes that create, clarify and institutionalize work relations and protect the rights of members of various professional guilds
Modern medical ethics, developed rapidly during the second half of the twentieth century, when the Western world was faced with the horrors of World War II. Medical ethics incorporates medicine, philosophy, religion, law, history, psychology, sociology, and education. If in the past the preoccupation with medical ethics had been in the hands of a few, the majority of whom were physicians that already worked in the field, today this branch has developed to be a popular field of interest not only for physicians but for experts in other fields as well as the wider public. These are issues and topics to be determined that could become the focus of such a course.
The weekly sessions will be comprised of a lecture which will then be followed by class discussion based on a critical reading of the weekly assignments.
The aim of this course is to give the students a new and exciting way of approaching the topic of Jewish Biomedical Ethics.
Requirements and Evaluation
1. 30% Active participation in class discussion
2. 30% Class presentation
3. 40% Term paper
Students will conduct part of one class after assigning a topic of interest and lead the class discussion
Term Paper will be based on an issue selected in consultation with the instructor, utilizing primary sources.
Immanuel Jakobovits Jewish medical ethics: a comparative and historical study of the Jewish religious attitude to medicine and its practice
Fred Rosner, Pioneers in Jewish medical ethics
, Contemporary biomedical ethical issues and Jewish law
Sources and articles at: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/medtoc.html
Books and articles by J. David Bleich (including his most recent, Bioethical
Dilemmas: A Jewish Perspective [Ktav, 1998]), Fred Rosner, Moshe Tendler, and Joel
Wolowelsky are generally good resources for you for Orthodox positions available in English. Noam Zohar's book, Alternatives in Jewish Bioethics (1997), is a thoughtful,
Orthodox perspective that probes the boundaries of Orthodoxy on these issues, and so are . Immanuel Jakobovits' book, Jewish Medical Ethics (Bloch, 1959,
1975), which began the field of Jewish medical ethics, is still a good, although somewhat dated Orthodox perspective as well. In Hebrew there are, of course, the teshuvot of R. Moshe Feinstein and of some of the Israeli Orthodox writers on bioethics, including Abraham Abraham, Simon Glick, Avraham Steinberg, and Eliezer Waldenberg. Some of their writings are now also available in English, as is the Israeli journal of bioethics, Assia. You might also want to check the book co-edited by David Feldman and Joel Wolowelsky, Jewish Law and the New Reproductive Technologies [Ktav,
1997] for some Orthodox and some Conservative opinions. Probably the most comprehensive treatment of bioethics from an Orthodox point of view is Avraham Steinberg's Encyclopedia of Jewish Medical Ethics (2003, 3 vols.), now available in English as well as the original Hebrew version. Jewish Biomedical Law, edited by Daniel B. Sinclair
(2005), presents some Israeli court cases on these issues as well as a sampling of Orthodox opinions.
The many books of Reform responsa by Solomon Freehof contain some responsa on bioethics, but they are by now somewhat dated. More recent Reform responsa on bioethics can be found in the collections, American Reform Responsa (CCAR, 1985), New
American Reform Responsa (CCAR, 1987), and Questions and Reform Jewish Answers: New
American Reform Responsa (CCAR, 1992) , all edited by Walter Jacob, and the most recent collection,
Reform Jewish Living (Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 2000), edited by Mark Washofsky. More Reform responsa can be found in the series of books co-edited by Walter Jacob and Moshe Zemer, including, for example, The Fetus and Fertility in Jewish
Law: Essays and Responsa (Freehof Institute of Progressive Halakhah, 1995) and Death and
Euthanasia in Jewish Law: Essays and Responsa (Freehof Institute of Progressive Halakhah,
Two books on medical ethics have been written by authors affiliated with the Reconstructionist movement - namely, Behoref Hayamim: In the Winter of Life: A Values- Based Jewish Guide for Decision Making at the End of Life (no editor listed, 2002), and
Bioethics: Reinvigorating the Practice of Contemporary Jewish Ethics by David A. Teutsch
Assignments of chapters from books, and articles on websites to be distributed.
WEEK 1: A. Definition of Concepts
2. Medical Ethics
3. Jewish Medical Ethics
4. Medicine and Jewish Law
5. Medicine and Halalcha
6. Medicine & Judaism
WEEK 2; Medical Halachic Literature: Ancient Times
1. From the Biblical Period through the Eighteenth
2. From the Early Nineteenth Century until the Establishment of the
State of Israel
WEEK 3: Jewish Ethics: The Literature, Structure, and Underlying Concepts of
Jewish Ethics Generally and Jewish Medical Ethics in Particular; Methods to Derive
Moral Guidance on Medical Issues from the Jewish Tradition WEEK 4: Doctor’s Obligations for Healing
WEEK 5: Reproduction , Abortion
WEEK 6: Fertility techniques; Gene and Stem Cells
WEEK 7: Organ Donation
WEEK 8: Cloning
WEEK 9: AIDS, Risky Surgery, Risk WEEK 10: Drugs and Alchohol
WEEK 11: End of Life- Euthanasia WEEK 12: Triage, Priority, Limited Resources
Summary, final issues