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Nov 28, 2012

Interesting Psak: Don't Say Shema by Deathbed of...

Rav Nissim Karelitz was recently asked a halachic question regarding a family that had asked the Lev Malka organization, an organization that assists children with cancer, to come say shema by the deathbed of their child.

The question was raised because the family has decided to disconnect the child from his machines because they no longer can bear to see him suffer. The doctors have not said, according to the report, that the boys situation is so critical that his days are or hours are numbered. The question asked, threfore, was can, or should, they say shema and the vidui for this child, as doing so might be considered assisting in causing his death?

Rav Nissim Karelitz paskened that it is prohibited to say shema by the deathbed of a child who's family want to disconnect his machines, as doing so will shorten his life that was designated for him by heaven.
(source: Kikar)

I find this psak fascinating, and surprising. The child is going to die anyway, as the family is cutting his machines. I would have thought that we would not want to deny the child his deathbed shema and vidui, considering the situation isnt of our choosing anyway. It is determined that the shema will hasten the child's death, and therefore it cannot be said. It makes sense to me, but it is surprising.


A question I do have based on the way it was reported, is that supposedly Rav Karelitz said that saying the shema would shorten the lifespan of the child as it had been determined by heaven - that makes me wonder: if heaven gave a specific lifespan to the child, won't he (or she) live that out regardless of the machines he is or is not attached to? Maybe this is the correct amount of time that had been determined. Is it even possible to shorten a life if it was determined Above? Do we have control over such things? I never would have thought so, but that does seem to be what Rav Karelitz is saying. And if this is true, do we also have the ability to circumvent our heavenly decreed fates on other issues, like parnassa, rain or anything else that is determined above?

Obviously teshuva and doing good deeds can be a factor that might cause such changes, as becoming evil and doing bad deeds might change it the other way, but I would view that as a way of changing the decree, not circumventing it. According to the statement quoted of Rav Karelitz, there is also a way to circumvent heavenly decrees.  

Thoughts?






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3 comments:

  1. http://thepartialview.blogspot.com/2012/11/gangam-or.html

    ReplyDelete
  2. The way it was reported was obviously wrong. You can tell they tried to sensationalize a very simple policy.

    Going over to say the prayers is a way of validating the decision to "pull the plug". They don't want to support anyone who "pulls the plug" in any way, because it is shortening their life.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This man is no gadol. A gadol would have more sense to be kind instead of cruel to a family that is about to lose their child. He's being a Shammai instead of being a Hillel. I pasken like Hillel in this case.

    ReplyDelete

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