Thursday, May 06, 2021

healthy risk?

Last weekend there was an event run by Renewal in our neighborhood.  This is an organization devoted to encouraging people to donate kidneys to those who are in need of them.  Sounds like a good cause, and it is supported by many Rabbis in the neighborhood.  But here is what I don't understand.  Kidney donation is a RELATIVELY low risk operation -- but low risk does not mean no risk.  The odds of death are about .07%, the odds of other complications from the surgery greater.  Your seichel should tell you that walking into a hospital for an operation is not the same as a walk in the park.  So how is it that this risk is an acceptable one for a person to even voluntarily enter into, but we had to close down every yeshiva and every shul last year, not even allowing young healthy people to come together to daven, and even ad ha'yom ha'zeh I can tell you there are shuls in our neighborhood still holding minyanim outside in tents with young people wearing masks and still sitting 6 feet apart?  If you want to argue that in the former case there are dire, serious consequences if someone does not get that kidney that they need, are there not also serious consequences to closing down shuls and yeshivos?   Do we need the NY Times to tell us about the devastating effects lockdowns have had on school children (which was pashut l'kol bar bei Rav m'ikara and useless to bemoan after the fact)?  Is the fact that we have to have campaigns to come up with ways to entice people to return to shul not enough proof of the damage done to the communal religious structure in many communities?  Is the chiluk the % of risk?  If so, as I've asked before, where exactly do you draw the line and what is the makor?   What makes taking a .07% chance of death halachically OK, but some higher point-something-or-other not?  The only standard I've seen is "follow the doctors," which means follow the doctors we (whoever "we" is) think are authoritative as opposed to the ones you do.


  1. and all my innards bless His holy Name (Teh 103:1).

    does this mean a kidney [among other organs] would bless only while within David (Teh 16:7), or even that kidney given away?

    does the right kidney rightly advise that it be volunteered, or does the left kidney ill-advise donation of its neighbor (or itself?!) [Berachot 61a]?

    does Hashem, when He judges, attribute the examined kidney (Yirmiyahu 11:20) to the current host only, or to both old host and new?


  2. I don't get the kasha at all.
    By the kidney, you are saving someone's life for a minute percentage of risk. (They run lots of tests to make sure the person is a good donor, etc.) Hatzalas Nefesh.
    By Covid, we were also proactively saving people's lives. Yes it was annoying to wear masks in shul and hard with kids home, etc. but it was necessary. We still had minyanim, zoom shiurim and school (Mishpacha article about Zoom Night Seder in America was an amazing concept), etc. People will eventually come back to shul, I am not worried about that. Things will IYH get back to normal starting this summer.

    1. IMHO Kids missing a year of in-school is not the biggest deal that people are saying it is. Kids don't remember most of what they learned anyway in school until they get to Yeshiva/College.

    2. People's lives have been destroyed -- business they have built have been ruined, people have lost homes, depression, suicide, people have been scared away from doctors and as a result cancers, heart conditions and other illnesses have not been treated or diagnosed as they ordinarily would. Your assessment of missing in-school as not the biggest deal flies in the face of the experience of many parents and much research and expert opinion.

      Please see this post: