Many different major religious groups and denominations have varying views on organ donation depending on their ideologies.
Differing opinions can arise depending on if the death is categorized as brain death or cease of the heartbeat. It is important for doctors and health care providers to be knowledgeable about differentiating theological and cultural views on death and organ donations as nations are becoming more multicultural. – (Source – Wikipedia)
A mitzvah of the highest order – The Rabbinical Assembly, the Conservative movement’s association of Rabbis, has said organ donation is, “…a new means to fulfill an ancient, eternal religious duty, a mitzvah of the highest order.”, while the Union for Reform Judaism – as far back as 1968 – affirmed it as, “…a positive act of holiness.”
Pikuach nefesh – the saving of a life – is the highest Jewish value, higher even than preserving the integrity of our own bodies at burial. In the most important way, we live on through the good we do in the world – and organ donation gives us the possibility of preserving life even after our own has ended. We should all make sure – if possible – that we are listed as donors.
Judaism and Organ Donation – selective quotes from Rabbis:
Rabbi Elie Karfunkel, Forest Hill Jewish Centre – Toronto
“This is a huge Mitzvah opportunity. The life of a very special man is dependent on a match. Make the effort to get tested!”
Chabad Jewish Centre of Durham – Toronto
“It is quoted in the Talmud, the ‘one who saves a life is as if he saves an entire world’, and this is the embodiment of our teachings; to be able to give of ourselves for someone else.”
Mordechai Torczyner, Rosh Beit Midrash, Beit Midrash Zichron Dov – Toronto
“Centuries of rabbinic opinion confirm that a living donation of an organ is one of the greatest acts of piety one can perform. Anyone who is eligible should jump at the opportunity to be tested.”
Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl, Rabbi Emeritus, Beth Tzedec Congregation, Toronto
“We have tremendous regard for the integrity of the body,” he said. That’s why we limit autopsies and conduct funerals as soon as practical. Yet, he added,“all rabbinic authorities came to an agreement – Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, New Age, chassidish: preservation of life supersedes all prohibitions.”
Rabbi Jordan Helfman, Holy Blossom Temple, Toronto
“Pikuach nefesh – the saving of a life – is the highest Jewish value, higher even than preserving the integrity of our own bodies at burial. In the most important way, we live on through the good we do in the world –and organ donation gives us the possibility of preserving life even after our own has ended. We should all make sure – if possible – that we are listed as donors.”
Rabbi Benji Levy, RabbiBenji.com
“Saving a life is one of the noblest causes one can engage in and while I always knew this in theory, when my daughter had a liver transplant at 9 months, this mitzvah took on new value for my family. If it wasn’t for the incredible choice of a special individual, my daughter would not be alive today and we are eternally grateful. Too many people die too often due to misconceptions, apathy and a host of other reasons, but having lived through this firsthand, I believe that we as a community need to do all we can to imbue our lives with meaning by allowing others to live.”
Link to You Tube video, featuring Rabbi Levy:
Additional videos, showcasing Judaism and organ donation:
How Far Will You go to Give? Judaism and Organ Donation
Rabbi Makes Second Organ Donation to Stranger
Organ donation is a private and personal choice.
Please consult with your church, mosque or spiritual leader to discuss personal views, choices and any other issues.