Celebration & Renewal: Rites of Passage in Judaism

By Rela M. Geffen | Go to book overview

NAHUM M. WALDMAN


Bikkur Ḥolim
Sickness in Jewish Law

Illness is an ever-present reality at all stages in the human life cycle, from temporary indispositions to chronic conditions to life-threatening illness. Sickness is only one of the factors that can shorten life; war, violence, and accidents are others. While there is no guaranteed number of years, we do have statistics which indicate that a certain life expectancy is usual in contemporary circumstances. We are also the beneficiaries of significant advances in medical science that have increased life expectancy and give us grounds for optimism. Still, diseases remain that afflict young and old and for which no cure is currently known. Under these circumstances, advanced medical technology may add years of active and meaningful life, may maintain the status quo, or may prolong the agony of dying.

Understanding the appropriate response to these complex situations in the light of Jewish law and ethics is the goal of this chapter. Jewish law, halakhah, contains teachings that deal with the sanctity-of-life obligations of the physician, the right to take risks, and the length of treatment. Some of these questions are answered directly, while the answers to others must be deduced and inferred. Although Jewish law relating to the bioethical sphere (and many other areas) is not binding, the moral values embodied in it provide an illuminating guide to our personal conscience and actions.

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Celebration & Renewal: Rites of Passage in Judaism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page ii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 3
  • Be Fruitful and Multiply - Issues Relating to Birth in Judaism 12
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 31
  • Parents as Partners with God - Parenting Young Children 32
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 52
  • From Bar/Bat Mitzvah Through the Teen Years - Challenges to Parent and Community 53
  • Notes 70
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 70
  • Choosing Judaism - Issues Relating to Conversion 71
  • Notes 88
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 88
  • Marriage - Judaism's "Other" Covenantal Relationship 90
  • Notes 122
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 130
  • Midlife - From Understanding to Wisdom 132
  • Notes 147
  • The Altar Weeps" - Divorce in Jewish Law 151
  • Introduction 151
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 166
  • Bikkur Ḥolim - Sickness in Jewish Law 167
  • Notes 196
  • The Crown of Glory - Aging in the Jewish Tradition 202
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 223
  • Death and Mourning - A Time for Weeping, A Time for Healing 226
  • Conclusion 249
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 249
  • Glossary 252
  • Contributors 258
  • Index 261
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