`211 Trusting Doctors in Halachic Responsa Part 1
Chananya Weissman

June 29, 2022

 

Contrary to the proclamations of rabbis who abused and desecrated their positions, the Torah does not instruct us to follow doctors, any more than it instructs us to do something just because a rabbi said so. Indeed, those who made these proclamations on behalf of their sponsors failed to substantiate them – because they can't – and counted on people being too ignorant, lazy, fearful, trusting, and obedient to even question them. Millions of people over the last two years made poor medical decisions as a result, the devastating effects of which are becoming more apparent with each passing day.

My recent series on Medical Tyranny Versus Authentic Torah outlined the Torah's true position on the role of doctors. In the following selection of halachic responsa we will see how some of our greatest poskim (decisors of Jewish law) applied these principles in real life.

Lest one accuse me of cherry-picking, the Torah sources are consistent and unequivocal, and those who believe otherwise are welcome to back it up. The other side of the cherry orchard is a barren wasteland of rhetoric about “saving lives”, “trusting experts”, and “Jewish values”, plus a few sources taken absurdly out of context. Sorry to those who believe everything is too complex and nuanced for the objective truth to be clear. Unless we are talking about details and halachic minutiae – for which we require poskim – the objective truth is generally clear as day. We are responsible to know it and confidently adhere to it, even if corporate shills in rabbinic garb seek to lead us astray.

Here, then, is real Torah – what they didn't teach you and don't want you to know.

The Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer 145:9 deals with the case of a married man who is gravely ill and wishes to grant his wife a divorce right before his death, most likely so that she will avoid becoming a yevama. The way to do this is with a provisional get that will take effect retroactively upon his death, but will be void if he recovers.

The Shulchan Aruch strongly recommends that the get be worded to take effect only if he dies by a certain day, as opposed to stating that it should take effect if he dies from this particular illness. Otherwise, there is concern that an unscrupulous fellow will try to convince the doctor to say that the man died from some other cause, and he will thereby cast aspersions on the get.

In other words, there is a serious halachic concern that a doctor may be coerced to fudge the official cause of death. This is not a mere theory or an irrational fear; it's real life, real Jewish law.

The Rema adds the following comment: “For nowadays we are not experts, and therefore nowadays we should not rely on the evaluations of the doctor.

Even if there is no suspicion of corruption, the Rema stated that doctors have less expertise in determining the cause of death than they had in earlier times. One might wish to believe that today doctors are better at this than ever, but considering their wild claims about “covid deaths” and their refusal to acknowledge carnage from the shots, it's fair to suggest that their trustworthiness in this matter is even less than in the times of the Rema. Whatever they know or don't know, they're certainly amenable to fudging a death certificate.

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The Chasam Sofer has a particularly relevant responsa (2:82), cited by the Pischei Teshuva on Even HaEzer 159:1. This concerns the case of a man who died without children, and his wife was a yevama. Her husband's brother was only six years old, which meant she would be forced to wait seven years until he became an adult and was able to perform chalitza.

The woman obtained testimony from “expert doctors” that if she remained an aguna for so long, she might become dangerously ill. The Chasam Sofer was asked a twofold question:

1) Do we trust doctors regarding a person who is standing before us in good health, and we see no signs of illness in him, that this person is actually in danger?

2) If we do trust the doctors, may we permit a yevama to remarry, despite the prohibition, due to this presumed danger to her health?

In his lengthy response the Chasam Sofer states emphatically as follows:

“...We should only trust a doctor about one who is already established to have a certain illness, but as for a person who goes with strength like a healthy person and whispers to a doctor and says 'I have this, and this hurts me' and the doctor judges according to his words as he should, we cannot allow him [the one who claims he is sick] to transgress and to budge at all, certainly not from the words of the Torah based on his dreams and his words.”

In other words, there is no such thing as doctors declaring that people who show no signs of illness should be quarantined like lepers or otherwise presumed to be spreading deadly diseases. Furthermore, it is forbidden to suspend any mitzvos due to this presumed “threat to life” that is entirely speculative. We do not treat healthy (“asymptomatic”) people like sick people, period. The doctor can jump up and down all he wants, but his words are as authoritative as a dream.

The Chasam Sofer then writes emphatically that we do not permit the yevama to violate Torah law – especially one that involves forbidden relationships – despite the assertion that her emotional distress could theoretically endanger her health.

This point needs to be emphasized. We do not allow people to hold us hostage to their emotions and compromise the Torah to placate them. We do not violate the Torah because people threaten to throw a tantrum or blame us for the harm they bring upon themselves. Children, and adults who behave like children, are encouraged to grow up, and receive discipline if necessary.

The Chasam Sofer brings numerous proofs for his ruling and concludes as follows:

“I hope that there will be no thought or challenge, God forbid, to take action and publicly violate the words of the Torah, God forbid. And we trust in Hashem that one who guards a mitzvah will not have evil befall him [Koheles 8:5] and no tragedy will come through keeping the commandments of Hashem and His Torah...”

One who trusts in Hashem and follows the Torah does not recklessly endanger himself, but he also does not make concessions for every fear real, exaggerated, or imagined. God does not want us to live like paranoid hypochondriacs, declaring everything a safek pikuach nefesh (a possible threat to one's life), and therefore normal life itself “too dangerous”. Such behavior is a perverse distortion of the very foundations of Torah.

To be continued...

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