Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Studying Science (and others) and Noahide Law


There is value in studying science, especially since this enables a person to recognize the greatness of G-d and to better the creation for the benefit of society. All this is under the condition that it be done in a proper manner and not by unbelievers who want to liberate themselves or take over the world from G-d, which was the first sin made by a man.

Healing with the aid of Doctors and Medicines

As it is stated in Exodus that a doctor should heal, our sages learned that a person who can heal his fellow human being should do so, that a sick person must go to a doctor to be healed. The important point here is that he should not rely on doctors alone, but in G-d who is the true doctor. The person should make an effort to get well.

Transplanting of Organs

This is allowed to save the life of a person as long as the life of another person is not shortened so as to withdraw organs from him.

Unnecessary Dangers

A person should be careful about medical treatment and medicines so as not to fall into unnecessary dangers like a dangerous plastic surgery that can have serious effects on the health of a person. If the dangerous surgery or treatment is being carried out to try to save the person’s life, then it is allowed.

The Purposes of Medical Treatments

The main purpose is to increase the life span of a person and to prevent suffering, to increase fertility, but not to increase the pleasure of a person. It is prohibited to cause abortion without the medical reason of saving the life of the pregnant woman. (As it is not certain that a Noahide is permitted to perform an abortion even in such a situation, one should try to find a Jewish doctor to do it.)

A doctor is not allowed to stop the suffering of his patient by shortening his life.

Medical Experiments

If such experiments endanger the life of the patient, but there is a chance that it can save his life, it is allowed. However, there is a need for the approval of the patient. It is not enough to request the permission of the family. It is also may be allowed if the experiment might help a terminal patient who otherwise will die. A rabbi who is an expert in Jewish law should be consulted before doing such a thing.

If the experiment cannot endanger the patient, it is worthwhile to receive the patient’s approval because there might be some side effects, or it might endanger him later.

Patriotism in Noahide Law

A person should be faithful to his country and leader. A person should not only pray for the welfare of his country but for all the world and humanity. It is forbidden to evade paying taxes and customs. Tax evasion is not to be confused with tax avoidance. Tax evasion is criminal. However, one is allowed to avoid paying taxes by using all possible deductions, depreciation, amortization and transfers of properties to heirs before death to avoid taxation. It is legal and should be pursued.

Vows, Oaths and Pledges in Noahide Law

A pledge is a positive mild commitment, “If I can, I will.” It is a matter of conscience and ability to fulfill. It is probably appropriate that it should be fulfilled.

A vow is a commitment made to someone else. It should be fulfilled because of the obligation to abide by the laws of interpersonal relationships. An oath is an unconditional commitment. When undertaken in the name of G-d it must be honored because of one’s duty to respect G-d. Abraham made Eliezer place his hand under his thigh and swear by an oath (Genesis 23:2-3). A person must keep all vows, and oaths he made, especially if he has promised to give alms to the needy or a sacrifice to G-d.

Rabbi Yoel Schwartz (Jerusalem Court for Bnei Noah)

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