Posted in D'var Torah, Rabbinical School

Death & Dying Week Reflections: Day 4 (the End)

It has been a very long week. Because I am in Israel and school is in New York, it meant that I still had a normal day of work here, and then was is a seminar from 3:30pm-midnight, every night. At first I was fine, but by last night, I was exhausted. Not only was the time exhausting, but the topic was also quite heavy. It also meant that I was alone for the entirety of that time. I would sit in my room alone, and had no one to talk to and no one real to decompress with. And so now it is finally the end of the week.

I learned a lot though. It was really interesting, be it difficult. I know that there is so much I do not know, but I know there will be a time to learn it all. It is also so clear how complicated medical ethics is. And once you put the ethics with Jewish ethics, it becomes even more complicated. It was hard to read case after case about people having to make decisions that are truly about life or death- and then to be the one they are looking to help them and give advice. The questions about what life actually means. Is it really living, if one is unconscious and machines are doing all the work? What does one’s life mean to the people around them? What about those who don’t have anyone else around to care?

These questions were all running around my head- and even more so, who am I to be able to help people? Who am I to be the right person to talk to? Will I really know what to do to help people? If it was hard to read the situations, how will it be to actually be in the hospital and see it? And really interact with people instead of making it up from a case study?

The idea of how Halacha works into this week’s parsha, Parshat Mishpatim- the parsha of laws. Throughout this week I was made to look at law, some laws that deal with some of the most difficult times in a person’s life. But at the same time, we are forced to see that law also has to take in the person- where they are, what they want, and what they need. It is up to us, those of us who are clergy, to find a way to balance all three especially when they are in conflict of each other.

I hope that we are never put into situations that would require that level of pain, but if we are, may we be able to find our point of balance.

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I'm not always the greatest at sharing what is in my head. Here is a place that I am experimenting with sharing my ideas and thoughts. They are about my life, my experiences in becoming a rabbi, things that I see going on around me, and sometimes words of Torah.

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