Ask the rabbis.

Author:Pies, Ronald
Position::LETTERS - Letter to the editor

Holy Healthcare

As a Jewish physician, I was deeply gratified to see that Rabbi Fred S. Dobb (Reconstructionist) and Rabbi Yitz Greenberg (Modern Orthodox) specifically mention adequate health care as a basic human right in the November/December 2011 "Ask the Rabbis" section, which asked: "According to Judaism, are there fundamental human rights? "While several other rabbis alluded more generally to our obligation to "take care of people" and to care for the poor, I wish that medical care as a basic right had been given greater emphasis.

Of special importance is the Talmudic requirement that every city fit for a Jewish scholar (rabbi) must have a physician available. Since every Jewish community needed a rabbi, Rabbi Elliot Dorff, in Matters of Life and Death, concludes that the requirement to have a local physician "effectively makes it every Jewish community's responsibility to provide medical services." Indeed, while rabbinical sources are clear that those who can afford to pay for their medical care are expected to do so, Dorff concludes that "... with donations from, or taxes on, its members, the community as a whole has the duty to pay for the health care of...

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