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Assessment Task 4 Independent Research Project

Jewish Ethics Judaism is much more than just a religion; it is a way of life. There is a correct Jewish way of doing everything, and Judaism has an attitude and response to every moral issue.

Ethics are concerned with human values and behavior; Jewish ethics define correct Jewish behavior. The Jewish Law (the Halakah) is the main source for Jewish morals and ethics. From Biblical times, the Halakhah strove to raise the moral conscience of the people through prescription and exhortation. Bioethics "He has told you, O man, what is good. What does God require of you but to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6:8 From the advances in electronics, computers, nuclear physics and other scientific fields impacting on medical science, moral and ethical questions are brought to the surface. We now have the means to change, modify and tamper with life, but to what extent should we? As Judaism is a life-affirming, life-oriented religion which holds each life to be of precious value, bioethics are of major importance in the Jewish Faith. The issues remain the same even if the medical options increase.

Jews obtain their moral values from the Halakah, the Hebrew Bible, and the entirety of the moral law is described as the Torah. The Torah values are similar to those of the other two great monotheistic religions which also claim Divine origin for their moral codes, as well as proclaiming that God's commandments are absolute for all times and for all situations. Judaism complements the authority of the Biblical law with the concept that as well as the written Torah there exists alongside it the Oral Torah which has the same approval as the written. Just as the written Torah was revealed at Mount Sinai to Moses it is traditionally held, the Oral Law was given at the same time. This enables Judaism to come to grips with socio-historical changes, as the Oral Law is continually evolving through the labours of our rabbis (teachers) who use its authority to interpret the written Torah. From both the written and oral Torah there are four golden rules for Bioethics: 1. 2. 3. 4. Do not kill; Each individual life is of infinite value and no one person's life is more valuable than another; A persons life belongs to God; There is a duty on all to save life and heal the sick.

The Jewish bioethical system is based on duties and responsibilities.

Abortion The Basic teaching in Judaism in relation to Abortion is that the mother's physical and mental health takes precedence over the foetus, even, if in extreme cases it means that abortion is required. Nevertheless social abortion and abortion on demand are strictly forbidden. An unborn child has the status of "potential human life" until the majority of the body has emerged from the mother. Potential human life is valuable, and may not be terminated casually, but it does not have as much value as a life in existence. However, since preservation of life is of the utmost importance, in any such situation a qualified Rabbi must be consulted. Euthanasia Jewish law maintains that one has no absolute ownership of one's body. We are given a body for a fixed time. We are obliged to guard it for safe-keeping and to make rational decisions about its care. We have no rights to tamper with life except for the purpose of preventing its destruction or loss. There are 2 ways in which Euthanasia is done: Passive euthanasia is the withdrawing of medical treatment with the deliberate intention of causing the patient's death. Active euthanasia is taking specific steps to cause the patient's death, such as injecting the patient with poison.

Judaism is against active euthanasia. One must not actively (knowing the consequences of their actions) administer a lethal dose to a person who is dying, to prevent their suffering. However passive euthanasia, where nature is allowed to take its course, is permitted when death is inevitable. We need not embark on a course of treatment merely to gain a brief respite. We can even withdraw treatment if that treatment is not going to cure the dying patient. List of References and Sources in relation to Abortion The Torah: Reference # 1: Exodus 21:22 "If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman's husband demands and the court allows. 23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, Reference #2: Genesis 9:6 Whoever sheds mans blood; by man his blood shall be shed; Reference #3: Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. The "man became a living being" only after God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life." This seems to state clearly that Adam's personhood started when he took his first breath. Following this,
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reasoning, a newborn would become human after it starts breathing; a fetus is only potentially human; an abortion would not terminate the life of a human person.

The Mishnah: Reference #4: The Mishnah states that where there is danger to the mother's life, an abortion can be performed at any stage from conception until the head of the infant emerges: If a woman has (life-threatening) difficulty in childbirth, one dismembers the embryo within her, limb by limb, because her life takes precedence over its life. However, once its head (or its 'greater part') has emerged, it may not be touched, for we do not set aside one life for another Ohalot 7:6 Reference #5: According to the Mishnah: Whoever destroys one life it is as if he destroyed a whole world, and whoever preserves a life it is as if he preserved the whole world. Sanhedrin 4:5 The Halakah: Reference #6: Halakah (Jewish law) does define when a foetus becomes a nefesh (person). "...a baby...becomes a full-fledged human being when the head emerges from the womb. Before then, the foetus is considered a 'partial life.' "

The Talmud: Reference#7: The Talmud states that: "The embryo is considered to be mere water until the fortieth day." Yevamot 69b Afterwards, it is considered subhuman until it is born.

Other Sources: Reference #8: Maimonides The great Jewish commentator Maimonides (who was also a doctor) wrote: It is a negative commandment (Deut. 25:12) not to have pity for the life of an aggressor (rodef). That is why the Sages ruled that if a woman is in hard travail the embryo is removed, either by drugs or surgery: because it is regarded as one pursuing her and trying to kill her. Maimonides, MT, Hilkhot Rotzeah 1.9 This argument justifies destroying something of high value (the foetus), because it is (actively) endangering a person's life. The humanness of the foetus is devalued because the foetus is threatening a life. Reference #9: The distinguished commentator Rashi wrote: For as long as it did not come out into the world, it is not called a living thing and it is permissible to take its life in order to save its mother. Once the head has come forth, it may not be harmed because it is considered born, and one life may not be taken to save another. This, again, stating that it is the mothers life that takes preference over the life of the foetus List of References and Sources in relation to Euthanasia The Torah: Reference #1: This verse applies for Euthanasia as well, as it is a form of murder Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed Genesis 9:6 Reference #2: The following verse states quite clearly that murder is a sin: Thou shalt not murder Exodus 20:13

Reference #3: This verse says that the consequence for taking another persons life is death: And if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbour, to slay him with guile: thou shalt take him from Mine altar, that he may die Exodus 21:14.

The Talmud: Reference #4: The Talmud states that just because a person may be dying does not mean they have discontinued living, until their dying day: "One who is in a dying condition (goses) is regarded as a living person in all respects Semahot 1:1.

Reference #5: The Talmud says that if a person hastens the death of another, they shall be called a murderer: "He who closes the eyes of a dying person while the soul is departing is a murderer [lit. he sheds blood]. This may be compared to a lamp that is going out. If a man places his finger upon it, it is immediately extinguished. Shabbat 151b

Other Sources: Reference #6: Dr Rachamim Melamed The message of Judaism is that one must struggle until the last breath of life. Until the last moment, one has to live and rejoice and give thanks to the Creator Dr Rachamim Melamed-Cohen, Jewsweek, March, 2002

The Relationship between beliefs towards Abortion and the significance of these teachings in Judaism Judaism does not forbid abortion, but it does not permit abortion on demand. Abortion is only permitted for serious reasons. Judaism expects every case to be considered on its own merits and the decision to be taken after consultation with a rabbi competent to give advice on such matters. Judaism believes in the sanctity of life and that it should be looked after and cared for: According to the Mishnah (Sanhedrin 4:5): Whoever destroys one life is as if he destroyed a whole world, and whoever preserves a life is as if he preserved the whole world. R#5 As well as the sanctity of life, there are other reasons for the Jewish belief about abortion: killing a foetus breaks God's command to populate the world killing a foetus destroys something made in God's image killing a foetus is reckless destruction of part of God's creation

killing a foetus destroys something that could become a being killing a foetus is an unjustifiable act of wounding it is wrong to injure oneself

Judaism expects every case to be considered on its own merits and the decision to be taken after consultation with a rabbi capable to give advice on such matters. Strict Judaism permits abortion only in cases where continuing the pregnancy would put the mother's life in serious danger. The mother's life is more important than that of the foetus. The Torah holds human life to be of the utmost value; this applies also to foetal life. Hence abortion is basically forbidden. However, the Torah differentiates between born and unborn life, And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. Genesis 2:7 This stating that the foetus is not yet fully human until it has had its first breath

When only one (born or unborn life) can be preserved, the born life is preferred. Thus there are situations in which abortion is permitted, for example to save the mother's life. But since preservation of life is of the utmost importance, in any such situation a qualified Rabbi must be consulted. There are many different circumstances in relation to abortion, which require different approaches: Saving the mother's life Jewish law permits abortion to save the life of the mother - in fact it insists on an abortion if this is required to save the mother. This is because the mother's life takes priority over the life of the foetus. Any danger to the mother must be clear and substantial. The Mishnah states that where there is danger to the mother's life, an abortion can be performed at any stage from conception until the head of the infant emerges: If a woman has (life-threatening) difficulty in childbirth, one dismembers the embryo within her, limb by limb, because her life takes precedence over its life. However, once its head (or its 'greater part') has emerged, it may not be touched, for we do not set aside one life for another Ohalot 7:6 R#4 The mother and mental distress There is no dependable view as to what level of mental distress on the part of the mother is needed to justify abortion. However almost all rabbis would agree that if continuing the pregnancy would cause the mother to commit suicide, then abortion is justified. Lesser levels of mental distress are unlikely to justify an abortion in the eyes of most rabbis.

Rape or incest Abortion in these cases would only be permitted if continuing the pregnancy would cause the mother sufficient distress to endanger her health. Saving the mother 'from' the foetus If the foetus is classified as a 'rodef', a 'pursuer' who is threatening the life of the mother, the foetus may as a result be killed in order to prevent the mother being killed. The great Jewish commentator Maimonides (who was also a doctor) wrote: It is a negative commandment (Deut. 25:12) not to have pity for the life of an aggressor (rodef). That is why the Sages ruled that if a woman is in hard travail the embryo is removed, either by drugs or surgery: because it is regarded as one pursuing her and trying to kill her. Maimonides, MT, Hilkhot Rotzeah 1.9 R#8 This justifies destroying something of high value (the foetus), because it is (actively) endangering a person's life. The humanness of the foetus is devalued because the foetus is threatening a life. Abortion for the sake of the baby Judaism does not usually regard the suffering that an abnormal baby might endure as a sufficient reason to justify an abortion, and most rabbis would not give permission for a foetus to be aborted for that reason. However some rabbis would give permission in such a case if it is argued that the prospect of having a deformed and suffering child is causing the mother severe mental distress. They do this on the grounds that continuing the pregnancy is a threat to the mother. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (an authority in this area) ruled that screening of embryos is forbidden if the only purpose of doing so is to check for birth defects which might lead the parents to ask for an abortion. (Screening so that the foetus may be treated if there is a problem is, of course, a good thing.) However another distinguished rabbi, Eliezar Waldenberg, has suggested that abortion for the sake of the baby is sometimes permissible. Waldenberg accepts abortion in the first trimester of a foetus which would be born with a deformity that would cause it suffering, and abortion of a foetus with a fatal defect within the first two trimesters. These are both varied views, as are the views of many different Rabbis. Part of the mother's body Traditional Judaism regards a foetus as a being that is developing towards being a person, a foetus is not considered to be a person until it is born. Before that it is regarded as a part of the mother's body.

In conclusion, Judaism holds life valuably, knowing that it was given to each person by God. In saying this, Judaism is against abortion, however, it does permit abortion, if the foetus is of any threat to the mother, as the mothers life has preference over that of the foetus.

The Relationship between beliefs towards Euthanasia and the significance of these teachings in Judaism Judaism has the belief in the sanctity of life, that it must be preserved and taken great care of and forbids doing anything that might shorten life. This is supported by this quote: The message of Judaism is that one must struggle until the last breath of life. Until the last moment, one has to live and rejoice and give thanks to the Creator Dr Rachamim Melamed-Cohen, Jewsweek, March, 2002 However, Dr Rachamim Melamed is not saying that a doctor must make a dying person last longer than they naturally would. There are many reasons for the beliefs of Judaism:

The Jewish law and tradition regard human life as sacred, and say that it is wrong for anyone to shorten a human life; our lives are not ours to dispose of. All life is of infinite value, regardless of its duration or quality, because all human beings are made in the image of God Saving someone from pain should never be a reason to kill them It unlawful to kill yourself to save yourself from pain There is a limit to the duty to keep people alive - if someone's life is ending and they are in serious pain, doctors have no duty to make that person suffer more by artificially extending their dying moments. It is also acceptable to ask God in prayer to remove a person from their pain and suffering

Judaisms beliefs in relation to the different circumstances regarding Euthanasia: Active euthanasia Jewish law forbids active euthanasia and regards it as murder. There are no exceptions to this rule and it makes no difference if the person concerned wants to die. Passive euthanasia Jewish law states that doctors (and patients) have a duty to preserve life, and a doctor must do everything he/she can to save a patient's life - even if the patient doesn't want them to. However, there is some freedom for doctors in cases where a patient is terminally ill. Although a doctor cannot do anything that speeds up the process of death, but if the patient is being kept alive by machine a doctor can remove whatever is preventing the dying person from passing away.

The Talmud says that if a person hastens the death of another, they shall be called a murderer: "He who closes the eyes of a dying person while the soul is departing is a murderer [lit. He sheds blood]. This may be compared to a lamp that is going out. If a man places his finger upon it, it is immediately extinguished. Shabbat 151b R#5 This explains that no human is to bring on the death of another person. The Talmud also states that although a person may be dying that does not mean they have discontinued living, until their dying day: "One who is in a dying condition (goses) is regarded as a living person in all respects Semahot 1:1.R#4 In the Torah, murder is taken very seriously, as euthanasia can be seen as a form of murder this verse is relevant: It says that the consequence for taking another persons life is death: And if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbour, to slay him with guile: thou shalt take him from Mine altar, that he may die Exodus 21:14. Judaism teaches that murder is sinful and that life should be taken great care of, as each person has been made in the image of God. Euthanasia is often seen as a form of murder, therefore Judaism is against it, however, in the case that a patient is living off of a machine to keep them alive, passive euthanasia is permissible; otherwise each life must be preserved until their dying day comes.

Jewish Significant Practices The Marriage Ceremony In traditional Jewish literature marriage is actually called kiddushin, which translates as "sanctification" or "dedication." "Sanctification," indicates that what is happening is not just a social arrangement or contractual agreement, but a spiritual bonding and the fulfillment of a mitzvah, a Divine precept. "Dedication," indicates that the couple now have an exclusive relationship, that involves total dedication of the bride and groom to each other, to the extent of them becoming, as the Kabbalists state, "one soul in two bodies." There are many different stages of the marriage ceremony Step 1: Shidduch The very first stage of a traditional Jewish marriage is the shidduch, or matchmaking. This means that the process of finding a partner is not random or based on purely external aspects. Rather, a close friend or relative of the young man or woman, who knows someone that they feel may be a wellsuited partner, suggests that they meet. The purpose of the meeting is for the prospective bride and grooms to determine if they are indeed compatible. The meetings usually focus on discussion of issues important to marriage as well as casual conversation. The Talmud states that the couple must also be physically attractive to each other, something that can only be determined by meeting. According to Jewish law physical contact is not allowed between a man and a woman until they are married (except for certain close relatives), and also they may not be alone together in a closed room or secluded area. This helps to ensure that one's choice of partner will be based on the intellect and emotion as opposed to physical desire alone.

Step 2: Vort - engagement When the families have met, and the young couple have decided to marry, the families usually announce the occasion with a small reception, known as a vort. Some families sign a contract, the tenaim, meaning "conditions," that defines the obligations of each side regarding the wedding and a final date for the wedding. Others do this at the wedding reception an hour or so before the marriage. One week before the wedding the bride and groom, the chosson and kallah, stop seeing each other, in order to enhance the joy of their wedding through their separation. Step 3: Ketuvah At the reception itself, the first thing usually done is the completion, signing and witnessing of the ketuvah, or marriage contract. This contract is ordained by Mishnaic law (circa 170 CE) and according to some authorities dates back to Biblical times. The ketuvah, written in Aramaic, details the husband's obligations to his wife: food, clothing, dwelling and pleasure. It also creates a contract on all his property to pay her a sum of money and support should he divorce her, or predecease her. The document is signed by the groom and witnessed by two people, and has the standing of a legally binding agreement, that in many countries is enforceable by secular law. The ketuvah is often written as an illuminated manuscript, and becomes a work of art in itself, and many couples frame it and display it in their home. Step 4: Bedekin After the signing of the ketuvah, which is usually accompanied by some light snacks and some hard liquor for the traditional lechaims (the Jewish salute when drinking, which means, "to life!"), the

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groom does the bedekin, or "veiling." The groom, together with his father and future father-in-law, is accompanied by musicians and the male guests to the room where the bride is receiving her guests. She sits, like a queen, on a throne-like chair surrounded by her family and friends. The groom, who has not seen her for a week (an eternity for a young couple!), covers her face with her veil. This ceremony is mainly for the legal purpose of the groom identifying the bride before the wedding.

Step 5: Chuppah The next stage is known as the chuppah, or "canopy." The chuppah is a decorated piece of fabric held up as a symbolic home for the new couple. It is usually held outside, under the stars, as a sign of the blessing given by God to the patriarch Abraham that his children shall be "as the stars of the heavens." The groom is accompanied to the chuppah by his parents, and typically wears a white robe, known as a kittel, to indicate the fact that for the bride and groom, they are starting a new life together with a clean white slate, since they are uniting to become a new body, together. In fact, the bride and groom usually fast on the day of the wedding (until the chuppah) since for them it is like Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. While the bride comes to the chuppah with her parents, a cantor sings a selection from the Song of Songs, and the groom prays that his unmarried friends find their true partners in life. When the bride arrives at the chuppah she circles the groom seven times with her mother and future mother-in-law, while the groom continues to pray. This symbolizes the idea of the woman being a protective, surrounding light of the household, that illuminates it with understanding and love from within and protects it from harm from the outside. The number seven parallels the seven days of creation, and symbolizes the fact that the bride and groom are about to create their own "new world" together. Under the chuppah, an honoured Rabbi or family member then recites a blessing over wine, and a blessing that praises and thanks God for giving us laws of sanctity and morality to preserve the sanctity of family life and of the Jewish people. The bride and groom then drink from the wine. The blessings are recited over wine, since wine is symbolic of life: it begins as grape-juice, goes through fermentation, during which it is sour, but in the end turns into a superior product that brings joy, and has a wonderful taste. The full cup of wine also symbolizes the overflowing of Divine blessing, as in the verse in Psalms, "My cup runneth over."

Step 6: Kiddushin The groom, now takes a plain gold ring and places it on the finger of the bride, and recites in the presence of two witnesses, "Behold you are sanctified (betrothed) to me with this ring, according to the Law of Moses and Israel." The ring symbolizes the concept of the groom encompassing, protecting and providing for his wife. The ketuvah is now read aloud, usually by another honouree, after which it is given to the bride.

Step 7: Sheva brachos After this, the sheva brachos, or seven blessings, are recited, either by one Rabbi, or at many weddings a different blessing is given to various people the families wish to honor. The blessings are also recited over a full cup of wine. The blessings begin with praising G-d for His creation in general and creation of the human being and proceed with praise for the creation of the human as a "two part creature," woman and man. The blessings express the hope that the new couple will rejoice

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together forever as though they are the original couple, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The blessings also include a prayer that Jerusalem will be fully rebuilt and restored with the Temple in its midst and the Jewish people within her gates. At this point the couple again share in drinking the cup of wine, and the groom breaks a glass by stamping on it. This custom dates back to Talmudic times, and symbolizes the idea of our keeping Jerusalem and Israel in our minds even at times of our joy. Just as the Temple in Jerusalem is destroyed, so we break a utensil to show our identification with the sorrow of Jewish exile. The verse, "If I forget thee O' Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its cunning: If I do not raise thee over my own joy, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth", is sometimes recited at this point. With the breaking of the glass the band plays, and the guests usually break out into dancing and cries of "Mazaltov! Mazaltov!" (Some say, tongue in cheek, that this moment symbolizes the last time the groom gets to "put his foot down")

Step 8: Cheder yichud Now that the couple are married they are accompanied by dancing guests to the cheder yichud, "the room of privacy." They may now be alone in a closed room together, an intimacy reserved only for a married couple. In fact, according to many Jewish legal authorities, the very fact that they are alone together in a locked room, is a requirement of the legal act of marriage, and hence their entry into the room must be observed by the two witnesses of the marriage. While the bride and groom are alone together (usually eating, after having fasted all day) the guests sit down to eat a festive meal. The meal is preceded by ritual washing of the hands and the blessing over bread. At some point, the band announces the arrival "for the very first time, Mr. and Mrs.." and everyone joins in dancing around the bride and groom. The dancing, in accordance with Jewish law requires a separation between men and women for reasons of modesty, and hence there is a mechitzah, or partition between the men and women. The main focus of the dancing is to entertain and enhance the joy of the newlyweds, hence large circles are formed around the "king and queen," and different guests often perform in front of the seated couple. It is not unusual to see jugglers, fire eaters, and acrobats at a wedding (most of whom are guests, not professionals!) The meal ends with the Birchas Hamazon, Grace after Meals, and again the seven blessings are recited over wine, shared afterwards by the bride and groom.

The Significance for the Individual The wedding ceremony for the Jewish individual is highly significant, as this is a time (for the couple) where they are able to confess their love in a practical way under the Jewish law. Each stage is planned out for them and need to be observed for the whole practice to be acceptable to God. The bride and groom fast for the whole day of their wedding (until the chuppah) to sanctify themselves before God and to start their life together as a new unit, washed of their sin. This is significant as it starts the couples journey through life on the right path with God. The Cheder yichud is a very important part of the ceremony as it unites the couple together, this stage is taken very seriously as there must be witnesses to make sure the couple enter the room together. The couple is also able to be blessed by their rabbi sheva brachos to keep in accordance with Gods will for their lives. For the spectator individual, the marriage ceremony is significant as it is a time to recognise God in the lives of the couple and celebrate their life together, through dancing and festivities, and also through the hearing of the 7 blessings this reaffirms their faith in God

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and gives them a sense of confidence in the couple. The men and women also dance separately, which helps them to stay modest and keeps in line with their beliefs. The Significance for the Community

The significance for Judaism as a community is: For all those who are part of a family, the marriage ceremony has been or will be part of the couples life. And so every aspect of the ceremony, from the matchmaking to the Cheder yichud brings the community together and reaffirms not just the rituals but the beliefs behind the stages. Through marriage, the couple are able to have children, which therefore, brings growth to the Jewish community. As well as the knowledge that culture and belief system is passed on from generation to generation. They are able to come together as individual members of a family within a community, through the festivities of the ceremony e.g. dancing and eating. It is on families that the community is built and on its unity, dependent for the ongoing communication of Jewish belief. Through the love that is expressed in a Jewish marriage ceremony, the community is brought together, which therefore maintains the traditions of Judaism. And, as a worldwide community, Judaism gains the spiritual expression of the love of people and for each other. And through marriage the spread of Judaism is made possible.

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