Torah World Protests New Initiative to Legitimize “Brain Death”


wosner[Audio below.] Recent media reports claim that the Israeli Chief Rabbinate has recognized the cessation of brain activity as a sign of death, even though current and former gedolei Yisroel declared firmly that as long as the heart is beating the person should be considered alive and organs may not be taken out. Since the halachic criterion for death makes it much harder to secure organs for transplanting, there is tremendous pressure from the medical profession to consider the cessation of brain activity as the marker of death.A year-and-a-half ago in Adar, Maran Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv issued a short letter affirming his earlier position: “I hereby reiterate my position, as I already expressed it on 18 Av, 5751, that according to our holy Torah as long as the heart is beating, even if the patient is in a state of `brain death,’ there is no hetter to take out any limb or organ from the patient. May Hashem Yisborach restore the breaches of His people.”

And last night, Rav Shmuel Halevi Wosner, author of the Shevet Halevi and one of the senior poskei hador, criticized the Chief Rabbinate’s decision to change the determination of the moment of death. In his Shuvah drasha, Rav Wosner said that in accordance with the ruling of the Chasam Sofer, the Chacham Tzvi and past poskim, death is not determined by by the brain, and that even if brain death has been declared, a person is still considered alive if his heart is still beating. 

“I hope [recent events] won’t act as a kitrog on Yom Kippur,” Rav Wosner said.

To listen to Rav Wosner’s remarks, click below

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 {Yair Israel/Deiah veDibur}


  1. Why have you not put my comment up, becaue you’re afraid I have disproved your slanderous headline? You can not categorically state the entire “Torah world” is against brain death when there are poskim who supported it (like R. Feinstein, R MD Tendler)

  2. I must demand that you rescind this headline which is motzi shem rah on a large portion of Torah observant Jews who hold of brain death as time of death based on R. Feinstein