web analytics
May 28, 2015 / 10 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Where There’s Life, There Is Hope

You would have to be hiding under a rock to be unaware of the sad and drawn-out death of a severely brain damaged woman called Terri Schiavo, whose husband and legal guardian made the decision to have her life-sustaining feeding tube removed. Mrs. Schiavo’s parents, however, wanted their 41-year-old daughter to receive the nutrients needed to sustain her life – such as it was. After years of fighting in court, the husband’s request was enforced.

The case received worldwide coverage and there were thousands of people who supported the husband’s decision or his right to make it, while thousands were vehemently against what they considered murder. Each side equally and eloquently cited numerous legal, ethical, moral and religious reasons for why they were for, or against, the removal of her feeding tube, which everyone knew was a death sentence.

From my knowledge of world history, both past and recent, I know that no one enters a battle thinking they are in the wrong, that they are the “bad guys” . Everyone feels justified in doing what they do, and I am not here to judge either side. I can only express my puzzlement as to why what happened was allowed to happen.

I don’t remember when or where I heard the phrase that I am going to quote – perhaps one of you readers would know – but it goes like this: “Wheres there’s life, there’s hope.”

Years ago, premature babies who weighed less than three pounds were often written off by doctors as not being viable. Often, these tiny infants who did survive were extremely brain damaged and physically and mentally incapacitated. Likewise, people with severe spinal cord injuries or advanced cancers were also viewed as non-saveable. Yet thanks to advanced scientific research and cutting edge bio-medical technology, many babies weighing as little as 20 ounces are being saved with few if any handicaps, and those totally paralyzed and on respirators can, after many years, begin to breathe on their own and even feel sensation and movement in their limbs. And there are many cancer patients who had funeral arrangements made for them years ago who are still enjoying life to the fullest. As long as there is life – there is a possibility of a cure. Most doctors in critical care units, when asked, will tell you that they have seen unexplained recoveries. Even those with no religious beliefs admit that they have witnessed miracles.

There is so much medical research going on globally, especially in Israel – using adult stem cell research – that it is very possible that sooner, rather than later, doctors will be able to regenerate damaged brains, spinal cords and diseased organs, such as the liver and the heart. For that reason alone, I am puzzled that invalids like Terri Schiavo, who did not seem to be in any great pain or discomfort, had their lives cut short.

There are circumstances where death is imminent and invasive medical intervention only prolongs dying, not life, with great physical anguish. There are situations where Jewish law allows non-intervention – for example, in the case of an aged person who is suffering immensely from disease, and painkillers are not giving relief, and whose organs have stopped functioning. If his heart stops beating , one is not required to try to shock it back. It is the body shutting down as it dies. However, withholding food and water to cause death is another matter. I don’t consider being fed a medical intervention like electric shock or a respirator for lungs that no longer can take in oxygen. Just as there are non-traditional but effective ways to communicate besides speaking, like the sign language used by the deaf, I believe a feeding tube is just another way of getting food into the body. It is a high tech “spoon”. A baby’s bottle can be viewed as a “feeding tube”.

I therefore am puzzled as to why Terri Schiavo and others like her – invalids who are not in any torturous pain – have been allowed to be starved to death. I have heard of child abuse cases where a child died because it was beaten by a parent or left alone in a crib for several days with no water or food. Either way, the act was viewed as a heinous murder. Why should it be different for an adult, especially one who despite her adult body has the dependence of an infant?

Many people insist that they would not want to continue living if they were in a vegetative state. What is the point to their lives? King David asked G-d that same question regarding the spider. To him it was a useless creature and he wondered why Hashem had created it. Later, a cob-web spun by a spider at the entrance of the cave in which he was hiding from Saul, who was trying to have him killed, saved David’s life and he understood that every life, every creation has its purpose. Perhaps extremely dependent, seemingly non-functioning people like Terri Schiavo exist so that those who come in contact with them learn kindness and compassion – and discover and appreciate their own blessings. Multi-handicapped people very clearly teach us not to get depressed or feel sorry for ourselves because of minor or even major mishaps or disappointments.

Where there is life, there is hope – and as unlikely as it may appear – there is also good reason.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Where There’s Life, There Is Hope”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
American dollars.
IRS $50M Cyber Security Scandal Stretches to Russia
Latest Sections Stories
Road sign in Russian and Yiddish greeting visitors on the road just outside Birobidzhan. (photo by Ben G. Frank)

Birobidzhan railway station sign is the world’s only one spelling the town’s name in Yiddish letters

Ayelet Shaked

She’s seen as a poster child for The Jewish Home’s efforts to reach beyond its Orthodox base.

Teens-Twenties-logo

Girls don’t usually learn Gemara. Everyone knows that.

Mordechai and his men shared a strong mutual loyalty.

“Can I wear tefillin in the bathroom?” That was the question US Private Nuchim Lebensohn wrote to Mike Tress, president of the Agudath Israel Youth Council, in a letter dated November 18, 1942. Lebensohn was not your typical young American GI. Polish by birth, he was forty-three years old and married when he was drafted […]

To what extent is your child displaying defiance?

This therapist kept focusing on how “I could do better,” never on how we could make the marriage work.

Mistrust that has lingered after the fiasco in Ferguson, Missouri, has edged the issue forward.

“The observance of a kosher diet is a key tenet of Judaism, and one which no state has the right to deny,” said Nathan Diament, executive director for public policy of the Orthodox Union.

Two weeks of intense learning in the classroom about Israel culminated with Yom Ha’Atzmaut. Students attended sessions with their teachers and learned about history, culture, military power, advocacy, slang, cooking, and more.

The nations of the world left the vessel to sit rotting in the water during one of the coldest winters in decades and with its starving and freezing passengers abandoned.

Rabbi Yisroel Edelman, the synagogue’s spiritual leader, declared, “The Young Israel of Deerfield Beach is looking forward to our partnership with the OU. The impact the OU has brought to Jewish communities throughout the country through its outreach and educational resources is enormous and we anticipate the same for our community in Deerfield Beach as well.”

More Articles from Cheryl Kupfer
Kupfer-On-Our-Own-NEW

The message being conveyed is that without “flour,” without the means to support oneself and one’s family, one’s focus on Torah will be impeded by worry.

Kupfer-112114

Divorce from a vindictive, cruel spouse can be a lifelong nightmare when there are offspring.

Not knowing any better, I assumed that Molly and her mother must be voracious readers.

Unpleasant happenings are quickly discarded if they do not affect us directly.

I have always insisted that everything that happens to anyone or anything is min Shamayim.

It is so hurtful to heighten people’s sense of inadequacy and guilt in a matzav that is already horrendous and difficult to bear.

Make no mistake: in the wrong hands cars are weapons of mass destruction.

Where once divorce in heimische communities was relatively uncommon, nowadays every family has a son, daughter, sibling cousin who is divorced – sometimes twice or even three times!

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/where-theres-life-there-is-hope/2005/04/06/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: