Bold Organ Donor Proposal Linked to Chief Rabbinate


Kiryat Ono Chief Rabbi Ratzon Arussi is proposing the establishment of special batei din to deal with the hospitals around Israel and the issues that pertain to organ transplants. The rav’s proposed plan will appear in the soon-to-be-published edition of “Techumin” released by the Zomet Institute.

The plan would empower the beis din to address life threatening cases, recipients on waiting lists, even in cases in which the niftar did not sign an organ donor card and without consent from family members. The beis din will also be responsible for addressing all aspects of the transplant to make sure that there are no violations of halacha and that kvura is not unnecessarily delayed.

The rav explains that if there is a person in a life threatening condition, a transplant is permitted from the body of a dead person even if the deceased has not left instructions to become an organ donor. Actually, the rav adds that even if the deceased did not sign on to become an organ donor and the family objects, the beis din will be empowered to rule in favor of the transplant to save a life.

The rav feels that this compelled organ donor situation is permitted according to halacha. “We must be cautious regarding the opinion that man is the owner of his body. According to this hashkafa, they wish to permit many things that are prohibited according to halacha including suicide, self inflicting harm, adventurous activities that are viewed as too dangerous, and even euthanasia” the rav adds.

The rav rejects the given status that the family of the deceased ‘owns’ the body, and he feels there is no judicial or halachic integrity to a will that did not exist prior to the death.

The rav feels the main flaw with the ADI (National Transplant Center) is the basic assumption that a person leaves a life and a body while life is a gift from HKBH and HKBH who decides where and how this life will end.

Rabbi Arussi adds “The ADI cards border on criminal activity, dealing in organs because in return for the bodily organs trees are planned in the ADI Forest in memory of the donor, inclusion in the memorial website, and an invitation to the families for the memorial day to the President’s Residence, and moving family members of organ donors ahead on the transplant waiting list. The law states clearly that one may not be compensated for an organ donation.”

It should be pointed out that the law in Israel and other countries today prohibits using organs from a deceased person over objections of the family members or the objection of the deceased. Therefore, at present, the rabbi’s proposal remains in the realm of an academic and halachic discourse, at least until the state law is amended.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)


  1. Using the same logic, the logical conclusion to the zionist rabbis position described above is that they can forcibly require even a living person who does not wish to donate an organ to give away his organ to someone whose life will be saved.

  2. And not only that, they will be arguing that they can take an organ from a dead man even if the dead man left a will before dying that specifically states not to.

  3. The rav rejects the given status that the family of the deceased ‘owns’ the body,

    Like it or not, in the current situation a body is valuable property, and if the family doesn’t own it then automatically someone else does. If the family doesn’t decide whether it can be used as a donor, then someone else is, and that person (or corporate entity) is the de facto owner. And the real question is what gives them that right. In particular, since that person is likely to be the state, what gives the state this right? And can he not see how dangerous it is to make the state the owner of our bodies?

    Rabbi Arussi adds “The ADI cards border on criminal activity

    How is that his business? Why does he care whether someone is obeying the law? He should be concerned about halacha, not the law.

    The law states clearly that one may not be compensated for an organ donation.”

    Right. So everybody involved in the process is entitled to make a buck, except the donor. That sounds fair.

  4. For a change, Milhouse gets its right, from both a legal and moral perspective. The Rav’s postion encroaches on the legal rights of the family, especially if the niftar has any sort of final directives/will giving a family member control over end-of-life and burial decisions. From a moral perspective, these types of questions should be the decision of the niftar via directives made during his/her lifetime.