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Jul 10, 2009

they keep doing it anyway

Today a 36 year old mother of 7 in the Haredi city of Elad passed away suddenly from (semeingly) heart failure. Baruch Dayan Ha'Emes.

The authorities (i.e. police) wanted to perform an autopsy. That led to the local residents going out to protest by the thousands.

I don't understand why this fight has to go on every single time there is a sudden and unexpected death (is any death not sudden or is any death expected?) in the haredi community. The authorities already know that they never do the autopsy because the haredim prevent it due to halachic restrictions, and the attempt just brings them out en masse to protest. In the end, every time, the authorities give in and release the body.

So why do they bother even trying? In the beginning, I understand. Maybe they did not know yet, maybe it was not every time. etc. But nowadays, it happens every time, and they go through the same dance - they take the body for an autopsy, the locals and others protest, the authorities agree and release the body.

So why bother? Why fight do they about it and attempt to autopsy the body when the conclusion is already known in advance?


  1. Abu Kahbir needs its pound of flesh.

  2. because a 36 year old mother of 7 is not a 75 year old grandmother dying of heart failure. and the assumption of heart failure is just that - assumption. maybe she wasn't dressed tznius and was killed for it - maybe she was in an abusive relationship and died of internal injuries, maybe not - NOTHING to do with being chareidi. Has to do with someone so young dying so suddenly.

  3. Not saying that it happened here, but what if the "heart failure" was due to someone having poisoned her?

    In the States and England, coroners have used virtual autopsies, using MRI, in certain cases where the family objected to the physical autopsy.

  4. besides there's a legal issue involved. Here in the states, if the police don't even attempt to do their job, and it turns out later foul play was involved, the police can be sued, or even punushed internally. Maybe here as well. They have to make the attempt, if only to say later, see, we tried and you wouldn't let us!

  5. shaya - interesting suggestion with the legal issue.

    I understand the secular/legal/scientific need for an autopsy. An unusual death, they have to figure ut the cause.

    I understand the haredi opposition. Halachic issue. kvod ha'meis. etc.

    My question is that when the issue aroses with the haredi community, the conclusion is foregone. They never succeed. So instead of all the fighting over it each and every time, just don't bother when the death is involved in the haredi community.

    Shaya's legality suggestion is interesting.

  6. Chareidi SocietyJuly 10, 2009 4:42 PM

    Why should unnatural causes of death go un-detected, nor any action taken - neither preventative nor punitive, just because the victim was chareidi??
    That would be to revert to the rule of the jungle & mafia - not of civilized society in 2009.

    Chareidi society deserves better!

  7. you may think that, and it is certainly understandable why an autopsy in this case should be needed, but the reality is that the jaredi community never agrees, always fights it, and always gets it prevented. so why fight at all if you know you will lose?

    at best the chief of police (or whoever is responsible for these issues) should meet with x, y or z (right, get some haredi rep who will be acceptable to everyone and all the different factions - that's gonna happen) and explain why it is necessary in this or that specific case, and try to get an agreement. if no agreement, then at least no fight.

    I do not know when the halacha allows for it and when not, so I am not criticizing the haredim for fighting it.
    I understand their side and I understand the secular side. they are always set to clash on this, so why bother.

  8. isn't it a case of 'pikuach nefesh'

    if the police have an assumption (maybe they don't but lets say they do for conversation's sake) of foul play then they need an autopsy to discover the truth and protect other people from a murderer.

  9. again, all you are doing is explining the need for an autopsy in this case. I agree and understand the need.

    The question, which you are not answering, is that when this happens in the haredi community they must already know that they have no chance of successfully doing the autopsy. So either meet the haredi heads/reps and work an agreement or dont bother at all. Why do it in a way that it will be a fight that you know you will lose?

    Unless you are saying that even though they know it will be a fight and they will lose, they still feel the need to try, for the legal reason, for the statement, etc. though this seems silly.

  10. The foregone conclusion is the problem itself. By backing down every time the state continues to show that it cannot stand the pressure from the Haredi community (on this issue, and others). If this is the law - then Haredim are not exempt and the state should not back down - and actually perform the autopsy. Persevere, and eventually (whatever that means), protests will prove futile and disappear.

    To me, it sounds like you're advocating capitulation in the face of pressure - imagine if every group did this every time it didn't like something - what sort of state is that?

    Of course, this seems to be like protests against the Zionist state more than anything else. Is there a real halachic basis for their opposition?

  11. I do not know the halacha in this case. I know generally autopsies are not allowed. I have heard that in certain circumstances they are, but perhaps that is only according to some opinions and not all. I don't know.

    I am not advocating capitulating in the face of pressure. I am saying that since they capitulate anyway, every single time, why make yourself look so bad and start the fight that you know you are going to lose/ Think outside the box, find a way to get an agreement on doing it (in certain circumstances), find a way to get it done and not cause a fight, find a way to get it done and win the fight if the fight must be fought. But why start the fight when you know you are going to lose? Using the current working methods, they always lose this fight. Find a new way or dont bother.

  12. Ok, I've done some basic reading, and it seems it is complicated - definitely not a total halachic ban.

    In any case, you're right - some sort of workable solution needs to be found. Authorities are essentially, just banging their heads against the wall. But allowing protesters to prevail every time is dangerous, too.

  13. Sometimes you give tochacha because you want to change the outcome, sometimes to make a statement even though you know the outcome won't change.
    Joel Rich

  14. Rafi - but the reality is that the haredi community never agrees, always fights it, and always gets it prevented.

    I don't believe this entirely. Maybe the reason the police take charge of the body, during which time the protests take place, is so they can do a physical examination (on a table, under lights, etc) to determine if an autopsy really needs to be done or not.

    What I don't believe is that if they have a body with clear marks of violence on it, that they wouldn't force the issue and have some sort of autopsy to determine the cause of death. At least to the extent necessary for the police to continue their investigation into the death. To be very explicit, maybe to the extent of determining what kind of blunt object might have been used, or what fluids, or other samples such as hairs, from the perpetrator exist on or in the body. But not to the extent of cutting up the body and extracting (weighing, etc) the internal organs.

    Does Kavod Hamet even prevent such things in the first place? We clean the guf of our metim anyway before kevura, so it doesn't strike me as so bad for the Abu Kabir to collect samples of potentially incriminating evidence before cleaning and tevilah bemikvah takes place.


  15. 2 issues here.
    One: We can't just say 'let it go because they always object and get their way' because if do that we"ll end up like Lebanon. We won't do autopsies on charedim, the police already don't enforce most laws in East Jerusalem and Bedouin areas of the Negev, we"re on the road there already.
    Two: Maybe she died of something that will affect one or another of her 7 children and something could be done about it? Wouldn't that be a good enough reason to find out her cause of death?

  16. B"H

    In many ways, the Erev Rav controlled gov't lumps all religious concepts and communities together.

    They have already moved in on Kashruth, c/o the Supreme Court vs. the Chief Rabbinate, have always been chipping away at Shabbath and Torah education, and are simply waiting for there to be a break in the autopsy front.

    The government controllers hate Torah.

  17. see this post



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