May 22, 2023
The 49th chapter of Bereshit describes the vivid scene of Yaakov Avinu offering his final words and testament as his children, the progenitors of the twelve tribes, stand around his bed. In many ways, this represents an ideal death: confronting it with time to prepare, with nothing left unsaid, with a faithful family surrounding the person whose life is ending.
Of course, very often it doesn’t work that way. Frequently, there are difficult decisions that the patient, or the patient’s family, needs to make. These include questions about when and in what circumstances to keep the patient alive, and when to allow death to occur. They also involve issues regarding hospice care, organ donation, do not resuscitate orders, and more.
Understandably, many people are reluctant to discuss these issues before they’re relevant; but waiting until they are relevant often means having no idea what to do when it’s time to make these very serious decisions.
Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Brody, the executive director of Ematai, is encouraging people to have these difficult conversations earlier rather than later, and to better understand the various issues at play - whether halachic, ethical, or medical. Scott was pleased to speak with him about a number of the most important and pressing end-of-life issues.
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Music: "Happy Rock" by bensound.com