3 Rabbi Jakobovits is considered by many to be the father of modern Jewish medical ethics as a specialized area of study, due to the publication in 1959 of his doctoral thesis in book form, entitled "Jewish Medical Ethics." For the first time, the breadth of Jewish attitudes toward crucial medical issues was available to the general public and healthcare workers in readable English. As Dr. Fred Rosner describes it:
Rabbi Jakobovits' now classic book is the first comprehensive treatise on the subject of Jewish medical ethics. Tracing the development of Jewish and other religions' views on medico- moral problems from antiquity to the present day, the book is profusely annotated by references to the original sources in religious, medical, legal and historical literatures. The book contains discussions of classic subjects in Jewish medical ethics such as abortion, artificial insemination, birth control, euthanasia, autopsies, eugenics, sterilization, treatment of patients on the Sabbath, and more. In addition, several chapters are devoted to the physician in Jewish religious law - his studies and privileges, his license and legal responsibilities, his professional charges and the admission of his evidence. The book is appropriately subtitled "A comparative and historical study of the Jewish religious attitude to medicine and its practice. IMAJ 2001;3:304
In 1981, Rabbi Jakobovits was knighted by Queen Elizabeth for his life of dedication.
4 Published in The Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Monthly, New York, Feb/March 1962
5 Jakobovits, Immanuel, Jewish Medical Ethics: A Comparative and Historical Study of the Jewish Religious Attitude to Medicine and its Practice, 2nd Edition, Bloch Publishing Company, New York, 1975, p. 284.
6 Jakobovits, Immanuel, Noam 6:273 (Abridged in Sefer Assia 1:222-223).
7 Jakobovits, Immanuel, "Medicine and Judaism: an overview," Assia (English) 1980 Nov; 7(3-4):57-78.
8 Deuteronomy 25:3
9 Baba Kama 91b
10 Chelkas Yaakov, Choshen Mishpat 31
11 Avnei Nezer Yoreh Deah 321
12 Nachmadides, Toras Ha'Adam, Inyan Ha'Sakana. See also Beis Yosef, Yoreh Deah 241
13 Women are not required by the Torah to have children.
14 Psalms 116:6
15 Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 241:3
16 Shabbos 50b
17 Rashi comments that for a man to remove scabs for aesthetic reasons is feminine behavior.
18 ibid. Opening phrase "bishvil." The authors of the Tosofos commentary were a group of among the greatest of Medieval Talmudic commentators.
19 Mishneh Torah, Laws of Injury and Damage (Chovel U'Mazik) 5:1
20 The four examples listed by Rabbi Feinstein are:
a. In the book of Kings I 20:35-36, a man is punished for refusing to hit a prophet. A discussion of the event is also recorded in Sanhedrin 89.
b. Baba Kama 91b describes that Rav Chisda would lift up his garment when walking through thorn bushes so that his legs would be scratched, but his clothes would not be hurt. He reasoned that his legs will repair themselves, but his clothes would not.
c. Sanhedrin 84b discusses the permission to do bloodletting on one's father if necessary based on the mitzvah, "Viahavta lireacha k'mocha" ("Love your neighbor as yourself"). Rabbi Feinstein explains that we learn that one may cause an injury to his friend which is of a type that a reasonable person would want to have done to them, e.g. bloodletting. The Talmud does not even imply that bloodletting itself is halachically problematic, only that one must be careful when doing it on a parent. Injury as part of medical treatment is permitted and is only considered chavala when the intent is to injure or disgrace someone.
d. Mishna Bechoros 45a discusses one who removes an extra digit from his hand without any indication that such surgery is forbidden.
21 Mishneh Halachos 4:246
22 Kesubos 72b
23 Kesubos 74
24 Bechoros and Mishneh Torah, Be'as Hamikdash, 8
25 Mishneh Halachos 4:247
26 Minchas Yitzchak 6:105
27 Minchas Yitzchak 1:28
28 Exodus 15:26
29 Responsa Tzitz Eliezer, 11:41
30 See Responsa Tzitz Eliezer, 12:43 where Rabbi Waldenberg rules that truly elective surgery is never permitted.
31 Nishmat Avraham, Yoreh Deah, p. 62, Mesorah Publications (English version)
32 "On Shabbat or Yom Tov this would not be permitted since there was only danger to a limb and one could not set aside Torah law for this." Ibid.
33 Minchas Shlomo Tinyana 86:3 quoted in Nishmat Avraham, ibid.