Does Netilas Neshama on Shabbos Only Apply At the Organism Level?

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    Or does it apply at the cellular level as well?

    I’m going to be starting a course of medication soon that will require me to take it on Shabbos (and every other day of the week). This medication causes some cellular death in the body, but not, obviously, at the organismal level. I will, God willing, still be alive afterward.

    So, how do we view “Netilas Neshama?” Do we say that it only applies at the organism level, since cells, to the best of my knowledge, don’t have a “neshama?” Or does it apply to anything alive (including cells) — only Chazal used that terminology because they were either unaware of cells or just chose, for whatever reason, to use the term “Netilas Neshama?”

    (Just for the record – I’m going to be taking the medicine anyway, regardless of the outcome of this discussion. I’m just curious about what everyone thinks about this.)

    The Wolf


    approximately 1 percent of our body is renewed everyday, cell death occurs, new cells are created
    so every 80-100 days you are literally a new you
    this opens new horizons to my thinking
    we are literally reborn 4 times a year
    maybe I should have to do pidyon haben on my bachur 4 times a year (or hatafas dam-not sure he will be happy about that one)
    refuah sheleima and good shabbos!


    I’m not a Rov, but I will just mention 2 accounts that might be of a difference:

    1. 砖讘转 拽讝. 讘专砖”讬 讚”讛 “讜讛讞讜讘诇”

    2. 讻转讜讘讜转 讛:聽 讘转讜住’ 讚”讛 “讚诐”.


    Here is a less sarcastic answer
    Whether or not chazal knew of cells is irrelevant, it is impossible to recognize it on a halachic level
    For if we did, you wouldn’t be able to eat, drink, breath
    The air we breath, the water you drink is full of microscopic organisms. (we breath in 1 million microorganism a day)
    chazal always works on a level of “nerah l’anyim” whether it is for kosher drinking water or picking an esrog.
    So, no, I can not imagine that we are worried about ascribing death at a cellular level (which, as i said in my previous post, is natural anyway)
    However, that said, on a larger scale even though an amputated limb can theoretically be thrown to the dogs. We are supposed to treat it with some reverence and most say a kohen does need to stay away from it.


    Yalkut Meam Loez commentary on Bereishit, perek 2 pasuk 7
    (volume 1, page 245):

    鈥淎 person who has not been religious,
    and then returns to the path of Torah
    (a baal teshuvah) can be worthy of
    such an additional soul every day.鈥

    In other words, Baal Teshuvah can have the extra Shabbat soul even during weekdays!

    Yalkut Meam Loez was written in Turkey by Rabbi Yaakov Culi, who was born in year 1689 and died in 1732 of the Common Era.

    Dear WolfishMusings,

    If I guess correctly, you will soon be taking chemotherapy.

    I might be wrong about this, but in my humble opinion, chemotherapy can do more harm than good.

    I might be wrong about this, but I strongly suspect that chemotherapy harmed my mother, just as much as the cancer itself did, maybe more.



    Only organisms and even them only organisms that are visible when born.
    Gemra says it is mutar to kill a kinah on shabbos since it isnt born. Rishonim (eg Rashi) explain to mean they spontaneously generate though today the common interpretation is that as far as the eye can see (without microscopic aide) they seem spontaneously generate.
    But certainly there is no issur to spray lysol although it is killing organisms or take antibiotics (as far as netilas neshama goes)


    Refuah Shleima!


    Interesting topic.

    During the time of Chazal, cellular biology may not have been understood. It’s also possible that since the processes within cells are interdependent to sustain life, the body as a whole was considered a living entity and not an individual organism.

    This same discussion is relevant to antibiotics.


    correction – no knowledge


    A single cell has know knowledge of it’s own being. For that alone, I do not consider it being alive. It merely exists in an active state. More like a candle than an insect.


    That’s not the way everyone else uses the word “alive.”
    To avoid confusion, please find your own word to use.


    I did. The next sentence.


    My second sentence was a mistake. (I’m somewhat sleep-deprived at the moment.)

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