A source often cited by those who support cloning draws from the
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 (
).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
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