Posted in Life, Rabbinical School

Death & Dying Week Reflections: Day 2

What do you want to hold onto from today? A sentence, story, speaker…

Describe how it impacted you and how you want to imbed it in your memory or integrate it into your practice.

Throughout the day all I kept thinking is that I am not prepared for this summer. I don’t have an answer of what to do for a person who is dying. I don’t know what the right medical choices are or should be.

I struggle with the idea of living is the most important. My question to that is, at what cost? Is it worth it to keep a person “alive” if they are just hooked up to machines and potentially in pain? We talk about how at a certain point they no don’t feel pain- but how do we know when they are unresponsive? Is it fair to allow someone to slowly and painfully die because of modern technology and medicine?

In our case study, the man’s organs were shutting down, but he was still intubated. Why would we do that to a person? If we know for sure that a person has no chance in getting better, why do we want to prolong their pain? What if we let them die?

Yes, letting them die is hard and difficult. And I am very thankful that I have not had to make that decision for anyone (and I hope that I never will have to). But just reading this case study, or watching what I see in the nursing home, it just makes me think that there has to be another way. There has to be a way that we are thinking about the patient, and not about ourselves. Yes, I don’t want to be in the world without my loved one- but is this even being with them?

I also was thinking that I know nothing about medicine, yet I will be asked to help with medical questions if I work in a community. I worry that I won’t know what to do or say. I worry that I won’t have time to do the proper research, and then make the wrong decision. I worry that what my heart tells me to do, halacha will tell me otherwise. I worry that if I am trying to prove myself, no one will listen to me because I am a woman.

Today there were a lot of facts thrown at me. A lot of information about brain death and what that means. If anything I took, was how much I don’t know. How much I don’t understand. How much I’m not sure if I am the right person for that job. How difficult these decisions are, and all the minute details.

I think though, that I do believe that brain dead is dead. I think that believing otherwise just prolongs pain- for the patient as they are being kept alive, without being alive and pain for the family to watch this happen, have to make harder choices as time goes on, and monetarily how to care for them- I don’t think that I can do that.




I am prone to overthinking and not to sharing. I decided to start writing and see what happens. So here are some stories and life situations (sometimes words of Torah) of a 30 something single woman, who happens to be a rabbi (received ordination in 2017- so there are posts of what that experience was like), will be working as a chaplain (and worked for years with older adults), is regularly asked what city she is located in (started the blog while living in Israel, found herself working in Australia, and will be in New York for at least a year), and is just trying to figure out her place in the world.

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