When a doctor pronounces that a case is hopeless, the Jewish family is in a quandary. Is the patient truly hopeless or is it the doctor’s mistaken values about quality of life that have caused him to reach that conclusion? How can the family know? Their halachic knowledge of what they should be doing for their loved one and their medical knowledge of what might be possible are both limited. Knowing that Chayim Aruchim pulls together the talents of Rabbis and doctors, the family calls them for help.
There is a battle going on in the ICU. In which moral universe will the decisions about the patient be made? Will the patient’s life be seen as having infinite value, as Judaism considers it? Or will the desire to prolong life be considered to be a foolish whim of an irrational family?
What happens next is nothing short of a miracle. With much sciata d’shemaya, since they are acting to uphold the Torah, the medically trained Rabbis from Chayim Aruchim discuss the case with the medical staff and very often the medical staff will change their focus. Instead of asking themselves each day, “How can we get this foolish family to realize that there is no point to continuing medical treatment?” they will begin asking each day, “What can we do to improve this patient’s medical condition?”
Are we not proud that we have an organization that can so often triumph in this battle. They save many patients from dying too soon, but they also do more than that. They save Jewish families from being confused and persuaded to take actions that are contrary to Torah.
In undertaking and winning these battles, Chayim Aruchim brings merit to all of us living in this time. We are living in a generation that sees with clarity how greatly our values differ from those around us. We have not been taken in by the right-to-die movement. Our Jewish families are holding fast to the Torah despite all obstacles.
May Chayim Aruchim continue to enjoy siyata d’shemaya in overcoming future obstacles.