It was approximately six years ago when I first heard about Chayim Aruchim.
My huband z’l had undergone an amputation and suffered a heart attack just a few days after
his surgery. After performing CPR on my husband twice, the hospital staff questioned whether
or not a third attempt should be made if the need arose. Like so many others in the Jewish
community, we were advised to contact Chayim Aruchim for a p’sak halacha and it was then
that I first became aware of the invaluable services that they provide. While their rabbonim
are trained experts in both the medical and halachic arenas, Chayim Aruchim’s ability to ensure
that critically ill individuals receive halachically appropriate care is greatly enhanced when the
patient has signed an advanced medical directive specifically stating their wish to be treated in
accordance with Jewish law.

Every person, no matter how old they are and how healthy they may be, needs to have a
halachic living will expressing their desire for halachically appropriate medical care. Without a
legally binding medical directive in place, hospitals and doctors have the ability to make
decisions as they see fit, in accordance with their value systems, a devastating situation that
can have lifeâ€ending consequences. In fact, Chayim Aruchim was originally founded to address
this particular need and their website has medical directives for more than two dozen states, as
well as Ontario and Quebec, that can be easily downloaded. Once signed and witnessed, these
documents are legally binding, without even the need for notarization in several states. Take
just a moment and think about it †you wouldn’t buy a house without hiring a lawyer to
represent you, so why would you allow yourself to be hospitalized without having a designated
agent in place to express your wishes should you be unable to communicate them on your

The importance of having a halachic medical directive is greater today than ever before. While
hospitals are places of healing, they are also profitâ€making institutions, a reality that makes
patients with poor prognoses and less than stellar reimbursements a bad business investment.
Doctors have no qualms about dismissing elderly and seriously ill patients as having already
lived out their useful lives and I personally witnessed a situation where a woman was told by
her husband’s medical team that they were discontinuing treatment because even though he
was only in his forties, his quality of life didn’t meet their standards. Having a halachic medical
directive in hand is crucial in cases like these, demonstrating patients’ personal wishes without
question, and giving Chayim Aruchim’s experts additional leverage when advocating for their
care. If you do one thing today for yourself, let it be downloading and completing a halachic
medical directive and giving it to the person you designate as your agent should the need arise.
While the importance of executing a halachic medical directive applies to the general
population, I can tell you from firsthand experience that there is another equally important
document to be aware of at the hospital level, one that should never be signed without a
posek’s direction. A DNR, do not resuscitate order, instructs medical providers to withhold
lifesaving treatment should a critical situation arise. A signed DNR is a passport to a funeral
home, and while hospitals typically sugarcoat these deadly documents and make them appear
as innocuous as possible when they offer them to be signed as a matter of routine, they rely on
the fact that most people don’t realize their full significance.

The general lack of knowledge regarding end of life situations and critical care aren’t the only
reasons that Chayim Aruchim has become such a vital community resource. Having spent years
accumulating knowledge and building crucial relationships, Chayim Aruchim brings significant
value to the table in each and every case. Their expertise in medical matters has changed many
an outcome in a positive way, sending patients to the right doctor and the best medical facility
for their particular situation. Chayim Aruchim’s ability to advocate for patients and promote
cultural sensitivity while working within each institution’s framework has also yielded
tremendous benefits.

In any situation where expertise is required, it is always wise to work with those who share your
world view, a reality that is even more important when it comes to matters of health. Chayim
Aruchim’s multiâ€faceted experience in halacha and medicine, as well as the heart and soul they
pour into every case, positions them as an extremely valuable asset to Orthodox Jewish
patients. There is no entity better equipped to help those facing serious medical situations
than Chayim Aruchim, a priceless community resource.