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End of life Preparedness 

01/13/2021 12:10:37 PM


Rabbi Aryeh Feigenbaum


 This past Shabbos, the National Association of Chevra Kadisha sponsored TEAM---Traditional End of Life Awareness. The goal of TEAM is to bring awareness of the need for wills, halachic living wills and medical proxies aligned with halacha.

These are not issues that people like to deal with, especially those of us who think of themselves as young. But one thing among many that we have learned from this past year is that we do not know what is in store for us. We must be prepared. This will spare our loved ones the agony of making end of life decisions without advance knowledge or warning.

The norm today is to focus on quality of life. There is little discussion of appreciation of the sanctity of life. Every life, every breath is a gift from Hashem and has purpose and meaning, and we therefore do not reserve the right to ourselves to decide when and how life should end. That is why halacha is so critical in this area: it expresses the will of our Creator as to how to make decisions during this critical time of life. Halacha deals very thoroughly with issues typical of end of life situations: feeding tunes, dialysis, Do Not Resuscitate orders, intubation, to name a few.

I have been involved in many cases where the “recommendation” was to end life. The hospital staff meets with the family and in the kindest most sensitive tone they convince next of kin that this is the kind, moral and ethical thing to do. Family is sometimes made to feel guilty for choosing to prolong life and cause undue suffering. Halacha does not require prolonging life at all costs, or when the attempt is futile. But the guidelines given to us by halacha are based on principles quite different from those of hospital ethics committees, often composed of people who do not share our Torah’s perspective on these sensitive issues. I have shared simchas-- danced with grandfathers at weddings and bar mitzvahs-- with people whose doctors recommended “pulling the plug”.

This past Shabbos was TEAM- Traditional End of Life Awareness- Shabbos from the National Association of Chevra Kadisha . It is a national movement to bring awareness to the need for Wills, Halachic Living wills and medical proxies. Everyone should have one. Whether you are young or not so young, one thing this past year has taught us is that we do not know what is in store for us, we must be prepared.

Please take the time to fill out these important documents and save yourself and loved ones from hardship.

Sun, July 21 2024 15 Tammuz 5784