Where There's Life, There's Life

By David M. Feldman

ISBN 1-933143-11-8
Softcover, 156 pages $16.95
Buy it now

This book was written for those struggling with the care of a sick or elderly loved one, or even the ill person himself. Inspiring readers from the vast Jewish tradition, Rabbi David M. Feldman gives not only hope but meaning to those placed in such difficult circumstances. Every life is precious and every moment of that life is worthwhile. But while such a positive attitude can guide us in general, we need the Jewish tradition to evaluate different circumstances in varying ways, sometimes at odds with secular and Christian approaches.

The Jewish perspective considers all human life inviolate. In this book, Feldman illustrates the beauty of the Jewish perspective by means of scholarly explorations into abortion, euthanasia, organ transplantation and other topics. Drawing from Talmudic teachings, as well as contemporary news items, and including his personal accounts from more than forty years of experience as a congregational rabbi and medical ethicist, Rabbi Feldman relates the primacy of life in Judaism with passion and expertise.

The author makes the case for life’s intrinsic preciousness and does so, first, by guiding us through the details of pikkuach nefesh — the principle in Jewish religious law that sets saving of life and health above all else. He then illustrates this life-affirming perspective by means of a comprehensive exploration of many topics including the right to die, martyrdom, the mandate to heal, the mind-body connection, embryonic stem cell research, organ transplants — including the controversial questions of heart transplantation. He leads us with edifying expertise, but in eminently readable style, through an analysis of pro-natalism, new reproductive technology, even the death penalty and the writing of Living Wills.

Blurbs about the Book:
“Rabbi David Feldman enriches us with this new book on some of the most difficult issues in Jewish medical ethics and law, from the pre-embryonic stage to situations after death. He rightfully defines these issues as eternal and current, and shows the practical guidance of halakhah to be consistent, not haphazard and contradictory. Throughout the book, he successfully points out the great significance attributed to life by Judaism… Opposing other contemporary attitudes, he sets forth the classic Jewish approach. Rabbi Feldman demonstrates that the latter, while strongly advocating respect for human beings and their wishes, calls for a higher moral obligation, the need for sharing values, and primarily the respect for life per se as a God-given precious asset.”

Rabbi Avraham Steinberg, M.D.
Senior Pediatric Neurologist at Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem; Clinical Associate Professor in Medical Ethics at Hebrew University; and author of Encyclopedia of Jewish Medical Ethics
“The axiom of Torah ethics — the sanctity of life — has been eroded by a series of Supreme Court decisions. Some seek to erode it by simplistic sloganism, such as “death with dignity,” “whose life is it anyway?” and the like. So I welcome this book where the author presents the Torah way for resolving ethical dilemmasin patient care, and philosophic dilemmas in life’s challenges. He does so with lucidity and erudition.”

Rabbi Mosheh Tendler
Professor of Biology; and Professor of Medical Ethics, Yeshiva University; Rosh Yeshivah, RIETS
“This well-organized, clearly written, and extensively documented new book by Rabbi Feldman maintains the high standards of excellence of his previous works. The book will be a welcome and worthy addition to the available literature on Jewish medical ethics. It will command a prominent place on the bookshelves of physicians, rabbis, and scholars, as well as those seeking elucidation of the important issues addressed.”

Fred Rosner, M.D., M.A.C.P.
Professor of Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine; former Co-Chairman, Committee on Medical Ethics; prolific author

Inside the Book

Table of Contents


1. Life is Sacred

2. Saving Life and Health

3. More on Pikkuach Nefesh

4. Natalism and Reproductive Technology

5. Abortion and Stem-Cell Research

6. Organ Transplantation

7. Determination of Death

8. Whose Life is It?

9. Suicide and the Right to Die

10. Concluding Thoughts




Chapter 1: Life is Sacred

Blog Posts:

A Review and an Article

About the Author:

Rabbi David M. Feldman (Google him) is Dean of the Jewish Institute of Bioethics. He is the author of Birth Control in Jewish Law: Marital Relations, Contraception and Abortion, As Set Forth in the Classic Texts of Jewish Law, published by New York University Press in 1968. The book then appeared in several paperback editions under the title Marital Relations, etc., and has now been republished in augmented form, updating its material on new fertility questions and returning to its original title plus “Third Edition — With Epilogue 1995”. He is also the author of The Jewish Family Relationship and of Health and Medicine in the Jewish Tradition, the latter commissioned by the Lutheran Institute of Human Ecology and published by Crossroad. He is the Editor of the Compendium on Medical Ethics and has written several articles for the Encyclopedia Judaica and for both the original 1978 edition of the Encyclopedia of Bioethics and for its revised 1995 edition.

Dr. Feldman pursued graduate studies at Columbia and at the University of Illinois, and holds degrees from Yeshiva University and the Jewish Theological Seminary, as well as semikhah from Rav Natalovitch. Having served as chaplain in the U.S. Air Force and then for many years as Rabbi of the Bay Ridge Jewish Center in Brooklyn, he is now Rabbi Emeritus of the Jewish Center of Teaneck, New Jersey. He was recently granted the “Rabbi of the Year” Award by the New York Board of Rabbis.

Rabbi Feldman has served as Chairman of the Committee on Medical Ethics of UJA-Federation and as Chairman of its Committee on Marriage and the Family. A long-standing member of the Law Committee of the Rabbinical Assembly, he served on the faculty of the School for Chaplains of the New York Board of Rabbis. He is a Founding Fellow of the Hastings Institute of Society, Ethics, and the Life Sciences and a member of the Editorial Advisory of the Encyclopedia of Bioethics, sponsored by the Kennedy Institute. He also serves on the Bio-Medical Ethics Committee of Hackensack University Medical Center and on the Board of Trustees of the New York Society for the Deaf.

Dr. Feldman has lectured widely before synagogue, university, and medical groups. He gave testimony in Albany and Washington on abortion and population issues. He was invited to Rome to address a Vatican-sponsored conference on the subject of his first book and delivered a series of lectures on Jewish law at the Law School of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

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