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Published by: outdash on Mar 01, 2013
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The Torah u-Madda Journal (9/2000)
Human and Molecular Cloning: Ethical Dilemmas in a Brave New World 
“Modern science has emerged victorious  from its encounter with nature because it has sacrificed qualitative-metaphysical speculation for the sake of functional duplication of reality and substituted the quantus for the qualis question. . . . He [Adam The First, Man of Science] raises not a metaphysical but a practical tech-nical ‘how’ question.” 
B. S 
s is the case with any scientific discovery that is perceived to berevolutionary, the worldwide dialogue about the ethics of cloning,stimulated by the recent report of the successful cloning of a sheep,
hasincluded both rational and serious discussion as well as panic andalarmist warnings of imminent disaster. I will not attempt here to draw any halakhic conclusions on the subject, as I am not qualified to do so.However, I will attempt to engage discussion of some serious ethicalissues posed by cloning. In so doing, I hope to encourage rabbinic lead-
, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Human Genetics and Pediatrics atMcGill University. Dr. Kaplan is the Director of Population Screening Programsfor Tay-Sachs Disease and
-Thalassemia at the Montreal Children’s Hospitaland is responsible for Curriculum in Genetics at McGill University MedicalSchool.
ership to invest itself in the training of a generation of rabbis equippedwith the halakhic erudition, scientific expertise and ethical sensitivity essential to dealing with novel issues (such as cloning) emerging in thenew era of “genetic medicine.In order to examine the ethics of cloning, we must distinguishbetween two types of cloning which I will refer to as “human cloning”and “molecular cloning.” The term cloning in its broadest sense refers tothe production of an exact genetic copy of a molecule (gene), cell, plant,animal or human being.
Nuclear transplantation cloning 
aims at pro-ducing genetically identical organisms and involves the removal of thenucleus from an egg and its replacement with the nucleus of a somaticcell.
Since the nucleus of a somatic cell contains two sets of genes,unlike the egg and sperm, each of which contains only one set of genes,nuclear transplantation cloning entails a single genetic parent. Potentialapplications for nuclear transplantation cloning in humans (humancloning) include: generation of genetically identical humans for researchpurposes, propagation of “desirable” human clones, production of cells,organs or tissues for therapeutic purposes,
assisted reproduction forinfertile couples and the production of targeted genetic alterations inhumans (which combines molecular and human cloning). All but thelast of these applications of human cloning do not involve alterations of the intact nuclear genome.In contrast to human cloning,
molecular or gene cloning 
(oftencalled recombinant DNA technology or genetic engineering), refers tothe copying and amplification in a host cell of DNA fragments contain-ing single genes. Scientists use molecular cloning to generate largequantities of gene products for therapeutic (or commercial) purposes,to investigate how genes function and are regulated and, most germaneto our discussion, to develop directed gene therapies for human disease.All of these applications of molecular cloning involve alterations of anexisting genome.
Rabbinic/Jewish Perspectives: Approval in Principle
The public debate about the ethical acceptability of molecular and/orhuman cloning has often been presented as mirroring the classical con-frontation of science and religion. Curiously, Jewish authorities havetended toward the permissive on questions of human cloning, a proce-dure generally perceived to be more radical and revolutionary than mol-ecular cloning.
The Torah u-Madda Journal 
A source often cited by those who support cloning draws from the
Tiferet Yisrael 
commentary on the Mishnah: “Anything for which thereis no reason to forbid is permissible with no need for justification, forthe Torah has not enumerated all permissible things, rather forbiddenones.”
Rabbi Pinchas Lipner states: “Jewish medical ethics is basically Jewish Halakhah. What is ethical in Judaism is legal, and what is legal isethical. We don’t divide the two. Anything which is legal [e.g., cloning—F. K.] is ethical.”
Indeed, in large measure, the discussion among rabbis and Jewishethicists, including such prominent figures as Rabbi Moshe D. Tendlerand Dr. Fred Rosner, has focused on the technical, legal permissibility of cloning according to Halakhah.
Human cloning raises issues of status.Who is the clone’s family? Is the “genetic” parent of a clone a sibling or aparent? How do we address the apparent absence of paternity (when afemale cell is the genetic source)? What is the clone’s religious identity?In a thorough discussion of the technical issues of human cloning,Rabbi Michael Broyde concludes, “I am unaware of any substantive vio-lation. . . . Thus, in those circumstances where the clonor is a man facedwith the obligation to be fruitful and multiply . . . and he cannot fulfillthe obligation otherwise, cloning can be classified as a good deed (
miz .vah 
).In those circumstances where the clonor is a woman . . . cloning can beclassified as religiously neutral.
The Jewish tradition emphasizes that God has given man a positivecommandment to “master the world” (Genesis 1:28). Human mastery over nature entails improving nature to meet human needs, and this isconsidered to be both “right” and obligatory. The Torah commands usto heal. Molecular cloning offers new forms of healing. Human cloningoffers new avenues for assisted reproduction, allowing infertile couplesto fulfil the commandment to be fruitful and multiply.
A more reserved approach articulated by Rabbi Immanuel Jakobovits
zz .”l 
reminds us that “the Jewish Sabbath recalls not God as the creator,but as He who knew when to
And Israel’s AshkenazicChief Rabbi Israel Lau has stated that human cloning is not permissi-ble.
Nevertheless, the emerging rabbinic consensus seems to be one of cautious endorsement.The rabbinic discussion outlined above views cloning as part of theendeavor of Man as Creator (Adam the First in
The Lonely Man of Faith 
)fulfilling his mandate to “master the world.” The halakhic discussioncenters on how to ensure that in the exercise of this mandate, thehalakhic Jew does not violate specific prescriptives (questions of 
Feige Kaplan 

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