Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Slippery Slope's Shabbat Slalom

"Machines will perform euthanasia on terminally ill patients in Israel under legislation devised not to offend Jewish law, which forbids people taking human life," says an article in today's Daily Telegraph:

A special timer will be fitted to a patient's respirator which will sound an alarm 12 hours before turning it off.

Normally, carers would override the alarm and keep the respirator turned on but, if various stringent conditions are met, including the giving of consent by the patient or legal guardian, the alarm would not be overridden.

Similar timing devices, known as Sabbath clocks, are used in the homes of orthodox Jews so that light switches and electrical devices can be turned on during the Sabbath without offending religious strictures.
I have never seen a better example of St. James' dictum:
If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.
And so, thanks to their elected leaders, the same device that some (not all) orthodox Jews use to break one commandment—"Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy"—will enable them to break another one—"Thou shalt not kill."

I realize that a respirator qualifies as an extraordinary means of sustaining life, but the parliament's vote appears to be based on an incredibly disingenuous reading of Jewish law, one that poses troubling questions:
"The point was that it is wrong, under Jewish law, for a person's life to be taken by a person but, for a machine, it is acceptable," a parliamentary spokesman said.

"A man would not be able to shorten human life but a machine can."
Try following that line of thinking to its logical conclusion.

Even a child knows that ordering a machine to commit murder is still murder. I suppose the machine is just following orders.

Lest you think that orthodox Israelis have a lock on such hypocrisy, I recall a certain abortion provider that advocated killing its nonviolent opponents in the name of "choice."

I would welcome comments from Jews who do not support Israel's new law, and especially look forward to reading what pro-life Jewish blogger Chana Meira has to say about it. I myself am a Jewish convert to Christianity who is currently taking the catechism.