Courting Disaster

Dr. Zycher made reference below to Jewish tradition and law, which militates against doing any act to speed the death of a person. Although a death-preventing device may be removed in certain extreme cases involving BOTH extreme pain and a medical prognosis that recovery is impossible, even this may only be done when a person is in the PROCESS of dying, which Terri Schiavo was not. Thank you to Dr. Zycher for that valuable contribution, one which has not been heard publicly from too many Jews, prompting yesterday’s very interesting article by David Klinghoffer at National Review Online.

And once we are in that territory, may I point out two very valuable insights from Jewish law that could well have been applied in this case by Judge Greer but were sadly not considered.

1) A karov, i.e. a blood relative, even as far distant as a second cousin, may never testify in a case that affects their relative, whether or not that testimony seems to be beneficial to the relative.

2) A nogayah, i.e. a person with a financial interest in the outcome, may never testify in a way that is beneficial to his or her own interest.

These are two rules of Jewish courtroom procedure. Between them, they would have eliminated all of the testimony presented to the Court concerning Terri’s statements of intent.

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5 thoughts on “Courting Disaster

  1. The interesting thing about rabbinical rules is that they manage to be both rigorous and humane. Had a rabbinical court decided Schiavo’s case, the outcome would no doubt have been different. I’m therefore shocked (although, sadly, not surprised) by the fact that the majority of Jews have embraced the Terri must die ethos. It’s especially shocking (and, to me, surprising) given that the Germans used a “some human beings do not deserve to live” argument to justify the gas chambers. I would think Jews would be in the front line protesting the left’s belief that Terri Schiavo’s life is worthless.

  2. Bookworm, your point is of inestimable value, and it must be addressed at some length and in some depth.

    But the short answer is that 99% of the Jews who support Terri’s death would never go to a rabbinical court to settle a real-life dispute. So the issue is not why Jews don’t embrace Terri as much as it is why they don’t embrace their own cultural heritage.

    Again, that requires a complex answer. The easiest cause to identify will always be sheer ignorance. Take a poll of Jews and see how many are even aware that there ARE rabbinical courts in operation. A sad state of affairs indeed.

  3. “1) A karov, i.e. a blood relative, even as far distant as a second cousin, may never testify in a case that affects their relative, whether or not that testimony seems to be beneficial to the relative.”

    So you want to do away with the entirety of guardianship and making of legal decisions for incapacitated family members? That’s pretty radical. This case occured because Michael asked the courts to decide what Terri would have wanted as far as being kept alive on life support. To then deny her family from speaking would have been outrageous. They were afterall in a position to know her well.

  4. Did I miss something? He posted the rules, didn’t write them, and very good rules they are. It’s just too sad…

  5. “Did I miss something? He posted the rules, didn’t write them, and very good rules they are. It’s just too sad… “

    The part you are missing is where you question why we are discussing rabinical traditions in juxtaposition to US law. One is tempted to ask why it would possibly be relevent. We do not afterall live in a theocracy despite the latest attempts at such by certain factions of government.

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